DETROIT–The Chevrolet Camaro combines the retro design of the muscle-car era with modern electronic gadgets such as Bluetooth wireless connections, the OnStar telematics service, and the iPod music player.
Production on the Camaro started March 16 with about 14,000 orders in hand.
The basicsThe Camaro is a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive coupe that seats four. The V-6 with a manual transmission gets 29 mpg on the highway, making the car more practical than many other performance coupes.
Notable featuresThe V-6 with a manual transmission starts at $22,995 including shipping. A fully-loaded V-8 model costs about $30,000.
The V-8 six-speed manual LS version is for performance buffs. Brembo brakes are available with the V-8.
The 3.6-liter V-6 manual transmission offers 304 horsepower, while the high-end LS V-8 makes 426 hp.
Compromises and shortcomingsThe interior has a retro atmosphere, but it’s heavy on plastic.
The marketThe Camaro combines 1969 design cues–lowered top, big wheels, and bulging fenders–with contemporary features to appeal to empty nesters in their 30s.
“The buyers of these cars are driven by emotions,” said Karen Rafferty, Chevrolet’s product marketing director. She says these buyers like to stand out in a crowd and enjoy travel, art, history, and fashion trends.
Chevrolet executives not only expect the Camaro to compete with the Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger, but also to take on the Mitsubishi Eclipse, Nissan 370Z and BMW 3 series.
Although Chevrolet won’t say how many Camaros it plans to sell annually, the Oshawa, Ontario, plant where it’s built has capacity for more than 100,000 units a year, according to GM.
The skinnyThe Camaro, designed before last year’s industry crash, goes on sale in an era of tight consumer budgets and a fresh push for high-mileage cars from Washington. GM is counting on the Camaro’s retro appeal and modern gadgets to find a broad range of buyers.