I do not enjoy driving a boring car; I have done it before and I refuse to do it again. So what does a picky gearhead do? He goes out and buys the stupidest thing he can reasonably afford.
I picked the 2013 Camaro LS with a six speed manual because I enjoy driving and I enjoy a solid vehicle. I briefly flirted with the Scion FR-S, but I'm not a fan of Toyota or Subaru really. I also considered the 2013/2014 Mustang but realized my father would disown me.
Despite some minor (very minor) issues I have had with my Camaro I remain very happy. Every morning I walk outside and see her sitting in the driveway and the sight never fails to fill me with excitement. That is a big win for a car I think.
When your daily commute to work becomes exciting thanks to your vehicle I think that is a good sign that you made the right choice. So without any further rambling here are my personal observations regarding these fun and exciting pseudo Pony cars.
The 3.6L LFX V6 is an amazing little marvel. Such a compact and robust package with a wicked power band. It never lacks for power on demand and will not burn a hole in your wallet.
Power delivery is smooth and a light tap of the throttle will set your pulse at a happy rate. Some will ask why not go with a V8 but take it to the strip one night and run circles around the Challenger boys for a few hours to set them straight.
Safety & braking
The LS model brakes are more than adequate for the job. They never feel overwhelmed or harsh. Even in a sprint run from 0-60 and back they will hold up no matter how hard you step on that pedal. There is no fade or abnormal grabbing even after hours of spirited driving.
The pad quality is astounding as well. Even after 30,000KMs they show no signs of degrading or deforming.
These cars look mean! Everything from the low aggressive stance to the muscular haunches screams power and virility. It is a well designed and executed look whether it be a stunning SS model or a humble LS. There is no un-needed flash or trim to make it "pop" and chrome is kept to a minimum which keeps the car from looking tacky or weak. It's a strong visual style and the Camaro wears it well.
Coming from a driver who has experienced all the rich rattleness that an 80's Third Generation F-Body can provide these new Zeta Camaro models might as well be the space shuttle. They are quiet and refined. Able to handle bumps; humps; jumps and potholes while keeping you firmly planted in your seat without so much as a clunk or rattle anywhere.
Even the rough back roads of Quebec are no match for the excellent suspension system built into these monsters; and I have only experienced the LS model in that respect. I can't imagine how amazing the ZL1 Magnetic Ride is.
From carving corners to straight line runs the Camaro is excellent. It is a heavy vehicle to be sure but you never "feel" the weight. You can easily toss this car around a hairpin or tight on-ramp at 100KM/H without flinching or even leaning. Turn off the ride control and traction control and you will be treated to a thrilling romp that will show you the true raw roots of this amazing machine. There are issues with understeer in extreme conditions but I'll cover that later.
As a Canadian I have had the chance to throw this vehicle against the mighty dragon that is a harsh Ontario winter. I am happy to say these vehicles handle beautifully in the snow regardless of snow tires or regular all seasons. The ride height is perfect to clear snow pack and the weight of the vehicle actually works in your favour for tackling slushy highways.
Driving position & visibility
Visibility is not actually as bad as people like to say. After a week with the car you will not have any problems with it. I think it's the shock of the small windows and cavernous interior that initially causes people to react negatively towards it. Reversing is probably the single hardest task as the rear end does sit much higher and gives you a bad perspective without a backup camera.
Judging where the front end lines up in a parking space is also a bit of a chore considering how high the belt line is but that is more a problem with how much safety structure is required these days.
Audio & nav systems
The base model audio system is adequate but lacks simple functions like a USB connection. Navigation is provided by OnStar but that is all. The LS is minimalistic when it comes to entertainment, I believe the 7" touch screen unit should be standard. As it stands the bland normal radio is long in the tooth and prone to issues.
Interior storage compartments
Being a Camaro it is not really made for trucking large amounts of luggage. That being said the trunk opening is tiny as many have said. You can maneouver items into it but that often results in damaged plastic trim. Cup holders are another issue. I realize there is only so much space in a two door coupe but for the love of driving if you are going to offer a sport coupe with a six speed manual what would possess you to put the only cup holders literal inches behind the shifter?
I said excellent things about the LFX V6 I know. However my same comments cannot be said for the six speed manual. Contrary to what salesmen will say it is not a Tremec transmission mated to the V6 but is in fact an Aisin Warner AY6.
This is not a terrible thing really. The AY6 is light and easy to shift with a good reliability track record.
That being said it does seem to have some quirks. 1st to 2nd is often stiff or clunky and the whole unit does like to whine sometimes. Clutch feedback is almost nonexistant since it is hydraulically driven, but some effort to produce some resistance would have been nice. I do enjoy the six speed manual at all times however I do wonder at how well it will hold up in the long term. I plan on keeping this car to the end and I worry about the future of this questionable transmission choice.
Warranty, maintenance cost
Chevrolet warranty coverage is very good I will get that out of the way now. After pricing simple items such as brake pads and rotors I am not worried about that aspect as in general they are inexpensive for high quality goods.
The meat of the issue I have is in the more complex areas. The intake manifold for example has been redisgned on the 2013 LFX V6 with a composite unit. I applaud them for their ingenuity however I point out the previous attempt with a composite intake was on mid 2000's 3.8L Series III powered vehicles and it met with a constant string of gasket failures and intake cracks.
I also put forward the clutch design as a future issue. It is a double clutch system, very complex and expensive. I had inquired about a performance clutch replacement but quickly changed my mind when I discovered the stock replacement unit was over the $1K mark.
In the short run the Camaro is simple and easy to maintain with robust components at it's core. In the long run I think only time will tell. Most of these vehicles will never see 100,000KMs but for those that do I hope prices come down.
Anything but black. Please. The only LS model Camaro with a manual that could be found for me within reasonable distance was black and it's the only thing I regret. Black is beautiful on a Camaro do not get me wrong. But it is such a pain. And the softness of GM's clearcoat is a big problem for the black cars out there. It is very, VERY prone to scratching and marring.
Reliability & durability
The Camaro seems to have a random durability track record. In the 70's they had small issues but held up well to decades of abuse. In the 80's they had more cracks and chinks in the armor than you could shake a muffler at.
I like to think these new models will prove robust and remain healthy for a long time. So far mine has held up well to daily use back and forth on the highway and in town however the sheet metal has already taken several dings and some plastic peices have cracked underneath.
No rust has popped up anywhere; even underneath, so that is encouraging. Similarily the drivetrain and braking system have held up well to constant daily usage. I think I can remain optimistic about the long term overall.
Front seat support & comfort
The seats. Wow. Amazingly designed and supported. These things will hold you in every turn and cradle you lovingly no matter what. Even the cloth LS seats are absolutely well appointed and bolstered. I have driven for hours (Kingston to Barrie no stops) and when I reached my desitnation I was ready for more. I test drove an RS model with leather and the seats felt like they were made of love.
I think what I am trying to say is the seats are awesome overall, but they do have a flaw. The fabric is not very durable and after two years of use it shows. However the only problem area is the actual seat itself and can probably be connected to how people sit and what they wear. That being said a car seat should stand up to almost anything and survive, not show stretching and thin spots so soon.
The rear seatis cramped but you can easily strap in a full sized child seat with room to spare. My daughter absolutely loves this car and is always excited to go for a ride, even at only 7 months old.
The weight and structure of the 5th gen Camaro is divine but not without flaws. There can be serious understeer in certain situations like high speed tight cornering. This isn't a normal occurance for everyday obviously but if you are in a situation that requires it the car will fight you at speed in a tight turn and it has the weight behind it to make a difference.
Otherwise these cars are very well balanced and will be able to handle any situation from dry summer pavement to ice covered back roads with ease. I've driven mine on the highway through half a foot of snow with simple WinterClaw tires and made it home with ease and confidence.
Overall I believe the 5th Generation Camaro is one hell of a good vehicle in any form. They are damn sexy in any livery; powerful; exciting; and above all fun. I do not regret purchasing my Camaro and I get a perverse enjoyment when I get to tell people I paid less for my Camaro than they paid for their Honda Civic Si or Volkswagen Golf. And yes I bought mine brand new.
They are a beautiful vehicle to be enjoyed every day whether you are carving up corners; going for a track day; taking a long cruise or just washing off the grime from a long week in the driveway.
They have some small issues with sight lines and quality or durability may start to fade when you hit high mileage but that seems to be true with every car out there these days.
I would recommend the Camaro to anyone who enjoys driving on their own or with your significant other. If you have kids it's a tight fit in the back but not uncomfortable. And in LS trim these goliaths are very affordable for the working professional or tradesman.
Thank you for reading and I hope my insights and observations are of use to you.