2014 Chevrolet Camaro Review

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The Car Connection
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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 remain 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.

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.

Review continues below
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 neutral, track-ready handling, the Camaro SS 1LE cures almost all. It's a lively twist that, in our books, should be the stock SS suspension based on our experience with it at Michigan's Gingerman Raceway. The 1LE gets its own specification, with a close ratio manual transmission (there's no automatic here, folks), transmission cooling, identically sized 35-series tires front and back, monotube rear shocks, a bigger front anti-roll bar, a front strut brace, and some suspension mounts from the ZL1 for better stability. To keep everything light(-ish), Chevrolet's fits the package to less plushly trimmed SS models. A blacked-out hood and spoiler visually set off the 1LE from other models. Still, the 1LE brings no extra push to the party. That's not its mission. Instead, the stability control's sport mode allows more yaw, releasing the Camaro from its understeer shackles to step out more in corners. There's no drama, either, as the oversteer is easily controlled with GM's expertly tuned, remapped variable-ratio electric power steering. Without checking the box for the 1LE package, you can get almost all these performance-enhancing pieces as standalone options—except for the remapped power steering. Unfortunately, we haven't tested the 1LE yet on public roads, but he addition to the Camaro lineup on a racetrack is nimble unlike any other muscle car.

But it's the ZL1, Camaro's top model, that's difficult to reconcile. It sports supercar performance with a pricetag in the range of $60,000. It's motivated by essentially the same 6.2-liter V-8 as the lesser SS, but adds supercharging to the mix to produce 580 horsepower. Aside from the more powerful engine, the ZL1 is blessed with magnetic dampers and numerous aero upgrades to keep the engine cool and tires planted on the road. It all conspires to launch the ZL1 to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds on its way to a top speed of 184 mph. Chevy even took it around the Nurburgring to notch a time of under 8 minutes.

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 cabin is small even by musclecar standards, and storage and trunk space are minimal. Ingress and egress can be difficult due to its low, long roofline sitting squarely in the way of your head its long, heavy doors blocking you in beside other cars in tight parking lots.

Want to do a track day? Tall drivers get the short end of the stick. Add a helmet and your head will be tapping the ceiling at every turn. Adding a sunroof further exacerbates the situation.

At east the front seats are comfortable regardless of trim—even on long trips. The rear seats are another story; 911-like and unusable for those beyond nine-years old with the spec sheet quoting just under 30 inches of leg room. Rear-seat room is also compromised by the Camaro's dramatically narrowing body as it goes aft and its trunk will barely fit tennis bags.

SS and ZL1 models can be trimmed up with suede, leather, and brightly colored trim pieces—some of those combinations are love-or-hate, really.

Although you sacrifice a lot for the design of the Camaro, kudos to GM for making them so tight and rattle-free; we've noticed in repeated drives 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 a high beltline and low roof becomes a liability for the Camaro's outward visibility, hindering sight lines for average-height drivers and more so for shorter ones. Thick rear pillars and a small rear window compromise rearward visibility. The lack of a standard rearview camera (convertibles do include one) and parking sensors inflict additional pain. 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.

Some models can also be optioned with a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, remote start, USB input, ambient lighting, and a sunroof (on coupe models, naturally).

Luxury features join LT trims, including power reclining front seats covered in leather and offering hear, a head up display, a three-spoke steering wheel, and a head-up display similar to the one used in the Corvette. The RS package brings a unique body kit and upsized 20-inch wheels. While the 1LE is almost a separate model, Chevrolet treats it as an option package on SS models. In addition to the performance enhancements mentioned above, 1LE models receive 20-inch wheels and a flat-bottomed steering wheel.

Top ZL1 models raid GM's purse with bespoke wheel and color options, aero add-ons, alloy pedals, suede interior trim, rear parking sensors, four ancillary gauges, and remote start on automatic models equipped as standard. Optionally, buyers can fit a suede interior package and sunroof if they so choose.

Audio and phone features are controlled through Color Touch, an LCD touchscreen interface that also runs the Camaro's new optional navigation system. It also provides enhanced functionality for apps like Pandora. You can perform basic tasks via voice commands, but it's not as versatile as Ford's SYNC system.

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7

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 in the city, 30 mpg on the highway with its six-speed automatic; manual-transmission models earn 17/28 mpg.

The V-8-powered SS scores just 15 or 16 mpg city depending on transmission and 24 mpg highway regardless. 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 most expensive Camaro is also the thirstiest. ZL1 models with its 580-horsepower supercharged V-8 see fuel economy estimates of 14 mpg city and 19 mpg highway for the manual and 12 mpg city and 18 mpg highway when paired with the automatic.

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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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