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Old 06-29-2009, 10:57 PM   #1
Drives: 2010 Camaro 2SS/RS IOM
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 29
jmargaglione's Orange Inferno

Let's start off with a one-week review!

It has now been a week since I picked up my new 2SS/RS. I ordered on April 14th of this year, and had the car in my possession within 2 1/2 months. Not bad at all. Congratulations to Henna Chevrolet in Austin for that!

So first some basic specs:
* 2SS with RS package
* 6 speed manual
* IOM inside and out

OK, so on to first impressions. I went with my wife to pick up the car last Tuesday. We walked up to the front of the dealership, and the guy standing in front said "You must be here to pick up the Camaro!". Apparently this was the first IOM they had seen with the matching interior, and it blew them away. The manager had not ordered any, because he thought it wouldn't look good. Boy was he ever wrong. The interior of the car is simply classic. It simply makes the car.

Paid for the car and got the keys. Headed out to fire up the new beast, and on a whim decided my wife should do the honors. Just to preface the rest of the review, I used to drive a 98 Accord and my wife drove a 98 Civic. I refer to the last 11 years as my "sensible" period, where I thought being grown up meant having a sedan. Those days are gone.

Back to the walk-through: my wife fired up the engine, and the roar and accompanying rumble got a quick "whoah" from her. WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) +1. We checked out the stereo, engine and trunk and got on the road.

My wife almost got a speeding ticket within the first 3 minutes in the car. She is very comfortable driving a stick, but she wasn't used to having anywhere near this level of torque. The Civic has roughly 1/4 the HP and torque of the Camaro. 'Nuff said.

We got on the highway and she gave it some juice. WAF +2.

OK, so my turn in the car. The first thing I notice is the mirror. yes it is way too big and way too low for the minimal amount of visibility in the car. No I didn't hit anything. I don't use the OnStar stuff, so I would very much like to swap the mirror for something more slimline. You really have to keep a sense of your surroundings to drive safely. Visibility out of the driver's side is pretty much what you can see directly to your left. Visibility out of the right is much better thanks to the small rear window. I can see pretty much anything on my right. Straight forward visibility is good, but forward right visibility is awful. Somebody described the necessary movement of "bob and weave" for how you look for cars at an intersection. Well put.

Rear visibility is OK on the road, but if you live with small children or midgets you are going to do a lot of freaking out when you back out of the driveway. I am looking into a navigation unit (see discussion on navi later) with a rear backup camera feed to handle this situation. If that doesn't work out then I will just get some backup sensors and tie them into the stereo or have some LEDs somewhere in the back.

OK, so it is abundantly clear that this is a muscle car and not a 4-door sedan. Let's move on to the transmission. It takes a little getting used to the clutch, as there is a whole lot of power in first and second gear, and shifting smoothly between these gears takes some practice. I wouldn't drive my grandma in the car yet, but I'm getting there. Power is abundant in all gears. It took several days before I even got into 5th or 6th gear. Too much traffic and way too many police out where I live, so finding a stretch of road where I could do over 70mph wasn't easy. I live out in the hill country west of Austin, and it's construction season out here. When I did finally get out to some real highway, I finally found a use for 5th gear. Haven't found a use for 6th gear at all, as the constant rolling hills out here aren't conducive to staying in any single gear long enough to use 6th. RPMs go down to 1000 in 6th on the highway. I'll road trip it to some relatives in Arkansas one of these days and test it out.

Which brings me to the gas mileage. 17.1 and holding steady. Understand that the hills out here are steep, and constant. I would say about 15% of the time is stop-and-go city driving, and the rest is up-and-down highway driving. I'm sure I could get a little better mileage than that if I drove like an old lady, but there isn't any point. The power is simply addictive, and being able to accelerate like a bat out of hell up a steep slope is simply awesome. On a side note, I dropped my wife off to pick up the Civic at the repair shop, and she almost screamed at the car on the ride back. She has to shift down to 3rd just to get up some of these hills. So as of today the Civic is on the block. Any takers?

On to the electronics systems. I'll start with the most obvious, the stereo. If you like AM radio and listening to talk radio, the stock stereo is awesome. If you like to jam to rock and roll with the windows down, it's fine. If you are a hifi addict you will hate it. My Accord has 1300 watts of JL Audio equipment and sounds as good as my home Klipsch system. So needless to say I will be upgrading the speakers and adding a small sub. The interior of the car is small enough that you can just use a 300 watt amp for the speakers and another 300 watt amp for the sub (maybe a 10" low profile or stealth box) and you'll have some seriously good sounds. You can probably do the whole upgrade for under 2k. Some good things about the stereo: it has built-in volume control like the 'vette. Slow to a stop and your bass-thumping rap attack gets softer. Speed up and it gets louder. And the USB plug works great with either a standard USB flash drive (I am using a 16GB Corsair) or an iPod/iPhone. I had been using my iPhone 3G happily until I got the flash drive. For some reason I couldn't get it to work with my old second-generation 60G iPod. No idea why. I really, really wish GM had gone with a double DIN stereo, there is plenty of room for it. Finding a specific song on a memory stick using a four-line display is painful, even if you are really good about using genre information with your MP3s. Plus, navigation is all through the center console between the speedo and tach, which is pretty much useless compared to a $100 TomTom unit.

One thing that GM needs to stop doing is ceding functionality that belongs in the car to OnStar. Why should hands-free dialing be an OnStar feature when most new stereos come with it built in? Why would I want to use OnStar as my provider for airtime when I have an unlimited cell phone plan? Why would I want to use OnStar for directions when most new in-dash receivers have mapping built in? Don't get me wrong, there are lots of cool uses for OnStar, but many of them should really be part of the car, and available without paying for OnStar.

OK, I'm going to wrap this part up now, but just a few real-life snippets from my day:
1. Picked up some chlorine pucks from the SelfChem and got into a discussion about the car with the owner.
2. At a stoplight near my gym, the guy in the $50k Lexus in front of me jumped out of his car and ran up the hill next to me to "get a look at the side of the car". People get goofy around this thing.
3. Got pulled over by a cop on the way to dinner with my wife. Can't for the life of me figure out what I did wrong. Then I see him get out of his car and walk alongside mine while lightly caressing the rear fender with his hand. He came up and told me I was running a little over the speed limit, then starting asking about the car. I obviously didn't get a ticket. I barely got a warning.
4. Total of 5 "thumbs up" from other drivers including a '70 Camaro owner, a late '90s Camaro owner, a BMW owner, and two cops (not counting the one from #3).

This car is just amazing. Looking for instant celebrity? Look no further. If I pulled up next to Oprah, people would be looking at the car and asking Oprah to get out of the way. It's that good.
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