The Camaro has successfully managed a full-on transition from an old-school muscle car into a modern-day sportscar thanks to more sophisticated handling and a wide array of engine options. Everyone expected that from the Mustang, but not from the Camaro. If anything, people thought it would closely follow and head in the direction the Challenger SRT Hellcat went, opting for straight-line performance and little of everything else. Instead, it went after the sportiest of the sportscars, competing with the likes of BMW’s M and Mercedes’ AMG.
Now granted, it’s still not the most practical car or the most spacious one, but it’s not supposed to be. You buy a two-door coupe (or convertible) because you value fun and excitement more than extra space or a little more comfort. No regular sedan or hatch can make you feel the same way the Camaro does. From a performance viewpoint, it has Ford and Dodge licked, both in a straight-line and in the corners. Coming off of a fresh redesign just last year, the 2017 Camaro boasts a new 1LE package which we’ll discuss further down in this article. There’s also a new ZL1 and even a 50th Anniversary Edition. A Teen Driver mode allows owners to set driving parameters for their kids, although we’re not too sure a lot of people would let their teenage son or daughter drive a Camaro.
Trim levels
The 2017 Chevrolet Camaro comes as a four-seat coupe or a convertible, available in five different trim levels: 1LT, 2LT, 1SS, 2SS and ZL1. If you purely want a Camaro as a good-looking car that you’ll daily, get the 1LT or 2LT, no question about that. Even the base models get limited-slip differentials, a rearview camera, keyless ignition, keyless entry, adjustable driving modes and lots more features such as 4G LTE Wi-Fi, a large 7-inch touchscreen, etc. If however, you want a V8 to go along with your muscle car, go for either one of the SS trims or the ZL1. The ZL1 offers an even sportier ride, which we’ll discuss later on in this review. It’s a matter of personal preference really. The engines play the biggest role in the car’s character. Sure you get more features as you climb the trim ladder with better materials and so forth, but the engine dominates the entire experience with a muscle car like the Camaro.
Although not radically different from the previous Camaro, it’s clear that most of the body panels have been reworked. Not noticeable from the outside is the fact that the new Camaro is slightly smaller than the older one, thanks to a shorter wheelbase and shorter overhangs. It looks square and low, giving off that quintessential sportscar aura.
Design-wise, it’s immediately recognizable as a Camaro. The grille along with the headlights changed a bit, but nothing major. A larger intake replaces the previous model’s noticeably large one and the trapezoidal gap uses the mash patter just like the main grille.
At the back we find a redesigned bumper and brand-new taillights. The design is as far detached from the first-gen Camaro as we’ve ever seen it throughout the generations. Purists may not be too keen on it, but it’s something which suits the modern-day, 21st century Camaro brilliantly.
The interior is, much like the exterior, traditional Camaro. The design is similar but the materials have definitely been improved upon. The chrome shrouds surrounding the analog gauges have been kept, although customers can opt for a large eight-inch HD screen which will replace the classic gauges. The MyLink infotainment system is operated by a different eight-inch screen, and we’re happy to report it’s fast and intuitive.
The major news under the hood of the Camaro come in the form of a new four-cylinder turbocharged unit, much like the one found in the Mustang. The key difference here is that while the Mustang’s four-banger sits in the middle of the engine range, the Camaro’s is the base unit. The 2.0 liter four-pot is lifted from the ATS and CTS, producing 275 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. It’s capable of propelling the Camaro to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds with a manual transmission and 5.5 with the auto. It’s slightly down on the Mustang’s EcoBoost, but it feels just as fast while using less fuel.
The new 3.6 liter V6 is next on the list. Replacing the previous unit with the same displacement and number of cylinders, it uses direct injection, continuously variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation. It produces 335 hp and 284 lb-ft of torque, the highest figure for a naturally-aspirated V6 in the segment. A V6 Camaro is capable of reaching 60 mph in 5.2 seconds with a six-speed manual and 5.1 with the auto.
Finally, there’s the 6.2 liter V8 Corvette engine. Used in the SS trims as well as the LT1, it produces 455 hp and 455 lb-f of torque, a decent increase of 29 hp and 35 lb-ft overthe previous iteration. .It trumps the Mustang GT’s power output by 20 horsepower, a noticeable difference. It will sprint to 60 mph in just 4.3 seconds with the manual and in four seconds dead if the model in question is equipped with an auto.
All engines come with either a six-speed manual or an eight-speed single-clutch auto with paddle shifters. The base four and six-cylinder units use GM’s 8L45 unit, whereas the SS get the 8L90. The manual V8 models borrow the Corvette Stingray’s rev matching technology, which comes in handy if you’re driving fast.
Speaking of fast, the way the Camaro attacks the corners is mind-blowing. Simply put it will outclass most true sportscars anytime, anywhere. The mechanical grip produced by the tires, suspension and chassis is unbelievable. You can turn in at any speed, knowing the front will grip and the rear will follow with no fuss or drama. Want to have some fun? Turn off traction control and give the loud pedal a mashing. It will be more than happy to light up the rears. Truly a masterclass in how a car should behave.
We cannot recommend the new Camaro enough. It doesn’t matter if you want a muscle car or a sportscar, because it does them both. It’s got the classic and slightly brutish Camaro design, but utilizes sportscar characteristics like no other American muscle car. Incredible value for money whether you want to go fast or look cool.