The Chevy Camaro is far more than just a sporty coupe for a great price. That’s what it has traditionally been over the last 50 years, but recent R&D turned the pony car into a world-class sports car. Take a look at why the Camaro should be on your shopping list.
Camaro = Choices
Many models today, such as the hugely popular Toyota RAV4, limit you to just one engine choice. Not here. The base Camaro used to be a boring budget model, but now offers four-cylinder fuel economy with a turbo 2.0-liter. It generates 275 horsepower, and reviewers call it the fun choice when on a budget. The 3.6-liter V6 gives a traditional sport coupe flavor, with 335 horsepower making it a solid Nissan 370Z competitor.
For the V8 muscle car crowd, you have a few options. The base V8 is the SS trim with a 6.2-liter under the hood, delivering anywhere from 400 to 455 horsepower depending on the year. Z28 and ZL1 are race packages that add a supercharger or an even larger V8, and make between 580 and 650 horsepower for a supercar experience. Want even more options? You can get a manual or automatic transmission with any of the above engines. This is the car you can get exactly how you want it.
Look for the 1LE package if you want supercar handling and braking performance, available with every engine above. Like the Ford Mustang‘s Performance Package option, the 1LE is code for bigger Brembo brake calipers, performance pads, and numerous suspension upgrades. Those include larger diameter sway bars, specially tuned dampers, and stiffer bushings. Rounding out the package is grippy summer tires, a sportier steering wheel, and Recaro seats to hold you in place during high speed corners.
Legit sports car
Old Camaros are good drag racers, and that’s about where their driving praise ended. The current Camaro earns raise for responsive steering and nimble handling. Shifting the manual transmission earns adjectives like “fun” and “wonderful” by reviewers. It has near perfect 50/50 front-rear weight balance for carving up canyon roads. Camaro SS ran MotorTrend‘s test track right on the heels of the three-times as expensive Porsche 911. Chevy backed this up recently when a Camaro ZL1 set a racetrack record faster than the $250,000 Ferrari 488 GTB. The base V8 in the SS is still a good drag racer too, running zero to sixty in four seconds flat.
It’s a Caddy underneath
Way back in the day, the Camaro shared its chassis with the Pontiac Firebird. Starting in 2010, the Camaro used a platform shared with Australia’s Holden division (you’ve seen on the street as the Pontiac G8 and rare Chevrolet SS), and the current sixth-generation model is a Cadillac underneath that bodywork. Since 2016, the chassis is shared with the Cadillac ATS and CTS, and the Camaro benefits from the refinement and built-in luxury. It’s a surprisingly quiet car, and doesn’t beat you up when driving down terrible potholed roads. Like the ATS, the Camaro is lightweight, aluminum intensive, and an all around wonderful drive.
Even in the base model, the Camaro has plenty of technology. No need to do without cool tech here, as it has what you need in a standard HD 7-inch infotainment screen, and an 8-inch screen if you want Nav. This bright and clear screen runs Chevy’s easy to use MyLink system, powering popular apps like Apple CarPlay, and the OnStar safety feature. There’s also the useful Cloud connectivity, 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, wireless phone charging, and a cool performance data recorder so you can look at your speedy shenanigans later.
Buying a Camaro for your kid? While insurance will be high for a teenager, know that they are in a safe car. Camaro earns five stars from the NHTSA and a bunch of Good scores in IIHS crash tests. LED headlights and tail lights increase nighttime visibility to other drivers. Active safety features include a bunch of capitalized descriptors, including: Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Side Blind Zone Alert with Lane Change Alert, and Forward Collision Alert. There’s also eight airbags, and an ultra-high-strength steel safety cage.
Camaro earned a big stack of awards over the years. To start, the fifth gen was awarded Global Design of the Year. The 3.6-liter features direct injection, engine start-stop tech, cylinder deactivation for fuel savings, and it’s continually listed on Ward’s 10 Best Engines list. The highest praise is probably MotorTrend‘s 2016 Car of the Year award, which surprised even them. They summarized their verdict as: “A revelation. Absolutely world-class sports car performance and dynamics from an American icon. The new Camaro is one of the finest driver’s cars in the world.”