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The Daily Drivers | By Peter Couture and Lyra Solochek, Times staff writers

The Daily Drivers: 2010 Chevrolet Camaro V6 combines sensible and sporty

We got our first glimpse of Chevy's reborn pony car several months ago when we took a quick test drive in the 426-horsepower Camaro SS. And we were wowed. But here's what's even more impressive: The V-6 Camaro produces 304 horsepower and still gets 29 mpg on the highway. And the base model is really affordable.

Appearance: Peter describes it is as a life-size Hot Wheels car. Our tester had 20-inch aluminum wheels, which accentuated the bold, low-slung design. There's even a hint of the Corvette in these tail lights. The rear fenders flare out for a stout shoulder; the body creases and signature "shark gills" give it character. The front grille is pure menace.

Performance: The V-6 has great acceleration and a pleasing — if subdued — exhaust note. The six-speed automatic shifts smoothly, but we both would have liked to have experienced how the V-6 performed with a manual transmission. There is a "manual" mode, but we didn't like the button shifters on the steering wheel. Give us paddles, please. The car hugs into turns, even at relatively high speeds. (Those of us of a certain age will remember the TV commercials in which the original Camaro was called "The Hugger.") Peter drove it to Orlando with a full complement of passengers and it was a fun highway crusier.

Interior: Lyra loved driving the car at night. The ambient lighting glows neon blue with red gauges. Especially impressive is the built-in light in the door panels for a diner-like accent. Our tester had the optional four-gauge cluster in the center console — shades of the '60s Camaro. Cool, but it's more for looks than practicality. The dash's two main gauges — the speedo and tach — sandwich a digital display and are deep-set, as is the steering wheel, which Lyra found made the controls difficult to use. Lyra thought the AC controls were some of the best she's seen: simple and logical. The audio controls, also, are well-designed and easy to use. There's no LCD screen or navigation, however. But the radio is a blast from the past: When you tune to a station, you get the classic bar with the moving line. The leather seats are comfortable and have a good range of adjustment for the driver, but Peter could never quite get enough headroom. He blames the sunroof. Lyra had a size concern, too. Would she be able to see over the fairly high hood profile? Yes, she could. And you pay another penalty for style: The driver's rear visibility is compromised. (A blind-spot warning system would be welcome.) A few other nits: The door handle is awkward to reach. And here's a trend that we both dislike: door-lock buttons in the center console.

Our 3 favorites

Peter Couture

Styling: There's enough of the original to say 1969 but it's not just a retro design.

The V-6: You won't say: I could have had a V-8.

Driveability: No need for much backseat room? Here's a stylish daily driver.

Lyra Solochek

Hey, parents: You can set the speed control to warn the driver when the car hits 56 mph or faster.

The AC: Simple and strong. Backseat passengers aren't slighted.

Halo headlights: Distinctive, cool, menacing.

The bottom line: Hot Wheels indeed. It's a toy for the big kids. And you get at lot of the benefits of the more ferocious Camaro SS without the mileage penalty.









2010 Chevrolet Camaro 2LT Coupe

Price: $26,580, 2LT base, $30,735, as tested.

Powertrain: 3.6-liter V-6 with six-speed automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive

Horsepower: 304 hp at 6,400 rpm

Torque: 273 pound-

feet at 5,200 rpm

Curb weight: 3,728 pounds

Dimensions

in inches:

Wheelbase,112.3

Length, 190.4

Width, 75.5

Fuel economy:

18 miles per gallon city, 29 mpg highway

Fuel type: Regular unleaded

Safety features: Stabilitrac with traction control, airbags and curtains, parking assist, ABS,

Other trim

levels: LS, 1LT, 1SS, 2SS

Options worth considering: 20-inch wheels, high-intensity headlamps with halo ring, rear spoiler, RS Corvette-style taillights, sunroof.

Web site: www.chevrolet.com/camaro

The Daily Drivers: 2010 Chevrolet Camaro V6 combines sensible and sporty 10/30/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 4, 2009 3:05pm]

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