Special Coverage

Auto Interiors Conference

Critics have gushed over the exterior design of the new-for-’10 Chevrolet Camaro since its introduction a year ago, and now the car’s interior gets its just rewards.

The Camaro wins a 2010 Ward’s Interior of the Year award in the sports car segment for striking the correct balance between modernity and nostalgia, using quality materials, combining comfort and performance and executing crisp fit and finish.

“A beautiful exterior writes a check that would be tough for any interior to cash,” writes Ward’s AutoWorld Editor-in-Chief Drew Winter on his Camaro scoresheet. “But this is simple, modern, yet still delightfully nostalgic.”

WardsAuto.com Associate Editor Byron Pope adds: “Very tight gaps. You can barely see the outline of the glove box.”

When GM decided to bring the Camaro back from its 7-year hiatus, the auto maker turned to the first-generation car, or the three model years between ’67 and ’69 when its styling was richest.

But GM designers exercised admirable restraint, choosing only those design cues with carryover appeal, such as deeply recessed gauges in square housings with chrome outlines and a console-mounted gauge package with oil pressure, oil temperature, voltage and transmission-fluid temperature.

At the same time, they delivered all the pleasant surprises 2010 can offer, such as ambient lighting, Bluetooth and USB capability and a booming Boston Acoustics 9-speaker audio system.

“Superior use of ambient lighting,” offers Eric Mayne, editor of Ward’s News Operations. Steve Finlay, editor of Ward’s Dealer Business, adds: “Really nice package. Personifies GM’s interior push.”

Critics being critics, the Camaro did draw a handful of gripes. Staffers lamented the car’s mushy seats and big blind spots due to oversized A-pillars and door-side mirrors.

In the end, however, the Camaro’s pluses rule the day while remaining an excellent value.

There is no price cap for sports cars in this year’s competition, but Ward’s considers our tester vehicle (powered by an excellent 3.6L V-6) a great value at $29,175.

That price includes standard items such as leather seating surfaces; 6-way power adjustable driver’s seat; a leather-wrapped, tilt/telescoping steering wheel; the 4-pack of auxiliary gauges and a leather-wrapped shift knob.

Priceless is the nostalgic exhilaration that goes along with this classic muscle-car experience.

jamend@wardsauto.com