If the front end of the V8-powered SS bugs you, you may want to wait for the 2020 model year, which shows up in the fall of 2019. Otherwise, the Camaro remains the most athletic driving machine among the American muscle cars – its performance credentials are exceptional, and with the right options it'll best cars that cost considerably more around a track. On the other hand, its practicality and everyday drivability are lacking compared to the Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger.
What's new for 2019?We've mentioned the garish new SS front end isn't long for this world, but all other versions get an updated front fascia and lighting as well. It was better received and will be what you see on next year's Camaro as well.
There are also functional updates for 2019. The SS is now available with a 10-speed automatic transmission (but not on certain V6-powered Camaros until 2020). The 7- and 8-inch touchscreens have been upgraded with greater personalization capability and Cloud-based connectivity. The 1LE package that turns the Camaro into a track-capable superstar can now be applied to cars with the 2.0-liter turbo. You can read about it in our Camaro Turbo 1LE first drive.
What's the interior and in-car technology like?The Camaro's cabin is cramped and dark, with high sills that make you feel like you're sitting deep within the vehicle, with large haunches and pillars obscuring visibility in every direction. The Mustang and Challenger aren't great, either, but they're better than the Camaro in this regard. Poor visibility makes it harder to place the Camaro on track, on a mountain road or just in a parking space. At least the convertible gives you the option of rolling back the roof to improve things a bit; keep it up, though, and it gets worse.
In terms of ambiance, the Camaro's cabin design is the most modern and arguably stylish of the American muscle car trio. The quality isn't great, but there are some soft-touch surfaces where it matters. The big rotary air vents are notably pretty cool – you actually adjust the temperature by turning the two center ones. Of course, those center ones are also located unusually low.
On the up side, that means the 7- or 8-inch touchscreen is located quite high. It oddly tilts downward (perhaps that's beneficial in the convertible to mitigate glare), but it's at least easy to use and packed with standard features. Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, OnStar, 4G LTE Wi-Fi and a six-speaker sound system are all included.
How big is it?The Camaro handles like a sports car, but it sure isn't sized like one. It's enormous compared to something like a Toyota Supra or BMW 2 Series, but compared to the Mustang and Challenger it feels lithe and lightweight. A four-cylinder Camaro weighs about 180 pounds less than a four-cylinder Mustang, while the V6 Camaro weighs a whopping 410 pounds less than a V6 Challenger, which is also nearly 10 inches longer.
While the Camaro's diminutive size is a boon in terms of performance, but it sure doesn't help interior space. While the front seats are comfortable and offer plenty of adjustment, the back seat is best suited to small dogs and shopping bags. It's even worse than the Mustang's, while actual adults can fit in the Challenger. The trunk isn't much better, as its tiny opening further hampers a tiny 9.1-cubic-foot capacity in the coupe (versus 13.5 for Mustang and 16.2 for Challenger) and 7.3-cubic-foot one in the convertible.
What's the performance and fuel economy?The Camaro is offered with four different engines, some of which are tied to specific trim levels.
The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that's standard on the LS and LT trim levels produces 275 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual is standard and an eight-speed automatic is optional. Performance for this engine is actually pretty sensational (certain outlets have clocked it from zero to 60 mph in just a hair over 5 seconds), but it sounds more like a hot hatch than a muscle car. Fuel economy is very good at 20 mpg city, 30 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined with the manual, and 22/31/25 with the automatic.
The LT trim level, including those with the RS package, can be equipped with a 3.6-liter V6 good for 335 hp and 284 lb-ft of torque. Its soundtrack is certainly more in keeping with the Camaro's look and heritage, though its 0-60 time should only be a few ticks quicker. It has the same transmission options as the turbo-four. EPA fuel economy estimates are 16/27/20 mpg with the manual and 19/29/22 with the automatic.
The Camaro SS gets a 6.2-liter V8 that puts out 455 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque. That's more than the Mustang GT and Challenger R/T, and with 0-60 times around the 4-second mark, it makes for quicker acceleration, too. A six-speed manual is still standard, but the V8 can be paired with a 10-speed automatic. Estimated fuel economy is 16/24/19 with the manual and 16/27/20 with the 10-speed.
And finally, there's the Camaro ZL1, which gets a supercharged version of the 6.2-liter V8 good for 650 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque. Published 0-60 times have been in the mid-3-second range. It too has the six-speed manual standard and 10-speed auto optional. Fuel economy not surprisingly takes a hit with 14/20/16 with the manual and 13/21/16 with the automatic.
What's it like to drive?There's an inherent athleticism to the Camaro that will be readily apparent after driving it back to back with its American muscle car competitors. Everything's just tighter, buttoned down and responsive. It looks, sounds and goes like a muscle car, but in its heart, it wishes it was a sports car. On a track or on a winding country road, it does a pretty good impression of one as well. That impression only gets better should you select the high-performance 1LE package. Needless to say perhaps, the SS 1LE and especially the ZL1 really get the blood pumping, so if you can swing their heftier price tags, they definitely represent the Camaro at its finest.
We could go on, but given the breadth of models and options, how the Camaro drives very much depends on which combination you get. As such, check out the in-depth reviews we've written about this Camaro generation.
What more can I read and watch about the Chevrolet Camaro?
Our comparison of the Camaro versus the Ford Mustang from 2016. Again, there have been some enhancements since then, but our experiences are still broadly applicable.
The 2019 Chevrolet Camaro is available in coupe and convertible body styles. The coupe comes standard in the 1LS trim, while both are available in 1LT, 2LT, 3LT, 1SS, 2SS and ZL1 trim levels. You'll also see cars labeled RS, which indicates a performance-oriented package that can be added to the LT cars that brings with it snazzier styling, upgraded brakes and heavy-duty cooling. There's also the coupe-only 1LE package available with any engine, which adds a variety of performance enhancements from the Camaro model above (the V6 1LE gets the brakes from the SS, for instance, while the SS 1LE gets those from the ZL1).
What features are available and what's the price?
The base LS coupe for $25,995, including a $995 destination charge, comes standard with 18-inch wheels, a limited-slip differential (manual only), proximity entry and push-button start, an eight-way power driver seat, cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 7-inch touchscreen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, a six-speaker sound system, OnStar and 4G LTE WiFi. For only an extra $500, the 1LT adds remote ignition, a six-way power passenger seat, satellite radio and paddle shifters on automatic-equipped cars.
We provide a full breakdown of specs, features and local pricing here on Autoblog.
Coupe pricing is below. Opting for the comparable Camaro Convertible adds $6,000.
- 1LS: $25,995
- 1LT: $26,495
- 2LT: $28,495
- 3LT: $31,995
- 1SS: $37,995
- 2SS: $42,995
- ZL1: $62,995
What are its safety equipment and crash ratings?The Camaro adds front knee airbags to the usual airbag count (minus the curtains in the convertible), while also including the expected stability and traction control, and a rearview camera. Blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic warning and rear parking sensors are optional on the 3LT and standard on the 2SS and ZL1. Those three trims are also the only ones that can be equipped with an optional forward collision warning system.
The government gave the Camaro coupe a five-star overall crash rating, along with four-star frontal and five-star side ratings. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the coupe the highest possible rating of Good in all tested crash categories but roof strength where it got the second-best Acceptable. That's unusual. Most cars get a Good. Its forward collision warning system was given a rating of "Basic with optional equipment" – the lowest apart from not having a system at all.