By Keith Buglewicz
KBB Expert Rating: 9.0
It's no stretch to say that the all-new 2016 Chevrolet Camaro feels more like a luxury-sports coupe from behind the wheel than a traditional muscle car. That's because the new Camaro was developed from the same underpinnings as the Cadillac ATS, one of GM's best-driving cars ever. The benefits go beyond just handling, too. The new Camaro looks similar to the previous generation, but the tidier dimensions make it look athletic where the old car looked ponderous. It's lighter, allowing the V6 and V8 engines to pack a bigger punch than before while still getting better fuel economy. The view out the back is still pretty terrible, but there's no mistake that the new Camaro is going to give the new Mustang night sweats.
Modern muscle cars like the 2016 Camaro offer much more than the straight-line speed of their ancestors. The new Camaro offers the kind of handling and braking that was once the exclusive purview of higher-end European sports coupes and sedans, all with distinctly American styling and big V8 rumble.
If you want European interior sophistication to match your driving dynamics, you might be disappointed by the new Camaro's hard plastics. Similarly, the narrow windows result in a decidedly pinched rear view; claustrophobics, stay away.
KBB Expert Ratings
The 2016 Chevrolet Camaro is all-new this year. It shares its name and basic styling with last year's model, but on a smaller, lighter and much more sophisticated chassis. The 3.6-liter V6 and 6.2-liter V8 are both more powerful, and the new turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder balances power and fuel economy.
Chevy’s new Camaro is smaller than its predecessor by at least an inch pretty much every dimension – width, height and length – and it loses at least 200 pounds....
... The upshot is that the new Camaro feels more nimble and lively as soon as you get behind the wheel. The automatic transmission is a new 8-speed that we've grown to appreciate in other GM vehicles, and it offers up slick shifts and paddle shifting, enhancing the fun-to-drive quotient rather than diminishing it. A 6-speed manual transmission is available for those who still want to shift for themselves. All Camaros are also available with Brembo brakes – they're standard on the V8-powered SS – for superior stopping ability. Put it all together and you have a car that offers the driving sophistication of a European luxury-sports sedan, but for considerably less money.
APPLE CARPLAY/ANDROID AUTO
The 2016 Camaro is one of the first cars available with Apple's excellent CarPlay system, and we're loving it. Connecting is a matter of plugging in your phone to the USB port, and it's literally as easy to use as your iPhone. Don't worry: Android Auto is on its way.
A toggle behind the shifter on the new Camaro lets drivers fine-tune their car's throttle response. In a fuel-saving mood? Select Eco. There's a Sport mode for when you want to have some fun, and Touring for everyday driving. There's even a Track mode for the V8-powered Camaro SS.
Clever touches abound inside the new 2016 Camaro. The new climate controls use the trim rings around the center vents to control temperature and fan speed, reducing dash clutter. The design and materials are better than before, but still lag behind the Ford Mustang or Dodge Challenger. The comfortable and sporty seats offer good support for hard cornering, and the big gauges are easy to read. The touch-screen infotainment system includes standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but the screen reflects interior surfaces like crazy. We've ignored the rear seat, and after one glance, you will too.
It's funny how the previous-generation car never looked oversized until we laid eyes on the 2016 Camaro. The lines are tidy and clean, but look spot-on regardless of which model you're looking at. The crisp styling still owes something to the classic 1969 model, but in reality it's more of an updated look at the last-generation car. The headlights seem impossibly thin, and we like the aggressive width of the fenders coupled with the low-slung roof. Sadly, that same combination narrows the windows and makes it nearly impossible to see out the back of the Camaro.
The base model 2016 Camaro 1LT comes with the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and a 6-speed manual transmission. There's also a 7-inch touch-screen audio system that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, dual USB ports, an AUX input, and GM's 4GLTE Wi-Fi hotspot technology. There's also Bluetooth, automatic climate control, cruise control, and a color driver-information display between the main gauges. Upscale standard features include push-button start and keyless entry, power driver and passenger seats, a leather-wrapped flat-bottom steering wheel, and the Driver Select Mode. There are also multiple airbags and advanced stability control to help keep you safe.
The two most notable options are under the hood in the form of a 335-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 for the Camaro LT, or the new 455-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 in the new Camaro SS. Beyond engine choices and the new 8-speed automatic, the new Camaro offers an upgraded audio system with a larger touch screen, and an enhanced driver-information center that's similar to the multi-configurable system on the Chevrolet Corvette. A 2016 Camaro SS also adds available magnetic ride-control suspension, power sunroof, in-dash navigation for those times when your iPhone doesn't have a signal, and a dual-mode exhaust system.
Standard is the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, which may go against the standard muscle-car formula that says more cylinders are better, but this engine packs a punch. The upgrade from that is a more powerful (but with less torque) 3.6-liter V6 engine, with advanced fuel injection and, for the first time, cylinder deactivation for better fuel economy. But the real news is the V8, of course, now with 6.2 liters pumping out 455 horsepower in new Camaro SS models, the most powerful Camaro SS ever made. Transmissions range from the standard 6-speed manual that includes automatic rev matching on V8 models to the new 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters. Fuel-economy numbers aren't yet available, but should improve thanks to the new engines and lighter body.
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
275 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
295 lb-ft of torque @ 3,000-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/31 mpg (automatic), 21/30 mpg (manual)
335 horsepower @ 6,800 rpm
284 lb-ft of torque @ 5,300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/28 mpg (automatic), 18/27 mpg (manual)
455 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
455 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/28 mpg (automatic), 16/25 mpg (manual)
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for a 2016 Chevrolet Camaro starts at about $26,700, including the $995 destination charge, which is slightly less than the price of a base-model 2015 Camaro. If you want V6 power in your Camaro LT, you'll need to add about $1,500 to the price, and another $1,500 if you want the 8-speed automatic transmission. The V8-powered 2016 Camaro SS starts at about $37,300. Generally, base prices for the 2016 Camaro are a little higher than its cross-town rival, the Ford Mustang, but the Chevy offers more standard equipment, making the comparison something of a wash. Both tend to cost less than the Dodge Challenger. Check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price calculator to see what others in your area paid for their new 2016 Camaro. Over the long haul, the Camaro should hold its value a little better than its Ford and Dodge rivals.