Chevrolet Camaro Road Test

First Drive
Chevrolet Camaro SS Proves a Dynamic Delight
Engine and suspension shine, but some packaging shortcomings continue
Overview
With a profile that harkens back to the original 1967 Chevrolet Camaro, the all-new sixth-generation car looks immediately familiar, marking a slight styling evolution over the outgoing model. Despite advances in powertrain and platform, several shortcomings carry forward.

We purchased a 2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS to test this reborn muscle car. Sticker price started at $41,300 and rose to $47,020 as we piled on options, such as magnetic ride control, power sunroof, dual-mode exhaust, and Chevrolet MyLink audio system. Appearance extras further padded the Monroney, such as the Garnet Red Tintcoat paint, black Chevrolet emblems, and 20-inch black wheels. But those cosmetics add both class and attitude.

Impressions
At a glance, the new Camaro may appear to be the result of a cosmetic makeover, but it is now based on the Alpha rear-drive platform that underpins the Cadillac ATS and its dimensions are a bit smaller. This mechanical pedigree gets the coupe off to a good start. Reduced weight, revised suspension, and the optional magenetic ride control create a firm yet supple ride unlike any muscle car buyer's expectations. The ride skews firm and connected, masking bumps well. The Camaro feels much more like a fine European sport sedan than anything a shopper may be trading in.

Likewise, the Camaro vanquishes the notion that muscle cars are designed purely for running in a straight line. Here is a car that loves twisties, rewarding the driver with a planted body and quick turn-in response. The steering is sharp with good feedback.

Three engines are offered, including a turbocharged 275-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder and 335-hp, 3.6-liter V6. The SS packs a Corvette-sourced 6.2-liter V8 with 455 horsepower and 455 lb.-ft. of torque. As the horsepower wars wage on over the decades, today's Camaro V8 bests the base eight-cylinder offerings from its crosstown rivals, Dodge Challenger and Ford Mustang.

The power is put to great effect with the six-speed manual in our test car. The shifts are swift, aided by short throws. Clutch is relatively low effort, making driving in traffic easier than with some other high-horsepower cars. Active rev matching, controlled via steering wheel paddles, can help transform a casual driver into a pro, while enhancing the soundtrack in the process.

Copious power is readily available, even without chasing the right cog for the situation. Tip into the throttle, and the Camaro pulls fiercely from nearly any gear. Downshift, and it becomes a veritable road rocket¿as one would expect from the most powerful Camaro SS in Chevrolet history. Around town, the Camaro has a muted rumble from the exhaust that turns to a roar under hard acceleration.

Dynamically, the Camaro is a real delight. However, the packaging still suffers from overt flaws that may turn away some buyers. Visibility remains atrocious, making it hard to see stoplights, to view cars at its flanks, and to spot obstacles when backing up. Narrow side glass makes the car feel as if the roof has been crushed.

The driver's space is decidedly intimate for a sizeable car. The bolstered sport seats are comfortable, but we were dismayed that there was no lumbar adjustment in a car of this heady price. Further, the driver's right leg is crammed against the transmission tunnel. And headroom is non-existent, having us wish we bought a model without the moonroof. Wearing a helmet is out of the question. In fact, there's barely for a combover with some drivers. The rear seat remains vestigial, with limited people-toting ability. (If you want a muscle car with passenger space, look to the Chevrolet SS or Dodge Challenger.)

But the cabin is relatively quiet and refined, looking far less toy-like than the previous model. The Chevy MyLink infotainment system is graphically pleasing and intuitive to use. However, its screen tilts down slightly, presumably to better shield it from sun reflections. As a result, it looks like it is melting awkwardly forward. The interior door handle is also positioned at strange angle, making operation uncomfortable. Temperature adjustments are hidden in the vent bezels, and the dash vents are positioned unusually low.

Trunk space remains limited, with an usual opening size that would limit the Camaro's functionality for warehouse store runs.
CR's Take
Based on the break-in miles thus far, the Camaro's acceleration, ride, and handling all shine bright. But the packaging limitations may turn off some buyers and warrant consideration from all would-be owners.

We look forward to completing the testing, when the weather warms up.

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Warranty

All cars come with basic warranty coverage, also known as a bumper-to-bumper warranty. This protects consumers against unexpected problems with non-wear items. Powertrain warranty protects against engine and transmission troubles. Rust through, or corrosion warranty, covers rust to non-damaged components. Roadside aid provides on-location assistance in case of a breakdown and may include limited towing services.

Extended warranties provide peace of mind. Owners of models known to have worse-than-average predicted reliability can mitigate risks with an extended warranty. Generally, we recommend buying a model with better-than-average reliability and skipping this expensive add on. If you do buy an extended warranty, it is key to read the small print to understand what is covered and where you can bring the car for repairs.

Basic (years/miles)
3/36

Powertrain (years/miles)
5/60

Rust through (years/miles)
5/Unlimited

Roadside aid (years/miles)
3/36