By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 9/26/2012
There was a time, not long ago, when muscle cars and high fuel prices were about as compatible as oil and water. But, despite record fuel prices, the 2013 Chevrolet Camaro and other modern muscle cars continue to defy the odds and post strong sales numbers. Boasting impressive horsepower and mpg to match, the Camaro is a spirited performer that's also reasonably practical for everyday use. The fierce rivalry with the fellow domestics, the Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger, is back in full swing, as each manufacturer offers efficient yet powerful standard powertrains plus high-horsepower performance variants. From the fun-loving convertible models to the near super-car performance of the mighty Camaro ZL1, there is a Chevy Camaro flavor for just about every need and budget.
Sports car buffs looking to get a great deal of horsepower for the money will find the 2013 Chevy Camaro an enticing proposition. And for those looking to turn some heads, the Camaro has plenty of show to match its go.
The 2013 Camaro's striking visual appeal does not carry over to the interior, where inexpensive materials and hard plastics produce a rather uninspiring ambiance. Although the Chevy Camaro offers exceptional horsepower at an affordable price, the same does not necessarily hold true when it comes to handling.What's New for 2013
The Chevy Camaro receives a number of improvements for the 2013 model year, highlights of which include an available MyLink Infotainment system with navigation, hill-start assist for manual-transmission models, electric power steering for SS trims and a new track-ready 1LE package designed to bridge the performance gap between Camaro SS models and the range-topping ZL1.
We were given the opportunity to spend equal time in every 2013 Camaro trim, from the V6-powered LS to the 580-horsepower ZL1. Admittedly, we enjoyed all the cars, but spent the lion's share of our time testing the well-rounded SS equipped with the 6-speed manual (our gearbox of choice, as automatic transmissions feature an Active Fuel Management system that reduces horsepower output by nearly seven percent). With its ever-present torque and seemingly endless horsepower reserves, it's easy to make the SS go fast. Aided by GM's electronic launch control, our Camaro SS was able to tackle the zero-to-60-mph run in 4.4 seconds, a mere half-second slower than the $56,000 ZL1. On the other hand, tossing nearly two tons of American muscle around a race track required plenty of finesse, and the somewhat portly Camaro's weight could be felt in situations demanding a high level of precision and agility. Furthermore, limited outward visibility made it difficult to judge the Camaro's dimensions and, despite its sensible proportions, parking in tight spots was an overly frustrating task.
SHARP EXTERIOR STYLING
Certainly beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but we are of the opinion that the 2013 Chevrolet Camaro looks like a car that could command a much higher price tag. The details like the grille, rear roof pillars and taillights are simply gorgeous.
Camaros of old were great in a straight line, but a lot less great around corners, especially if the road surface was uneven. The 21st century Camaro – particularly in 1LE or ZL1 form – is much more at home in those challenging situations.
Standing in sharp contrast to the brilliant execution of the Camaro's exterior is its lackluster interior. Large expanses of hard plastics on the doors and center console look and feel cheap, and will likely scratch easily over time. But, what the Camaro's interior lacks in execution it more than makes up for in design, with two large hooded binnacles housing the speedometer and tachometer, and an available gauge package comprised of oil temperature, oil pressure, volts and transmission-fluid temperature placed at the end of the center console. Some drivers did complain about the absence of any form of adjustable lumbar support for the front seats, and everyone agreed the absurdly small sun visors were all but useless when positioned to block the sun at the driver's-side window. As for the Camaro's backseat, let's just say it is as small and confining as you would expect.
Some cars attempt a retro feel that just looks odd or over the top, but the Camaro's design team nailed the spirit of the original without insulting it. A stunning looker from every angle, the 2013 Camaro's visual appeal is striking. Nowhere is this more evident than the intersection between the massive rear fenders and the crisp-edged rear roof pillar, a joining that makes a bold statement as well as a massive blind spot for the driver. The aggressive recessed grille and headlamp treatment add an air of wickedness, as does the SS model's massive 5-spoke wheel and tire package. Rounding out the look are classic hooded Camaro taillights and a subtle rear-deck spoiler.
The 2013 Chevrolet Camaro offers both coupe and convertible body styles and over a half-dozen trim levels. While this wide array of Camaro models might seem overwhelming at first glance, Chevrolet's trim-dependent ordering structure helps simplify the purchasing process by minimizing the number of individual options and packages. Base LS models (coupe only) include a tilt/telescopic steering wheel, 18-inch steel wheels and 6-speaker audio system with Bluetooth and a basic auxiliary audio jack, while LT versions add alloy wheels, power-adjustable front seats and Chevrolet's new MyLink audio system interface with a 7-inch touch-screen. Stepping up to the SS model will get you 20-inch alloys, a limited-slip differential and, most importantly, the 426-horsepower V8. Safety and security equipment consists of six airbags, GM's StabiliTrak electronic stability control and emergency/concierge services via OnStar embedded telematics.Notable Optional Equipment
2013 marks the triumphant return of the 1LE package, and brings with it massive 20-inch 10-spoke wheels with high-performance tires, track-tuned suspension and revised gearing. Outside of conventional niceties such as navigation, heated seats and xenon headlights, the 2013 Camaro offers a wealth of appearance enhancements ranging from racing stripes to ground effects. LT and SS models take personalized styling to the next level with the available Dark Special Edition package, which adds an extra dose of sinister to the Camaro with halo rings for the headlights, Blue Ray Metallic paint and a 2-tone interior color scheme.Under the Hood
The 2013 Camaro offers four engine choices: A 323-horsepower 3.6-liter direct-injected LFX V6, 400-horsepower 6.2-liter L99 V8 with Active Fuel Management, 426-horsepower 6.2-liter LS3 V8 and a 580-horsepower supercharged LSA V8. The V6 and the LSA can be backed by either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic transmission. The L99 is accompanied by a 6-speed automatic with steering wheel-mounted paddle-shift control, while the LS3 has a 6-speed manual.
323 horsepower @ 6,800 rpm
278 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/27 mpg (automatic), 19/30 mpg (automatic 2LS), 17/28 mpg (manual)
6.2-liter V8 (L99)
400 horsepower @ 5,900 rpm
410 lb-ft of torque @ 4,300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/24 mpg
6.2-liter V8 (LS3)
426 horsepower @ 5,900 rpm
420 lb-ft of torque @ 4,600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/24 mpg
6.2-liter supercharged V8 (LSA)
580 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
556 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/19 mpg (manual), 12/18 mpg (automatic)
The 2013 Chevrolet Camaro 1LS has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of just over $24,000, with convertible LT models starting above $31,000. Opting for the V8-powered SS adds roughly $8,000. High-performance ZL1 variants begin above $56,000, including the federally-mandated gas-guzzler tax. The Camaro's closet competitor and arch nemesis, the Ford Mustang, starts right around $23,000, while a base Dodge Challenger will be about $2,000 over a base 2013 Camaro. Before heading to the dealership and to see what buyers in your area are really paying for the Chevrolet Camaro, be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book's Fair Purchase Price. In terms of resale value, the Camaro is expected to retain the highest residual values in the segment.