2015 Camaro New Car Test Drive
The 2014 Chevrolet Camaro features updated and the addition of a high-powered Z/28 model, keeping its place as the best-looking American muscle car currently on the market.
Changes for the 2014 model year include a new front fascia with a lower, wider front grille and new headlights. In the rear, there's a new spoiler, redesigned exhaust tips and new single-piece taillights, replacing the old double-rectangle design found on the current Corvette Stingray). New Recaro sport seats are optional on Camaro SS and Camaro ZL1 models.
The Camaro Z/28 is a track-ready, super high-performance variant that weighs about 300 pounds less than the Camaro ZL1. The Z/28 is powered by a 7.0-liter V8 that makes a hearty 500 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. It's paired exclusively with a 6-speed manual transmission and uses a race-inspired suspension. Carbon ceramic brakes and performance tires come standard. The interior is no-frills: Standard Z/28 models come without air conditioning (though it can be added as an option), and a spartan audio system that includes only one speaker.
Camaro LS and Camaro LT models continue with a 3.6-liter V6 that makes 323 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard and a 6-speed automatic is optional. In terms of power, the V6 can pretty much pass for a V8, a bonus for the price. EPA fuel economy ratings are modest for its class, at 17/28 mpg City/Highway with the manual transmission and 19/30 mpg city/highway with the automatic.
Camaro convertibles are equipped like the coupes but feature a power soft top fitted with acoustical foam in the headliner to minimize noise with the top up.
Camaro SS uses the 6.2-liter V8 from the outgoing Corvette, good for 400 hp and 410 lb.-ft. of torque with a 6-speed automatic, or 426 hp and 420 lb.-ft. with a 6-speed manual gearbox. The Camaro SS uses firmer shocks, springs and anti-roll bars than do the V6 models, but the ride doesn't suffer for it. A limited-slip rear differential is included to reduce wheel spin when trying to put all that power down.
The uber-high-performance Camaro ZL1 uses a supercharged version of the 6.2-liter V8 good for a whopping 580 hp and 556 lb.-ft. of torque. It can accelerate from zero to 60 in 3 seconds flat with a top speed of 184 mph. While testing at Germany's famed Nurburgring racetrack, Chevrolet factory drivers set a lap record with the ZL1, beating the Porsche 911 GT3. At $55k the ZL1 is cheap, given its level of performance.
We found the handling, ride and brakes to be excellent in both the Camaro LT with the V6 and the Camaro SS with the big V8, although the SS suspension is stiffer and its 20-inch tires are firmer. Inside, the cabin is quiet, so 80 mph feels more like 70. Interior materials are good, but the instrumentation is disappointing, with GM trying to be retro rather than clean with gauges.
Perhaps the Camaro's biggest drawback is its lack of driver visibility, due it its high beltline and relatively small windows. Up front, the view is compromised by the long hood and raked windshield. Rearward visibility over the driver's shoulder is hampered by the low, slanted roofline.
Competitors to the Chevrolet Camaro include American pony cars Dodge Challenger and Ford Mustang, each with high-performance versions. Those looking for performance and sporty handling at an attainable price should also consider the Scion FR-S or Hyundai Genesis Coupe.
The 2014 Camaro 1LS ($24,550) comes with the 3.6-liter V6 and a 6-speed manual transmission. Standard features include cloth upholstery, manually operated air conditioning, manually adjustable front seats with power recline, power windows, power locks, power mirrors, keyless entry, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, six-speaker audio system with CD player, satellite radio capability and auxiliary audio jack, Bluetooth phone connectivity, OnStar with turn-by-turn route guidance for six months and 18-inch wheels. Camaro 2LS ($25,750) comes with the automatic transmission. (All prices are Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices, which do not include destination charge, and can change at any time without notice.)
Camaro 1LT ($26,850) adds eight-way power front seats, remote start (on models with the automatic transmission), Chevrolet's MyLink interface with 7-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth audio streaming, USB port and foglamps. Camaro 2LT ($30,050) includes leather upholstery, heated front seats, a head-up display, a 9-speaker Boston Acoustics audio system, rear parking sensors, rearview camera, heated outside mirrors, auto-dimming mirrors and 19-inch alloy wheels.
Camaro 1SS ($34,350) and 2SS ($38,150) feature the 6.2-liter V8 and are equipped similarly to the 1LT and 2LT respectively, plus a leather-wrapped steering wheel, limited slip differential, special exterior trim and a sport-tuned suspension. The SS 1LE Performance Package features 285/35ZR20 Goodyear Eagle Supercar performance summer tires, upgraded suspension with front and rear stabilizer and a 3.91 final-drive axle ratio.
Convertibles are equipped similarly to the coupes and include the 1LT, 2LT, 1SS and 2SS trims.
Camaro ZL1 ($55,355) adds a supercharger to the 6.2-liter V8 to get a mind-bending 580 hp and 556 lb.-ft. of torque. Added features include with traction control, magnetic ride control, big Brembo brakes, retuned power steering and unique 20-inch wheels. Front and rear fascias are slightly different than other models, and genuine carbon fiber is used for the extractor on the hood. Interior upholstery is suede-like microfiber with red accent stitching and a smaller, flat-bottomed steering wheel.
Camaro Z/28 ($72,305) is powered by a 500-hp, 7.0-liter V8 and is available in both coupe and convertible body styles. Standard models do not include air conditioning, and the spartan audio system has only one speaker. Track-worthy performance features like a race-oriented suspension, carbon ceramic brakes and special lightweight 19-inch wheels with performance tires.
Safety equipment on all Camaros includes electronic stability control with traction control, anti-lock brakes, frontal airbags, front side airbags, and side curtain airbags. A rearview camera is optional.