Now in its third year, the redesigned Camaro is one of the most attractive vehicles to come out of the retro design craze that swept through the automotive industry in the last decade. Its taut, sleek body and muscular stance manage to evoke forty years of Camaro history yet look thoroughly modern. Unfortunately, it looks better than it performs; numb steering and a hefty curb weight mean that the Camaro is more of a Sunday cruiser than a corner carver, especially in convertible form. But Chevy hopes to put those criticisms to rest with the Camaro ZL1, which is motivated by the same supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 that powers the Cadillac CTS-V but here produces 580 hp and 550 lb-ft of torque. The big V-8 is mated to a six-speed manual short-throw shifter or an optional six-speed automatic. Chevy added other features that could finally make the Camaro a true performance car, such as magnetorheological dampers, the Performance Traction Management system borrowed from the Corvette ZR1, electric power steering in place of the standard hydraulic setup, and twenty-inch Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar G:2 tires developed specifically for the ZL1. Chevy made extensive revisions to the base engine, which is now lighter and more powerful. Inside, the retro bent continues but with mixed results. The cabin has a fairly convincing look overall, but inconsistent fit and finish and somewhat clumsy ergonomics lag behind what is offered in the competition. But if you are looking for style with heritage and tons of street presence, nothing in this class does it better than the Camaro.
Trim Levels: LS, LT, SS, ZL1
Body styles: Coupe, convertible, 4-passenger
Engines: 3.6L V-6, 323 hp, 278 lb-ft
6.2L V-8, 400/426 hp, 410/420 lb-ft
6.2L supercharged V-8, 550 hp, 550 lb-ft (est.)
Transmissions: 6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic
Passenger volume: N/A
Cargo space: (coupe) 11.3 cu ft; (convertible, top
up/down) 10.2/7.9 cu ft
The most exciting news for Chevy’s pony car this year is the resurrection of the ZL1 nameplate, scheduled to go on sale in early 2012. The Camaro SS gets a new suspension package, and the base V-6 engine receives heavy modifications, including a revised cylinder-head design with an integrated exhaust manifold, a new composite intake manifold, and stronger and lighter connecting rods.
Dual stage front, side, and side curtain air bags are standard along with ABS, traction and stability control, and a tire-pressure monitoring system. A backup camera and rear-mounted parking sensors are optional.
All: 16-18 mpg city/24-29 mpg highway
- Retro-modern exterior looks great
- ZL1 on sale in early 2012
- Interior quality and style
Retro styling and now, with the ZL1, performance to back it up.
- Dodge Challenger
- Ford Mustang
- Hyundai Genesis coupe