Reader Rant: A Trip in the 2019 Camaro

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Here’s the latest reader rant, along with my reply!

Mark writes: I’m awfully glad I rented a 2019 Camaro convertible because my extended test drive over the weekend revealed some serious dislikes on the car.

The worst thing about the car was the lack of visibility with the top up. You really get used to using the side mirrors while driving! The rear view mirror and window was useless with the top up. Head checks were fruitless. So this made changing lanes on the freeway an exercise in faith, especially with declining the damage liability waiver at the counter!

Likewise when backing the car out of a parking spot. The rearview camera display made up for this though. However, I’m old school regarding backup cameras.

The vents, too, were poorly placed. They blew the A/C on my arms vs. my body. However, the controls for it were nice. There is very little storage in the cabin for your stuff. Storage pockets in the doors are too far back and too small. There is no storage up front by the gear shift lever. The trunk too, is a joke. The saddlebags and luggage rack on my motorcycle have more storage! Years ago, I rented a Mustang convertible and found that the trunk space was very good, given the car was a convertible. The audio system on the Camaro is nice, with connectivity to the phone in order to play songs on the playlist. Sound is good with the top either up or down. With the top up, ambient/road noise was low. With the top down, road noise was not bad at all.

The seats were very comfortable, and with the top down, it is a nice cruiser. However, the door sill is too high, so I could not put my arm on the window sash. I found this to be annoying, because you want to cruise like Steve McQueen, with your arm hanging outside the car! The engine has very good power, but there is a turbo lag. Once you do punch it, there is a small delay, but boy does it take off! Cruising was good, but moderate acceleration while at freeway speed resulted in a kick-down of the automatic transmission.

A bigger engine would allow for passing in stride. The trip computer said 26 mpg combined, so that was nice. You’d likely never get that with a six or 8 cylinder engine. Overall, especially with the lack of trunk space, I would buy a Mustang (if I wanted a high-horsepower car) or a Fiat Spider for a good top-down cruiser.

My reply: I once loved Camaros. I no longer do.  Subjectively, I find the styling of the current car awkward; it looks like the offspring of a down-low encounter between a current Corvette and a ’69 Z28. A weird mishmash of “retro” themes and new supercar angularity.

It is also too big – and too small.

The car itself is physically enormous, especially in terms of width – so much so that it takes up most the lane and one finds oneself fretting the shoulder and the double yellow. Encountering a bicyclist means waiting until the opposing lane is clear to attempt a pass.

But inside, it’s comically cramped. Even for a muscle car, the back seats are preposterous. Literally unusable, except for a gym bag. And the trunk will barely take that gym bag, so it’s good the back seats can.

Visibility is glaucomic – as you’ve described. I am the farthest thing from a Safety Nazi, but this car is dangerous due to the sight blockage from the slouched-down seating position, Chiclet-sized rear glass, abbreviated door glass and girder-thick side pillars.

I would never buy or recommend a new Camaro to anyone. The Mustang is a much better design, as is the Challenger.

Or – as you note – a Miata.

. . .

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  1. I remember renting a SS Convertible in San Diego with my sister back 2 January’s ago.

    Somehow, we made it work with all the luggage and it was fun to drive topless, and honestly, if it weren’t for Mary Barra, I’d consider one as a toy, but alas, other nice cars that are a ton cheaper to consider.

    Imo, best Muscle though is the Challenger, most retro and as of now, no turbo 4banger, though with the new guy there..

  2. The new Camaro has always looked like a Hot Wheels car to me, or maybe a child’s rendition of a car. The doors are too tall and the glass is too small. The other makers have done a much better job.