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2017 Chevrolet Camaro

Car and Driver logo Car and Driver 10/10/2016 JOSEPH CAPPARELLA
 

2017 Chevrolet Camaro© JOSEPH CAPPARELLA 2017 Chevrolet Camaro Overview: Ranking right up there with baseball and apple pie on the list of America’s favorites, the Chevrolet Camaro is a household name among muscle cars. It’s now in its sixth generation, and while the looks are familiar, the newest Camaro has matured into an impressive machine—the extent of that performance depending, of course, upon how the car is equipped. Following its 2016 launch, the Camaro lineup continues to broaden, with two body styles, four engines, myriad option packages, and several suspension setups. Both coupe and convertible offer a choice of four-, six-, and eight-cylinder engines. The LT trim comes with a 275-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder as standard. A 335-hp V-6 is a $1495 option, while the SS comes with a 455-hp 6.2-liter V-8 lifted straight from the Corvette.

If that’s still not enough power for you—we’re definitely not judging—the forthcoming Camaro ZL1 will be the new top dog with an absurd 650 horsepower courtesy of the Corvette Z06’s supercharged 6.2-liter LT4 V-8. Also at the hard-core end of the performance scale is the 1LE package, which includes all sorts of track-ready, go-fast bits, among them an electronically controlled limited-slip differential, a performance exhaust system, Brembo brakes, magnetorheological dampers, and sticky summer tires. The 1LE package is available only for the coupe and costs $4500 on V-6 LT models and $6500 on the V-8 SS. It achieves its singular purpose well: Both 1LE versions performed admirably at our 2016 Lightning Lap event at Virginia International Raceway, with the V-6 edition turning in a lap time of 3:04.0—a new class record—and the V-8 model, at 2:54.8, lapping faster than much more expensive sports cars, including the Audi R8 V10 Plus.

What’s New: Other than the addition of the ZL1 and 1LE models, Chevy also is rolling out the red carpet for the 50th anniversary of the Camaro, which made its debut in 1966 as a 1967 model. A new 50th Anniversary special-edition package is being offered on coupe and convertible models; it adds $9200 to the LT trim and $6795 to the SS. It requires the 2LT or 2SS trim level and also includes specific 20-inch wheels, orange brake calipers, an exterior stripe, black and gray leather seats, and, of course, special “Fifty” badging throughout the exterior and interior. We drove an anniversary edition for this review.

2017 Chevrolet Camaro RS convertible 50th Anniversary Edition© Michael Simari 2017 Chevrolet Camaro RS convertible 50th Anniversary Edition

What We Like: Nearly everything to do with the Camaro’s dynamics—meaning accelerating, stopping, and turning—is top-notch. Sharing key components with the Cadillac ATS and CTS, the Camaro in any of its forms impressively blends deft responses with a well-controlled ride and surprising refinement.

If you want to get into petty crosstown rivalries, each of the Camaro’s powertrains puts the hurt on the equivalent Ford Mustang engine option. (The Ford’s 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbo-four equates with the Camaro V-6 based on the respective pricing hierarchies.) Taking our quickest zero-to-60-mph test results for each Camaro engine (regardless of transmission), the numbers speak for themselves: a manual 2.0-liter four-cylinder model did the deed in 5.4 seconds, while a manual V-6 ran 5.1 seconds and an automatic V-8 car pulled an impressive 3.9-second sprint. (The Mustang’s best marks are 5.5 seconds for a V-6 automatic, 5.2 seconds for an EcoBoost manual, and 4.4 seconds for a V-8 manual.) The Camaro ZL1 should drop even further below 4.0 seconds, which once again could embarrass the current hottest Stang, the GT350—although we’re expecting the upcoming higher-powered GT500 Mustang to shake things up a bit.

Putting the inevitable stoplight drag races aside, this latest Camaro also sports improved interior materials, an easy-to-use infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities, and even decent fuel-economy (up to 31 mpg highway for the inline-four, 28 mpg for the V-6, and 27 mpg for the V-8).

2017 Chevrolet Camaro RS 50th Anniversary Edition

What We Don’t Like: Put simply, the Camaro isn’t the easiest car to live with on a daily basis. The chopped-roof design may look cool, but it dramatically compromises visibility to the front, side, and rear. It’s as if you’re sitting in a bunker, and judging the whereabouts of the car’s corners is a chore, making parking garages and other tight maneuvering a challenge.

Chevrolet engineers also struggled with space efficiency and packaging. The rear seats are nearly unusable for adults due to minuscule legroom and the low rear glass that severely limits headroom. The trunk capacity may seem decent at nine cubic feet, but good luck getting anything large in there: The opening is small, inconveniently shaped, and has a high liftover. And there are other little things that test our patience when using the Camaro as a daily driver, like the lack of an easily accessible door pocket or even a place (besides a cupholder) to stash a cellphone, the central vents that blow cold air onto your shifting hand, and the infotainment screen that’s canted downward to reduce glare but is simply more difficult to read (and still shows glare anyway).

Opting for the Camaro convertible alleviates some of these headroom and visibility concerns (with the top down, at least) but also introduces some structural integrity issues. The droptop Camaro feels less rigid than the coupe, with the body flexing somewhat and vibrating over rough road surfaces.

Verdict: Despite some compromises, the Camaro currently rules the muscle-car roost in terms of driver satisfaction.

2017 Chevrolet Camaro RS convertible 50th Anniversary Edition© Michael Simari 2017 Chevrolet Camaro RS convertible 50th Anniversary Edition

Specifications

VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door coupe or convertible

BASE PRICES: LT Coupe, $27,595;

LT Convertible, $33,595;

SS Coupe, $37,900;

SS Convertible, $43,900;

ZL1 Coupe, $62,135;

ZL1 Convertible, $69,135

ENGINE TYPES: turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve 2.0-liter inline-4, 275 hp, 295 lb-ft; DOHC 24-valve 3.6-liter V-6, 335 hp, 284 lb-ft; pushrod 16-valve 6.2-liter V-8, 455 hp, 455 lb-ft; supercharged and intercooled pushrod 16-valve 6.2-liter V-8, 650 hp, 650 lb-ft

TRANSMISSIONS: 6-speed manual, 8-speed automatic with manual shifting mode, 10-speed automatic with manual shifting mode

DIMENSIONS:

Wheelbase: 110.7 in

Length: 188.3–190.2 in

Width: 74.7–75.0 in Height: 52.6–53.1 in

Passenger volume: 85 cu ft

Cargo volume: 7–9 cu ft

Curb weight (C/D est): 3350–3950 lb

FUEL ECONOMY:

EPA city/highway driving: 16–22/25–31 mpg

C/D TEST RESULTS FOR:

2016 Chevrolet Camaro V-6 Automatic

Zero to 60 mph: 5.2 sec

Zero to 100 mph: 12.5 sec

Zero to 130 mph: 24.7 sec

Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 5.4 sec

Top gear, 30–50 mph: 3.1 sec

Top gear, 50–70 mph: 3.6 sec

Standing ¼-mile: 13.8 sec @ 104 mph

Top speed (C/D est): 155 mph

Braking, 70–0 mph: 166 ft

Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.88 g

Curb weight: 3441 lb

C/D observed fuel economy: 22 mpg

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