Over the last few years, I have test drove various vehicles and have been on countless journeys but test driving one of America’s most classic cars across the desert states was an incredible way to get acquainted with the all new Chevrolet Camaro. Chances are you are too young to remember the first generation that was introduced back in 1967, but it was an instant hit and an integral part of the muscle car era and road racing. To this day, the ’67 Camaro with orange houndstooth interior is amongst my top 10 favourite cars of all time. We got the chance to spend 36 hours on an epic road trip with a pre-production car to celebrate the launch of the sixth generation Camaro.
We departed Toronto last week with a quick connection in Denver to New Mexico. Here is where we commenced our “Oprah and Gayle” adventure to ‘Find New Roads’ and help Chevrolet take this special fleet of new Camaro’s across all 48 contiguous states along with over 100 other media and journalists. With very limited guidelines or rules from brand, we were challenged to learn as much as we could about the vehicles features, while trying to hit as many points of interest within the sphere of our driving leg.
We touched down in Albuquerque just in time for sundown and took the opportunity to explore the city by foot before the all the driving started the next morning. If you’re a fan of “Breaking Bad”, you would have been completely geeking out. Majority of the hit show was filmed within a 10 mile radius of where we were staying. The next morning the Chevrolet brand team informed us that the cars would be given out at random to the media and journalists on this leg of the drive. This news immediately created anxiety amongst myself and the rest of the male auto journalists. There was a mix of automatic and manual transmissions, V6’s and V8’s and one or two SS’s thrown into the mix. My desire for a manual transmission v8 came as a bit of a surprise to the rest of team. Unfortunately this time around luck was not on my side and I ended up with a Summit White V6 2.0L Turbo with an 8 speed paddle-shift automatic transmission. I mean, not a bad consolation prize but I was dying to test out the 6 speed manual. However, when we pulled out of the hotel parking lot and I heard the deep throaty sounds coming from the twin exhaust pipes, my FOMO started to disappear. This V6’s guts and responsiveness took me by surprise – in a good way.
With our ride packed, which we fondly called Walter White in honour of Breaking Bad’s leading character, we hit the road for five hours across New Mexico to Alamangoro to White Sands. Located at the northern end of the Chihuahuan Desert lies the Tularosa Basin. Rising from the heart of this basin is one of the world’s great natural wonders – the white sands of New Mexico. Great wave like dunes of gypsum sand have engulfed 275 square miles of desert here and created the largest gypsum dune field in the world. We originally had other plans to drive up north to some points of interest in Colorado but when we found out about this little gem, we diverted from our plans and headed out for a little adventure. The dunes, brilliant and white, are ever changing. They grow, crest but always advance thanks to strong southwest winds.
The brand portfolios within General Motors has always impressed me with their advanced technology and entertainment features, which were definitely welcomed as we racked up all that windshield time. We relied heavily on the Camaro’s OnStar system and Apple CarPlay, which you have heard me rave about before in my most recent Chevrolet posts. With just a touch of the Blue Button located on the rear view mirror, we had highway concierge at our disposal during our trip, that helped us find where we were going and even find a place to stay at our next destination in Arizona before we left White Sands. With 4G LTE Wifi and Apple CarPlay, we were able to cruise the desert and be connected to our beloved social media channels while also being able to use our iPhone functionalities that were paired through the vehicle’s instrument panel; directions via Apple Maps, sending/reading and receiving iMessages, making calls, listening to our fave tunes from both our phones and Spotify. In very remote areas there was no cell phone reception and at times the wifi signal in the car was not strong enough, but we were thankfully able to receive turn-by-turn directions to the vehicle in the wee hours of the morning to help us navigate our way across state lines.
After venturing off our pre-planned route to explore the white desert sands, we were left for a quiet and lonely 9 hour ride to Sedona, Arizona. To say it was desolate was an understatement. All the towns we passed through had closed down by 7pm. Stores, restaurants and gas stations…all closed. No street lights.
Photos by Nathalia Allen www.amillionminds.ca
We arrived in Sedona after 3am so we had no idea what was around us when we arrived in this adorable town until we woke up the next morning and discovered that we were surrounded in the most beautiful of landscapes. With less than four hours of sleep we woke up and took advantage of the little time we had before having to hit the road to our final destination and did a bit of hiking around Red Rock. When we got to the summit, the views of the rocky red terrain left both Nathalia and I breathless. Suddenly I became jealous of having skyscrapers as my playground at home instead of mountains. The change of scenery was just what we needed. Here’s a sneak peek at the #CamaroSix:
So here’s the skinny: in my opinion the transformer-esque coupe has an appealing body type and is significantly light, roughly 200 lbs lighter vs the 5th generation. This is partially because it rides on a version of the Alpha platform that also works well with the Cadillac ATS and CTS. Both the driver and passenger seats provided the comfort we needed during our long highway drives but as you probably imagined, the rear seats are purely ornamental and can be compared to those of a Porsche 911. Non-existant. Also, the HVAC vents were oddly placed quite low in the centre stack, so it channeled the air low towards my hand on the gear shift. It’s low profile and open front grill helped keep the Camaro grounded on all the winding desert and mountain roads. I also loved the standard features like the new Driver Mode Selector that gives you Snow/Ice, Tour and Sport modes allowing for easy adaptation to changing driving conditions plus the leather wrapped flat bottom steering wheel was easy on the hands after several hours behind the wheel at a time.
For more information plus pricing on the 2016 Camaro 2.0L Turbo and it’s 6.2L V8 and 3.6L V6, click here.