Vital Stats

Engine:
6.2L V8
Power:
426 HP / 420 LB-FT
Transmission:
6-Speed Manual
0-60 Time:
4.7 Seconds
Top Speed:
155 MPH (Limited)
Drivetrain:
Rear-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
3,875 LBS
Seating:
2+2
Cargo:
11.3 CU-FT
MPG:
16 City / 24 HWY
Poise Before Power



Power isn't everything. We cannot argue with the fact that the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is an immensely fun car to drive on both the road and track. But unless you have a closed course with a proper straightaway to unleash all 580 of those supercharged horses – despite the ZL1 being a rather easy car to manage in everyday driving – you'll really only be using that force to blast by slow-moving semi trucks and perhaps engage in ill-advised stoplight drag race tomfoolery on suburban streets. In both of those instances, all that power certainly feels nice under your butt, but in the end, you just end up looking like a total chotch.

The thing is that the more power you have at your disposal, the harder it is to wrestle with a car on winding roads or even out on a track. There's a beautiful simplicity that's experienced while wringing out a less-powerful car with superb steering and top-notch suspension geometry, and it's that logic that allows us to wholeheartedly love cars like the Mazda MX-5 Miata and Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S twins.

More to the point, this is exactly why we fell in love with the Mustang Boss 302. Ford took its delectable pony car and set out to fine-tune the chassis, suspension and brakes above all – adding a small dose of power into the mix as well – and in the end created a car that many of us would rather live on a daily basis with than the absolutely bonkers Shelby GT500.

Not to be outdone in the never-ending muscle car wars, General Motors has responded to Ford's Boss with this: the 1LE performance package available for the 2013 Chevrolet Camaro SS coupe. And while we can't yet say if we prefer it to the Dearborn Darling – we'd need some proper back-to-back time first – our day spent whipping the 1LE around Gingerman Raceway in South Haven, Michigan only affirms our belief that power is purely relative. Naturally aspirated or not, this is the Camaro we've been waiting for.
2013 Chevrolet Camaro 1LE side view2013 Chevrolet Camaro 1LE front view2013 Chevrolet Camaro 1LE rear view

The Camaro added a 1LE handling package back in 1988 after Pro-Am racers complained about the car's lack of handling chops.

So, 1LE. It doesn't quite roll off the tongue with the same sort of punch as "Boss 302," but Camaro loyalists know that the alphanumeric designation indeed has deeper meaning. The third-generation Camaro added a 1LE handling package back in 1988 after Pro-Am racers complained about the car's lack of handling chops – specifically, its tendency to understeer. Like that old model, the vast majority of changes to this modern 1LE come in the form of upgrades to the SS' suspension and braking systems, along with beefier wheels and tires and a different final-drive ratio.

Visually, the only things that separate the 1LE from a standard SS are the matte black hood, rear lip spoiler, red Brembo brake calipers and the sinister black 20-inch lightweight aluminum wheels. As a staff, we've always been fans of the Camaro's design, despite the fact that its overt focus on styling causes a lot of interior functionality issues (we'll discuss that later). We like the fact that it's a Hot Wheels car come to life, though some of us feel that specific 1LE additions like that matte hood and rear spoiler are a little too aftermarket in appearance.

2013 Chevrolet Camaro 1LE hood2013 Chevrolet Camaro 1LE rear spoiler2013 Chevrolet Camaro 1LE wheel2013 Chevrolet Camaro 1LE exhaust tips

The high beltline and low roofline give you that sunk-in-the-bathtub feeling.

Where we still take issue with the Camaro, however, is inside. Ticking the 1LE option box doesn't get you a whole host of new interior amenities, but it does include the flat-bottomed, Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel straight from the ZL1. We like the feeling of the fuzzy stuff in our hands, and we really like the fact that it doesn't heat up like leather under the summer sun, but really, that's about all of the positive things we can say about the 1LE's interior. The rest of the cabin is still finished in black plastic with gray accents, the worst of which is found on the sides of the transmission tunnel and center console. It all just looks downmarket.

Furthermore, as with every Camaro, visibility is a major issue. The high beltline and low roofline give you that sunk-in-the-bathtub feeling from behind the wheel, and even for your five-foot, seven-inch author, there's a lack of headroom. Banging your head on the roof while getting in and out of the 1LE almost becomes second nature, but no less annoying. Taller drivers beware.

2013 Chevrolet Camaro 1LE interior2013 Chevrolet Camaro 1LE front seats2013 Chevrolet Camaro 1LE gauges2013 Chevrolet Camaro 1LE shifter

Chevy won't sell you a 1LE with the six-speed automatic, and shame on you for even wanting one.

Once you are finally situated behind that new steering wheel, though, the 1LE is sure to impress. Unlike the Mustang Boss 302, Chevrolet left the engine largely intact, meaning the 6.2-liter LS3 V8 still pumps out 426 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. Because of the 1LE's performance orientation, high-capacity fuel pumps have been added, and the Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual transmission now benefits from a 3.91 final drive ratio (up from 3.45), as well as the same air-to-liquid cooling system as the ZL1. Furthermore, the excellent short-throw shifter from the ZL1 has been fitted, and do note, if you want the 1LE package, you'd better want the do-it-yourself 'box. Chevy won't sell you a 1LE with the six-speed automatic, and shame on you for even wanting one in the first place.

There may not be any specific engine upgrades on hand, but that doesn't mean performance is in any way lacking. The LS3 V8 has a linear power delivery accompanied by a seriously excellent noise thanks to the dual-mode exhaust system. GM says the 1LE will sprint to 60 miles per hour in a very respectable 4.7 seconds, but we can't help but note that Ford's Boss 302 will do the 60-mph dash three-tenths of a second quicker. Then again, the Boss is also roughly 400 pounds lighter than the porky 1LE.

2013 Chevrolet Camaro 1LE

There wasn't a single moment during our test where we wished for more power.

Straight-line stuff aside, the real magic is found underneath that flashy body. Let's pause for a moment and go over exactly what makes the 1LE a 1LE. Chevrolet has fitted larger stabilizer bars at both the front and rear (measuring 27 and 28 millimeters, respectively); higher-capacity rear axle half shafts; a strut tower brace; wheel bearings, toe links and rear shock mounts ripped from the ZL1; as well as model-specific monotube rear dampers, as opposed to the twin-tube dampers found on normal SS models. All that mumbo-jumbo basically means that while the 1LE weighs 3,875 pounds – 15 more than a standard Camaro 1SS – it manages to handle its heft with much, much greater poise.

We spent the better part of a morning lapping Michigan's lovely Gingerman Raceway, our 1LE set up in Competition Mode with two quick clicks of the traction control button. Here, we were able to let the car's back end loosen up a bit and tell the electronic nannies to buzz off while we played, but even as we pushed harder and harder around the circuit, the 1LE never failed to hunker down and hold on in the corners. Keeping the car revving high in second gear and powering on through third and fourth allowed us to make the best use of the LS3's eight-cylinder grunt, and there wasn't a single moment during our test where we wished for more power.

2013 Chevrolet Camaro 1LE badge

In order to properly praise this Camaro's handling, we have to give credit to the 1LE's rolling stock.

The biggest compliment we can pay the 1LE is just how nimble it feels on the track, truly giving us the impression that we were driving a much smaller car. The body stays stiff through the corners, the front end nearly refuses to understeer, and unless you're going for the most hardcore experience, the rear end always stays where it belongs. This is a car that rewards smooth, precise driving. The electronic power assisted steering has a tendency to feel a bit vague on center, but things weight up the moment you spin it in either direction, providing solid feedback while turning. Don't hammer the brakes or jerk the tiller and the 1LE will happily carry a smooth line through a bend, the rear end stepping out only ever so slightly as you power out and set up for your next corner.

In order to properly praise this Camaro's handling, we have to give credit to the 1LE's rolling stock. It borrows lightweight black alloy wheels from the ZL1, measuring 20 inches in diameter, wrapped in sticky 285/35ZR20 Goodyear Eagle Supercar G:2 tires – the same ones found on the front wheels of the Camaro ZL1. This high-performance rubber becomes super sticky after you've warmed them up a bit, and the fat contact patch on the ground means you'll be hugging the apex every time.

2013 Chevrolet Camaro 1LE rear 3/4 view

The standard Brembo brakes with four-piston fixed aluminum calipers at all four corners provide confident stopping power with no signs of fade, no matter how many times we decided to brake late into a turn or slam the middle pedal while coming off the back straight at Gingerman to slow down for pit lane. Even after a full day of journalist use on the track, the 1LE test cars stopped with total assurance every time.

The 1LE is perfectly poised to deliver outstanding performance without compromise.

Pricing for the 1LE starts at $37,035 – that's $32,280 for a Camaro 1SS, $3,855 for the performance upgrades and $900 for destination. It's a respectable price point, and considering the fact that a Boss 302 stickers for $5,960 more, the argument for choosing the Chevy is pretty self-evident. Already own a Camaro and sad you missed out on the 1LE pack? Never fear – GM will be offering new goodies in its performance parts catalog that allows older SS owners to build their cars up to this new, wonderful spec.

And wonderful it is. This is indeed the Camaro we've always wanted without having to step up to the decidedly expensive and ridiculously powerful ZL1. We could easily live with the 1LE day in and day out, and we're curious to see how its better suspension tuning performs on the broken streets of Detroit during our everyday lives. With rear-wheel-drive muscle cars like this, having over 500 horsepower is often unnecessary, awesome as it may be. The 1LE is perfectly poised to deliver outstanding performance without compromise (well, except for that interior), and at the end of the day, it's the Camaro we'd own above all.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 113 Comments
      k_m94
      • 2 Years Ago
      The Boss 302 is 200lb lighter than the 1LE, not 400. I respect this car, and it proves once again that it wasn't a "crappy IRS" or simply just tons of mass that ruined the Camaro's chances of outhandling the less understeery Mustang, just suspension setup and in need of some sticky tires to be a confident tracker. The 1LE and ZL1 are worlds apart better handling than the SS they are based on. Still, I have a sneaking suspicion that the weight advantage would lend the Mustang a little more agility (especially the Boss), but the Camaro has better tires, suspension, brakes, and a low center of gravity, at least comparing GT500 to ZL1. Live axles do have some inherent disadvantages, though Ford has made it extremely competitive. I think the handling disparity between the ZL1 and GT500 would be much narrower with Boss vs 1LE. The 1LE doesn't have the magnetic ride control, and the Boss is much less of a handful than the GT500. Not to mention, the Boss's power to weight is closer to that of the ZL1, as evident by low to mid 12 second 1/4 miles and 4.2 second 0-60.
        Mike
        • 2 Years Ago
        @k_m94
        Good analysis of the cars. I think the 1LE is the best bang for the buck in the Camaro lineup.
      Bill Burke
      • 2 Years Ago
      Although I'm a Dodge Challenger fan, I do have to give a high five to Chevy for pulling no punches in the battle for "muscle car" dominance with Challenger and Mustang. Sure the Camaro owes it's origins to a sedan platform, just like Challenger but they have done a reasonable job of staying in the game against the Dodge and Ford offerings and bringing alot to the table. This is good for all the brands as competition brings out the best in everyone. This new Camaro gives the competition something to think about and as stated, as a Challenger fan, I believe the Dodge boys have something in development to up the anty. Isn't the competition wonderful? Thanks Chevy.
        tipdrip215
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Bill Burke
        While a pull no punches Challenger would be awesome, I'm not sure Chrysler has the resources to match GM and Ford offerings one for one for one as they did in the 60s and 70s.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Dreez28
      • 2 Years Ago
      Oh my God if I hear another retarded interior comment I might fart. Come on!! The interior is fine! Why does everybody expect a conservatively priced sports car to have a dog gam luxury interior. Shut the EFF Up and grow a set of nards you prissy fat women!
        dan1malk
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dreez28
        People are so emotional about this segment. They need SOMETHING to complain about. If you base your decision of any of these muscle/sports cars on it's interior you are in the wrong segment. IMO, give me all the plastic you have if that keeps the performance pieces affordable (like they have here.)
        jawnath1n
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dreez28
        I agree with Dreez28. While I don't think the Camaro's interior is anything special, its not really that bad and competitive in the segment. There isn't much at this price range and performance range thats any better. I actually felt that the Mustang's interior quality was worse. The massive plastic interior panels surrounding the driver and passenger were very hard and cheap feeling, and then along the door and dash, felt and sounded 'hollow' when touched. The thing I liked most about the Mustang's interior was the Recaro seats in the Boss 302 I was in, those were pretty awesome. I understand interior grade is all subjective and in the eyes of the beholder, but if someone was to harp on the Camaro's interior, they shouldn't use the Mustang as an example of what it should be, because its no better.
        Bryant Keith
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dreez28
        well its like this. You sit on the inside of the car and 99.9% of the time your limited to a certain speed anyway, so the interior does kinda matter. Unfortunately it looks like it was caste by fisher price soo...yea kinda a deal breaker.
          David Donovan
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Bryant Keith
          If you're talking about the WRX having hard plastics all over then yeah I agree with you. My sister has a 2012 WRX Premium and I was absolutely amazed as to how cheap that interior felt. Just hard plastic surfaces everywhere.
          Dreez28
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Bryant Keith
          Then what are you going to go buy in the this performance category and price range with a better interior? Personally I've sat in most of the other competition at car shows, and they're certainly not better from a materials standpoint. Certainly not Mustang, certainly not Hyundai. I think you're all full of shart, and haven't the slightest clue what you should or shouldn't be comparing it against. I test drove a 2010 Camaro SS, and sat at many at annual car shows. While I agree that the base interior is lack luster, that would be your personal choice if you wanted the worst interior option. I think the Leather interior is as good if not better than anything in the Camaro's segment. Base interiors in every other competitor to this car are made with the same plastics, and very similar assembly characteristics. I completely agree with the writers complaints about the sight lines because of the chop top style. But sometimes you sacrifice function for form. The Camaro would look stupid and completely outdated if it's roof line was raised. Seriously, if you don't like the car. Don't use the interior BS excuse. If it was worse than everything else available, I would have no argument with you, but that factually is not the case. That is not a matter of opinion but of objective comparison.
          David Donovan
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Bryant Keith
          Easy......the Mustang.
          TCBRacing
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Bryant Keith
          Kinda like a WRX you mean?
        k_m94
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dreez28
        No, the interior isn't fine. Nobody's expecting Chevy to remove every bit of plastic and make it a Rolls Royce inside. Just, I dunno, make the plastic look and feel less like a made in China toy?
          Dreez28
          • 2 Years Ago
          @k_m94
          Plastic is plastic. I have yet to see a plastic that looks less "plasticky" than another. You make it softer or harder, more brittle or more flexible, texture or not textured, and you can give it a fake finish or paint. How would you like your plastic?
          David Donovan
          • 2 Years Ago
          @k_m94
          Then you don't know what you're talking about. There is quite a difference in plastics that make them look downright cheap versus it looking pretty damn nice.
        4gasem
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dreez28
        Nope, just one NOT designed by Fisher Price and Leap Frog...
      Frank Bevalaqua
      • 2 Years Ago
      Too bad the interior looks like a Chevy Cavalier
        NightFlight
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Frank Bevalaqua
        Too bad the rest of the car looks cartoonish and silly. I really don't care for the Camaro at all....
          Walt
          • 2 Years Ago
          @NightFlight
          Cartoonish and silly? No...no you're thinking of Hyundai styling.
          dan1malk
          • 2 Years Ago
          @NightFlight
          Great story.
          NightFlight
          • 2 Years Ago
          @NightFlight
          @ dan1malk That was two sentences, not a story. Your smart ass response has failed.
        4gasem
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Frank Bevalaqua
        THAT is giving them credit...
      SYE
      • 2 Years Ago
      "...but in the end, you just end up looking like a total chotch." Can't the same be said about every Camaro owner older than 22 years old?
        dan1malk
        • 2 Years Ago
        @SYE
        Haha. ...or every Ferrari owner older than 22 years old? ...or every BMW M car owner older than 22 years old? ...or every EVO/STI owner older than 22 years old? ...or ANY sportcars owner older than 22 years old? Basically, as enthusiasts putting so much into what we drive, makes us easy targets for the more 'sensible' folk to take shots at.
          DC Mike
          • 2 Years Ago
          @dan1malk
          Ok, Sye. I'll let you pick cars two times more expensive than this model of Camaro. That gives you a window of $75k. What should someone over 22 years old drive since there are so many to choose from that are so much better? I'm just curious. Go.
          SYE
          • 2 Years Ago
          @dan1malk
          Camaro =/= Ferrari, M cars, et al. I don't see how any guy older than college aged can find a Camaro appealing. In your late 20s, 30s or 40s and driving a pony car? Chotch, period. Dream bigger.
        DC Mike
        • 2 Years Ago
        @SYE
        Really? I'd be wiling to bet that less than 10% of all new V8 Camaros sold are purchased by people 22 years old and younger. Most (not all, of course) 22 year olds can't afford the payments on a car over $30k. There are some but they are in the minority.
          Nemebean
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DC Mike
          Pretty sure it wasn't your Mustang that made you a douche. Just sayin'.
          tylermars.design
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DC Mike
          Hate to break it to you, but your Mustang wasn't the only thing causing that feeling of douchebaggery there bud.............
          Xedicon
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DC Mike
          @SYE - Let people enjoy what they like, why does it bother you so much? Sometimes the point of wanting a certain car is because it's silly and crazy and fun and that's it. You're own personal view on cars like this is exactly that - yours - and doesn't mean that everyone else has to play by your strange rules. Anyways, time for some dinner and weekend wrenching... on a hot rod! I bet you love that don't you? :D
          SYE
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DC Mike
          I got a Mustang GT for my 17th birthday. By junior year in college I felt like a douche driving it. How any guy much older than that can feel confident about their purchase of a pony car is beyond me. At 30 years old you should be driving a Yukon or a Grand Cherokee or an F-150. If you really need a car, get something more age appropriate and refined. Guys older than 50+ can get away with a Camaro.
          SYE
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DC Mike
          Just because the majority sold are to chotches doesn't not make them chotches. If you're late 20s to 40s and driving a Camaro you're probably a tool, period. It's a young mans or girls pony car. Men drive trucks, SUVs or refined cars at that age. Dreaming about the glory years and driving a Camaro at 35 years old is sad. No, I'm not trolling.
          SYE
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DC Mike
          It doesn't bother me. I was just responding to a line in the article that pointed out anyone hot rodding this Camaro in town looks like a chotch. You can expand that label to include any guy older than 22 driving a Camaro, period.
          Dark Gnat
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DC Mike
          SYE, your parents have failed you.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Howard
      • 2 Years Ago
      Also...I don't like how Chevy is following Ford's lead with various names following the name plate. Camaro SS..Camaro ZL1 and so on. Stupid. Just stupid.
      Shootist
      • 2 Years Ago
      Bloody ugly car. Too fat. Too long. Too wide. Did I say too fat? Shouldn't just started something the size of a 1971 Vega, added a V8 and independent suspension, a GT 2+2, for a car that would weigh in at less than 2800 lbs. 3600 lbs is too heavy.
        Mike
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Shootist
        Then obviously you know nothing about muscle cars. Go back to your Vega....rolls eyes
      PatrickH
      • 2 Years Ago
      Hmm, 3900lb curb weight and super sticky tires. I wonder how long a set of those 20" tires will last before you have to replace them. Just because someone can afford a $37k car doesn't mean they want to spend $5k a year on tires. Awesome car, but way way waaaaaaaaaaay too fat!
        TCBRacing
        • 2 Years Ago
        @PatrickH
        Doesn't seem to matter much since it spanks the (so called) Boss at VIR... http://gmauthority.com/blog/2012/07/2013-chevy-camaro-1le-crushes-mustang-boss-302s-vir-lap-time-by-4-46-seconds-video/
          David Donovan
          • 2 Years Ago
          @TCBRacing
          lol at getting GM news from a GM owned website. Did you see their right up about how the new Aveo Turbo will destroy a Ford GT!?
          flammablewater
          • 2 Years Ago
          @TCBRacing
          The car is heavy, so the tires will not last long and they will be expensive to replace. American cars ARE too fat. They're just also fast now.
          k_m94
          • 2 Years Ago
          @TCBRacing
          It's all in the driver. Lightning Lap journalists are good, but not nearly as zoned in as a test driver in their own project car.
      Merc1
      • 2 Years Ago
      Great car/design ruined by one of the cheapest, ugliest interior ever in a GM car, and that is saying something since all of their interiors were junk just a few years ago. This car is so desirable otherwise, but GM had to fmess it up. Typical. M
        Chase Smith
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Merc1
        Well it IS a Camaro... it's ruin that whole "retro" feel if the interior was any good. :-D
        Chase
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Merc1
        No, the interior is not one of the "cheapest, ugliest interior ever". Its not even close to as bad as a 1990 Pontiac, or even a C5 Corvette. The interior is not the car's strong point but it is not bad by a long shot.
      Howard
      • 2 Years Ago
      WHy can't chevy spend an extra $500 on decent interior materials? They remind me of a '79 Toyota Carolla.
        Shinkaze
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Howard
        Because the bean counters determined that $500 in extra cost would not equal $500 in extra sales. That $500 went to giving you the driveline and suspension.
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