By Eric Peters
There’s no Z28 Camaro anymore — but it’s hardly necessary if you want to go fast. The standard Camaro — with a four-cylinder engine — outperforms the V-8 Z28s of the ’60s and ’70s.
And if that’s not enough, there’s always the V-6.
What It Is
The Camaro is Chevy’s almost-Corvette, with two more seats — and a much lower price tag.
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The base 1LS trim stickers for $25,000 and comes standard with a 275-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed manual transmission. An eight-speed automatic transmission is available optionally.
Moving up to the 1LT trim — which stickers for $25,500 — gives you the option to upgrade to a 335-horsepower V-6 engine, also paired with a standard six-speed manual transmission.
And if that’s not enough, there’s the SS — which stickers for $37,500 to start. It comes standard with a 6.2-liter V-8 (shared with the Corvette) that makes 450 horsepower, once again paired with a six-speed manual transmission.
But for some, even that is not enough.
In which case, Chevy offers a supercharged version of the 6.2-liter V-8 that makes 650 horsepower — in the $63,000 ZL1.
Convertible versions of all are available as well.
An upgraded version of Apple CarPlay/Android Auto is now available.
The four-cylinder Camaro is quicker than most classic-era V-8 muscle cars — and twice as economical.
The V-6 Camaro isn’t a killer to insure.
The V-8 Camaro is a killer, period.
What’s Not So Good
All Camaros have poor outward visibility due to a chopped roofline.
The back seats have 5 inches less headroom than up front due to the chopped roofline.
All Camaros have less room for cargo than the Corvette — which only has two seats.
Under the Hood
It is a measure of how good we have it right now that the base Camaro’s engine — a turbocharged 2.0-liter four — makes almost as much horsepower (275) as the original 1967 Camaro Z28’s “high-performance” 5.0-liter V-8 (290) did.
The new car also gets to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds — about 1 full second quicker than the original ’67 Z28.
With the optional 3.6-liter V-6, a Camaro is even quicker.
Then there’s the 450-horsepower V-8-powered SS. It can get you to 60 mph in just under 4 seconds.
Finally, there is the 650-horsepower supercharged version of the same engine. This one makes more than twice the power of the original 1967 Z28’s “high-performance” 5.0-liter V-8 and gets to 60 mph more than twice as quickly.
On the Road
The Camaro — whether you pick the four, the six or the eight — is powerful and easygoing.
But there is a hair in the soup, and it is the current Camaro’s horrendous outward visibility, especially to the rear and sides, because of its very low roofline and abbreviated side/rear glass.
The car is also very wide — 74.7 inches, versus 72.3 for the ’67 — and while that doesn’t sound like much on paper, on the road, especially narrow country roads, it feels like a lot of Camaro to keep in between the painted lines.
But this is a Camaro you can drive to work every day — which is something classic Camaros like the ’67-’69 Z28 were not. This includes even the ZL1, which has more power under its hood than two ’67 Z28s had under theirs, and it performs like an all-out race car while managing to be almost as economical to drive as a V-6-powered family sedan.
At the Curb
Muscle cars are notorious for having tight back seats — and the Camaro’s got those, with only 29.9 inches of legroom. But it’s the abbreviated headroom that makes the back seats for gym bags only. The car’s roofline chops the available head space down from a viable 38.5 inches for the driver and front-seat passenger to a hopeless 33.5 inches for the people tucked in (literally) the back.
Of course, practicality is a tertiary consideration when considering a car of this type. The primary consideration is what it does for you emotionally, which encompasses the visuals as much as the mechanicals, which blend together into those intangibles that make or break a car of this type.
Camaro sells well, in spite of its ridiculous back seats and horrendous outward visibility issues — which says something about the strength of its intangibles. Some people hate this car — but that accounts for why so many love it. The thing is not meant to please everyone, so it greatly pleases some — and that is how you keep the fire burning.
Performance upgrades are available with every Camaro, even the base LS with the 2.0-liter four. There is a stand-alone high-performance Brembo brake package on the options list, and if you get the V-6 LT, you can get a Track Package that bundles the Brembo brakes with heavy-duty cooling/suspension and an exterior body kit for enhanced high-speed aerodynamics.
The Bottom Line
1967 is a long way back — but it is also available at your local Chevy dealer, brand-new and fully warranted.
Eric’s new book, “Don’t Get Taken for a Ride!” is available now. To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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