2019 Chevrolet Camaro SS Coupe First Review
- The 10-speed transmission from the ZL1 makes its debut in the SS and it’s good!
- More differentiation in the Camaro line-up for 2019
- Starting price for the Camaro SS is $37,995
Muscle cars tend to be polarizing machines--you either love them for their raucousness or hate them for their brute, blunt-object style force--but the 2019 Chevrolet Camaro SS Coupe with the new 10-speed automatic transmission may be the goldilocks vehicle for anyone on the cusp of that relationship. With a suite of updated looks and features, and the new transmission, the Camaro SS offers a bit more finesse for 2019.
What’s New for Camaro?
Nearly the entire Camaro line-up gets new styling cues, including new colors and lighting treatments, and new, somewhat controversial front and rear fascia for the LS, LT and SS packages. Along with the rest of Chevy’s line-up, the Camaro also gets more distinctive differentiation between trim levels, Chevrolet’s Infotainment 3 system, and additional standard safety equipment. Chevy has also added a brand new Camaro 2.0L Turbo 1LE model to the line-up, to help buyers walk the line between weekend racer and weekday commuter.
The big update however, is the addition of the new optional 10-speed automatic transmission married to the 6.2-liter V8 engine in the SS.
That 10-Speed Transmission, Though
According to Camaro Chief Engineer Al Oppenheiser, the new 10-speed transmission was such a hit in the ZL1 that the company decided to bring it to 2019 Camaro SS. The company originally collaborated with Ford on the transmission but when they got down to brass tacks they parted ways, Oppenheiser said, a result of a “differing philosophy.”
While the current 10-speed isn’t the same as the 10-speed in the ZL1 (its internal code is 10L80E vs. 10L90E), it offers shift times of 150 milliseconds and leverages a gear ratio spread that is similar to an 8-speed transmission with closer ratios that help boost performance by keeping the engine in the power band. That all translates to nearly unnoticeable shifts between gears when the Camaro SS is driven in automatic mode and lightning quick responses when the gear selector is shoved over into manual mode and you use the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters to row through the gears.
On the short 50-mile drive we did along Mulholland Highway in the Santa Monica Mountains, the transmission never once hunted for the right gear in automatic mode. It was smooth and nearly unnoticeable, delivering power when needed, particularly in tricky, winding-road passing situations. Grab a handful of the left paddle and hold it to downshift, and the 2019 Camaro SS and the transmission will sense your driving conditions (engine speed, throttle input, pitch, roll, etc.) and find the just-right gear for you to safely make a pass. Chevrolet also tooled the in-house-created transmission so that, should you so desire, you can jump from tenth gear to third using the paddles. Just hold the paddle for 1.25 seconds and the gears will drop to the lowest level.
Loaded to the Gills
In addition to the new 10-speed transmission, there is a suite of additional upgrades that come standard in the 2019 Camaro SS including some improved technology and added safety features. One of those is Chevy’s new electronic rear view mirror that cuts down on the notoriously turret-like driving experience in the Camaro. Push the button on the bottom of the rear view mirror and the mirror shows the view of a small camera mounted in the Camaro’s wing. At first it takes a moment to adjust to the new view but it quickly becomes a natural. Use the buttons next to the central button on the mirror and you can zoom, change the brightness and level the display if you choose. You can always flip back to normal mode should you get tired of the tv-like experience.
The 2019 Chevrolet Camaro SS also comes with the upgraded 8-inch display replete with the Infotainment 3 system that allows users to store profiles and sign into those profiles in different vehicles. That means that when you jump into another GM Infotainment 3-equipped vehicle, you can simply sign into your profile and your favorite stations, home screen set up, navigation points, and other information will just appear. It’s a nice feature if you own more than one new GM vehicle.
The 2019 Camaro SS starts at $37,995 for the 1SS trim level and $42,995 for the more well-equipped 2SS. The one we drove priced out to just shy of $50,000 ($49,165) and buyers can opt for the 10-speed transmission with the 6.2-liter V8 for an additional $1,595 over the standard 6-speed manual. Our test car was also outfitted with the optional Magnetic Ride Control for another $1,695 and the dual exhaust system for $895. If you’re looking at price per horsepower (that’s 455 horsepower and 455 lb-ft of torque), the Camaro SS with the new 10-speed transmission is a very good deal, and with all of its bells and whistles, it’s a total blast to drive. The 2019 Chevrolet Camaro SS is on sale now.