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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New American supercar

2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 gets reveal date

Chevy draws a line from the Z06 directly to its racing program.

Chevroley

The new Chevrolet Corvettewas a revelation when it was finally announced. The car brought a mid-engine design to the Corvette line for the first time, and put decades of speculation over the shift to bed. We've all known that Chevrolet would eventually release an even higher performance Z06 version of the car, but now we know the date. The automaker just announced that the car will be revealed on October 26.

To build hype for the car's announcement, Chevy released a short teaser video of the Z06 tearing around the Nurburgring. It's clear from the film that the car we'll see in October will be a different beast from its standard predecessor, which mainly comes down to a big change in its powertrain.


2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 The new car will be revealed in October.Chevrolet


The new Z06 is expected to feature a flat-plane crank V8 that will allow it to rev to 8500 or 9000 RPM. The car should see in excess of 600 horsepower from its howling V8, which will be sent to the rear wheels through an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission.



As it has done with other Z06 models, Chevy will bolster the Corvette's suspension and brakes to accommodate higher speeds and the jump in power. The car will be able to carry more speed into corners and stop in a shorter distance than its standard counterpart, which will improve its lap times at the track. Various active and fixed aerodynamics components are also expected.

The C8 Corvette's interior is anything but boring, and the Z06 will carry on with that tradition. We'll still see the long center strip of buttons and controls, along with a digital gauge cluster and nicely upholstered sport seats. The Z06 will most likely get more in the way of carbon fiber and race-inspired trim pieces, but the layout won't deviate from the standard car to a great degree.


2023 Chevrolet Corvette The Z06 will be powered by a flat-plane crank V8.Chevrolet

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The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder arrives on dealer lots this summer.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder doesn't have to be capable of rock crawling or deep water fording. What it has to do is service the needs of families in their daily life and give them the opportunity to competently go off-roading on rocky trails should they desire. The new, fifth-generation models does just that and adds in enough nifty features to make it among the most compelling choices for three-row SUV buyers.

The 2022 Pathfinder is thoroughly modern though not the boxy off-roader it once was. The SUV's styling harkens back to that time with a tilted, darkened C-pillar and a return to a more muscular body style. That styling makes straightforward visibility good but for shorter drivers seeing what is immediately in front of the grille is a challenge that necessitates using surround view camera technology (available only in upper trim levels) when navigating challenging terrain.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder can easily handle the roads less traveled.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Under the hood is a 3.5-liter V6 that offers up 291 horsepower and torque - plenty to do the job without complaint. The SUV's nine-speed automatic transmission replaces the continuously variable transmission (CVT) from the previous generation and delivers smooth shifts. Though low-end torque isn't as robust as I like it to be, once up over 35 mph, the Pathfinder's powertrain delivers smooth, powerful sailing.

The redesigned architecture and components underpinning the Pathfinder make it stable on the road and don't allow it to wallow on winding roads. Even off-road, the suspension provides the right blend of stability while the drive dynamics allowing the driver to feel engaged with their surroundings whether on freshly paved roads, city streets, or muddy trails.

Nissan has given the Pathfinder a 6,000-pound towing capacity and even when maxed out the engine's functionality is strong as ever. The transmission can get held up in a gear mid-range when performing this function, however, with 5,000-6,000 rpms registering on the tachometer but a quick release of the gas pedal recalibrates the offering bringing it down to a more traditional 2,000 rpm range.

The eight-seater Pathfinder clearly has the Toyota Highlander in its sights, with good reason. It's the top-selling three-row SUV in the country. Nissan boasts that three adults can fit across the rear bench seat of the Pathfinder and, as long as they're average size or smaller, the marketing talking point holds up. There is gobs more room back there than there is in the Highlander.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder Nissan has given the Pathfinder ample cargo space.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Getting in and out of the third row is easy thanks to one-touch buttons on the outboard side of the second-row chairs that move the SUV's captain's seats forward creating enough room to get through to the back. Smartly, Nissan's engineers have put duplicates of these buttons on the back side of the same seats allowing third-row passengers to simply press the button to move the seat up.

The third row can also be accessed via a split between the captain's chairs as well, a space traditionally occupied by a center stowage bin/cup holders/arm rest. Owners can quickly remove the center console by opening a panel on the front and pulling the release mechanism. The one-handed operation takes seconds and the console can be easily stored in the under-floor trunk space behind the third row seat for ease.

Speaking of cargo space... The Pathfinder is one of the most spacious midsize SUVs on the market today for both passengers and cargo. There is a substantial amount of room behind the third-row seat and the under-floor storage area is nearly twice the size of the one in the Highlander. Plus, it has a feature that allows the area cover to be automatically propped up when pushed up by a user. This is especially help when carrying groceries or plants home and keeps them from being crushed.

The first- and second-row seats are suitably comfortable, even for extended periods of time and standard trig-zone climate control makes finding the right in-cabin mix easy. Bottle holders in the pockets of the front doors are exceptionally large, fitting even bulky water bottles.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder's front row seats are comfortable.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

In front of the driver is a standard tachometer, speedometer, and 7.0-inch driver information display. Buyers can upgrade to a fully digital 12.3-inch instrument cluster and head-up display but they're not reason enough to upgrade to the top-tier Pathfinder Platinum on their own.

Nissan packs the new Pathfinder with a host of desirable features that make living with the Pathfinder easier including one-touch auto up/down windows, a wireless phone charger, grocery hooks in the rear cargo area, USB ports in all three rows, second-row sunshades, rear door keyless entry, wireless Apple CarPlay, and a motion-activated lift gate.

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is priced to start at $33,410 for the two-wheel drive S base model and $35,310 for the four-wheel drive S base model. The model tops out around $50,000 with destination and delivery included, which seems fair when comparing the Pathfinder to other vehicles in the market.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder can tow up to 6,000 pounds.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

If you're thinking of purchasing a Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride, Honda Pilot, or Highlander, do yourself a favor and schedule a test drive of the new Pathfinder when it arrives at a dealer lot near you. You may just be surprised how seamlessly it fits into your daily life compared to the competition.

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