The Camaro SS2 definitely exceeds expectations on the performance front. First of all, it’s hard to tell that this is a SS2 for the untrained eye. There’s the small letters on the trunk lid and something on the grill that hint at the SS badass nature of this car, but otherwise it’s hard to tell it from a regular V6 Camaro with a styling package. It is really easy for others to underestimate this car at the stop light. The 420 lb-ft. of torque comes at a relatively low 4,600 RPM but as I said, you have to quickly shift to second in order to really take off.
I took the tester onto this fairly deserted stretch of a local unnamed expressway behind my office. After making sure there was no police presence nearby, I turned off traction control and let it rip! Burning rubber was surprisingly easy in the Camaro SS2 and I found good rubber going to second gear too. Luckily for me, police absence continued and I was able to do multiple burn-outs and scared off quite a few school children walking home. So this must have been what it was like to live in the ‘70s, burning rubber and wrestling the steering wheel to stay in control while smelling the smoke of wasted tires. Thank god for muscle cars!
The Camaro SS2 came with Stabilitrak with Traction Control, but I wouldn’t know since I had traction control turned off the entire time I had the car. Cornering is tight and the suspension is pretty hard on the passengers in the back. Swerving in and out of traffic on the freeways was an easy task for the SS2 and you really feel confident with the steering. The Camaro is a big coupe and it’s extremely hard to tell where the edges of the car are thanks to the tiny greenhouse area, but it handles pretty confidently despite its weight. Ultimately, you don’t buy the Camaro SS2 for the handling, otherwise you’d opt for a Lotus Elise.
The Camaro’s design is polarizing. You don’t have to love it, but you’d definitely have an opinion. It’s not as retro as the Dodge Challenger. It’s not as true to the original as the Mustang (although the latest design is a further deviation). What it is, however, is an original interpretation on the original. The new Camaro has all the hints of the original ’66, but every panel and every part is a modern take on the original design.
Let’s start with the positives. I like the aggressive front end with the half-covered round headlights. The halos on the SS2 are a copy of bimmers but the bigger size works well on the Camaro. The pointed frontend is a nice touch and distinctive from the Ford and Dodge muscle cars. I love how the front wheels are pushed to the corners and are no longer sitting behind the engine and under the windshield. This is characteristic of the new GMs and good for them. I also like the subtle double bubble roof, the combination of a high beltline and a low slung roofline combine for an aggressive futuristic vehicle look. The 20 inch rims with low profile tires fill out the wheel arches and give the Camaro a very forceful stance. The designers also did a great job with the tail lights, which bear family resemblance to the four round ones on the Corvette but have their own distinctive shape that match the half covered head lights.
I actually found very few faults with the styling on the new Camaro. Yes, the fake air intakes behind the doors are a little tacky, like the ones on the Mustang, but they are reminiscent of the original. I do like the slits though, that remind people of the Stingray. The grill on the SS2 looks cheap and pales in comparison to the rest of the details on this car, but it’s ripe for aftermarket customizations.
The Chevrolet Camaro SS2 has the performance, the looks, and the build quality that are comparable to the Dodge Challenger SRT8. It’s only natural to compare these two in terms of value as well. The SS2 tester I had an MSRP of $35,775, a bargain compared to the $45,525 price tag on the ’09 Challenger SRT8. It didn’t have all the features found on the SRT8, but it’s still a huge delta in prices. On the Challenger SRT8, each of the 425 hp will set you back over $107. On the SS2, however, the 426 horses will cost you only $84 a pop! What a bargain! Don’t worry about the relatively low 16/24 city/highway MPG, you’ll drive yourself crazy.
Who should buy it?
Are you over the age of 40 and have a receding hairline? Do you find yourself commuting to work in a minivan or a Honda Accord or a Toyota Camry? Do you have two kids running around the house and a wife who’s nagging you while you’re trying to figure out trades in your fantasy football league? If you’ve answered yes to at least two of the questions above, do yourself a favor and go test drive a new Camaro SS2. You’ll be delighted to find out how you feel after a spin in this baby, how re-energized you feel, how full of hope life seems again.
The 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS2 is a polarizing car. You may love or you may hate it, but you’ll never miss it. It has presence in the parking lot. It’s a bargain compared to the Challenger SRT8 and also to a lot of other cars out there on a dollar per horsepower basis. But who’s talking dollars and “sense” here? That awesome feeling you get when you turn off traction control and peel out in first gear is simply priceless. The Camaro SS2 is a fix for the doldrums of everyday grown-up life. It’s like a shot of adrenalin when you’re on a sugar low. It’s Bumblebee to the teenager who’s supposed to be a grown-up, stuck under the weight of responsibilities that life has laid upon you. The Camaro SS2 will give your life meaning again.
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