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2016 Chevrolet Camaro: New Car Review

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author photo by Autotrader December 2015

The Chevy Camaro is one of those cars whose reputation precedes it. You probably already know, for instance, that the Camaro was a popular '60s muscle car -- and you might know that the sports car's popularity declined throughout the next few decades before it earned a highly celebrated revival a few years ago.

What you may not know is that the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro is completely redesigned compared to last year's model -- and it makes some serious changes. New styling and a revised interior are par for the course, but the Camaro also offers some other major updates, including new features and a revised powertrain lineup.

So what do we think? Generally speaking, we think the latest version of Chevy's icon should be a serious contender for anyone interested in a sporty new coupe or convertible, as it offers everything you'll likely want -- from eye-catching design to high-performance powertrains and, thanks to its recent update, some of today's latest technology.

What's New for 2016?

The Camaro is fully redesigned for 2016 with a new look, a revised interior, new features and updates to its powertrain lineup.

What We Like

Excellent performance; handsome new looks move design forward but keep retro theme; improved interior

What We Don't

Still has huge blind spots; tiny back seats; tall window line makes interior feel a little claustrophobic

How Much?

$26,700-$42,300

Fuel Economy

The Camaro offers three engines. Newly standard on LT models is a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, which makes 275 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque; unfortunately, these engines have not yet been rated for fuel economy by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Drivers looking for more power can upgrade from the 4-cylinder to the Camaro's trusty 3.6-liter V6, which makes 335 hp and 284 lb-ft of torque. That engine returns 18 miles per gallon in the city and 27 mpg on the highway with its standard 6-speed manual transmission or 19 mpg city/28 mpg hwy with its optional 8-speed automatic.

Finally, drivers who upgrade to the Camaro SS can get a 6.2-liter V8 with 455 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque. Although that engine isn't known for its efficiency, it still manages to return a respectable 16 mpg city/25 mpg hwy with its standard manual transmission or 17 mpg city/28 mpg hwy with its optional 8-speed automatic.

Standard Features & Options

Right now, the Camaro is only offered as a coupe and only comes in four trim levels: 1LT, 2LT, 1SS and 2SS. A Camaro convertible is expected to debut in early 2016 with a lineup that roughly mirrors the coupe's.

The base-level Camaro 1LT ($26,700) offers standard 18-inch alloy wheels, a 7-inch touchscreen with GM's MyLink infotainment system, a backup camera, keyless access with push-button starting, dual power front seats, Bluetooth audio and phone connectivity, USB ports for music and automatic headlights. The 1LT also offers an optional Technology package that includes a larger touchscreen, voice controls for the infotainment system, a 9-speaker Bose sound system and Apple CarPlay compatibility (with Android Auto coming later in the year).

Next up is the Camaro 2LT ($30,800), which offers the upgraded infotainment system from the Technology package, along with heated and ventilated front seats and dual-zone automatic climate control. An optional Convenience and Lighting package adds rear parking sensors, a head-up display, an improved gauge cluster, driver's-seat memory, customizable interior lighting, a heated steering wheel, a wireless charging system and safety features such as lane-departure warning, a blind spot monitoring system and rear cross-traffic alert.

A sport-themed RS package is available on either LT model, touting appearance upgrades, 20-in alloy wheels and xenon headlights.

Drivers who choose the 1SS ($37,300) get the V8 engine and all the 1LT's features, plus xenon headlights, 20-in wheels, the upgraded infotainment system and improved performance options such as enhanced brakes, a sport suspension and a limited-slip differential.

Finally, the 2SS ($42,300) combines the 2LT's equipment with the 1SS's V8 engine and performance upgrades. It also includes the 2LT's Convenience and Lighting package as standard equipment.

Other options include a power sunroof, a navigation system and a sport exhaust. Although the Camaro's high-performance ZL1 and Z/28 models are currently on hiatus, we suspect they'll be back in the next few years.

Safety

All 2016 Chevrolet Camaro models come standard with side-curtain airbags, a backup camera, anti-lock brakes, front-knee airbags, front-side airbags and GM's OnStar telematics system. Options include a blind spot monitoring system, lane-departure warning and rear cross-traffic alert.

Since the Camaro is so new, it has not yet been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Behind the Wheel

So far, we've only had the chance to test the V8-powered Camaro SS. Acceleration is blistering, just as you'd expect from an engine that would normally be at home in the Chevy Corvette sports car. The 8-speed automatic transmission seamlessly seeks the next gear with smooth, almost imperceptible shifts, but paddle shift levers are at the ready in case a driver has other ideas. The roar of the engine is one of this car's great selling points and only does its part to make the drive more exciting. However, don't tell anyone that some of the aural treats are accomplished by sound resonators that pipe the effects into the cabin.

Touring mode offers a surprisingly relaxed ride, and Active Fuel Management shuts down up to four cylinders for increased fuel economy. We observed an average of 20.8 mpg. Switching over to Sport mode firms the steering and suspension and keeps the transmission holding gears longer. Despite the quiet cabin, moderate road noise is able to get inside -- probably due to the car's run-flat tires.

The front seats offer great comfort during extended stints behind the wheel. It's a different story in back: We honestly think the rear seat is uninhabitable once a driver taller than 5 feet 6 inches is comfortably seated in front. Visibility is predictably mediocre, just like it was in the outgoing Camaro -- especially if you're looking over your shoulder to make a lane change.

From a cargo standpoint, the trunk features high lift-over access and has suitable space for approximately two roll-aboard and two computer cases.

Other Cars to Consider

2016 Dodge Challenger -- The sporty Dodge Challenger is seriously showing its age compared to the Camaro, but it still boasts a handsome look and surprisingly good driving dynamics for its size.

2016 Ford Mustang -- The Camaro's arch rival offers a little more technology than the Chevy in a smaller, more manageable package. It also touts a high-performance GT500 variant.

Used Chevrolet Corvette -- If you like the Camaro's General Motors roots and its no-nonsense powertrain, consider a sporty Chevy Corvette. Prices are high, though, so you may have to check out a used model.

Autotrader's Advice

The latest Chevrolet Camaro is an excellent performance car -- and we can't wait to get our hands on the 4-cylinder to try it out. Until that happens, though, we have to recommend the obvious: a 2SS model with the muscular V8 and all the trimmings. To justify our decision, we'll use a phrase that won't be foreign to most Camaro owners: Go big or go home.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Chevrolet Camaro: New Car Review - Autotrader