2014 Chevrolet Camaro Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
August 12, 2014

The 2014 Chevrolet Camaro may have a somewhat gimmicky wrapper, but in its ZL1 and Z/28 guises especially this muscle machine turns into a serious performance car with truly entertaining handling.

The 2014 Chevrolet Camaro is the most comprehensive update to Chevy's muscle car since it was relaunched for the 2010 model year, though they're largely limited to its design and styling. Even in its fifth year, the Camaro continues to sell well, with a lineup that runs from the affordable V-6 to the V-8 SS, the track-worthy Z/28, the close-to-a-supercar ZL1--and our choice, the best-of-all-worlds 1LE.

The category of American muscle cars returned with a bang several years ago, and while the Ford Mustang stood alone for many years, it now competes head-to-head not only with Chevy's Camaro but also the Dodge Challenger. The Camaro's cartoonish, broad-shouldered design, scorching performance, and general muscle-car attitude face off against the uber-retro Challenger and the longstanding and well-known Mustang--each of them with a similar lineup from tamer V-6 entries through pavement-pounding hot rods.

The Camaro's design continues to turn heads. The look is polarizing, no doubt, and outrageous in almost every inch of its sheetmetal, from the too-low roofline to the squared-off haunches. It's an attention-getter, even if the styling gives it some of the worst outward vision of any volume vehicle we've driven. But owners aren't likely to care about that.

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For 2014, the whole Camaro lineup gets somewhat revised sheetmetal all around, a new functional hood vent for Camaro SS models, and a revamped look front and rear, the Camaro strikes a somewhat different chord on the outside. A thinner upper grille with a larger lower grille help make the front end look a little lower, perhaps, while new rear lights are wide, rectangular, and thin, which helps exaggerate the car's width from some angles. Inside, changes are very minimal, with a central gauge-cluster information center the most significant difference for this especially low, cockpit-like layout.

Powertrains essentially remains the same. There's the stock 2014 Chevy Camaro, with its 323-horsepower V-6 and a choice of six-speed automatic and manual transmissions. It's the foundation for greatness, and in truth, it doesn't fare too badly as a sports car. Overall, if you can forgive the odd driving position, its electric power steering, rear-wheel drive, and independent suspension bring relatively nimble responses and a ride that's comfortable enough for just about any enthusiast type. EPA highway numbers ranging up to 30 mpg are an unexpected bonus.

The V-8s are still what most people have in mind when they think of the Camaro; the 6.2-liter V-8's lyrical engine note is a hypnotic for men of a huge range of ages. We're looped by it too--and by the gripping 60-mph runs of 5 seconds or less. With huge staggered tires and a front-end weight bias, there's still room for improvement in the way the SS handles; get the 1LE package that rights out the tires to equal sizes, tightens up the steering and manual gear ratios, and you can tap into some easy, controllable oversteer.

At the top of the performance ladder is the ZL1 coupe and convertible. With their supercharged, 580-hp version of the 6.2-liter (with either transmission) and the magnetic shocks found in the Corvette and some Cadillacs, it not only provides near-supercar numbers (0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds, a top speed of 184 mph); it's also affordable, considering that, at about $60k.

Even more affordable is the new-for-2014 Camaro Z/28. With a focus on track capability, the Z/28 takes after the original 1960s models, and not the later '70s and '80s ones carrying that nomenclature. In it, a 7.0-liter V-8 makes 500 horsepower and 470 lb-ft. There's no standard A/C, and all Z/28s have a six-speed manual gearbox, but the design saves 100 pounds overall in weight. Spool-valve dampers, stiffer spring rates, and special Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tires all add to the track chops.

The cabin appointments are where your love affair with the current Camaro's style and performance might come to a screeching halt. Why? Because the low-set roofline means that there's a severe shortage of headroom for taller drivers (not just the really tall ones, but most six-footers will find it tight, too). SS and ZL1 Camaros can be trimmed up with suede and leather and brightly colored trim pieces--some of those combinations are love-or-hate, really--while on all Camaros the back seat is for children only and the trunk is tight.

With a lineup that includes the LS, LT, SS (and 1LE), and ZL1--in addition to the new Z/28, equipment also spans a wide range, and the Camaro can be a rather basic coupe, a luxurious touring car, or an all-out performance machine. OnStar comes standard and navigation is available; Bluetooth, USB, and iPod connectivity are offered as options or as standard gear, and a head-up display mimics the one found in the Corvette. Convertibles get power-folding soft tops with glass windows, and standard rearview cameras. The ZL1 bundles it all together in instantly collectible form--but even SS Camaros, especially 1LEs, show the same potential to entertain auctioneers long after they've thrilled their original drivers.

For 2014, the Chevrolet Camaro gets a number of trim and appearance changes, with new wheels and colors throughout. The Hot Wheels Special Edition is no longer offered, and a rear spoiler is no longer standard--which might appeal to those who want a cleaner look. 

8

2014 Chevrolet Camaro

Styling

The Camaro gets some nips and tucks, but it's still a retro blast on the outside with a slight-out-of-sync interior design.

The Camaro's high-shouldered, cartoonish exterior, muscle-car attitude, and scorching performance carry it through with as much head-turning potential as ever. The look is polarizing, no doubt, and outrageous in every inch of its sheetmetal, from the too-low roofline to the squared-off haunches.

And in the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro, there's quite a bit different in the details compared to last year. The entire Camaro lineup gets its most significant round of changes yet, but they're mainly cosmetic. With somewhat revised sheetmetal all around, a new functional hood vent for Camaro SS models, and a revamped look front and rear, the Camaro strikes a somewhat different chord on the outside. A thinner upper grille with a larger lower grille help make the front end look a little lower, perhaps, while new rear lights are wide, rectangular, and thin, which helps exaggerate the car's width from some angles.

Otherwise the retro-tinged look blasts into the future. It's certainly as full of design hypocrisy as ever, with its bold face, squat haunches, and muscular fenders, all heady and evocative of the best Camaros of the past--let down by the bluff front end and small, cartoonish greenhouse. On the other hand it's all too much to digest in one look--the way really exciting cars should be.

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Inside, changes are very minimal, with a central gauge-cluster information center the most significant difference for this especially low, cockpit-like layout. Certainly, it's less retro-themed than the outside, with nods to the sleds of the Sixties mostly found in the low-mounted console gauge cluster, vintage type face, and nested bezels. Despite that, rival models like the Ford Mustang do have a more usable, better-finished cockpit.
9

2014 Chevrolet Camaro

Performance

Each Camaro model drives a little bit differently, but whether you go for a V-6 or one of the top-performance V-8s, they're surprisingly nimble.

There is no single performance story for the 2014 Chevy Camaro. The lineup includes a corral of strong, surprisingly economical V-6 models; SS and 1LE muscle cars with burbling V-8s and a blinding pace; and the top, supercar-caliber ZL1 as well as a track-tuned Z/28. It's not as confusing as trying to figure out which Chevy pickup is for you, but you certainly have a lot of performance decisions.

The base 2014 Chevy Camaro has a 323-horsepower V-6 and a choice of six-speed automatic and manual transmissions. It's the foundation for greatness, and in truth, it doesn't fare too badly as a sports car. Overall, if you can forgive the odd driving position, its electric power steering, rear-wheel drive, and independent suspension bring relatively nimble responses and a ride that's comfortable enough for just about any enthusiast type. EPA highway numbers ranging up to 30 mpg are an unexpected bonus.

The V-8s are still what most people have in mind when they think of the Camaro; the 6.2-liter V-8's lyrical engine note is a hypnotic for men of a huge range of ages. We're looped by it too--and by the gripping 60-mph runs of 5 seconds or less. With huge staggered tires and a front-end weight bias, there's still room for improvement in the way the SS handles; get the 1LE package that rights out the tires to equal sizes, tightens up the steering and manual gear ratios, and you can tap into some easy, controllable oversteer.

At the top of the performance ladder is the ZL1 coupe and convertible. With their supercharged, 580-hp version of the 6.2-liter (with either transmission) and the magnetic shocks found in the Corvette and some Cadillacs, it not only provides near-supercar numbers (0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds, a top speed of 184 mph); it's also affordable, considering that, at about $60k.

Even more affordable is the new-for-2014 Camaro Z/28. With a focus on track capability, the Z/28 takes after the original 1960s models, and not the later '70s and '80s ones carrying that nomenclature. In it, a 7.0-liter V-8 makes 500 horsepower and 470 lb-ft. There's no standard A/C, and all Z/28s have a six-speed manual gearbox, but the design saves 100 pounds overall in weight. Spool-valve dampers, stiffer spring rates, and special Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tires all add to the track chops.

Across the lineup, handling isn't anything at which to scoff. The six-cylinder cars have electric power steering that's not too artificial in feel, and with 18-inch wheels standard on its control-arm and coil-over-shock independent rear suspension, the base Camaro with the available sport suspension package can feel almost nimble--as nimble as anything weighing in at about 3,800 pounds can feel.

Convertibles lose some of that precise feel that's been dialed in, as a function of their (lesser) body structure. Still, this base Camaro is light-years ahead of the highest-performance Camaros of just the last generation, so make sure your expectation buttons have been reset.

There's a psychographic gulf between those cars and the V-8 Camaros, and the Camaro SS provides all of the rumble any muscle-car driver could want--with significant handling differences, depending on the steering, suspension, and wheel-and-tire packages. The powertrain is V-8 and six-speed--a 426-horsepower, 6.2-liter V-8 on manual-transmission cars, and a 400-hp version of the same engine with six-speed automatic-equipped cars, a power loss that's attributed to its fuel delivery system. With either combination, 0-60 mph is only about 5.0 seconds away, accompanied by one of those irreplaceable musclecar roars that belongs in the Smithsonian's audio library. While the six-cylinder cars can get away with automatic transmissions, the SS' manual shifter's not only a collector prerequisite--it's a well ironed out piece with quick shifts and short motions. Plus, there's a dual-mode exhaust system that mutes the V-8 at low speeds and amps it up at full prod--and it's only available with the manual gearbox.

From there, the V-8 Camaro family spins off into a few branches. All versions have a similar suspension design, 20-inch wheels, and now, electric power steering, but tuning differences give the handling edge to this year's new 1LE edition. The wide stance and short wheelbase aren't helped by the basic SS coupe's staggered 245/275 tires and 52:48 weight distribution; they make the Camaro feel less tossable and induce more understeer than can seem possible in a car with this much power available at the rear wheels, though the SS and versions with a sport suspension setup have better ride control than expected, too.

For more track-ready, more neutral handling, the Camaro SS 1LE cures almost all. It's a lively twist that may as well be the stock SS suspension, from our experience on Michigan's Gingerman Raceway. The 1LE gets its own specification, with a closer-ratio manual transmission--no automatic's available--and identically sized 35-series tires front and back, along with monotube rear shocks, a bigger front anti-roll bar, a front strut brace, and some suspension mounts from the ZL1 for better stability. The package is fitted to the less plushly trimmed SS for some weight reduction, and it also gets a blacked-out hood and spoiler, along with transmission cooling. It's a revelation to drive a 1LE and expect tons of push: it doesn't. With stability control set to a sport mode that allows some yaw, the 1LE gently steps out into oversteer, corrected easily with remapped variable-ratio electric power steering that's another one of GM's well-tuned efforts. It's possible to option up an SS to near 1LE-spec--but the steering is one piece that's otherwise unavailable. We haven't driven one on public roads, but a 1LE in the right context--on a road course--acquits itself with disinctly un-muscle-car moves.

Above all other comers, the Camaro's final act is the most difficult one to reconcile. It's because it's more of a supercar than a Camaro, with a pricetag in the $60,000 range to match. The ZL1 supercharges the SS's 6.2-liter V-8 for a grand total of 580 horsepower, and adopts magnetic dampers and a host of aero body pieces (the hood has a carbon-fiber insert) to cope with the copious upgrade in power. Its 0-60 mph time is pegged at 3.9 seconds, and top speed hits 184 mph--and Chevy's lapped the Nurburgring in less than eight minutes in a coupe, all figures that suggest Corvette until the cover's pulled off the body.

Believe it or not, there's yet another Camaro performance package, and it's more of an encore than part of the main performance: the Z/28.  If you've forgotten, the key stats of the new Z/28. With a 7.0-liter LS7 V-8 engine, making 500 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque, the Z/28 promises to be stiff, harsh, and loud compared to other Camaro models--and just plain uncompromised. Its track-bred suspension, carbon ceramic brakes, transmission and differential coolers, and Pirelli PZero Trofeo R tires, altogether mean business, and those who spring for the Z/28 will also want to skip the A/C and delete the radio. Add in thinner rear glass, a smaller battery, no fog lamps, and this is a car that means business on the track.

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6

2014 Chevrolet Camaro

Comfort & Quality

Interior appointments are quite nice in the 2014 Chevy Camaro, but the rear seats and trunk are very small--and you'd better not be very tall in any case.

The cabin appointments are where your love affair with the style and performance of the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro might come to a screeching halt. Why? Because the low-set roofline means that there's a severe shortage of headroom for taller drivers (not just the really tall ones, but most six-footers will find it tight, too).

The Chevy Camaro pays an obvious price for its meta-Sixties sheetmetal--and that's inside. The cabin is small even by musclecar standards, and storage and trunk space are minimal.

Tall drivers get the worst of it in the Camaro, and those who race will feel it every time they strap on a helmet. The front seats--from base models to the sporty seats on ZL1s--are comfortable even for long trips. There's simply not enough headroom for six-footers, especially when a sunroof is part of the equation. Skip it, because the low roof then loses all its clearance, and the Camaro comes up short. Even getting in and out of the car can be difficult, with the roofline and long, heavy doors stretching the boundaries of convenience.

The rear seats are 911-like, which is to say, almost unusable for anyone beyond their single-digit years. There's simply not enough leg room here even for tweenagers--just under 30 inches of leg room by the spec sheet. The interior also narrows dramatically as the Camaro swells around its wheels at its hips. The trunk struggles to swallow tennis bags, and you won't find much added storage around the cabin.

SS and ZL1 Camaros can be trimmed up with suede and leather and brightly colored trim pieces--some of those combinations are love-or-hate, really--while on all Camaros the back seat is for children only and the trunk is tight.

Although you sacrifice a lot for the design of the Camaro, kudos to GM for making them so tight and rattle-free; and we've noticed in repeated drives that road and wind noise are truly kept to a minimum.

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8

2014 Chevrolet Camaro

Safety

The 2014 Camaro Coupe continues to earn excellent safety scores; but desperately needs a rearview camera.

The 2014 Chevrolet Camaro is surprisingly strong in safety for a performance-oriented coupe. With a good list of safety features and a top five-star federal score, there's no reason to steer away from the Camaro for safety reasons--provided you can see out of it, that is.

The Camaro Coupe earns National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) ratings of five stars overall. However, it hasn't yet tested a convertible--and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) hasn't tested any Camaro.

Safety equipment in the Camaro includes six airbags, anti-lock brakes, and stability control, as well as the OnStar telematics system with six months of emergency service. Bluetooth is an option on some models as well. We think, given the prevalence of mobile phones, it's a necessity.

All of this so far adds up to top-notch safety. But outward visibility is a liability in the Camaro, with the high beltline hindering visibility for drivers of more normal height, all the more so for shorter drivers. Rearward visibility is compromised for all drivers with thick rear roof supports and a small rear window. And with no standard rearview camera (convertibles do include one) and parking sensors--items it sorely needs, given the horrible rearward visibility induced by its coupe body style--you may have to step out of the car, or have a passenger help navigate out of tight spots, embarrassingly often.

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9

2014 Chevrolet Camaro

Features

There's nothing luxurious here; all the basic needs are met, with lots of room left over for appearance and performance extras.

With a lineup that includes the LS, LT, SS (and 1LE), and ZL1--in addition to the new Z/28, equipment also spans a wide range, and the Camaro can be a rather basic coupe, a luxurious touring car, or an all-out performance machine. Over the past couple of years, it's made strides in catching up to the Mustang's more complete list of options.

OnStar comes standard and navigation is available; Bluetooth, USB, and iPod connectivity are offered as options or as standard gear, and a head-up display mimics the one found in the Corvette. Convertibles get power-folding soft tops with glass windows, and standard rearview cameras. The ZL1 bundles it all together in instantly collectible form--but even SS Camaros, especially 1LEs, show the same potential to entertain auctioneers long after they've thrilled their original drivers.

For 2014, the Chevrolet Camaro gets a number of trim and appearance changes, with new wheels and colors throughout. The Hot Wheels Special Edition is no longer offered, and a rear spoiler is no longer standard--which might appeal to those who want a cleaner look. 

Options on some models include remote start; leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob; ambient lighting; a USB port; and on coupes, a sunroof.

From some LT trims and up, the Camaro adds more luxury features, like power-recline front seats; heated and leather-trimmed seats; a head-up display; premium audio; and a three-spoke steering wheel. An RS package gets its own body kit and 20-inch wheels. The Camaro SS 1LE is treated as an option package, but gets its own suspension design and 20-inch wheels and tires front and back, along with a manual transmission, a matte-black hood and spoiler, a front air splitter, and a flat-bottom steering wheel. See our performance section for a more thorough discussion on it and for the ZL1 and its mechanical differences.

The ZL1 makes almost all available features standard, and gets its own wheel and color choices, along with its own aero-add ons; suede interior trim; alloy pedals; rear parking sensors; a set of four ancillary gauges; and standard remote start on automatic-equipped models. A suede package for the interior and a sunroof are among the few options.

Color Touch provides a graphic interface on an LCD touchscreen for direct control of audio and phone features, and also runs the Camaro's newly available navigation system--a first for the muscle car. It also connects the car's audio system to smartphones and enables some mobile apps for in-car use, apps like Pandora, and also accepts voice commands for audio, phone and navigation--though it's not quite as flexible or as vocabulary-rich as Ford's system, for example.

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2014 Chevrolet Camaro

Fuel Economy

The V-6 Camaro models are the best choice for the mileage-minded; although for their extreme horsepower, V-8s aren't bad.

The 2014 Chevrolet Camaro is far more fuel-efficient than it looks--provided you stick with the base V-6, that is.

Considering how well the V-6 model performs, it's very good on gas--earning 19 mpg city, 30 mpg highway with the six-speed automatic; manual-transmission models earn 17/28 mpg.

The V-8 SS scores just 15 or 16 mpg city and 24 mpg highway; ZL1 Camaros won't bring home any awards for saving the planet, but considering their awesome power ratings, it's not as low as it could be. For the 7.0-liter Z/28, gas mileage figures fall a bit to 13 mpg city, 19 mpg highway, and 15 mpg combined.

The ZL1's prodigious 580-horsepower output results in fairly low gas mileage ratings: the EPA pegs the manual at 14/19 mpg and the automatic at 12/18 mpg, no matter which body style.

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December 18, 2015
For 2014 Chevrolet Camaro

Best pony car on the market

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I bought my 14 base Camaro used with 7100 miles on it and I love it. I have the V6 with a manual transmission and out on the interstate I get 28 mpg at 75 mph using the cruse control. I find that I have to use... + More »
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June 24, 2015
2014 Chevrolet Camaro 2-Door Coupe LT w/2LT

Very satisfied with my 2014 Camaro 2LT / RS Coupe!

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I have had this car for almost 2 years now and it is better than the 2012 Camaro 2LT / RS I traded in for this 2014 Camaro 2LT / RS in every aspect, including Handling, Performance, Looks etc. Best move I made... + More »
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June 8, 2015
2014 Chevrolet Camaro 2-Door Coupe SS w/1SS

best camaro i have owned period.

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I have owned several Camaros over the years a 1978 and 1979 coupe. as well as a 1994 coupe and a loaded 1997 Z28 with T-tops and 6 speed manual trans. I am a retired police officer, so I am used to driving... + More »
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April 28, 2015
2014 Chevrolet Camaro 2-Door Coupe LS w/1LS

Great car. Dependable, great looking.

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I love the look of this car. It has get up and go. Only bad thing is it is easy to speed in.
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April 13, 2015
For 2014 Chevrolet Camaro

I have never had a street car that I liked better than this one!!

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This car is fun to drive the back seat is a tease like car connection or Motor authority said but I now have 7200 miles on my car & only 1 hr. have I ever had a 3rd. Person in my car. I drove a top fuel... + More »
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