The Ford Mustang and Chevy Camaro have a rivalry that goes back decades, and with the all-new Camaro introduced last year, it's resulted in a new arms race. For 2011, the base direct-injected V-6 engine has been re-rated to 312 hp (GM says they were conservative before, but it lets them one-up the 2011 Mustang's 305-hp V-6). The 3.6-liter direct-injected V-6 used in base LS and LT versions of the 2011 Chevrolet Camaro LS and LT actually moves the Camaro quite quickly—fast enough for most tastes, if the Camaro's looks are your main motivator for buying.
But if it's the throbbing V-8 sound and heaps of low-RPM torque that you crave, either V-8 model will deliver—with 0-60 times in the four-second range and plenty of tire-smoking potential, on a closed course, of course. The V-8-powered Camaro SS is offered with two distinct engines that correspond to the driver's transmission choice. Both are 6.2-liter V-8s sourced from the Corvette. The L99 V-8 goes with the six-speed automatic, and it benefits from variable valve timing and active fuel management (that enables the engine to run in V-8 and V-4 modes). Horsepower and torque are 400/410, respectively. The LS3 6.2-liter V-8 is matched to the manually shifted six-speed Tremec TR6060. The LS3 puts out 426 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque.
Unlike the muscle cars of the past, the 2011 Camaro handles quite well, with immediate response, communicative steering, and very little roll. It's exceptionally agile and a bit less twitchy than the Mustang's live-axle setup on rough surfaces, even if Ford does manage to work wonders with it.