The Car Connection Chevrolet Camaro Overview
Camaros are—as they always have been—rear-wheel-drive cars that put style and performance over other requirements.
A new Camaro was introduced for 2016. The lineup includes a 4-cylinder turbocharged engine, as well as V-6 and V-8 models, in both coupe and convertible form.
For 2017, Chevy adds the supercharged, 650-horsepower V-8 Camaro ZL1 for both the coupe and the convertible. Also new are the 1LE handling package, a 50th Anniversary Edition package, a “FIFTY” badge on the steering wheel of all models, and a Teen Driver feature that allows parents to set controls and review driving habits.
Chevy Camaro history
Introduced in 1967 as a response to the stunning success of the Ford Mustang, the Camaro has had its ups and downs in its 50 years on the car scene. Paired until the early 2000s with a companion Pontiac Firebird, the Camaro has been offered in six different generations as a two-door sports coupe, with V-6 or V-8 power and rear-wheel drive. Special editions have included the Camaro RS, Camaro SS, and Camaro IROC-Z, and convertible and T-top body styles.
Until 2002, GM had built the Camaro in each model year for 35 consecutive years, but GM decided to kill the muscle car in 2002, ending production of the then-composite-bodied Camaro in Canada.
The Camaro nameplate wasn't revived until the 2010 model year, when the car was relaunched as a coupe. It retained the same basic setup—a choice of V-6 or V-8 engines, manual or automatic transmissions, and rear-wheel drive—but was somewhat larger than the car that preceded it. It used a rear-drive architecture that was originally planned for use throughout GM, including in Buick and Cadillac luxury vehicles, but only found a home under the Pontiac G8, a handful of Holdens, the Chevy Caprice fleet vehicle, and Chevy's SS sedan. GM built this Camaro at its factory in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada.
The fifth-generation Camaro took its cues from classic 1960s models. The homage pieces included vent-like indents in front of the rear wheels and the brow over the headlights. The interior of the Camaro used square gauges and additional meters at the base of the center stack, as well as a deep-dish steering wheel that recalled the 1967 model.
Base editions of the fifth-generation Camaro got a 323-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 used in other GM cars, coupled to 6-speed manual or automatic gearboxes. The Camaro SS borrowed the previous-generation Corvette's 6.2-liter V-8, offering it in two detuned strengths—a 400-hp version with a 6-speed automatic, and a 426-hp variant teamed to the 6-speed manual. Convertible versions were available for both the SS and V-6 models.
New for 2012 was the ZL1, a 580-hp beast that rode on magnetic dampers and bore an even fiercer look than the SS. It was joined in the 2013 model year by a convertible edition.
Older Camaros have been derided for clunky handling from live-axle rear ends; the fifth-generation Camaro rode on an independent rear suspension and simply drove better, smoother, and with less twitchiness than ever before. That was even more the case with the SS and with its 1LE package, which received tires sized identically front to back, stiffer anti-roll bars, and other suspension revisions to give it neutral, track-ready handling. This Camaro even offered a special Hot Wheels edition for the nostalgic collector.
An updated 2014 Camaro brought slightly redefined looks, including a rather significant visual re-working of the front end, with a narrower headlight and grille opening adding a dose of aggression. (ZL1 models kept the older front end for better cooling.) The 2014 Camaro also saw the return of the famous Z/28 model—in a more fiercely track-inspired form than ever.
The 2015 Camaro carried forward 2014's updates essentially unchanged. Chevy offered several special editions, including the Green Flash and Commemorative Edition models, which played with the aesthetics and added various options to create new packages.
The latest Chevy Camaro rides on GM's Alpha rear-drive architecture, shared with the Cadillac CTS sedan and ATS sedan and coupe.
The new Camaro is significantly lighter and smaller than its predecessor, which gives it a more nimble feel and improved fuel economy. Styling is reminiscent of the last-generation model with fewer sharp creases and a tidier overall package, as well as a much more attractive cockpit, albeit one with a smaller back seat.
Production has moved to Michigan, to the same plant near Lansing that builds the ATS.
MORE: Read our 2017 Chevrolet Camaro review
Coupe and convertible body styles are offered with a choice of four powerplants. They include a 275-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder; a 335-hp, 3.6-liter V-6; a 455-hp, 6.2-liter LT1 V-8; and the new 650-horsepower supercharged 6.2-liter LT4 V-8. With each of these engines, there’s a choice between a 6-speed manual gearbox or an automatic transmission. The LT4 comes with a new 10-speed automatic, while the others get an 8-speed auto. For the turbo four, GM estimates a 5.4-second 0 to 60 mph time. That drops to 5.0 seconds with the V-6. With the V-8-powered SS, it's pegged at four seconds. The ZL1 will be in the threes.
Inside, the sixth-generation Camaro has good front seat room, but a very tight rear seat. Chevy offers 7.0- and 8.0-inch versions of its MyLink infotainment system, both with Apply Car Play and Android Auto.
The Chevrolet Camaro SS was named Motor Authority's Best Car To Buy 2016, over rivals like the Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang.