These are halcyon days for horsepower.
The Chevrolet Camaro SS roars into our good graces with high horsepower, a throaty V-8, and low price tag. It's our Best Performance Car To Buy 2020 because nearly nothing else provides that intoxicating mix for less than $38,000.
It stretches a canvas for even more performance potential, too. The Camaro SS horns in on Chevy's 6.2-liter V-8, which makes 455 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque. It's teamed to a rev-matching and clean-shifting 6-speed manual transmission that's more engaging than every HBO series, "Game of Thrones" included. Chevy says the Camaro SS is quicker to 60 mph with a 10-speed automatic, just 4.0 seconds, but the 6-speed is more fun even if it's a blink slower to 60 mph at 4.3 seconds.
The Chevrolet Camaro LT1 is our Best Performance Car To Buy 2020 based on its low price and big power. (Photo courtesy General Motors)
The SS has a hillbilly cousin in the Camaro lineup, the LT1, with the same base engine. Those cars cost less than $35,000 to start, but the SS improvements and possibilities make it more worthwhile. The SS has a bigger 8.0-inch touchscreen, Brembo brakes, performance tires, and a digital instrument information display as standard equipment above the LT1. The SS also makes available magnetic dampers (unavailable on the LT1) that transform the Camaro SS into a track-day star. When combined with a 1LE suspension tune, the Camaro SS can keep pace with just about anything on the track.
We can hear the calls echoing across the holler: "What about the Mustang?" Fair point. The Mustang GT is equipped with a sonorous 5.0-liter V-8 that makes 460 hp that we like very much, but the Camaro outpoints the Mustang in base configuration in handling. The Mustang GT gets better with a Performance Package 2 upgrade but its price launches past $45,000, which is about $4,000 more than the Camaro SS 1LE spec, and we still don't think it's as nimble.
The Camaro gets a 5.8 TCC Rating no thanks to lousy fuel economy and safety scores. The former is forgivable in a performance car, GM's shrug emoji answers the latter.
Not long ago, sports cars that made more than 400 horsepower and sprints to 60 mph in about four seconds were the province of exotics and commanded six figures. Now, those cars can cost less than the nationwide average for any new car and you can drive one off the lot today. We're in peak horsepower days, people.