Test Drive: 2016 Camaro: curvy lines and power
America has loved the Chevrolet Camaro since the 1960s, but the latest incarnation of the bow-tie brand’s sport coupe may be easier to love than most. The 2016 Camaro brings markedly improved styling and performance, better fuel economy and advanced telematic technology to the American road.
One of our coworkers dismissed the comeback Camaro of 2010, saying it reminded him of an aircraft carrier. He had a point. The car seemed to have more than its share of vast, horizontal planes from front to back. The new model is curvier, and thus more eye-pleasing than the average naval flat-top.
Our test car, a Red Hot coupe, had a sticker price of $38,520. Its base price was under $30,000, but technology options packed on the dollars. Many of them, however, are highly desirable, especially to young drivers – features like Chevrolet’s MyLink audio system, Apple Carplay capability, and standard 4-gigabyte wi-fi hotspot. Many of these features are voice-activated, meaning drivers do not need to press a lot of buttons, handle various devices, and look away from the road when summoning a different song or reaching out to a friend by phone. The technology may be fun to have at hand, but it also makes the Camaro a safer ride.
Speaking of safety, our test car came with a number of systems that overcame the marginal visibility provided by the car’s narrow greenhouse and substantial blind spots. Among them were rear parking assist, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot alert, lane-change alert and head-up display. These were part of a $2,800 Convenience and Lighting Package.
But the top priority for many drivers considering the likes of the Camaro, Ford Mustang or Dodge Challenger will be performance. And yes, this Camaro performs. Its suspension has been stiffened and the body lightened by 223 to 390 pounds, depending on the model. It still feels substantial despite the reduced weight, and the driver feels the urge to accelerate through the corners. And the Camaro can be equipped with a 455-horsepower V-8.
Our Camaro, however, was a different animal. Under the hood lurked a 2.0-liter turbocharged Four, churning out 275 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. When fitted with a 6-speed stick shift, this package can bring the Camaro to 60 mph in just 5.4 seconds, and it can finish a quarter-mile in 14 seconds. The exhaust soundtrack is on the mellow side, but the throttle response is positively gratifying.
Even more gratifying is the fuel economy. Our Camaro, with the optional 8-speed automatic gearbox, was rated at 22 mpg city, 31 highway. Those are big and impressive numbers. Still, Chevrolet feels obligated to point out, “Camaro's standard 2.0L Turbo engine is as powerful as any Small Block V-8 offered from 1971-1995.”
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates the 2016 Camaro “Good” in every major category except roof strength (“Acceptable”). U.S. News & World Report rates its reliability a little above average.
Steven Macoy (email@example.com) is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel, Conn.
2016 Chevrolet Camaro 2LT Coupe
Engine: 2.0-liter inline Four, 275 horsepower, 295 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters
Weight: 3,339 lb.
Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear
Wheels: 20-in. aluminum
Tires: front, 245/40R20 run-flat
Seating capacity: 4
Luggage capacity: 9.1 cu. ft.
Fuel capacity: 19 gallons
Fuel economy: 22 mpg city, 31 mpg highway
Fuel type: premium unleaded gasoline (recommended)