Monday, January 2, 2012

the yellow camero

I was recently without a daily driver for a few weeks after I was rear-ended on the freeway (phew, no serious injuries...), and while this is the kind of PITA everyone can do without, I did enjoy spending 1500 dollars of State Farm's money down at my local Hertz. The obvious choice would have been a Mustang of course, but the fact is I get plenty of opportunities to drive these cars anyway, thanks to my buddies in BAMA, so I decided to try something different. The Hertz franchise near me is overflowing with so-called luxury saloons like the Mercedes E series and the Lexus equivalent, but frankly I find these cars about as exciting as a night out in Hull - the Adrenaline Collection was much more up my street. I actually tried really hard to get either the Corvette or the new Challenger, but the best my local agent could come up with was this yellow Camero SS, so I sucked it up, turned the key, and prepared to lay down some stripes...

The day after I picked up the Camero just happened to coincide with the inaugural BAMA vs. DVMA kart racing at Umigo in Livermore, so naturally I showed up with my new wheels....and caused plenty of comment.

...and when I wanted to leave, I couldn't get the BAMA guys out from under the Camero's hood!

But how did it drive? commute sometimes takes me through the Santa Cruz mountains and doing this drive half a dozen times in the super-fast Camero was a lot of fun....but it didn't actually handle all that well through some of the more challenging sections of the course...I mean highway...and unless you have the traction control turned on, the car has a serious tendency to slide through the turns.

The Camero attracted attention wherever it went - for example I've never heard a "nice car!" comment from a random stranger when I've been out in my Forester - but it got old very did all the kids in Honda Civics that wanted to race me...meh....

So....functionality: the Camero is exceptionally quick off the line. I mean it really is very fast, even for a muscle car, and the motor makes a stunningly sweet purr when you stamp on the gas. Going from, say, 40 to 80 mph on the freeway is effortlessly accomplished in the time it takes a bird to flap its wings, thanks to more lower-end torque than you can shake a stick at. And, as I mentioned above, the traction control allows you to accelerate hard out of even the tightest turns. In other words it's absolutely nothing like my Forester...but then you knew that already.

It's not all good news though. For a start the Camero was absolutely useless at the store, and it was very tough getting my son in and out of his car seat....but it's a bit unfair to blame Chevy for that, their target market isn't exactly your average soccer Mom.

Slide in behind the wheel though, and the issues are much more concerning: the gauge placement looks like it was designed by a blind monkey! The steering wheel basically obscures everything in the dash -  I had to crane my neck just to figure out what speed I was doing, a real PITA!

The center console is also an unattractive mess of molded plastic. Don't get me wrong, I'm not expecting a luxury interior in the Lexus mold, but this has a real downmarket feel...and a transmission temp gauge? C'mon, who really needs that?

I do a *lot* of driving and so it only took me ten days to clock up 1000 miles in the Camero, and I found myself looking at the view below more often than I would like. Again, it's not fair to blame Chevy because their souped-up V8 sucks down a lot of gas, and my personal driving style adds to the problem, but it's a significant factor.

I made sure several of the BAMA guys and a few of my other mates had a chance to put the Camero through its paces, or "show it who's boss" as my friend MS put it (note: I hope Hertz aren't reading this....) and the overall verdict was that we couldn't work out what SS actually stands it So-So? Super Sub-standard? After a week and a half I'd had my fun with the Camero and I was fed up with it's attention-attracting glow....although I never got tired of pressing down hard on the gas pedal and lighting up the rear I took it back to Hertz and swapped it for a Rav 4.

Hands down the Rav 4 handled ten times better than the Camero, and also had a very nice power band in the 40-60 mph range. Not to mention four doors and a ton of space in the back. Much more practical, but not nearly as much fun.


  1. LOL! Nice review. You can't ignore the fact that you were driving "Bumblebee" though and that's gotta be worth something. Have a great year Ian!

  2. Thanks Alex, I hope you have a great 2012 too!

  3. Happy to hear you didn't have any health issues with your accident. I had a problem reading the gauges on my 92 GT 5.0 but that is a crazy monkey blind design. Did the radio on that Camaro play music on it's own? :-)

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  5. Nice summary on the Camaro. I never was a fan of the interior and dash design. Should have followed Ford's theme on the Mustang and made the dash "retro". I had a RAV4 rental when Toyota bought back my Tacoma for a rusted out frame. It was OK, but I thought the steering wheel was too small and "off center" from where the driver sat. Have a great 2012.