2018 Chevrolet Camaro review: Redline looks back up Camaro SS V8's thrilling performance
After driving the track-conquering Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE earlier this year, you may think I would find the Camaro SS a bit of a let down. The SS version of Chevy's four-seater coupe doesn't have a ridiculously powerful 650-horsepower supercharged engine or insane handling prowess, but on regular streets it's anything but a disappointment. In fact, it has just the right combination of power, handling, styling and creature comforts I'd want from a pony car for driving on normal roads.
Powerful and agile
Setting up shop under the hood of the SS is a 6.2-liter V8 producing an admirable 455 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque, mated to a six-speed manual transmission with an excellent automatic rev-matching function. When I wanted to heel and toe it, I could deactivate rev-matching with a pull of a steering wheel paddle. With superb throttle response and thrust throughout the rev range and an easy-to-modulate clutch pedal and fluid shifter, I found nothing to gripe about in the driveline.
Considering the displacement and power, fuel economy isn't bad, either, returning 16 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway according to the EPA.
Meaty 20-inch Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 3 run-flat tires help to get all the power down during launches. The wide rubber delivers a ton of grip, serving the Camaro well in corners, while the optional Magnetic Ride Control suspension keeps the 3,700-pound car relatively flat in Sport and Track modes.
Through bends, steering is weighty and fairly responsive to inputs, while the Brembo brakes with four-piston front and rear calipers quickly slow the SS down, allowing for deep dives into braking zones. Again, it's not ZL1 1LE levels of agility, but more than I would ever need for bombing around back roads.
For daily driving, which the majority of Camaro SS models leaving dealer lots will mostly do, toggling the car to the Touring setting unlocks a surprisingly comfortable ride. Steering lightens up and the suspension offers more ride compliance, and even bigger bumps don't punish occupants badly, impressive considering the low-profile tires.
I've been a fan of the sixth-generation Camaro's sheetmetal since its debut, but that doesn't mean it can't be improved. Case in point, the Redline edition package that my tester is wearing adds a number of blacked-out features such as 20-inch aluminum wheels, mirrors, bowtie emblems, decklid decal and dark finish tail lamps. There's also a slathering of red accents, such as around the front fender decals, a design element from Chevrolet's motorsports history.
Normally, I'm not a huge supporter of styling packages, but I can definitely get behind the Redline treatment on the Camaro. The subtle changes do give the Chevy muscle car more visual attitude.
A better cockpit
As for the cabin, the $2,345 Redline edition package only adds premium carpeted floor mats to surroundings that are leaps and bounds better than the previous gen Camaro. The layout is clean and intuitive, built from nicer materials, and sports comfortable cooled and heated front seats and a heated steering wheel that is awesome with colder temps upon us here in the Midwest.
Infotainment is handled by a responsive Chevy MyLink system with an 8-inch touchscreen controlling a nine-speaker Bose audio system, 4G Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth and is capable of running both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The optional $495 navigation system works as advertised and quickly calculates routes to destinations.
For a coupe, smart device charging options are plentiful with two USB ports in the center armrest, a regular power outlet on the center console and a wireless charging pad that comes standard on 2SS models of the Camaro.
However, there are still some problems inside of the Camaro. Difficult ingress and egress to a snug backseat remains a major issue, as is the narrow opening for loading and unloading items into the 9.1 cubic-feet trunk and the terrible rearward visibility.
To help with the visibility problem, the Camaro has a backup camera, rear park assist and rear cross traffic alert to help not hit anything or anyone in parking lots. On the road, lane change alert and side blind zone alert help cope with the Chevy's very large blind spots.
My Camaro SS
If I was on the market for a Chevy Camaro SS, I'd spec out a car that is identical to this 2SS test car. With the 2SS I get the Bose audio system, heated steering wheel for Michigan winters, wireless charging pad for my Samsung Galaxy S8 and the blind-spot monitoring and rear-cross traffic alert to better deal with the Camaro's rear visibility issues.
I would also spring for the $1,695 Magnetic Ride Control suspension, as it's worth every penny to have a car that can be both tight and entertaining on twisty roads and then be comfortable and forgiving for slogging through traffic at the press of a button.
Since I still like onboard navigation systems and Chevy's is a good one, I'll throw on that $495 option, too, along with the Redline edition package because I do fancy the slightly more sinister appearance the styling touches bring. The options and destination charges would bump the $42,000 base price of my Camaro 2SS to $47,530.
The class of the pony car field
That price tag seems reasonable for what is the most refined and best all-around American muscle car available today. The Camaro SS delivers performance, ride comfort, looks, a healthy list of tech features and respectable interior surroundings. It still has a few issues, but if I were shopping for a pony car, I'd take it over a comparable Ford Mustang or Dodge Challenger.