DRIVEN: 2014 Chevrolet Camaro RS

Jeff Vaughn Reviews Chevy's Pony Car

(WXYZ) - Growing up, I had Matchbox and Hot Wheels toy cars.  I liked them both, but for different reasons.

The Matchbox cars allowed me to dream of owning a real car someday. Hot Wheels allowed me to imagine owning a hot rod someday.

The 2013 Chevrolet Camaro is a Hot Wheels car.

This factory built hot rod is ready to hit Woodward Avenue straight from the factory and needs no upgrades to fit in with the aftermarket tuner crowd (unless you want) but it does lack in a few areas.      

Chevrolet provided me with a Camaro RS over a weekend for review and I found the sports car to have strong acceleration, superb maneuverability and stopping power to spare. This pony car, equipped with a six-speed transmission, is comfortable stretching its legs on the open highway and nimble on neighborhood back streets.

Here's a list of my LOVES, LIKES, DISLIKES and "WHAT WERE THEY THINKING:"

LOVE: The exterior design. Yes, it's the car seen in the Transformers movies, and that gives it a lot of attention (I had a young man say to me "Autobots Unite" while driving the Bumblebee character) but even without the Hollywood exposure this car stands out.  

LOVE: The big, easy to use knobs for climate control and radio. When you're shifting and driving, the super-sized controls are easy to see and appreciated. 

LOVE: The 6-speed manual transmission. It was a joy to once again get behind the wheel of a sport scar with a manual transmission. The throw between gears was the shortest I have ever experienced, although I thought the shifter could be placed closer to the dash to allow greater arm extension.   

LIKE: The cornering. This Camaro tracks well through corners and holds tight when accelerating through the apex of a turn. It was a pleasure to drive a rear-wheel car again.

LIKE: The thin, low windows. I could see where some drivers may feel the small windows don't allow for a wider range of vision (see below), but the slotted windows gives the Camaro that chopped and dropped look that is so appealing. And driving to work against a rising sun, I didn't need the sun visor.      

DISLIKE: Big blind spot. The byproduct of the slotted windows is an increased blind spot on the driver's side.  I was warned of the blind spot from a co-worker that drives a Camaro, and his advice proved reliable. It's not a big deal and the owner would get used to this blind spot after a while, but one does have to remember to look over their shoulder and not just trust the side mirror.   

DISLIKE: The lower end exhaust note. I expect a car with Camaro's racing and sportscar pedigree to sound good, and it does at around 3000 RPMs, but at the lower end of the tachometer the note is weak and kind of sounds like flatulence. Embarrassing. If this was my car, I would upgrade the exhaust right away. I drove this Camaro shortly after a Mustang GT review and the Ford pony car sounds much better with a throaty growl, straight from the factory floor.   

WHAT WERE THEY THINKING: Seat belt holder FAIL.  Each time I got in the driver's seat of this Camaro I had to reach way back to the rear seat and blindly search for the seat belt because the magnet closure (see picture) on the shoulder strap was not strong enough to hold the belt in place. The weight and momentum of the belt breaks the magnetic connection no matter how gingerly you disengage the belt. If I owned this car I would have to staple or duct tape or something, anything to keep the strap closed. Very frustrating. I do not consider this a safety issue, just a big pain in the butt.   

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