After more than half a century, the Chevy Camaro four-seat sports car is still going strong. Light and nimble, nearly 50/50 weight-balanced, the current Camaroâ€”launched as a 2010 modelâ€”ranges from jaunty to raucous.
Front and rear styling updates for the 2019 model year, include a reshaped grille, hood, and lights. Four-cylinder models may now be equipped with the Turbo LE handing package. The group includes a tailored FE3 suspension with thicker stabilizer bars. On the safety front, forward-collision warnings are now standard in coupes.
Competition and Track modes have been added, and the updated infotainment system promises to be more intuitive. The RS edition gains LED turn signals, a light bar, and daytime running lights. In the ZL1, the rear camera mirror offers an improved high-definition view.
Camaros come in a broad selection of trim levels: LS, LT, SS, and ZL1. All except LS are available in coupe or convertible body styles.
In LS and LT models, a 2.0-liter turbo-4 engine develops 275 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. A 3.6-liter V-6, rated at 335 hp and 284 lb-ft, is optional in the LT.
SS buyers benefit from a 455-hp 6.2-liter V-8 that issues 455 lb-ft of torque. Beneath the roaring ZL1 supercar, a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 cranks out 650 hp and 650 lb-ft, promising 0-60 mph acceleration in 3.5 seconds.
Each can be fitted with the standard 6-speed manual gearbox. An 8-speed automatic is available for 4- and 6-cylinder models, while V-8s can have a 10-speed automatic.
The 2019 Camaro lacks automatic emergency braking, though forward-collision warnings have been added. Blind-spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alerts, and rear parking assist are standard on 2SS and ZL1, and available for 3LT trim. Crash-testing by the NHTSA yielded a five-star rating overall. Outward vision is an issue in the Camaro, with its thick pillars and small rear windows.
Prices do not include $995 destination charge.
LS Coupe ($25,000) comes with the 275-horsepower turbo-4 engine and includes cloth seat upholstery, power driver’s seat, keyless start, six-speaker AM/FM audio, 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, limited-slip differential, rearview camera, and 18-inch alloy wheels.
LT (1LT) (coupe $25,500, convertible $31,500) adds a power passenger seat, folding rear seat (coupe), and front knee bolsters (coupe).
2LT (coupe $27,500, convertible $33,500) includes dual-zone automatic climate control, cooled front seats, leather-trimmed upholstery, and a compass.
3LT V-6 (coupe $31,000, convertible $37,000) substitutes the V-6 engine and adds navigation, visor mirrors, auto-dimming mirrors, and Bose nine-speaker audio (seven-speaker in convertible).
SS (1SS) V-8 (coupe $37,000, convertible $43,000) comes with 455-horsepower V-8 and gets cloth upholstery, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, automatic climate control, rear spoiler, Brembo brakes, performance suspension, and 20-inch summer tires.
2SS (coupe $42,000, convertible $48,000) comes with the rear camera mirror, dual-zone automatic climate control, a head-up display, memory for driver’s seat and mirrors, ambient lighting, heated/cooled front seats, rear park assist, blind-spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alerts, and (on coupe) forward-collision warnings.
Magnetic Ride Control dampers are included in 1LE package for SS. Recaro front bucket seats also are available.
ZL1 V-8 (coupe $62,000, convertible $68,000) comes with the 650-horsepower V-8, rear differential cooler, performance exhaust, sport alloy pedals, Recaro climate-controlled seats, heated steering wheel, and 20-inch forged aluminum wheels.
The ZL1’s 1LE package adds aerodynamic components (dive planes and carbon-fiber rear wing), adjustable front-end ride height, adjustable camber, three-way rear stabilizer bar, and Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3R tires. Chevrolet’s Performance Data Recorder is available.
Design changes for 2019 include three new looks for the front end, based on trim level, but the Camaro’s modern retro appeal continues. The ZL1 edition is unchanged.
Rear fascias are new, and the taillights have been revised. Otherwise, the retro-inspired design remains, including the chopped-top look and high beltline. Wide haunches draw attention to the rear-drive layout.
Camaros prioritize sleek and sporty over space and function, which limits passenger space and outward visibility. Stiff structures provide excellent weight balance. SS models feature a larger grille, while the LS/LT version is slimmer.
Maintaining its retro elements, the Camaro cabin is straightforward and driver-friendly. Front riders enjoy great, supportive sport seats and good adult space, with plenty of legroom. Except for tall drivers, headroom is good. Optional Recaro buckets are form-fitting.
Forget about the back seat, except for holding packages and youngsters. Leg room is almost nonexistent.
A low dashboard makes the cabin feel a bit more open. The user-friendly infotainment system works best with the available 8.0-inch touchscreen.
On convertibles the soft top shuts out noise nicely and feels substantial. Even for a coupe or convertible, the trunk is small. Coupes offer only 9.3 cubic feet of space, with high liftover. Convertibles drop to 7.3 cubic feet.
While delivering superior handling talents and a composed wide, the Camaro is best known for vivid performance. Whether a 4-cylinder engine sits beneath the hood, or a screaming 650-horsepower V-8 lurks in eager readiness, the assertive Camaro driver can expect a thrill when the gas pedal hits the floor. Depending on engine choice, power potential reaches from good, to stirring, to phenomenal in SS and hottest-of-all ZL1 models.
The current Camaro boasts handling prowess that qualifies it as an authentic sports car, too. With its stiff, balanced structure, a Camaro rewards its driver with excellent control and road feel. When cornering, any version stays planted and stable. In short, a Camaro feels almost alive â€“ particularly noted by its sharp, weighty steering.
A 1LE option package adds suspension, cooling, and brake upgrades. When installed in an SS, it also adds Magnetic Ride Control dampers that improve ride and handling. Without MRC, the SS’s 20-inch wheels can roughen travel over broken pavement.
Even the turbo-4 version is quick, reaching 60 mph in 5.4 seconds. Though it’s the quietest Camaro, the turbo-4 raises it voice when pushed hard, working well with either the manual or automatic transmission.
Upgrading to V-6 power reduces 0-60 mph time to 5.0 seconds, exuding a howl that’s actually piped into the cabin and amplified. Deep guttural sounds accompany hard acceleration with the base V-8. That 6.2-liter engine delivers a wallop of power at start-off, en route to 60 mph in a scant 4.0 seconds.
Supercharging the V-8 lets the ZL1’s raw energy come into play with unrelenting fury, able to hit 60 in 3.5 seconds.
Not only does the 10-speed automatic shift promptly, it can downshift by several gears when necessary. The manual transmission has short throws and good shift feel.
Turbo-4 and V-6 engines are fairly fuel-efficient. The turbo-4 with 8-speed automatic is EPA-rated at 22/31 mpg City/Highway, or 25 mpg Combined. Manual shifting lowers the estimate to 20/30/23 mpg.
An automatic V-6 is EPA-rated at 19/29 mpg City/Highway, or 22 mpg Combined, versus 16/27/20 mpg for manual. The SS’s 6.2-liter V-8, with 10-speed automatic, is EPA-rated at 16/27 mpg City/Highway, or 20 mpg Combined. Manual manages only 16/24/19 mpg. With its supercharged V-8, the ZL1 is EPA-rated at 13/21/16 mpg with automatic and 14/20/16 mpg with 6-speed manual.
A 2019 Chevy Camaro might look and sound like a muscle car, but it qualifies as a full-fledged sports car that can outperform rivals priced far higher. Camaros score strongly in styling, handling, and power, but less well in passenger space and fuel economy. An SS coupe with the 1LE package is the best choice for an affordable combination of power and track-capable performance.
Driving impressions by The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.