The all-new sixth generation 2016 Chevrolet Camaro makes a mere 455 horsepower in its hottest version, way less than the 526-horsepower Ford Shelby GT350 or 707-horsepower Dodge Hellcat, but we're not going to say it's blown away by them, or that it can't compete with them.After all, what good is horsepower if you can't use it? and to be honest, mostly all you can do with 500-plus horsepower is show it off, which is not the same as using it.But we digress.
The thing about the Camaro is that it also, for the first time in history, comes with a four-cylinder engine.It's a turbocharged 2.0-liter making a civilized 275 horsepower while bringing 30 highway miles per gallon, never mind that that model is the one they call the chick's car.It wasn't that long ago that 275 horsepower was a muscle car.In fact, that was the power produced by the 5.7-liter V8 in the original 1967 Camaro.
The looks of the new 2016 Camaro don't depart much from the 2010-2015 model, but it's changed a lot underneath, as it's slightly smaller, built on the platform of the Cadillac ATS.Even though it has more muscle than ever, the Camaro can't be called a muscle car, because the description has a connotation of the bulk of yore.This Camaro boasts flexibility to match its power, with exceptional handling.
There is also a 3.6-liter V6 that makes 335 horsepower (compared to a mind-bending 140 horsepower from the inline-6 in 1967) and 284 pound-feet of torque to scoot the car to 60 mph in about five seconds, fast enough to challenge the V8 muscle car Camaro of recent past.It uses a 6-speed manual gearbox with rev matching, or an 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters.
And we haven't even gotten to the Camaro SS with its Corvette engine, the LT1 V8 making 455 horsepower and an equal number of foot-pounds of torque.It's formidable and sensational, with zero to 60 times of about four seconds.
A big reason for the superb handling of the new Camaro is its reduced size and weight: 2.3 inches shorter on a wheelbase that's 1.6 inches less, and slimmer by up to 200 pounds.But the new chassis might mean just as much to the car's feel, with engine rails, trunk floor and steering gear from the awesome Cadillac CTS-V.
As always, there is a tradeoff.Smaller exterior means smaller interior, felt in the trunk and back seat, which is fine if your passengers are backpacks.But if you stay in the front seat, the Camaro's cabin has never been more comfortable, organized or detailed.The roof is one inch lower, but the headliner is carved out and the front seats are lower too, so no headroom is lost.A tall driver can strap on his helmet and take the Camaro SS for a track day.
Standard equipment on every 2016 Camaro is the Drive Mode Selector, which allows the driver to select the levels for the car's steering, stability control, shift timing, and throttle response.Four-piston Italian Brembo brakes are standard, with 18-inch alloy wheels and Goodyear Eagle Sport tires.
The 2016 Camaro comes with a choice of 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo ($26,695) or V6 ($28,940).Camaro SS ($37,295) features a 455-horsepower V8.
Standard equipment includes power everything, cruise control and keyless entry, Bluetooth, six-speaker AM/FM/CD sound system, 7.0-inch color touchscreen, two USB ports and aux jack, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, hardware for 4G LTE data, 18-inch wheels, and driving modes.
The 2016 Camaro smoothes over and tones down some of the sharp edges of the previous generation.The latest curves are more subtle.Muscular haunches counter a tall nose, big intakes, and narrow grille.It looks menacing in black, which seems like the right temperament.From the side it's striking and polished, especially the sweep of the rear roof pillar, however from some angles it can appear short and even stubby.The styling is sensitive to the point of view.
The black exterior can be complemented with an interior showing snatches of red, blue or yellow.Gone is the previous Camaro's thrifty interior, replaced with better materials and fewer seams.Thanks to a dropped dashboard and console, the cabin feels fresh and cohesive, with digital gauges, big touchscreens and gimbaled air vents placed in a Star Wars-ish binnacle.In the V6, an exhaust note soundtrack is like music to the ears of the occupants.
The 2.0-liter four cylinder engine is quite powerful, with 275 horsepower and an even more impressive 295 pound-feet of torque, which is more torque than the V6 makes.It hasn't been made available for testing yet, but with numbers like that, there should be little disappointment as long as the buyer doesn't think it's going to feel like a V8.Chevy says it will do zero to 60 in less than six seconds, which is quick if not neck snapping.
We have gotten good seat time in the 2016 Camaro with the 3.6-liter V6 making 335 horsepower and 284 pound-feet of torque, an engine that makes an exciting howl in the middle rev range.It almost sounds like a vintage Ferrari in there, before reverting to a more common V6 drone at high revs.The noise is enhanced, piped in from the engine bay and amplified.
Both transmissions are good.The standard rev-matching 6-speed manual or the paddle-shifting 8-speed automatic bring the power to the driver quickly.
The Cadillac-based chassis, suspension and steering deliver a superb ride with precise cornering, and great stability and tracking on the standard 18-inch wheels and tires, without needing to go for the optional 19s or 20s, or the suspension upgrades that come standard on upper models.Patchy roads and rough pavement don't send the rear end all over the road.Specifically, the suspension is a double-pivot, control arm and strut design that lightens the nose and helps make the car nimble.
With the Drive Mode Selector, you can make the car jump like you want it to, with a menu that allows specific settings and individual combinations of steering, shifting, and throttle.In Sport it's a happy pony, able to zip through tight switchbacks with precision and forget about the understeer of old, or even the understeer of last year.
In Tour mode the steering is heavier than Normal, but still responsive and quick.
The Camaro SS may be a throwback monster with its 6.2-liter V8, but it's no beast to drive.With the standard 6-speed manual transmission it blips its downshifts smoothly and perfectly, and with the 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters, it shifts quick like a Formula 1 car.The Magnetic Ride Control adaptive dampers take out the roughness and instability, especially from the rear end.The standard 20-inch Goodyears grip like hot rubber out in farm country, making the SS feel like an overgrown sports car, able to blast to sixty in four seconds.The SS has a Track setting.Smiley face goes here.
The all-new 2016 Camaro can be appreciated for many things, as the designers (styling) and engineers (powertrains) have nailed it, while the executives have delivered a great price, especially for the SS.