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 2SSThe 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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The Denali Ultimate trim is new for 2023.

GMC

The GMC Yukon has always been a luxurious family hauler with beefy capability, but it moved even more upmarket in recent years with added tech and upscale interior materials. GMC just announced an even cushier version of the SUV for the 2023 model year. The Yukon Ultimate Denali gets unique styling touches and upgrades that take the already plush SUV to another level.

2023 GMC Yukon Denali Ultimate22-inch wheels are standard GMC

The Denali Ultimate gets exclusive upgrades over other trims that include 22-inch wheels and chrome accents outside. The full-size SUV just got a complete redesign for 2021, which brought updated boxy styling, and a sleek look, so there are no additional exterior changes for 2023.

GMC offers three engines in the standard Yukon, but only two make it into the Ultimate. The standard powertrain includes a 6.2-liter V8 that produces 420 horsepower. A 3.0-liter turbodiesel is also available that makes 277 horsepower and a whopping 460 pound-feet of torque. A ten-speed automatic transmission is standard for all engines, and four-wheel drive is available.

Inside, the Ultimate comes with Alpine Umber full-grain leather upholstery with 16-way power front seats and massaging. Trim-exclusive contrast stitching and aluminum trim accent the space, and the top model gets an 18-speaker Bose audio system with stainless steel speaker grilles.

2023 GMC Yukon Denali UltimateGrained leather upholstery and upscale interior finishes are standard. GMC

A 10.2-inch infotainment touchscreen comes standard, and offers Google services built in. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard, along with wireless phone charging. A Wi-Fi hotspot and Amazon Alexa functionality are available. GMC also offers Super Cruise hands-free driving system in the Denali Ultimate.

GMC hasn’t detailed pricing for the new SUV yet, but we expect it to start at a premium over the standard Denali, which starts at just over $70,000.

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The Z06 isn't on sale yet, but it's already raising money for charities.

Chevrolet

Just a couple years ago, the Chevrolet Corvette got a major overhaul that completely changed its design, personality, and performance. The car moved to a mid-engine layout for the first time, and its V8 produces thundering performance at a reasonable price. As it has always done with the Corvette, Chevy's laying out special editions for the car, and one of the first in the new generation will be the 2023 Corvette Z06. An early Z06 sold at a Barrett-Jackson auction this weekend to raise money for charity, and the final dollar amount crested the $1 million mark.

2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06The car raised $1 million at the Palm Beach Auction. Chevrolet

The car crossed the block at the Palm Beach Auction, which took place on April 9. It's the first production model of the car, which builds on the mid-engine eighth-generation Corvette. It's powered by a 670-horsepower 5.5-liter flat plane-crank V8, which sends its power to the rear wheels through an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The engine revs much higher than a standard V8 and features a distinct sound. Chevy says the Z06's engine offers the most horsepower of any naturally aspirated V8 on sale.

2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06Rick Hendrick was the winning bidder for the car. 2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06

The car's $1 million price tag raised money for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. The organization supports training of educators at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and Predominantly Black Institutions (PBI). This auction, together with the first retail version of the car auctioned earlier this year, brings the Corvette's total charity haul to $4.6 million in 2022.

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