2020 Chevrolet Camaro

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2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Kirk Bell Kirk Bell Senior Editor
August 29, 2019

Buying tip

The new LT1 offers the cheapest V-8 performance in the class. Check it out or go for an SS with more features.

The 2020 Chevrolet Camaro remains an engaging sports car in a pony car body.

The 2020 Chevrolet Camaro has graduated from pony/muscle car to true sports car. It uses a premium architecture shared with Cadillac that helps provide not only agility but feel. All of its engines are powerful, and its V-8s are the stuff of gearhead dreams. Outward visibility and interior space are drawbacks, but they are offset by retro cool looks. We give the Camaro an overall rating of 5.8 out of 10, which is aided by its many performance virtues but hindered by interior space, safety, and fuel economy. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

For 2020, Chevrolet adds a new V-8 value model called the LT1. It comes with the SS’s 455-horsepower 6.2-liter V-8 and some SS visual cues, but offers an equipment list more along the lines of the turbo-4 and V-6 models. The LT1 joins trim levels that range from LS, 1LT, 2LT, and 3LT for the turbo-4 and V-6 to the 1SS and 2SS for the base V-8 up to the thundering ZL1 with its 650-hp V-8. The LS and LT models feature a 275-hp 2.0-liter turbo-4 as standard, though LT buyers can get a 335-hp 3.6-liter V-6. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard for the turbo-4 and an 8-speed automatic is available; other models offer a 10-speed automatic, which is new this year for the V-6. Buyers have a choice of coupe and convertible body styles.

The 2020 model year also sees design changes that fix what had been a busted nose. A new body-color bar in the front fascia breaks up what had been a controversial all-black grille. The silhouette stays the same, however, and it features a low-slung look, a long hood, a short deck, high body sides, flared rear fenders, and a roof that looks like it was chopped at George Barris’ custom shop.

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The Camaro’s calling card is performance, and it delivers with both power and agility. The Alpha platform that underpins the outgoing Cadillac ATS and CTS provides a strong, stiff backbone as well as some premium suspension components. The steering is especially satisfying, weight balance is exemplary for predictable cornering, and the available Magnetic Ride Control dampers improve both handling and ride quality. 

While the turbo-4 and V-6 deliver peppy power with 0-60 mph times in the 5.0-5.4-second range, it’s the V-8s that stir emotion. The base 6.2-liter V-8 cuts the 0-60 mph sprint to 4.0 seconds, and SS models have cooling and brakes for track performance. The ZL1’s 650-hp V-8 offers supercar numbers with a 3.5-second 0-60 mph time and a top speed of 198 mph. The ZL1 and ZL1 1LE also come with the full kit of track-ready components. That 1LE package is offered on all models to make a great handling car even better. 

Inside, the Camaro offers supportive Recaro bucket seats in most models, but suffers from poor outward visibility, a tiny rear seat, and a small trunk. 

Safety features are another issue. While the Camaro has put up decent crash-test scores, it lacks automatic emergency braking, which is a no-no in our book. 

Fuel economy can be an issue as well, but V-8 buyers don’t expect thriftiness. The turbo-4 and V-6 are fairly efficient and the base V-8 isn’t a gas hog, but the supercharged V-8 sucks in fuel like it does the horizon.

7

2020 Chevrolet Camaro

Styling

Form trumps function with the 2020 Chevrolet Camaro, but what a form!

The Camaro gets an emergency refresh for 2020 that doesn’t mess with the retro formula Chevrolet has used since the fifth-generation car. It still has a high belt line, a low-slung roof that reads as a chopped top, and the overall look of a full-size Hot Wheels car. That form interferes with function as outward visibility is poor and cargo and rear passenger space are compromised. From a pure design standpoint, however, we award the Camaro two points for its sinister exterior, resulting in a styling score of 7. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

A styling revision for 2019 proved controversial, so Chevrolet updated the looks once again for 2020. The car features a new front fascia that adds a body-color bar between the upper and lower grilles. It eliminates the larger mass of mesh on the 2019 model and looks more cohesive. The Chevy bowtie badge also moves to the upper grille. 

The profile remains the same, and it’s a modern design inspired by late-1960s Camaros. The car sits low to the ground, the roof also sits low, and the beltline rises to the height of occupants’ shoulders. The Coke-bottle shape is there, too, as the sides taper inward and the rear haunches expand outward. The trunks sits high and ends abruptly. Overall, the look is more sinister than beautiful. 

Inside, the Camaro is more plain, but with some exciting flourishes. The gimbaled air vents have digital climate controls, the gauge cluster takes on the shape of a “Star Wars” Tie Fighter, and available contrast stitching adds visual interest. Sporty signs include the available Recaro seats with their thick bolsters and the available flat-bottom steering wheel. We prefer the optional two-tone seats to break up the monotony of an otherwise all-black interior.

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9

2020 Chevrolet Camaro

Performance

Handling is the Camaro’s forte, and power starts out sprightly and rises to beastly.

Despite its retro-cool looks, performance is the strength of the Camaro. It has graduated from the pony car ranks to become a true sports car. It’s agile and powerful, and it steers and brakes with confidence. Those factors add four points from our base 5 score to earn the Camaro a 9 for performance. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Chevy got the sixth-generation Camaro’s ride and handling right from the start, while the current Ford Mustang needed some time to get there. The kudos go to the Camaro’s premium Alpha platform bones and advanced suspension geometry taken from the now-outgoing Cadillac ATS and CTS. The front suspension features a double-pivot, control-arm and strut design that works quite well with some of the best electric-assist power steering we’ve experienced. The two combine to provide plenty of road feel with excellent control. The quick steering has satisfying heft, and the car follows its commands beautifully thanks to the stiff structure.

The rear suspension is also well sorted, keeping the rear end planted and offering a fairly compliant ride. Both ride and handling improve further with the available Magnetic Ride Control dampers that can firm up quickly for handling or relax for cruising. Still, with the available 20-inch wheels, the ride can jiggle over broken pavement.

Chevrolet offers more performance equipment as buyers climb the ladder with the 1LE package and the SS and ZL1 models. These include the cooling and brakes to create track-ready street cars. They also comes with a Track mode that puts the Camaro’s responses on high alert.

Power at a price

The Camaro starts with what would be a potent engine in a family sedan and only adds more power from there, though prices rise with horsepower. The starting point is a 2.0-liter turbo-4 that makes 275 hp and 295 pound-feet of torque and launches the Camaro from 0-60 mph in 5.4 seconds, according to Chevy. That time may be optimistic, but the turbo-4 Camaro is fairly quick. It doesn’t sound the part, though, at least not until it’s pushed. 

Moving up a notch brings a 3.6-liter V-6 that churns out 335 hp and 284 lb-ft of torque. Chevy says 0-60 mph takes 5.0 seconds, and we say the engine’s howl, which is piped into the interior and amplified, sounds more like a muscle car should. 

Buyers who choose the SS or new LT1 models get a 6.2-liter V-8 that makes 455 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque. It slays the 0-60 mph run in a quick 4.0 seconds and sounds a deep, lumpy tone that might as well be the voice of American muscle. 

The turbo-4 is paired with a 6-speed manual transmission or an 8-speed automatic. For 2020, the V-6 gets the 10-speed automatic that thus far had been reserved for the V-8s. With the V-8s, the 10-speed offers crisp shifts, multi-gear downshifts, and better shift logic than a human can produce on a racetrack, but we haven’t tested it with the V-6. The 6-speed manual adds rev-matched downshifts starting with the SS, and offers short, direct throws in any model.

The ZL1 and ZL1 1LE models at the top of the range are supercars in pony car clothing. They’re both motivated by a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 that creates mammoth power—650 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque—and world-class performance figures: 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds, the quarter mile in 11.4 seconds, a 198-mph top speed, and a Nurburgring lap time of 7:16 (the latter for the ZL1 1LE with its added downforce). 

The ZL1’s supercharged V-8 packs immediate punch and keeps the dial pinned as long as the throttle pedal is.

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3

2020 Chevrolet Camaro

Comfort & Quality

The Camaro is a four-seater mostly in name. The driver’s seat is the place to be.

In the 2020 Chevrolet Camaro, a comfortable front row with great seats is offset by a horribly small rear seat and little trunk capacity. That earns the Camaro a 3 for comfort and quality. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 2020 Chevy Camaro prioritizes the driver and pays little attention to rear passengers. Front-seat occupants have good leg room. The low seating position provides more head room, too, given the low roofline, but taller drivers will crick their necks when wearing helmets. The base seats have budget-grade upholstery, but the available Recaro sport buckets are supportive, as well as heated and cooled. 

Want to torture someone? Stick them in the back where they will beg for more leg room. The rear seat is a good spot for extra storage, which is needed since the shallow trunk has just 9.3 cubic feet of cargo space and that falls to 7.3 cubes in the convertible. The convertible figure is to be expected, but there probably isn’t another coupe or sedan on the market with less trunk space than the Camaro coupe. 

Interior materials are just acceptable. While plastic adorns much of the dash, center console, and door panels, the materials are fit together well and offer finishes that feel price-appropriate, except perhaps in the $65,000 ZL1. 

The convertible’s multi-layer soft top does have a premium feel. It shuts out noise well when up and can be operated from outside the car via the remote.

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4

2020 Chevrolet Camaro

Safety

The 2020 Chevy Camaro is hard to see out of and lacks automatic emergency braking.

Though it has decent crash-test scores, the 2020 Chevrolet Camaro lacks a key safety feature: automatic emergency braking. It also suffers from awful outward visibility. Given those factors, it earns a safety rating of 4 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Chevrolet makes few safety features standard on the 2020 Chevrolet Camaro. All models get a rearview camera and eight airbags, including front knee airbags.

Buyers have to move up to the 2SS and ZL1 to get more standard safety equipment. Those models come with rear park assist, blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alerts, and forward-collision warnings, and 3LT buyers can get them as options. 

Crash-test scores are decent for the Camaro. Ratings for 2020 aren’t in yet, but the IIHS rated the 2019 Camaro coupe “Good,” its top score, in all tests except for roof-strength, small front overlap passenger side, and front crash prevention. It doesn’t have a score in the small front overlap test, the roof-strength performance was rated “Acceptable,” and the front-crash prevention system earned a “Basic” rating. That performance means the Camaro is not a Top Safety Pick.

The NHTSA awarded the Camaro coupe its top rating of five stars overall, with five stars for side impacts and rollovers, and four stars for frontal impacts. 

Neither agency tested the convertible. 

Aside from the lack of automatic emergency braking, our biggest gripe with the Camaro’s safety is its outward visibility. The car’s chopped top look limits vision ahead and its wide rear pillars block the view to the rear.

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7

2020 Chevrolet Camaro

Features

Chevy offers a Camaro for every buyer, from coupe to convertible and 4-cylinder to supercharged V-8.

The Camaro offers a varied lineup with plenty of options to improve the list of amenities or performance, but it lacks a key safety feature: automatic emergency braking. Chevrolet does add a bit of value this year with a new LT1 model that makes the Camaro the most affordable car in its class with a V-8. We give it points for its strong list of standard and optional equipment, as well as its easy-to-use infotainment system, but safety is a must around here and that costs the Camaro a point for a features score of 7. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The new LT1 joins an already expansive model lineup that includes 4-cylinder, V-6, and V-8 models, as well as coupe and convertible body styles. Trims consist of the LS, which comes exclusively with the turbo-4; 1LT, 2LT, and 3LT models that get the turbo-4 or the V-6; LT1, 1SS, and 2SS models with the base 6.2-liter V-8; and the ZL1, which has a supercharged version of the V-8. 

The base LS model is well equipment with 18-inch alloy wheels, an 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, a 4-way manual passenger seat, a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, voice commands, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, Bluetooth, three months of 4G LTE data that enables a wi-fi hotspot, a month of GM’s OnStar turn-by-turn navigation and remote access, satellite radio, and a pair of USB ports. 

The new LT1 model comes with LS features, plus the SS’s vented hood and 20-inch wheels. These wheels are square at all four corners, instead of staggered in width like they are on SS models. 

Our choice would be a 2SS model with the 1LE option package. The 2SS has upgraded cooling, Brembo brakes, 20-inch summer performance tires, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, satellite radio, memory for the driver’s seat and outside mirrors, heated and cooled front seats, a head-up display, a rear-camera mirror, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a Bose nine-speaker audio system. It also gets blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alerts, rear park assist, and forward collision warnings. 

The 1LE package adds further improved cooling, black exterior accents, Magnetic Ride Control dampers, a performance-tuned suspension, an electronic limited-slip differential, a dual-mode exhaust system, 6-piston front and 4-piston rear Brembo brakes, Recaro bucket seats, and an Alcantara-wrapped flat-bottom steering wheel. 

The top of the line is the ZL1. It has all the best brake, suspension, and cooling upgrades, including the Magnetic Ride Control suspension, Recaro bucket seats, Chevy’s Performance Data Recorder that can record track laps, and forged aluminum wheels that mount 285/30R20 front and 305/30R20 Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar summer performance tires.

The ZL1’s 1LE package adds spool-valve dampers, a front splitter, front dive planes, a carbon-fiber rear wing, Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3R summer tires. Its front ride height and camber settings are also adjustable.

Notable options include the navigation, a sunroof, remote start, wireless smartphone charging, and the Performance Data Recorder.

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5

2020 Chevrolet Camaro

Fuel Economy

Fairly efficient to voraciously thirsty, Camaro fuel economy drops as performance increases.

Price and performance are inversely proportional to the Chevy Camaro’s fuel economy ratings. That means most cars won’t go too hard on gas as they are the most affordable. The most efficient choice is the turbo-4 with an automatic transmission. It is EPA rated at 22 mpg city, 31 highway, 25 combined, and that qualifies the Camaro as a 5 in or ratings. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Chevrolet offers the Camaro with turbo-4, V-6, V-8, and supercharged V-8 engines. Opt for the 6-speed manual with the turbo-4 and its ratings drop slightly to 20/30/23 mpg.

The V-6’s fuel economy ratings are similar to those of the turbo-4. It gets a 10-speed automatic this year instead of an 8-speed, but its fuel economy rating remains unchanged at 19/29/22 mpg rating. The manual costs a few mpg with its 16/26/20 mpg rating.

The V-8-powered SS is the heart of the performance range, and it offers fuel economy ratings just an mpg or two worse than the V-6. It gets 16/27/20 mpg with the automatic and 16/24/19 mpg with the manual.

Want ludicrous performance and fuel economy to match? The ZL1, with its supercharged V-8, earns ratings of 13/21/16 mpg with the automatic and 14/20/16 mpg with its manual.

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5.8
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 9
Comfort & Quality 3
Safety 4
Features 7
Fuel Economy 5
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