40,000 miles isn’t a particularly significant milestone of car ownership. It doesn’t have the same ring to it that 50,000 does, many warranties have already expired (more on that later), and I’ve only averaged about 10,000 miles per year. However, I needed to write about something, and this was about all I could think of. I could have waited until I got 50,000 miles on my Camaro to write an article like this, but that would probably take another year. I got this car as a high school graduation present in February 2014, several months before I actually graduated. In case you’re wondering why my family bought it before I graduated, the reason is simple. Rebates. Specifically, a rebate called “this winter sucks” rebate at Dan Cummins Chevrolet in Paris, KY. Paris, KY is just outside Lexington in the heart of thoroughbred country. Those horse farms were beautiful and covered in a blanket of snow the morning we made the roughly three hour drive to the dealership.
The snow had been cleared off the roads that morning, and it was a good thing as we left home around 5:00 AM to get to the dealership as soon as it opened. Upon arrival, a salesman dug the driver’s side door out from under several inches of snow to start the car and turn the defrost on max. I left the test drive to my dad since I had driven another Camaro of the exact same spec (down to the matte black stripes) a few weeks prior. After a little typical bickering with the salesman, we settled on a price and bought the car. Or, my dad bought the car. Yeah, I know; daddy’s money, right?
The first few thousand miles passed pretty uneventfully – save for a few rock chips – as I drove my Camaro to college at the University of Alabama. I won’t bore you with more unnecessary stories. I’ll just get to the point of discussing some pros and cons of fifth generation Camaro ownership.
There isn’t much to complain about having a new sportscar as a first car. Sure, it could have a V8, but there are good things about the V6. The first of which is fuel economy. Admittedly, fuel economy is not high on my priority list for a performance car, but it is nice to get 28 miles per gallon on the interstate on regular unleaded. Zero-to-sixty time for a late 5th-gen Camaro is around six seconds, if you’re concerned about that sort of thing. It handles well, but the weight becomes an issue in sharper corners. The stock BF Goodrich tires have held up well so far and still have plenty of tread, despite one of them getting a staple in it. The 5th-gen also has one of my personal favorite profiles, with a simple trapezoidal shape that cuts through the overly rounded edges on many other cars. It also looks good in low light when the automatic headlights shine out from their recesses in the double-plane grill.
One of my favorite lines from any song is “I can’t complain but sometimes I still do” by Joe Walsh. It’s true in this case, and this is a list of a few complaints I do have about the car. First of all, the exhaust note. It sounds good from a cold start or above 3,000 rpm, but the S197 Mustang with a 3.7 liter V6 sounds way better. Mustangs and Challengers with V6s both sound relatively good with aftermarket exhaust, but the majority of 3.6 liter Camaros with exhaust mods sound like hairdryers. Another con, as I said earlier, is the immense weight. The sixth generation fixes this issue by shaving around 200 pounds, but the fifth is a little overweight. The visibility is not good, but it is better than most people claim. There is a simple two-step process to solving the visibility issues. Step 1: Back into parking places. Step 2: Turn your head to the side before merging. Do these, and you will overcome the shortcomings of rearward visibility in a fifth-gen Camaro.
My Camaro is holding up pretty well, despite its reputation as a plastic fantastic vehicle. The interior, aside from getting dirty from time to time, is just as it was when we bought the car. The exterior has been dinged up a little bit from parking lots and rock chips. The latter comes from the proportion of interstate miles the car has done driving from my home near Nashville to college, and road trips (mostly to football games) taken from college. The one major flaw the exterior has is a crack in the lower part of the front fascia. I don’t know how it got there.
Unfortunately, I have had a mechanical issue. On the bright side, it was very minor and didn’t affect very much other than my mood for about ten days while I dealt with the Chevy dealership. I noticed a popping sound when going from park to drive or reverse. After ignoring the noise for a short time, I decided to have it checked out. My car has a 100,000 mile power train warranty, so I thought it would be no big deal to have it fixed.
They first determined there was “excessive rotational slack in the left CV axle.” They tried to make me pay for this, despite the fact that axles are obviously part of the power train, and also claimed to have the issue fixed. A sales rep got into the car, cycled through drive and park a couple times – with the A/C and radio turned up – and said it was fixed. I have good hearing and thought I heard something while he was demonstrating the “fix.” I got into the car while the dealer staff was still watching, turned off all sources of extraneous noise, and immediately demonstrated the noise was not gone.
I was more disappointed than angry, because this meant I was going to be stuck with the miserable loaner Malibu the dealer had given me for even longer. In an attempt to speed up the process, I went into the mechanic shop to do the mechanics’ job for them. For some unknown reason, they originally ignored the Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) referring to a popping sound coming from the transmission output shaft due to the factory not using enough adhesive. They just had to get home to see the puck drop, eh? Bad Canadian jokes aside (Fifth Gen Camaros were built in Ontario, Canada), I cannot understand why the mechanics ignored the TSB at first. They knew about it. It was already open on their computer when I went into the shop. Why would they not just do what it said? After the mechanics decided to actually follow the TSB, the problem was fixed. Imagine that. Since then, I haven’t had any issues from my Camaro (unless you count WordPress inexplicably deleting the original ending to this article).
I would recommend a 5th Gen Camaro to someone who wants an affordable performance car but doesn’t mind a few extra pounds and an interior resembling a Fisher Price toy (it’s really not that bad, I just thought that sounded funny). The V6 is efficient, faster than most V8 Camaros made between 1973 and 1997, and affordable to the vast majority of people who are looking for new-to-you wheels. The V8 is powerful, reliable, and has more aftermarket support than Dolly Parton (don’t think about that). They’re good cars and deserve more respect than they’ve gotten from the automotive press.