Muscle car fans have a love affair with the Chevy Camaro for decades--it's been around almost as long as the Ford Mustang. Today Camaro buyers have quite a few choices, from the fuel-efficient V-6, to the V-8 SS and the sharp- handling 1LE, all the way up to the beastly ZL1. In this video road test we take a look at one of the newest Camaros, the track-ready SS 1LE.
The Camaro straight up looks like a concept car. It's exaggerated with a retro-tinged look--pure muscle, especially from the rear quarters, where even the base models look powerful and athletic.
We know what you want: powertrain details. The base Camaro has a 323-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6. It's fine for basic pony-car needs, but we'll stick with the 6.2-liter V-8 in the SS and 1LE models rated as high as 426 horsepower. If you need even more power, there's the ZL1 model featuring a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 rated at 580 horsepower.
The Camaro sends the power to the rear wheels through either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. The automatic's well sorted, but the manual is our pick. It's smooth, with quick shifts and short motions.
If we needed a word to describe how the Camaro handles, it would be heavy, though its electric power steering is one of its strong points. If you want the nimble version, you'll have to get this 1LE--it has a revised suspension and better tuning, not to mention a more track-friendly tire setup, all of which gives it more neutral handling. The ZL1 is the king of the hill, with rocketlike power and magnetic ride control for the most sophisticated Camaro package ever created.
The Camaro pays a big price for its concept car looks. There's just not much room inside, even by muscle car standards. Tall drivers get the worst of it with a lack of headroom, and forget wearing a helmet if you are over 5' 10". The front seats are at least comfortable, though--in back there's almost no leg room. There's a distinct lack of storage and trunk space is minimal with an awkwardly shaped opening.
If you need a safe muscle car, the Camaro fits the bill. The NHTSA gave it five stars overall which is excellent for a sporty car. We'd tell you how the IIHS rated it, but they haven't yet. The main concern with safety is visibility--the styling makes it a major issue, even with parking sensors.
Gas mileage is a pleasant surprise. The V-6 gets up to 30 mpg on the highway while the V-8 can get up to 24 mpg on the highway. Though, step up to the ZL1 and you'll be stepping down to a 19-mpg highway rating.
A base Camaro will run you about $24,000 and includes power windows cruise control, Bluetooth, and an auxiliary jack and USB port. Stepping up to the SS with a V-8 will run you about $33,500 and includes a 7-inch color touch screen radio with Chevrolet's new MyLink infotainment system, and power seats. Adding the 1LE package to any SS model will cost $3,500 and adds the track-tuned suspension, ZL1 wheels, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, along with that dual-mode exhaust system. Go all out with the ZL1 and you'll be facing a sticker price of about $56,500.
So what's the bottom line with the 2013 Chevrolet Camaro? It's not a muscle car with a one-track mind any more. You can get great handling and good gas mileage--you just have to check the right option boxes.