2016 Chevrolet Camaro transforms the popular, modern muscle car

Smaller, more powerful coupe and convertible rev up to clash with cross-town rivals

Last updated: June 24, 2015 11:00 AM
Photo: ROCHE PHOTO

Chevrolet has unveiled its latest machine to battle in the decades-old muscle car wars—the all-new, sixth-generation Camaro. Designed with a clear nod to the original 1967-1969 coupe, the next Camaro promises to ratchet up performance and sophistication.

For 2016, the Camaro gets slightly shorter, narrower, and lower, while riding on a more compact wheelbase. The tighter exterior package moves the Camaro closer to the Ford Mustang in scale. And that’s not the only response to its decades-old rival…

For the first time since mullets were in vogue, the Camaro base engine is a four-cylinder. Unlike the paltry old Iron Duke pushrod mill, the new one is turbocharged and boasts 275 hp. A new 3.6-liter V6 brings an incremental power gain, up a dozen horses to 335 total—notably more than in competing six-cylinder engines. For the V8 offering, Chevrolet adapted the ferocious 6.2-liter LT1 engine from the Corvette Stingray for Camaro duty. With 455 hp on tap, this will be the most powerful SS ever offered. All three engines can be had with a choice of six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmissions. A Driver Mode Selection feature allows personality to be dialed in, with four modes (Snow/Ice, Tour, Sport, and Track) affecting eight vehicle parameters.

Beyond performance tuning, there has been significant effort made in sculpting the sounds these powertrains make, or masking them. The four-cylinder engine is coupled with active noise cancellation. Models with the upgraded Bose audio system benefit from sound enhancement. Both the V6 and V8 are teamed with mechanical sound enhancers that direct induction noise from the engine bay into the cabin, enabling the driver to revel in the revving. Further, an available dual-mode exhaust allows the driver to tailor the tailpipe rumble as desired.

Chevrolet has reduced weight by at least 200 lbs. over the previous model, which is certain to have fuel economy and track benefits. The SS will be available for the first time with an active suspension, allowing the car to better react to road conditions and driver demands. (A similar system was previously fitted to the Camaro ZL1.)

Like the coupe, the convertible benefits from a stiffer, lighter platform than before. The cloth top operation is fully automatic—no manual latch release, as is found with the Ford Mustang. The top can be opened via key fob, and it can both open and close at speeds up to 30 mph. Further distinguishing it from the Mustang, the Camaro convertible tucks its top away under an automatically deployed hard tonneau, creating a clean, upscale appearance.

The four-seat interior retains a dual-binnacle design, although the buttons and assorted brightwork appear more polished than the chintzy controls in the outgoing model. Chevrolet promises better-quality materials throughout; based on the current Camaro, that seems nearly unavoidable. There are two eight-inch color screens: one providing key driving information in the instrument cluster, while the other serves as the interface for the latest MyLink infotainment system. The manual emergency brake is replaced by a more space-efficient electronic parking brake. But the dash vents got pushed way low on the console. An LED ambient light system offers 24 different colors, reminding of personalization that Mustang has offered in recent years.

With all the changes for 2016, a couple of exterior badges are the only carryover pieces.

To be built in Lansing, Michigan, the new Camaro coupe goes on sale late 2015, followed by the convertible in early 2016.

Read our Dodge Challenger and Ford Mustang road tests.

Jeff Bartlett

  2016 Chevrolet Camaro 2015 Chevrolet Camaro 2015 Dodge Challenger 2015 Ford Mustang
Wheelbase 110.7 112.3 116 107.1
Length 188.3 190.6 197.7 188.3
Width 74.7 75.5 75.5 78.2
Height 53.1 54.2 57.1 54.4
4-cyl. hp 275 310
V6 hp 335 323 305 300
V8 hp 455 426 375* 435

*5.7L V8.

Photo: ROCHE PHOTO

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