Chevrolet understands what customers expect from the Camaro, and the sixth-generation model exceeds those expectations. The Camaro rides on GM's Alpha platform, which is shared with both the Cadillac ATS and CTS. It's an incredibly stiff and light foundation for a performance car, and coupled with weight loss elsewhere relative to the previous generation--200 pounds in total--the Camaro packs quite a punch.
The Camaro is offered in several trim levels: 1LS, 1LT, 2LT, 1SS, 2SS and ZL1. It is also the most fuel-efficient Camaro to date, thanks to three fantastic engines. The 2.0L turbocharged four puts out an impressive 275 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque while posting a 0-60 mph time of 5.4 seconds and returning an estimated 30 mpg on the highway, according to GM.
The direct-injected 3.6L V6 features variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation--a V6 first--all of which combine for 335 horsepower and 284-lb-ft of torque, plus up to 27 mpg on the highway. GM claims it will hit 60 mph from a stop in just over five seconds. The engine is the most powerful naturally aspirated V6 in its class.
Finally, the 6.2L V8 is also direct-injected and makes a healthy 455 horsepower and 455 lb-ft of torque--enough to propel the Camaro SS to 60 mph just 4 seconds. It, too, features cylinder deactivation, and the engine returns an estimated 28 mpg on the highway. In the ZL1, this engine is supercharged and makes 650 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque.
Suspension is handled thanks to double-pivot control arms and struts up front and a five-link setup in the rear. Chevy's adaptive Magnetic Ride Control damping system is optional on the SS and provides fully adjustable control for aggressive cornering.
A 6-speed manual transmission is standard on all Camaros, while an 8-speed automatic with steering wheel paddles is optional. In the SS, it features rev matching during downshifts.
The Camaro is available in either coupe or convertible form, and trim levels are more or less equal. The chief difference, of course, is the automatic drop top, which can be controlled by either the key fob or a button on the dash. It can be lowered at speeds up to 30 mph.
The entry-level 1LS Camaro offers standard automatic headlights with LED daytime running lights, 18-inch alloy wheels, and, when equipped with the manual transmission, a limited-slip differential. Included inside are 8-way driver and 6-way passenger power-adjustable cloth seats. A rear-vision camera, cruise control and a tilt/telescopic leather-wrapped steering wheel are also included, as are a 6-speaker stereo, Bluetooth and 4G LTE WiFi connectivity and Chevrolet's MyLink infotainment on a 7-inch touchscreen. An adjustable Drive Mode Selector is also standard and includes Tour, Sport and Snow/Ice settings.
The 1LT adds remote start and paddle shifters when equipped with the automatic transmission. The 2LT features an auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated and ventilated leather front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control and an upgraded infotainment system with an 8-inch screen and Bose premium audio.
In addition to its monster V8 engine, the 1SS trim is outfitted much like the 1LT but also adds xenon headlights and LED taillights, quad exhausts and a rear spoiler. Beneath the surface there's a limited-slip differential, upgraded brakes and suspension, and a Track mode is added to the Drive Mode Selector for extra aggressive performance. The 1SS rides on run-flat tires and 20-inch wheels. A 1LE Track Performance Package brings improved suspension with adaptive dampers, special forged alloy wheels, Brembo brakes and Recaro sport seats.
The 2SS Camaro builds upon the 2LT with the Convenience and Lighting Packages, which add heated, auto-dimming outside mirrors, illuminated sill plates, a heated steering wheel, inductive mobile device charging, a heads-up display and improved gauge cluster, and rear parking sensors, rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot monitoring and lane departure warning.
Finally, in addition to its supercharged V8, the Camaro ZL1 features launch control and all the features of the 2SS and 1SS 1LE trims. A 6-speed manual is standard, though a 10-speed automatic is optional. On the ZL1, the 1LE Extreme Track Performance Package brings track-ready suspension dampers, a carbon-fiber hood and rear spoiler and 19-inch forged alloy wheels.
Popular options for the 1LT and 2LT include the RS Package, which features appearance items like xenon headlights and LED taillights, 20-inch wheels and a unique grille and front spoiler.
Safety features include several airbags, including full-length side curtain, traction and stability control, anti-lock brakes and OnStar with automatic crash notification, remote unlocking and turn-by-turn navigation.
The modern muscle car segment is generally limited to three cars: the Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger and Ford Mustang. In that group, the refreshed 2019 Camaro does a commendable job appealing to buyers who want some old-school antics mixed in with modern comforts.
But, in an effort to expand its appeal beyond the traditional triumvirate, Chevrolet's determined to pit its latest two-door offering -- specifically, its four-cylinder Turbo 1LE trim -- against other low-starting-price weekend performers like the Ford Focus ST, Subaru BRZ and Volkswagen Golf GTI. In some respects, this angling works, but a deeper investigation into daily life with the Camaro highlights a few reasons why this comparison might not work out in the Camaro's favor.
My tester's Turbo 1LE spec is probably the most attractive of all the new Camaro variants. While higher trim levels like the SS have a split-front-bumper design that makes the front end look more like a 2019 Silverado, my Turbo 1LE has a body-color strip of white running between the upper and lower grilles, making the whole thing look a lot cleaner.
The Good The Camaro is fun to drive and it's suitably stuffed with creature comforts and tech.
The Bad Visibility is bad, the trunk opening is awkward and the interior quality is especially hit or miss.
The Bottom Line There's plenty to like about the Camaro, if you can deal with the less savory stuff.
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