It's back to the future for the Chevrolet Camaro, one of the original so-called pony cars that thrilled enthusiasts in the last half of the 20th century.
Introduced in 1967 as Chevrolet's answer to the wildly popular Ford Mustang that had debuted in 1964, the Camaro exhibited a lightness of being that now entices collectors willing to spend in the high six figures for the coveted 1969 model.
Victimized by slow sales, the Camaro went away between 2002 and 2009, but returned the next year during a resurgence of interest in American sports coupes. Though the 2010 model had fresh styling, it also had a hulking, tank-like personality, complete with a high beltline that made the windows look like the slits on a World War II machine gun pillbox.
The fortress windows continue for 2016, so adjust your outside mirrors properly to eliminate blind spots. In other respects, the new Camaro returns to its roots as a spiritual descendant of the original. Though still resembling its predecessor, its styling is more "Dancing with the Stars" than "WWE Knockdown."
To introduce the 2016 Camaro, Chevrolet's promotion gurus devised driving routes for automobile reviewers; called "#FindNewRoads," the routes were designed to touch all of the 48 contiguous states in North America. This review is based on a nearly 800-mile drive between Nashville and Kansas City.
This route took drivers -- including a couple of veteran car guys who were doing a story on southern-style barbecued ribs and brisket -- to Memphis, Tenn.; Columbia, Mo.; Kansas City, Kan.; and Kansas City, Mo.
Though the 2016 Camaro can be ordered with three different engines and two transmissions, the test car for this review was a 2LT model with the 3.6-liter V-6 engine and a six-speed manual gearbox: a true enthusiast's setup. The engine delivers 335 horsepower and 284 lb.-ft. of torque.
Other versions use a 275-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine or the real hot number: a 455 hp, 455 lb.-ft., 6.2-liter V-8 engine. Chevrolet's tests rate the 0-to-60-mph acceleration times from 4.0 seconds for the V-8 automatic to 5.5 seconds for the 2.0-liter four -- a distinction without much of a difference in daily driving.
On the tested 3.5-liter V-6 with the six-speed manual, the 0-to-60 mph time was listed at 5.2 seconds. But based on driving of nearly 800 miles, that's not really what that Camaro is all about.
With a time like that, you could smoke any number of cars in the stoplight sprints. But this trip comprised mainly Interstate driving, mostly at 75 mph, where the V-6's cylinder deactivation, which enables three of the six cylinders to shut down at cruising speeds to enhance fuel economy, resulted in an end-of-trip average of 27.8 mpg.
That's acceptable in any company, and real tightwad stuff in places in Missouri where the price of regular gasoline was $1.85 a gallon. It proves that you can have your sports car without emptying your wallet.
But that was not the best part: This Camaro, in addition to its sporting looks and precise handling, is a superb road car that can eat up the miles without tiring the driver. There's only one caveat: rough surfaces produce resonance in the interior that becomes so noisy you can barely hear the excellent audio system unless the volume is cranked way up.
Set the cruise control and relax in the superbly supportive driver's seat and settle in for hours of comfortable cruising without muscle aches or any need to shift positions. The cruise control is uncannily accurate, maintaining set speeds up and down hills, and the Camaro tracks true down the road with a confident, solid feel and little need for steering corrections.
With a base price of $30,795 and a full load of options most buyers would want these days, the test car had a sticker of $38,830. That's almost democratic, with a small "d," for a cool sports coupe.
Copyright © 2015 Motor Matters
|Base price||$30,795 (as tested: $38,830)|
|Curb weight||3,448 lbs.|
|Engine type||24-valve DOHC V-6 w/DI|
|Epa mileage rating||17 mpg city, 28 mpg highway|
|Fuel capacity||19.0 gal.|
|Horsepower (net)||335 at 6800 rpm|
|Overall length||188.3 in.|
|Torque (lb.-ft.)||284 at 5300 rpm|
|Vehicle type||4-passenger midsize RWD coupe|
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