Camaro Reborn Review and photos by Michael La Fave January 16, 2006 Some people lament the death of the Camaro. I don't, it was a total piece of junk. Sure it was fast but what an unrewarding car to drive. Big, ponderous, made from plastic and what wasn't plastic was welded together with plastic! Ugly too. In fact the only Camaro I ever drove that was any fun at all was at a driving school and the only reason it was fun was because they didn't care what happened to it and neither did I. For those, however, that truly miss the Camaro and aren't ready to wait for the production version of the Camaro concept seen at the recent Detroit auto show, Chevy has a very Camaro-like vehicle in its stable, except that it's disguised as a truck. In fact the Trailblazer SS is a better car than the old Camaro ever was even with its body-on-frame construction, live axle at the back and tractive AWD. Despite the inherent drawbacks of trying to make a performance car out of a truck GM's engineers have done a remarkably good job. The Trailblazer's only real drawback, and it's a big one, is the absolutely dreadful interior. The dashboard looks like microwaved Rubbermade containers but of inferior quality. It is an absolute riot of mismatched shapes and textures. There isn't a heckuva lot of interior space either but there wasn't any in a Camaro so we can forgive it that. The leather front seats with 'SS' embroidery at least are supremely comfortable and well made. The interior is made to look that much worse by the handsome and refined exterior. Smooth flanks, bulging fender flares, angry headlights and massive 20-inch wheels make the 'SS' look like an auto show concept truck. I even like the single exhaust outlet – dual exhausts are passé if you ask me. Better still is the sound that comes out of the tailpipe. I don't know why but the Trailblazer SS, and the SSR retro-pickup for that matter, sound way better than the Corvette. Deep burbling at idle and a monstrous roar at WOT – it's bloody wonderful. The SS has bark to match its bite too. The 6.0-litre LS2 V8 churns out 395-hp (it probably makes the full 400 like the 'Vette but Chevy no doubt wants to save face for its halo sports car) and hooked up to all four wheels via a four speed auto it's a point-and-shoot tactical terror. Despite the SS' hefty weight, the LS2 can easily propel it to over 200 km/h and from a dead stop its seems to gather up its skirt and leap off the line. If anything it could use more precision in the throttle response to avoid snapping the necks of elderly passengers like dried twigs. Of course the downside to all these antics is a voracious appetite for Saudi-champagne. In a week of driving I never did better than 17 L/100 km and I was even trying at times. Once you realize, however, that the SS isn't going to challenge a Prius for economy you just give up and give 'er all the time. Lest you think the SS is a one-trick, dragstrip pony I'm pleased to inform you that it actually corners too. Throw it into a bend and it wobbles a bit on its stilts but once those massive tires are hooked up you can pour in the torque and explode past the apex. Discipline is required, however, as the stability control system cannot be fully disabled and ham-fisted inputs just result in brutalized tires. Within its limits it's a blast. The only competition on the market for the SS is DCX's new Cherokee SRT-8 and though we haven't driven it yet we expect it to be sharper and even quicker thanks to its 425-hp 6.1-litre HEMI V8 and the generally competent chassis engineering of the SRT guys. Stay tuned for that.