- Shattering SS performance
- Tasty Alpha bits, like steering
- Magnetic dampers—amirite?
- A cockpit for adults
- Has its own light show
- Will the turbo four feel right?
- Really skimpy rear seat
- Styling may not be different enough
- A cockpit for two adults—just two
The 2016 Chevy Camaro finally shuffles off its muscle-car coil and earns true sports-car credentials.
Muscle-car fans have feasted on the new 707-horsepower Hellcat and are just tucking into the 526-hp Ford Shelby GT350. But they won't be able to pass up the final course: the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro, on sale now in Camaro Coupe form and coming early next year as a soft-top Camaro Convertible.
The new Camaro hasn't strayed at all from the classic muscle-car formula, or in truth, all that much from the styling of the fifth-generation car sold from the 2010 model year through 2015. What's underneath is quite different, though: it's now based on General Motors' Alpha architecture, meaning it has a lot in common with Cadillac's ATS and CTS. Those underpinnings mean it's time to stop calling the Camaro a muscle car. Like the Mustang, the Camaro's exceptional handling give it a fuller performance profile that catapults it past previous Camaros and into an entire new performance realm.
From a first glance, it's not as easy to identify the 2016 Camaro as new. The attitude is the same, just slightly smaller, with adjusted proportions that alternate between bawdy and bulky. No Camaro since the first one has had truly lyrical looks, but some of the sharpest and most awkward passages of the fifth-gen Camaro have been resolved in the sixth-generation car. It's sensitive to the approach angle: from the side, the new Camaro's details can be quite striking and well-honed, but from others can seem stubby, foreshortened. The powerful haunches are intact, balancing out the tall nose and its slim grille as best they can. The menace? It's all there, all intact, especially in dark colors.
The cabin's a bigger departure in the correct direction. The thrifty feel of the last-generation car has been chucked along with the last few nods to heritage that don't work in a modern environment. The cockpit has fewer seams, better materials, and a more cohesive look that blends in big touchscreens, digital gauges, and a nifty pair of gimbaled air vents that cycle through climate controls with a twist of their trim rings. It's a fresh take that should still look contemporary for years.
This generation's Camaro gets its first turbocharged 4-cylinder in history, but as of yet, the only versions we've driven are the mid-range V-6 and the shattering, V-8-powered SS. The four's good for 275 hp and up to 30 mpg highway. The V-6? It's rated at 335 hp and 284 pound-feet of torque, good enough to punt the Camaro to 60 mph in about five seconds, behind a soundtrack with its best sounds amplified and ushered into the Camaro's cabin. On its stock 18-inch wheels, with either a rev-matching 6-speed manual or a paddle-shifted 8-speed automatic, the Camaro's middle-child powertrain is lusty enough to dust off the highest-performance Camaros of just a decade ago.
For the first model year, the ultimate Camaro will be the SS, and it's a formidable performance weapon. Stuffed with the Corvette's LT1 V-8, rated at 455 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque, it's a sensational piece of hardware, with 60-mph times of four seconds just within reach at the far end of the throttle pedal's swing.
With any powertrain combination, the Camaro can be tailored to individual driving styles via a new Drive Mode Selector. Like similar systems, it allows drivers to fine-tune the characteristics of the car's steering, stability control, shift timing, and throttle progressions. Sport, Tour, and Snow/Ice modes are joined on the Camaro SS with a Track setting—and Chevy lets drivers customize those system settings individually, to create their own drive mode.
Its suspension has a double-pivot, control-arm and strut design as in the Cadillacs, with the same attention to weight reduction that makes suspension members look like flying buttresses instead of solid pieces. And in the rear, the five-link design can be fitted with GM's excellent Magnetic Ride Control adaptive dampers, on the Camaro SS options list for the first time this year.
Electric power steering is standard on the LT and SS, the only models to be offered this year. Four-piston Brembo brakes are standard, tucked behind 18-inch wheels and Goodyear Eagle Sport tires. Twenty-inch wheels with Eagle F1 run-flat tires are an option on the Camaro LT, while SSs get standard 20-inch versions of the same tire.
With either gearbox and the magnetic dampers, the Camaro SS finally breaks free from its muscle-car mortal coil. It's a true sportscar, skimming over instead of pummeling down pavement, turning in adroitly with a degree of responsiveness that eluded all but the best versions of the fifth-gen car.
Much of the credit for the Camaro's excellent handling goes to its downsized, light-weighted footprint. It's now a part of GM's Alpha family of cars, which includes the Cadillac ATS and CTS. The platform switch helps it drop up to 200 pounds in some trim levels, but more critically, it's the suspension and body design—engine rails, trunk floor, steering gear straight from the CTS-V--that let it keep its classic stance while elevating its handling to a new level.
The switch doesn't help its accommodations, though. Some 2.3 inches shorter, on a wheelbase down 1.6 inches, the Camaro gives up on having a back seat, for the most part. Passenger and driver will actually fit better in front despite a roof height lower by an inch—engineers have found more room by sculpting the headliner and increasing the range of motion of the front seats. It's possible for tall drivers to race this Camaro with a helmet and to sit fairly upright. The rear seats won't hold much more than a backpack, and the trunk is shallow and narrow, but for two passengers, the Camaro's cockpit has never been more comfortable or better trimmed or better organized.
No crash-test data is available yet, since the Camaro is so new. Past versions have performed well, and the new car has more safety technology, like forward-collision warnings, blind-spot monitors, and a standard rearview camera. It needs the latter, too—outward vision is even worse to the rear, and a set of available parking sensors are an option we'd consider essential.
All Camaros come standard with power windows, locks, and mirrors; Bluetooth with audio streaming; an AM/FM audio system with a 7.0-inch touchscreen, six speakers, two USB ports and an auxiliary jack; Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (late availability); hardware for in-car 4G LTE data services (subscription for data required separately); cruise control; keyless ignition; power front seats; 18-inch wheels; and driver-selectable drive modes.
Given all that, the Camaro is a tremendous value, even at the intimidating SS level. Prices for the turbo coupe start at $26,695; for the V-6, at $28,490. The mighty V-8-powered SS with the 6.2-liter V-8 begins at just $37,295, and with the highly recommended magnetic dampers and other key options, falls in the mid-$40,000 range—a few thousand shy of where Ford's Shelby GT350 gets started.
Contrary to what you might be expecting, fuel economy doesn't swing dramatically for the Camaro's three different powertrains. The most frugal option: a turbo four married to an 8-speed automatic manages 25 mpg combined, according to the EPA. Contrast that to the 6.2-liter V-8's 20 mpg combined performance when equipped with the same 8-speed. The V-8 even manages 28 mpg on the highway, thanks to cylinder deactivation technology.
2016 Chevrolet Camaro
Tighter details and a much better cockpit work wonders for the Chevy Camaro.
With the sixth-generation design of the Chevy Camaro, GM's tried to obliterate the more cartoonish aspects of the fifth-gen car, toning it down and scaling it down while keeping the sheet metal full of familiar hooks and riffs.
No Camaro has been as lyrical or hormonal as the first one, and the current car is no exception. It's cured some of the excesses of the last car, but shaping smaller cars is a tricky black art. Some of the new Camaro's details are striking from one angle—the big sweep of the rear roof pillar is fantastic when seen from the side—but look foreshortened and stubby from others. The balance between the Camaro's classically strong haunches and those rear pillars is really sensitive to the angle from which it's seen. The thin-grille, big-intake front end isn't quite as terrifying as the last-generation car, either, but all the menace is intact when the Camaro's seen from the side.
Dark colors evoke the right temper and show off some of the subtler curves as they catch the light—so make it black, but spice it up with one of the interior trim kits that polish off the cockpit with splashes of red, blue, yellow, or neutrals.
Designers worked much more effective change in the Camaro's cockpit. The thrifty-looking interior of the 2010-2015 Camaro is part of history's dust bin, thankfully, and the new one has better materials with fewer seams, a more cohesive look, and a much more open feel, thanks to a lower console and dash. The forward-looking cockpit takes some gambles in chucking most of the heritage details available from GM's playbook. Instead, it factors in big digital gauges, a binnacle framed by "Star Wars" Tie Fighters, and huge gimbaled air vents for a sense of style that's fresh, one that will look fresh for years to come.
2016 Chevrolet Camaro
It's time to stop calling the Chevy Camaro a muscle car—its savvy sports-car moves can't be denied or dismissed.
The Chevy Camaro's been dubbed a muscle car since it was new in 1967. It's time to change that label: With its sophisticated suspensions and shattering V-8 power, the Camaro one of the most capable performance cars you can buy, period.
Not all versions are alike, though. We haven't sampled it yet, but GM will sell a turbocharged, four-cylinder Camaro for the first time ever in the coming months. The turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 is like the ones found in an array of today's GM cars; in the pony car it's said to put out 275 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Chevy pegs 0-60 mph times at under 6.0 seconds, and fuel economy on the highway cycle at more than 30 mpg. We'll have more on the turbo-4 Camaro soon.
Until that model arrives for testing, the base Camaro coupe (and soon, the convertible) will be powered by a version of GM's latest 3.6-liter V-6. With direct injection and cylinder deactivation, it's tuned to 335 hp and 284 lb-ft of torque, and is ranked at 5.0 seconds or less in the sprint to 60 mph. The V-6 has a wonderful mid-range howl that's a bit vintage Ferrari, a little F1, though the classic V-6 drone shows up as it reaches for redline. Some of the noises are amplified and piped in from the engine bay, so the howl from purists might actually be louder, and definitely less pleasant.
With either the stock rev-matching 6-speed manual or the paddle-shifted 8-speed automatic, it's abundantly quick, feeling more composed of lean muscle than in its barrel-chested past. On stock 18-inch wheels and tires, the Camaro has a great sense of stability and good tracking, with a ride composure that's completely new to it even without the pricey suspension upgrades on the order sheet. Skimming over scabby pothole patching doesn't send the rear end hunting all over the lane for available traction.
Camaro drivers can tweak their car's demeanor with the new Drive Mode Selector. It lets drivers to fine tune the steering weight, stability control programming, shift timing, and throttle progression through Sport, Tour, and Snow/Ice modes, with a smorgasbord menu that permits just about any combination. Toggled completely into the Sport, the V-6 Camaro is one happy pony car, able to needle its way down tight, narrow trajectories with precision, and without the oppressive understeer of early fifth-gen Camaros.
Some of that credit goes to the Cadillac bits on loan. There's a double-pivot, control-arm and strut design borrowed from Cadillac and refitted for Camaro use, as well as a similar electric power steering setup. Together, they have the effect of peeling a few hundred pounds off the nose alone, giving the Camaro a 100-percent-present feel in corners.
Wonderful, yes. But stepping into the V-8 Camaro SS slaps all that off the recent-memory reel and sears in the Camaro's sports-car realness. Whether automatic or manual, steel or magnetic suspension, the SS is a legitimate, four-second-to-60 mph sports car. Nail the throttle, and it feels like taking a 10-yard NFL pass right in the numbers. Stuffed with a 6.2-liter LT1 V-8 shared with the Corvette, it grabs all of 455 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque, blipping its throttle to smooth manual-lever shifts, or kicking off shifts by itself with zero drama in automatic-equipped versions. It's a transformative powertrain that does more than its share of work in turning the Camaro into a brutally powerful masterwork.
But again, it's in handling where the Camaro rips off the muscle-car label for good. All the work done to pull out weight is on immediate display, as are the CTS-V's steering and GM's excellent Magnetic Ride Control adaptive dampers—a first on the Camaro SS this year.
Four-piston Brembo brakes are standard, tucked behind 18-inch wheels and Goodyear Eagle Sport tires. Twenty-inch wheels with Eagle F1 run-flat tires are an option on the Camaro LT, while SSs get standard 20-inch versions of the same tire.
Even in Tour mode, the Camaro's steering is hefty, but quick to cut a line. Dial it up to Sport, and it locks down on the road surface with Doberman intensity. Camaros that ride on the standard 18-inch wheels and tires don't bobble or dance too much, but by the time you're into the big 20-inchers, the Camaro can jackhammer over crappy roads and skitter over imperfect road surfaces. An SS with the conventional suspension is still able to keep its composure when you're flying above posted limits through barely populated farmland, but the magnetic dampers make absolute, perfect sense here, inducing a magnitude of calmness in the Camaro's mood, allowing it to blunt impacts and race over savage pavement like it's cross-country skiing. That's what sports cars do. Not muscle cars.
2016 Chevrolet Camaro
Comfort & Quality
Chevy's carved out better, nicer room for the Camaro driver, but back-seaters should be soft-sided.
The Camaro's new body owes a fair amount to the Cadillac family of sedans—some of the pony car's underpinnings are derived from the ATS and CTS. The result is a little counter-intuitive: the Camaro's actually a bit smaller than before, which pays more dividends in performance than it does in passenger space.
By the numbers, the new Camaro is nearly 200 pounds lighter in some trim levels, mostly from shrinking its body. It's 188.3 inches long, down by 2.3 inches; 74.7 inches wide, trimmer by 0.8 inches; 53.1 inches high, its roof some 1.1 inches closer to the ground. And in wheelbase, it's down 1.6 inches, to 110.7 inches.
In the cabin, the space allotted to the driver and front passenger is better than in the fifth-generation car—and much better in head room. Even in base cars, the front seats are shapely and supportive and they can be lowered more, which means tall drivers in race helmets have a fighting chance of fitting. A caveat: All our seat time has come in hardtop Camaros without the available sunroof.
The seats themselves are form-fitting but in base trim wear a knit-nylon covering that's thrifty in look and hand-feel. Pricey upgrades to Recaro seats with heating and ventilation are worthwhile spends.
Last year's Camaro had a similarly inexpensive look. Stylists are understandably proud of the new car, its tighter and richer look, its lower console and its more open feel. With the space saved from ditching a CD player and a hand-operated parking brake, Chevy made room for elbows and a big touchscreen—and for a pair of huge round vents that incorporate climate controls in their outer rings.
Payback comes in the form of a shrunken back seat that has an inch more head room, all of it carved out of the headliner. But engineers put a low priority on rear-seat leg room and on trunk space, and it shows. The highest and best use for the rear bench probably is as a nice resting pad for a messenger bag.
Back-seat space might be at even more of a premium in Camaro Convertible models, which get a power-operated, remote-operated top with full multi-layer construction—offering both acoustic and thermal barriers for four-season use, potentially. We'll update this section once we wedge ourselves into a roofless Camaro.
2016 Chevrolet Camaro
No crash-test data is available yet, but the Camaro has performed well in the recent past.
The Camaro is brand-new, and rides on a new architecture, which explains why crash-test data has yet to roll in.
As of this writing, neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS have put the new pony car through their regimen of testing. Past Camaros have performed very well on federal tests.
The 2016 Camaro is built on an entirely new platform, though. It's shared with the Cadillac CTS and ATS, which have also aced their crash tests.
The Camaro offers some of GM's latest safety technology. A rearview camera and Bluetooth are standard, and blind-spot monitors, forward-collision warnings and rear parking sensors are available. The Camaro doesn't heap on other new technologies like lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control, though.
The Camaro's an ode to high-strength steel, and what it can do for safer car design. Slimmer pillars have cleared up the view out of the Camaro’s front glass, while a look backward suggests the lower seating position and high tail practically mandated the now-standard rearview camera. A surround-view camera set would be welcome, too.
We'll update this page and this score as information rolls in.
2016 Chevrolet Camaro
There's extraordinary value baked into a $40,000 Camaro SS, but even standard coupes are very well-equipped.
For its levels of performance and equipment, the Camaro is priced very well, and configuring one only takes a few steps through a simplified order sheet.
Coupes and convertibles come only in LT or SS trim—for now, at least.
Prices for the 2016 Chevy Camaro start at $26,695 for the turbo four coupe with a manual transmission, in the 1LT trim package. For the same car equipped with a V-6 engine, it's $28,490. The mighty V-8-powered 1SS with the 6.2-liter V-8 begins at $37,295.
Losing the roof pushes the entry price to $33,695 for a 1LT-equipped Camaro Convertible, with the top-end 2SS coming in at $49,295.
All Camaros come standard with power windows, locks, and mirrors; a rearview camera; cruise control; Bluetooth with audio streaming; an AM/FM audio system with a 7.0-inch touchscreen, six speakers, two USB ports and an auxiliary jack; Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (late availability); keyless ignition; power front seats; hardware for in-car 4G LTE data services (subscription for data required separately); 18-inch wheels; and driver-selectable drive modes.
With the 2LT and 2SS packages comes a larger 8.0-inch touchscreen; dual-zone automatic climate control; Bose audio; and heated and ventilated front seats.
On SS models, Chevy adds standard 20-inch wheels; Brembo brakes; heavy-duty cooling for the engine and transmission; performance suspension settings; and a limited-slip differential.
Among the major options, a dual-mode exhaust runs $895; the automatic and the V-6 are $1,495 each; the RS package is $1,950; and on the SS, Magnetic Ride Control is $1,695.
Also offered are navigation; a head-up display; remote start; a heated steering wheel; a sunroof; wireless phone charging; and color-keyed interior trim. Ambient lighting is also an option, and it can dazzle parking-lot crowds with a "car show" mode that cycles through a spectrum of colors when the car's parked.
2016 Chevrolet Camaro
The 2016 Chevrolet Camaro runs the spectrum—efficient as a 4-cylinder—although it's surprisingly frugal.
Fuel economy for the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro predictably swings depending on engine configuration, and is largely in line with its main competitor, the Ford Mustang.
The turbocharged inline-4 Camaro manages 22 mpg city, 31 highway, 25 combined when equipped with an automatic transmission, according to the EPA. Those figures dip slightly with a manual: 21/30/24 mpg.
For the V-6-powered Camaro, the automatic-equipped model is rated at 19/28/23 mpg. With the manual shifter, it drops to 18/27/21 mpg.
With the massively powerful V-8 in the Camaro SS, fuel economy isn't as atrocious as you might expect. The EPA pegs it at 17/28/20 mpg for automatic-transmission cars, and 16/25/19 mpg for manual versions.