Behind the Wheel

2021 Chevrolet Camaro Review: It's all well and good but don't buy the manual

The Chevrolet 2SS is an athletic car that is ruined by its standard manual transmission.

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

There are few cars that make me want to stop driving them. The first was the last-generation Toyota Prius. The other was the 2021 Chevrolet Camaro. It's not all bad. Certainly each has their advantages and disadvantages, but the drive experience for both made me prefer to park it.

The Camaro is a good car. A perfectly good car. It's one of the best embodiments of American muscle you can buy new, today, right up there with Ford Mustang. As tested in the 2SS grade, the Camara is sporty, quick, and stylish. Still, it's not perfect - not by a long shot.

2021 Chevrolet Camaro 2SS The Camaro has an athletic and beefy body style.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

2021 Chevrolet Camaro 2SS

What the Camaro isn't missing is the one thing that enthusiasts will say that it absolutely has to have in order to be a true sports car. Buyers get a six-speed manual transmission (standard) in their Camaro SS, but doing so is one of the worst decisions you can make when buying a new Camaro, unless you're prepared to take it to a mechanic and have some aftermarket *ahem* fixes done to it. Chevy also offers their smooth-as-silk 10-speed automatic for discerning customers.

With long, narrow channels and an even longer stick, simply operating the car's shifter was a chore. Add to that the numb clutch and gas pedal and GM's skip shift technology, which requires the driver to skip gears to save on fuel, and the entire experience is enough to make you want to stop driving the car.

Buyers who get the six-speed in their Camaro LT1, SS, and ZL1 get active rev matching technology included. This tech stabilizes gear selections on the way back down and proves especially helpful in driving situations where you'd have to slow but not stop, such as where the person in front of you is moving into a turn lane or you are traversing a rotary. The tech also is said to improve fuel economy.

If you're driving the Camaro with a stick, you'll be unable to use the car's cupholders while driving due to their position on the center console.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

But it's not natural. None of it feels natural. You simply shouldn't be able to stay in sixth through a roundabout or drop below 1,000 rpms in a gear without serious feedback from the powertrain. Downshifting to gain more torque is a thrill and an exercise in the type of control buyers of this type of transmission crave. To have it mellowed by technology for perceived convenience is maddening.

The manual also requires a high level of revving to get off the line. The Mustang with the Performance Pack requires this too. However, in the Chevy there is more rearward sway than is usual in a six-speed. And, in case you haven't noticed, drivers are keen on crawling up a vehicle's backside at a stop light.

So there I sat, at an intersection with 455 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque ready to be generated by the car's 6.2-liter V8 and all I could think is, "I really hate driving this."

The seats of the Chevrolet are comfortable though the rear seats are lacking the legroom that would make sitting easy for adults.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

You see, it's the driving bit that's the issue. The $44,000-ish Camara was plenty filled with tech and well-styled appointments. It was all a bit status quo for the Chevy lineup, but an abundance of shared parts are what you can expect from most every GM model. Fit and finish was about as good as you could want.

But when you're in it, you don't care. All the reasons you're in a Camaro fly out the window when you realize that you really hate driving it. It's better to be seen in a Camry that delivers you comfortably and capably to your job than a Camaro that causes to you arrive frustrated (yet again) and browsing the best car deals ads (yet again).

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Domino's and Nuro announced their partnership in 2019 — and now the robots are hitting the roads.

Photo courtesy of Nuro

After announcing their partnership to work on pizza deliveries via self-driving robots in 2019, Dominos and Nuro have officially rolled out their technology to one part of town.

Beginning this week, if you place a prepaid order from Domino's in Woodland Heights (3209 Houston Ave.), you might have the option to have one of Nuro's R2 robot come to your door. This vehicle is the first do deliver completely autonomously without occupants with a regulatory approval by the U.S. Department of Transportation, according to a news release.

"We're excited to continue innovating the delivery experience for Domino's customers by testing autonomous delivery with Nuro in Houston," says Dennis Maloney, Domino's senior vice president and chief innovation officer, in the release. "There is still so much for our brand to learn about the autonomous delivery space. This program will allow us to better understand how customers respond to the deliveries, how they interact with the robot and how it affects store operations."

Orders placed at select dates and times will have the option to be delivered autonomously. Photo courtesy of Nuro

Nuro Domino's delivery vehicle

The Nuro deliveries will be available on select days and times, and users will be able to opt for the autonomous deliveries when they make their prepaid orders online. They will then receive a code via text message to use on the robot to open the hatch to retrieve their order.

"Nuro's mission is to better everyday life through robotics. Now, for the first time, we're launching real world, autonomous deliveries with R2 and Domino's," says Dave Ferguson, Nuro co-founder and president, in the release. "We're excited to introduce our autonomous delivery bots to a select set of Domino's customers in Houston. We can't wait to see what they think."

California-based Nuro has launched a few delivery pilots in Houston over the past few years, including the first Nuro pilot program with Kroger in March 2019, grocery delivery from Walmart that was revealed in December 2019, and pharmacy delivery that launched last summer.

From being located in a state open to rolling out new AV regulations to Houston's diversity — both in its inhabitants to its roadways, the Bayou City stood out to Nuro, says Sola Lawal, product operations manager at Nuro.

"As a company, we tried to find a city that would allow us to test a number of different things to figure out what really works and who it works for," Lawal says on an episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. "It's hard to find cities that are better than Houston at enabling that level of testing."

You can find out which self-driving vehicles are being tested in your neck of the woods by clicking here.

This article first appeared on AutomotiveMap's sister site InnovationMap.

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The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 is on sale now.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG
The all-electric range of the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 has been confirmed. The model is the first modern electric Volkswagen to be sold in the U.S. and a model that the German automaker is resting a lot of hopes on for the future of sales in the country.

The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Pro with all-wheel drive will achieve an EPA-estimated 260 miles of all-electric range on a full charge. The ID.4 Pro S and 1st Edition, which have more features and equipment and therefore weigh more, achieve an estimated 250 miles of range.

The EPA-estimated fuel economy for ID.4 Pro RWD is 107 MPGe in the city; 91 MPGe on the highway, and 99 MPGe combined. The ID.4 Pro S and 1st Edition does slightly worse achieving 104 MPGe in the city, 89 MPGe on the highway, and 97 MPGe combined.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4: Exterior The "1st" badging denotes the vehicle as a first edition model. Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

These new numbers come as part of a second round of EPA testing. Original testing found that the model did not quite hit its target.

How does that compare to other EVs? The Nissan Leaf Plus offers 226 miles of all-electric power. The Hyundai Kona Electric delivers 258 miles. Volvo's XC40 Recharge has just 208 miles of all-electric range but the Tesla Model Y can go up to 326 miles on one full charge.

First out of the Volkswagen gate will be ID.4 models with an 82-kilowatt-hour battery and rear-mounted AC permanent-magnet synchronous motor. That system delivers 201 horsepower and 228 pound-feet of torque.

At a public DC fast-charging station with 125 kW charging, the ID.4 can go from five to 80 percent charged in about 38 minutes. With purchase, ID.4 owners receive three years of unlimited charging at Electrify America DC Fast Chargers at no additional cost.

The 2021 ID.4 is on sale now, with pricing for the rear-wheel-drive ID.4 Pro starting at $39,995 MSRP, before a potential Federal tax credit of up to $7,500. The Pro S carries an MSRP of $44,495. The limited-run ID.4 1st Edition, which sold out the day the vehicle was launched, carried an MSRP of $43,995.

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