Pros: Powerful engines; impressive handling and maneuverability; gorgeous design; good overall performance value; efficient V6.

Cons: Hard interior plastics; tight rear seat; poor rear visibility.

What's New: Track-ready 1LE package; electric power steering and dual-mode exhaust for SS; standard MyLink and color touch radio for LT, SS and ZL1; standard hill assist for manual transmission models; available remote start; new wheel designs.

The 2013 Chevrolet Camaro continues this latest, fifth-generation model's role as the modern interpretation of the iconic 1960s muscle car. That's because few other vehicles effectively blend 21st-century engineering with the sheer power and bravado of the muscle car age that dominated America some forty years ago. Available in coupe and convertible styles, the 2013 Camaro hearkens back to the time of the big engine in a relatively tidy package. But now it does so with a more forward-thinking approach that's more aligned with the times.

For those looking for big off-the-line acceleration and burnout potential combined with sharp handling skills and respectable fuel economy, the 2013 Camaro delivers it all. It almost sounds too good to be true. Sure, the Camaro has its shortfalls, but overall it's a dream car for enthusiasts young and old.

The greatest achievement of the current Camaro might be its exterior look. The Camaro is an artful masterpiece that balances 1960s brawn with the sexy lines of today's great sports cars. Both coupe and convertible will likely be turning heads for years to come.

For 2013, the Camaro offers a new, track-ready package called 1LE. Available exclusively on manual transmission SS Coupe models, 1LE gets a close-ratio 6-speed Tremec transmission, revised gearing, larger stabilizer bars, a strut brace, a transmission cooler and a host of upgrades from the ZL1, including 20-inch wheels, tires, suspension components and fuel pump.

Also for 2013, the SS gets variable-ratio electric power steering and dual-mode exhaust. Plus, Chevrolet MyLink is standard on more models, and new equipment is available, such as the remote vehicle start, hill start assist and new wheel designs.

Together, the Chevy Camaro, Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger make up the holy trinity of America's recent muscle car resurgence. Each has its highs and lows. The right one for you might come down to your personal needs and tastes.

Comfort & Utility

Inside, the Camaro blends vintage muscle car elements with more modern styling. Gauges and instruments are decidedly retro, but overall the dash exhibits a progressive layout with an emphasis on ergonomics. Unfortunately, it also contends with its share of hard plastics, giving the interior a feel that's not very refined. Countering some of that in cars equipped with manual transmission is a new, ZL1-style shift knob. Plus, the Camaro's shifter is well positioned and has a good, solid feel.

The front seats are supportive and well bolstered for performance-oriented driving. However, the hunkered roofline and low-profile windows significantly inhibit rear visibility. The Rear Vision package, which includes a backup camera and parking sensors, is highly recommended.

Rear seats are quite cramped with a shortage of both headroom and legroom. Even average-sized adults are not going to enjoy riding back there for long periods of time.

To preserve the car's rigidity, the rear seats don't fold to expand the trunk. Still, cargo space is a usable 11 cu-ft for the coupe and 10 cu-ft for the convertible. The main challenge with the trunk is its small opening. Even if there's room to store something, you might not be able to get it in.

The Camaro is available in seven trims: 1LS, 2LS, 1LT, 2LT, 1SS, 2SS and ZL1. Notable baseline convenience features include 6-way manually adjustable front seats, power accessories, cruise control and a 6-speaker stereo with satellite radio. Available higher-end amenities, depending on model, include leather seating, a sunroof, steering wheel controls and a premium 9-speaker 245-watt sound system.

In the case of the convertible, the fully automatic retractable soft top goes up or down in just 20 seconds.

Technology

The 2013 Chevy Camaro is not particularly innovative in terms of advanced user content, but it does provide a handful of useful technologies. These include Chevrolet's MyLink infotainment platform, Bluetooth connectivity, USB/iPod interface and a back-up camera. These features are standard or optional depending on the individual trims.

Performance & Fuel Economy

The rear-drive Camaro has a choice of two engines. The base 3.6-liter V6 produces 323 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque. It mates to either a standard 6-speed manual gearbox or an optional 6-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy ratings range from 17-mpg city and 28-mpg highway with a manual transmission up to 19-mpg city and 30-mpg highway with the automatic.

The Camaro SS is powered by a massive 6.2-liter V8 mated to either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic. With the manual, output is 426 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. With the automatic, the SS produces 400 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque. The manual transmission SS is EPA-rated at 16 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. The automatic beats that by 1 mpg on the highway.

Safety

The Camaro is equipped with front and rear head airbags and dual front side-mounted airbags. It also offers OnStar, a communication system that alerts emergency services in the event of an accident.

To keep the Camaro on its intended path, it comes armed with ABS and stability control.

Driving Impressions

Both V6- and V8-powered Camaro models are true muscle cars. They offer sublime off-the-line acceleration and huge power at the top end of the rev band. The supercharged, 580-hp ZL1 is the fastest and most powerful Camaro ever. It brings near-supercar performance to the muscle car category.

But what makes even the base Camaro especially impressive is its ability to corner and handle like a smaller car. It belies its size by remaining extremely well composed in high-speed turns. It also displays gobs of grip thanks to its large 18-in (or 19-in, or 20-in) wheels. For these reasons, today's Camaro aptly tops those from decades past.

Although ride comfort isn't plush, it is adequately comfortable for the daily commute. The only real issue with the Camaro's road manners is the low visibility factor. This becomes an even larger issue when maneuvering in tight spots like parking lots.

Other Cars to Consider

Ford Mustang - The Mustang is comparable to the Camaro in terms of power and performance. The two cars each have huge followings, and it seems you're either a Mustang fan or a Camaro fan for life.

Dodge Challenger - Thanks to its larger size, the Challenger is perhaps the purest of the three in terms of touting its muscle car heritage. It also offers a larger cabin and better interior materials.

AutoTrader Recommends

We highly recommend the 2013 Chevrolet Camaro V6 over its SS counterpart for a variety reasons. First off, it offers more than enough muscle for most buyers. Secondly, the V6 is a near-perfect match for its chassis. The SS can overpower its ability to handle crisply. The V6 is also more fuel efficient and affordable, making it one of the best performance values out there. For 2013, buyers should enhance their Camaro V6 with 2LT trim. It brings standard MyLink, the essential backup camera and 19-in wheels. The 2LT trim level also makes available navigation and a sunroof. If you must have a V8, though, definitely choose the new 1LE setup.

author photo

Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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