The latest generation (sixth) of the iconic rear-wheel drive Camaro coupe is certain to please Camaro enthusiasts at all levels. With ‘freshened’ styling, additional features, latest technology and new power plants, we asked if the new Camaro the same muscle car that we have come to appreciate since its return to the Chevy lineup a generation or two ago? We recently spent a week with one to find out.
Though it looks pretty much the same to the casual observer, the new Camaro is smaller (just a tad), lighter (slightly), better handling (noticebly nimble), seriously powerful (Corvette LT1 engine in SS), and more fuel efficient (up to 30 mpg with new base 2.0L Turbo engine) than the generation it replaces.
In fact there are only two things from the old Camaro that carried to the new – the rear Chevy bowtie emblem and the SS badge.
We have not been behind the wheel of a Camaro for a while, so we asked our Chevrolet friends to send us one so we could find out for ourselves how much different this re engineered Camaro is – looking very much like the Camaro we have known – while delivering a newer and more spirited drive experience.
Without a doubt, they nailed it. This sixth generation Chevrolet Camaro is a winner. In fact, so much so, it has been named a 10Best for 2016 by Car and Driver Magazine who said the new 2016 Camaro is “not the muscle-bound brute some might be expecting and that its body might suggest – it’s a fully modern sports coupe”.
At about the same time, Motor Trend put icing on that cake by naming the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro its 2016 Motor Trend Car of the Year, saying its lighter weight and re-engineering deliver “world class sports car performance and dynamics”.
Following our week in the 2016 Camaro, we would add that the new 2016 Chevrolet Camaro is one heck of a fun ride and a blast to drive keeping the best of the muscle brute and blending it nicely with the sophistication of a modern sports coupe.
2016 Camaro 2LT RS
Chevrolet sent us a very red – they call the color ‘Red Hot’ – Camaro 2LT RS with Jet Black interior for a week long ride and drive last week. Delivery was timely as it gave us a serious set of wheels to go from Austin to Houston and back for the 2016 Houston Auto Show media preview and gala at NRG Center. The roundtrip gave us the ideal opportunity to thoroughly test the new Camaro across a range of driving experiences including local area, interstate highways plus the ring and center city freeways and toll roads of Houston.
With the almost round the clock congestion of I-10, the 610, Sam Houston tollway and Highway 59, getting around and through Houston challenges not only drivers, but also the performance of their vehicles. Without scoring our own performance (we used to live there – so we had an advantage), we would score the Camaro as meeting the challenge very well in all situations.
Of course, having the right Camaro makes a difference and our 2LT model (MSRP shown as $29,800) – with the optional new V6 power plant, six-speed manual transmission, dual mode exhaust system and RS Package – was just the ticket.
Standard Features in 2LT
The 2016 Camaro 2LT comes very well equipped before adding options or packages. Features of our 2LT included Sport Suspension, Electric Power Steering, Driver Mode Selector System, Stabilitrak Stability and Traction Control, Rear Vision Camera, Projector Headlamps, Daytime Running Lamps and Power Adjustable Outside Mirrors. Inside features included Passive Keyless Entry with Push Button Start, 8-way Power Driver and 6-way Power Passenger Seats both ventilated and heated, Dual-zone Air Conditioning, Color Display Driver Information Screen and Folding Rear Seats.
A Premium Bose Audio system anchors the Chevrolet MyLink System that includes an 8-inch Touchscreen Color Display, Bluetooth Streaming and Hands-free Connectivity, Apple Carplay, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, OnStar with Automatic Crash Response and Navigation plus a 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hotspot.
The all-new 3.6L V6 engine ($1,495) almost seems to have been designed specifically for the new Camaro. The new engine delivers a very solid 335 horsepower with 284 lb.-ft. of torque which Chevy says is highest specific output of any V6 in its segment. Though the new eight-speed automatic with paddle-shift is available ($1,495), we preferred the ‘stick’ shift to drive the V6 power through the 3.27 rear end to the optional 20-inch wheels on our Camaro.
We found the power train to be very well balanced with clutch and shifter operation very smooth, syncing up with engine revs easily when accelerating and slowing down. Particularly, with the Houston traffic congestion and needing to shift lanes very quickly with almost no notice, our Camaro responded quickly and powerfully every time.
Sound of Muscle
A proper Camaro needs not only muscle power but it needs the sound of muscle as well and mechanical sound enhancer resonators from the engine bay plus the Dual-Mode Exhaust System ($895) on our Camaro did the job right well. Electronically controlled valves bypass the muffler during acceleration for more ‘rumble’ to the exhaust along with improved performance. And, if that is not enough, the driver has the option to adjust the exhaust note, using the new Driver Mode Selector, from a ‘stealth’ to a full ‘track’ mode.
In addition to adjusting the exhaust note, the new Driver Selector allows the driver to tailor the drive experience to their preferences and road conditions. Settings are Snow/Ice, Tour, Sport and (for the SS V8 models only), Track. Shifting the mode makes adjustments to throttle progression, automatic transmission shift points, electric steering and (if equipped) Magnetic Ride Control (SS only) calibration for performance. It also adjusts the interior ambient lighting to reflect the drive mode selected. Colors are Ice Blue (Snow/Ice), Blue (Tour), Red (Sport) and Orange (Track).
Making it an RS
The RS Package ($1,950) added the 20-inch five-spoke aluminum wheels clad with Goodyear Eagle F1 245/40R20 95V All-season tires, HID Headlamps with LED Signature, unique RS Grille, LED Tail Lamps, and a Rear Spoiler to our Red Hot Camaro 2LT RS.
With delivery and prep, our 2016 Chevrolet Camaro 2LT RS priced at $35,150.
2016 Camaro Lineup
The 2016 Camaro comes in two models (LT and SS) and in four trim levels – 1LT (MSRP $26,695), 2LT (MSRP $30,795), 1SS (MSRP $37,295) and 2SS (MSRP $43,295).
There are three power plants available. A new 2.0L turbocharged four cylinder is standard on the LT. It delivers a healthy 275 horsepower with 295 lb.-ft. of torque through either the six-speed manual or specifically small-engine tuned eight-speed paddle-shifter automatic transmission. Optional on the LT is the new V6 power plant with either the manual or eight-speed automatic available.
The SS model is equipped only with the (also new) 6.2L LT1 V8 engine which was introduced on the Corvette Stingray. This LT1 engine has been designed for the Camaro and delivers 455 horsepower with 455 lb.-ft. of torque which makes this the most powerful production Camaro ever. It is equipped with a, specially calibrated for the LT1, six-speed manual transmission with an also specially calibrated eight-speed paddle-shifter automatic available.
There are several packages and options available with a full range of customization items like striping and interior accent trims to choose from. Several of them are a bit pricy, but for Camaro performance enthusiasts, it will be like going to a ‘candy store’ – now in a more upscale neighborhood.
For more information on the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro, go to the Camaro website (Build and Price tab) where you can select the trim level, power train, packages and optional (‘candy store’) features you want to build your own.