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2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS Coupe Long-Term Road Test

Car and Driver logo Car and Driver 5/4/2016 JOSH JACQUOT
2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS

Chevrolet’s all-new, sixth-generation 2016 Camaro is lighter and more powerful. It’s a more disciplined machine with meaningful control feel. Its steering, balance, and ability to engage its driver are all unquestionably improved relative to the car it replaces. None of that matters to the wider populace, because, let’s face it, Camaros are for burnouts. And rubber will be melted during this test, no doubt.

Truth is, the 2016 Camaro is good at a lot more than just frying the tires. It’s so comprehensively good, in fact, that it made our 10Best Cars list this year—an honor awarded to the Camaro only one other time since the award’s inception in 1983. And in 1985, when the IROC-Z won, competitors as strong as Ford’s Mustang Shelby GT350 didn’t exist. The Camaro earned its place among the elite with its standout performance and justified a long-term, 40,000-mile relationship.

We ordered an SS coupe and then went heavy with the options. The net result is a $45,580 as-tested price. Camaros start at $26,695, albeit with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. But a Camaro with a four-banger is like seeing AC/DC with Pee-wee Herman standing in for Brian Johnson, er, Axl Rose. There’s also an optional V-6—and it’s fantastic—but we passed that over, too.

We said in the Camaro’s 10Best story that we’d build ours with a V-8, Magnetic Ride Control, and the dual-mode exhaust, and that’s exactly what we did. We also opted for Chevy’s MyLink audio system with an 8.0-inch touchscreen and Bluetooth streaming, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. Options totaled $8285, including the $5000 2SS package, which adds conveniences such as a head-up display, Bose audio, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, and blind-spot monitoring.

Under the hood is Chevy’s 6.2-liter LT1 small-block V-8. In Camaro SS trim, it’s good for 455 horsepower and 455 lb-ft of tire-melting torque. Because we’re into saving the manuals around here, we kept the standard six-speed stick. Active rev-matching and a limited-slip differential acting on a 3.73:1 rear axle also are standard. Four-piston Brembo brake calipers peek through 20-inch front and rear wheels.

Four drive modes controlling throttle calibration, damper stiffness, stability control, exhaust sound, and more are standard, but the addition of optional MR (magnetorheological) dampers adds a more meaningful measure of control to the chassis in each mode.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS Coupe© JOSH JACQUOT 2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS Coupe Early Impressions

Burnouts? Check. Powerslides? Check. Ride comfort? Check. Wait—what?

It’s true. The Camaro’s ability to smooth frost heaves and blaze through broken pavement is truly remarkable. U.S. 23 just north of the Ohio border, a section of road that tortured us in our long-term Ford Mustang GT and our (now-departed) Subaru BRZ, was far from punishing in the Camaro. Even Sport mode doesn’t yield a busy ride, while some staffers find Tour mode to be too soft in many situations. The difference between them is easily discernible.

A pony car demands a perfectly matched clutch/shifter combo, and Chevy nailed the balance here. The slick-shifting six-speed is superb in daily use, allowing the driver to swap cogs cleanly and quickly. Even the occasional need to slam home second gear in the middle of a slide is trivial with this transmission. The Tremec TR-6060 gearbox shrugs off machine-gun-quick shifts with its synchros intact.

The coupe’s 4.0-second zero-to-60-mph time is only 0.1 second behind what we measured in the eight-speed-automatic-equipped Camaro SS featured in our latest Mustang-versus-Camaro cage match. Our long-termer’s quarter-mile time matched that car at 12.3 seconds while smoking through the traps at 118 mph, 2 mph faster. More notably, it’s only 0.1 second and 1 mph behind the last Corvette Stingray we tested.

Handling was on par with previous SS trims, too. At 0.98 g on the skidpad, the Camaro’s lateral acceleration approaches the magic 1.00-g milestone and easily tops that of the Mustang GT. It’s also only 0.01 g off the mark set by the BMW M2. And that’s a sentence we were pretty sure we’d never write. Its stop from 70 mph in 150 feet was a full nine feet shorter than the Bavarian coupe despite carrying about 300 more pounds.

Although we’re still in the honeymoon period with this Camaro, it’s worth noting that its fuel economy to date is matching the EPA’s combined figure of 19 mpg. Certainly that’s due in part to easy driving during the initial break-in period, though, so we’ll be keeping an eye on it once our lead feet have had more opportunity to stomp with impunity.

Grumbles about tanklike visibility remain, but Chevy fixed the Camaro’s other major shortcomings, such as the cheap-looking interior materials, with this sixth-generation car. Whether those gripes will remain at bay will be determined over the next 36,000 miles.

Months in Fleet: 2 months Current Mileage: 3799 miles

Average Fuel Economy: 19 mpg Fuel Tank Size: 19.0 gal Fuel Range: 360 miles

Service: $0 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0

Specifications >VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door coupe

PRICE AS TESTED: $45,580 (base price: $37,295)

ENGINE TYPE: pushrod 16-valve V-8, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection

Displacement: 376 cu in, 6162 cc

Power: 455 hp @ 6000 rpm

Torque: 455 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm

TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual

DIMENSIONS:

Wheelbase: 110.7 in

Length: 188.3 in

Width: 74.7 in Height: 53.1 in

Passenger volume: 85 cu ft

Cargo volume: 9 cu ft

Curb weight: 3718 lb

PERFORMANCE: NEW

Zero to 60 mph: 4.0 sec

Zero to 100 mph: 8.8 sec

Zero to 120 mph: 12.8 sec

Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 4.8 sec

Top gear, 30–50 mph: 9.2 sec

Top gear, 50–70 mph: 8.6 sec

Standing ¼-mile: 12.3 sec @ 118 mph

Top speed (C/D est): 165 mph

Braking, 70–0 mph: 150 ft

Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.98 g

FUEL ECONOMY:

EPA city/highway driving: 16/25 mpg

C/D observed: 19 mpg

Unscheduled oil additions: 0 qt

FUEL ECONOMY:

3 years/36,000 miles bumper to bumper;

5 years/60,000 miles powertrain;

6 years/100,000 miles corrosion protection;

5 years/60,000 miles roadside assistance;

2 years/24,000 miles free routine maintenance

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