2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS Quick Take
When the open road beckons and you have access to a 2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS, heed the call. That's my takeaway of a recent drive from Portland, Oregon to San Francisco as part of Chevrolet's around-the-country road trip that had its iconic pony car visiting the 48 lower states in honor of the car's 48th birthday. Covering 750 miles in basically a day-and-a-half, I was not only impressed with the handling and performance of this 455-horsepower coupe, but also by the ride comfort and impressive 26 mpg averaged over two-lane and interstate highways.
At first glance, there doesn't seem to be that much all-new about the all-new 2016 Camaro, even though it's changed rear-drive platforms, moving from the previous Zeta architecture to the newer Alpha mechanicals that underpin the Cadillac ATS. The exterior is similar in profile and aggressiveness as the previous model, but closer inspection reveals a tighter upper grille opening, new lighting elements, a much larger lower intake and a slightly lower greenhouse. The same Coke-bottle sweep remains on the side panels and overall dimensions are tidier than the car it replaces.
Hunkering in the bunker
That low roof and high beltline still makes it seem as if you are hunkered down behind the wheel, an impression reinforced by the rather high binnacle on the other side of the steering wheel. Still, it's a much more attractive cabin with comfortable bucket seats, a beautifully integrated center touchscreen and a great head-up display. From a pure comfort point of view, getting in an out is what you'd expect from a low slung sports coupe, but also on the passenger side, the lower anchor on the seatbelt had the unfortunate habit of getting in the way at times, poking the co-pilot in the hip.
Once settled in behind the wheel, however, there's nothing like the sound of the 6.2-liter V8 that comes standard with the SS trim level. Our car was equipped with GM's new smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission, a combination that was ready to rumble when it came to passing maneuvers. It's easy to feel that you're king of the road with this much power under your right foot.
Techno tour de force
A big part of this cross-country extravaganza was to showcase the technology in the car, from Apple CarPlay to the OnStar system's ability to find rooms and deliver turn-by-turn directions. Halfway through the trip, a push of the blue OnStar button put us in contact with a support person who found and booked a room down the road and then provided easy-to-follow directions that took us to the hotel's doorstep. The on-board navigation also worked well, and with Apple CarPlay, it's easy to utilize a smartphone's apps for not only navigation, but also for voice to text and accessing a wide range of entertainment options.
But technology is merely the icing on the cake that is the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro's dynamics. The electric-assist power steering provides great feel and feedback, the drivetrain is effortless and the car's suspension is taut without being harsh. A long day in the saddle could have been a lot more tiring had the car not provided that balance between comfort and ultimate grip. Speaking of grip, we were able to check out the Camaro's well-sorted traction control system on a run up to Crater Lake in Oregon -- early November had already blanketed the upper elevations with snow -- something we discovered only once we were well on our way to the park. Still, driven judiciously, the Camaro proved to be surefooted.
In covering that many miles in a relatively short period, the 2016 Camaro demonstrated that it is a complete package, and not just in SS trim only, which has an MSRP of $37,395. Budget conscious buyers can also select from a base 275-horsepower 2.0-liter LT that starts at $26,695 and the 335-horse 3.6-liter V6 which lists for $28,190.