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Buy a Camry or Buy This: The 2020 Chevrolet Camaro Turbo 1LE

Two very different cars with very similar prices.

Nelson IresonWriterManufacturerPhotographer

We love the new Toyota Camry around here—it's a boring car no more, especially in TRD form. But as good as it is, the default sedan option for American buyers isn't always the right fit for everyone—or maybe it is, but other factors carry more importance than sheer practicality. Whatever the case, here's another car to consider buying instead of Toyota's ubiquitous placeholder, and it probably comes as a surprise: the 2020 Chevrolet Camaro Turbo 1LE.

Wait, hold up, a turbo rear-drive coupe with a performance package against a Camry? Yes, actually. Since these are sporty versions of their kinds, let's compare some core specs:

2020 Toyota Camry TRD 2020 Chevy Camaro Turbo 1LE 2LT
PRICE: $32,625 (base) PRICE: $32,395 (base)
POWER: 301 hp @ 6,600 rpm POWER: 275 hp @ 5,600 rpm
TORQUE: 267 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm TORQUE: 295 lb-ft @ 3,000-4,500 rpm
WEIGHT: 3,575 lb WEIGHT: 3,393 lb
0-60 MPH: 5.8 sec 0-60 MPH: 5.4 sec
L x W x H: 194.6 x 73.1 x 56.3 in L x W x H: 188.3 x 74.7 x 53.1 in
EPA MILEAGE: 22/31 mpg (city/hwy) EPA MILEAGE: 20/30 mpg (city/hwy)

Well, would you look at that—they're closer than you might think. In fact, buy a Camry and you get the edge in power, and by a not-so-thin margin: Toyota's V-6 pumps out 26 horsepower, or nearly 10 percent more power, than the Camaro's 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Wait, the Chevy has the four-banger, and the Toyota has the V-engine? Yes, it's a brave new world. Old stereotypes no longer apply—as if a non-boring Camry that even enthusiasts might consider buying hadn't already established the fact.

Looking at the other specs, the Camaro's quicker 0-60-mph time stands out, especially in light of its power deficit to the Camry. But with 28 lb-ft more torque and 182 fewer pounds to accelerate, it begins to make sense. Compare the Camaro Turbo 1LE's 275-mm-wide rear tires to the Camry TRD's 235-mm-wide front tires, as well as the more effective weight transfer of RWD under acceleration, and the 0.4-second gap starts to make sense.

Of course, a daily-driven performance car of any level is about more than mere straight-line performance, and here's where the Camaro Turbo 1LE really starts to put some distance on the Camry TRD. While the TRD is definitely a fun-to-drive car, and even one that's capable of serving as a first track day car for a budding enthusiast of any age, the Camaro with the 1LE performance package is a car that even experienced track rats can appreciate as they continue to develop their craft. Oh, and you can get the Camaro with a manual transmission.

On the flip side, the Camry TRD is still a Camry, which means it'll be comfier, quieter, and easier to bring your friends along for the ride in—all factors which can add up in the daily grind. But if you're willing to sacrifice a little bit of comfort and practicality, the Camaro Turbo 1LE (especially as specced here, in 2LT trim) can also make for a great daily driver, especially if you only every now and then need space for more than one passenger, as you wouldn't want to regularly subject anyone to extended periods in the Camaro's back seats.

Both cars are pretty fuel efficient, especially considering how fun they are to drive and how quick they are, so it's basically a draw there, leaving only price: another dead heat.

With an even more equally matched pairing than the first of our "Buy a Camry or Buy This" series—the 2020 Toyota Camry LE versus the Subaru WRX Premium—the 2020 Toyota Camry TRD and 2020 Chevrolet Camaro Turbo 1LE are proof there's no shortage of fun for enthusiasts at any slot in today's car market.