The Chevrolet Camaro is no longer a car for mullet-totin’ hillbillies, it’s a force in modern engineering. What do you need to know before you buy a Chevrolet Camaro? Don’t worry, we’ll tell you everything right here in the Ultimate Buyer’s Guide.
For whatever reason, when many people hear the name “Camaro,” they think about T-tops, burnouts, and rock music. Maybe it was the ‘80s era IROC-Z that painted an un-erasable image of GM’s tough muscle car, but the Camaro has always represented the rebellious, wild side of the American car industry. When the fifth generation Camaro debuted for the 2010 model year, though, it brought with it a modern chassis, solid V6 and V8 powertrain options, sophisticated suspension, and modern – even futuristic – styling. Maybe the Camaro could shake its wild-child image after all?
That same fifth-generation Camaro, familiar to most of us from its A-list roles in the Transformers series, went relatively unchanged until 2016, when Chevy gave it a full red carpet makeover including an all-new chassis, styling language, suspension, and various power plants for the new year. And now they’ve made the Camaro better than ever.
The new Camaro’s strongest traits are its handling capabilities and its selection of powerful engines, both of which represent a major improvement over the outgoing generation.
Due to the increased use of aluminum and several suspension geometry tweaks, Chevy was able to shave 200 pounds from the previous generation. We can’t really define how much those 200 pounds of weight savings change the dynamics of Chevy’s sports coupe, but we can tell you that this thing handles corners better than we could have ever imaged.
We never drove the Camaro on its ragged limit, but we still feel that, whether it’s a product of weight-savings, the revised suspension, a new center of mass, or different tires, the handling feels lighter and sharper than the outgoing model. And that’s saying something, considering how good the fifth gen Camaro was.
On top of the great handling is the ride quality, which feels much improved. Once again, we can’t define exactly how much of an effect the decrease in unsprung mass (thanks to the new wheels) had on the ride, but we drove the new Camaro over 1,000 miles and felt as alive when we finished as when we started.
That’s because, if it was ever too supple or stiff for our liking, we just toggled through the various drive modes to sharpen or soften the vehicle’s ride.
On the inside, every lever and button you operate seems to be fresher and more modern than those in the previous generation. There’s an eight-inch touch-screen that is tilted forwards, and while that might seem annoying at first, it eventually grows on you after you notice the lack of glare.
Apple Car Play seems to work fine so long as you’re up for using Apple Maps, but it’s the little things like the climate control and fan speed knobs, which are cleverly integrated into the HVAC vents, that won us over.
Good interior, good ride quality, good handling and an awesome exhaust note from a V6? Yes, the sixth generation Camaro is a beast.
The last generation Camaro LT came with a 323 horsepower 3.6-liter V6, and the SS came with a 426 horsepower 6.2-liter V8.
The new generation Camaro, revealed at Belle Isle in Detroit in May, 2015, also offers a 3.6-liter V6 and 6.2-liter V8, except those now make 335 and 455 horsepower, respectively. Added to the mix for 2016, though, is a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four that cranks out 275 horses. Yes, a four cylinder in a Camaro.
All those engines get bolted into a new Alpha platform that’s over 200 pounds lighter than the outgoing model thanks to liberal use of aluminum, particularly in the suspension.
In addition to a revised engine lineup and platform, the new “Camaro Six” also gets a nicer interior, revised styling and more gadgets like a Drive Mode Selector, which varies steering, throttle, damper, stability control, traction control, exhaust and transmission calibrations based on desired driving style.
The smallblock V8. The most iconic and best selling engine in American history. An engine whose character meshes so well with the Camaro’s, to opt for any other engine almost seems blasphemous.
Except it’s really not blasphemy anymore, because after driving the 335 horsepower V6 model, we left finding the V6 to be totally worthy of an enthusiast’s eye.
That V6 will get the Camaro to 60 MPH in 5.2 seconds if you’re rowing your own gears via the six-speed manual and 5.1 seconds if you let the eight-speed auto do the work for you.
The 2.0-liter turbo I4 makes 275 horses, but more torque than the 3.6. But it’s horsepower that yields better acceleration times, hence the 2.0-liter’s higher 0-60 times at 5.4 in the manual and 5.5 in the auto.
It should be no surprise that the 455 horsepower 6.2-liter V8 in the SS trims is the fastest by a large margin. It gets to 60 in four seconds flat with the automatic and 4.3 seconds when you’re doing the shifting with the six-speed (which comes with rev matching on SS models).
So the slowest Camaro you can buy has a 0-60 time of 5.5 seconds. We might be in an automotive golden age.
2016 Chevrolet Camaro Engine Options
Engine Max Horsepower (hp) Max Torque (lb-ft) 2.0L Turbo I4 275 @ 5600 rpm 295 @ 3000 rpm 3.6L V6 335 @ 6800 rpm 284 @ 5300 rpm 6.2L V8 455 @ 6000 rpm 455 @ 4400 rpm
Fuel economy is decent across the board and compares favorably to the Ford Mustang’s numbers.
Automatic models, with their tall 2.77 final drive ratios and 0.65 or 0.66-to-one eighth gear ratios, manage better fuel economy than their manual transmission counterparts.
Naturally, the small turbocharged four-pot does the best on the EPA emission rolls, scoring 31 MPG highway and 25 combined with the automatic and 30 MPG highway, 24 combined with the stick.
The 3.6-liter V6, the only engine of the three that doesn’t require premium gasoline, does about 28 MPG highway and 23 in combined city/highway driving conditions, while the big 6.2-liter barely makes it 20 MPG combined.
But on the highway, like its Corvette brother, the Camaro’s 455 horsepower 6.2-liter V8 will sip only a single gallon of gas every 28 miles. Not bad for a burnout-ripping V8.
2016 Chevrolet Camaro Fuel Economy Ratings (Cty/Hwy/Comb)
_ 2.0L Turbo I4 3.6L V6 6.2L V8 6-Speed Manual 21/30/24 18/27/21 16/25/19 8-Speed Auto 22/31/25 19/28/23 17/28/20
Trim Level Breakdown
The Chevrolet Camaro is available in four trims: 1LT, 2LT, 1SS and 2SS, all of which can be had with a six-speed manual or eight-speed auto. The LT models come standard with a 2.0-liter turbo I4, but a 3.6-liter V6 is available for $1,495, while SS models get the big 6.2-liter.
Steering for all trims is electric and suspension is a MacPherson Strut design up front and a five-link independent setup in the back. Brakes on the LT are 12.6-inch vented rotors in the front with four-piston calipers doing the grabbing, and single-piston sliding calipers out back grabbing 12.4 inch discs. The SS gets 13.6-inchers in the front and 13.3-inch pies in the rear, all clamped with four-piston squeezers.
- 1LT: Base model. Starts at $25,700. Notable standard features: 2.0-liter turbo I4, 6-speed manual transmission, 3.27 axle ratio, limited slip differential, 18” aluminum wheels, six-speaker audio system with CD player, MyLink audio system with seven-inch touchscreen, dual exhaust tips, cloth seats, power front seats, single-zone air conditioning, power windows and locks, power mirrors, floor mats, LED daytime running lights, rearview camera, keyless entry with push-button start, all-season tires. Notable options: 3.6-liter V6 ($1,495); eight-speed automatic ($1,495+removal of limited slip diff); RS Package: 20-inch alloy wheels, HID headlamps, LED taillights, unique grille, decklid spoiler ($1,950); Heavy-Duty Cooling and Brake Package: external engine oil cooler, extra capacity cooling system, Brembo 4-piston brakes, auxiliary coolant cooler when chosen with 2.0-liter ($1,285 or $485 RS Package); Technology Package: Bose nine-speaker audio system ($800); Performance Brake Upgrade Kit—4-Piston Front: slotted rotors, pad upgrade, 4-piston red front calipers ($2,175); Performance Brake Upgrade Kit—6-piston Front: slotted rotors, pad upgrade, 6-piston red front calipers ($3,175); Power Sunroof ($900).
- 2LT: Starts at $29,800. Notable standard features over 1LT: heated and vented driver’s seat, leather power front seats, dual-zone HVAC, auto-dimming frameless mirrors, Bose Premium seven-speaker audio system. Notable options: 3.6-liter V6 ($1,495); eight-speed automatic ($1,495+removal of limited slip diff); RS Package ($1,950); Heavy-Duty Cooling and Brake Package: ($1,285 or $485+RS Package); Convenience and Lighting Package: Memory Package, wireless charging for devices, heated steering wheel, Multicolor driver information center, Head-up display, rear park assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Side Blind Zone Alert with Lane Change Alert, power heated mirrors with driver-side auto-dimming ($2,800); Performance Brake Upgrade Kit—4-Piston Front: slotted rotors, pad upgrade, 4-piston red front calipers ($2,175); Performance Brake Upgrade Kit—6-piston Front: slotted rotors, pad upgrade, 6-piston red front calipers ($3,175); Red or white interior seat inlays ($500+Convenience and Lighting Package); Power Sunroof ($900).
- 1SS: Starts at $36,300. Notable standard features over 1LT: 6.2-liter LT1 V8 engine, 20-inch aluminum wheels, 3.73 axle ratio, run flat tires, HID headlamps, unique instrument cluster, limited slip differential with both transmissions, rear differential cooler, external engine oil cooler, performance suspension, Brembo brakes, transmission oil cooler, higher capacity engine cooler, summer tires, eight-inch touchscreen for MyLink infotainment system, rear spoiler. Notable options: eight-speed automatic transmission ($1,495); Performance Brake Upgrade Kit—6-piston Front: slotted rotors, pad upgrade, 6-piston red front calipers ($3,175); Magnetic Ride Control ($1,695); dual-mode performance exhaust ($895); Power sunroof ($900).
- 2SS: Starts at $41,300. Notable standard features over 2LT: 6.2-liter LT1 V8 engine, 20-inch aluminum wheels, run flat tires, HID headlamps, unique instrument cluster, limited slip differential, rear differential cooler, performance suspension, Brembo brakes, transmission oil cooler, higher capacity engine cooler, summer tires, eight-inch touchscreen for MyLink infotainment system, heated steering wheel, wireless charing mat, memory driver seat and mirrors, unique interior accents and trim, rear park assist, rear cross-traffic alert, side blind zone alert. Notable options: same as 1SS plus Red or white interior seat inlays ($500).
Before the Camaro Six, there was only one flavor of Camaro to get— the V8 SS with a manual. With Chevy’s revised engine options, the perfect Camaro now isn’t so clearly defined. The car we drove was a spartan V6 1LT model with cloth seats, and we’re not sure we’d have it any other way. A car equipped like that costs only about $28,190 after destination fee, and that’s a damn good deal.
Still, you can’t go wrong with the classic muscle car recipe of a tried-and-true V8 and a stick shift.
Important Facts At A Glance:
MSRP: $25,700-$41,300 [1LT-2SS]
Top Speed: 170 MPH (6.2L estimated)
Acceleration: 4.0-5.5s to 60 [6.2L auto-2.0L auto]
MPG: 16-22 city / 25-31 hwy / 19-25 combined [6.2L manual-2.0L auto]
Engines: 2.0-liter turbo I4, 3.6-liter V6, 6.2-liter V8
Max Horsepower: 275-455 hp [2.0L-6.2L]
Max Torque: 284-455 [3.6L-6.2L]
Curb Weight: TBD pounds IIHS Safety Rating: Not Tested
Transmissions: Six-speed Manual, Eight-Speed automatic
Drivetrain Layout: Front Engine, RWD
Photo credit: Michael Roselli
Post Last Updated: Feb 24, 2016