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2018 Chevrolet Camaro Review

2018 Chevrolet Camaro Review
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A true sports car in muscle car guise, the 2018 Chevrolet Camaro will go toe-to-toe with any performance rival and usually come out on top.

The Chevrolet Camaro has broken the bounds of its muscle car/pony car past to become a full-on sports car. Based on a premium platform that it shares with Cadillac, the sixth-generation Camaro is smaller, lighter, and better balanced than the previous generation car. It’s offered in coupe and convertible body styles, and comes with a variety of engines, ranging from a turbo-4 to a V-6 to a pair of V-8s that top out with the 650-horsepower ZL1. All models are quick, handle extremely well, and even offer a composed ride.


For 2018, the ZL1 adds the 1LE Extreme Track Performance package that turns this monster into a true track car thanks to aggressive aerodynamics, an adjustable suspension with spool-valve dampers, and Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3R summer-only tires. Also for 2018, the sporty 1LE package is available on the decked-out 2SS model.

The sixth-generation Camaro continues with an evolution of the retro-inspired look of the fifth-generation car. The new Camaro is a bit smaller, and not quite as menacing up front. It still has pronounced rear haunches, a high beltline, and a chopped look for the roof, as well as general cues from the first-generation car of the 1960s.

The Camaro is based on GM’s Alpha platform, which it shares with the Cadillac ATS and CTS. That’s part of the reason why it handles so well. Weight is down from the last generation, and handling is balanced, the ride is forgiving, and advanced suspension features are both standard and optional.

Chevrolet lets buyers pick from a variety of models. Engines start with a 275-hp 2.0-liter turbo-4, then move up to a 335-hp 3.6-liter V-6, a 455-hp 6.2-liter V-8 in SS models, and a supercharged 6.2 in the ZL1 that makes 650 hp. For those who want to take their cars to the racetrack, Chevy offers the 1LE package for both the V-6 and 455-hp V-8, plus the aforementioned extreme ZL1 1LE package that set a blistering 7:16 lap at the Nurburgring.

All models are quick. The turbo-4 pushes the car from 0-60 mph in 5.4 seconds, and the ZL1 does that deed in 3.5 seconds while also covering the quarter mile in 11.4 seconds and topping out at 198 mph. The SS model is the sweet spot, though, with its 4.0-second 0-60 time at a much more affordable price.

The driver’s seat is the place to be in the Camaro, as you are in control of a great-handling car and you have plenty of room. The rear seat, however, is better thought of as a package shelf than a means of carrying people.

As for safety, the Camaro does well in the crash tests it has been subjected to, and while it offers some of today’s active safety features, it lacks forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking. It also suffers from some of the worst outward vision on the market.

All things considered, the Camaro is a great performance bargain, especially the SS model.

Styling
Retro cool and menacing, the 2018 Chevrolet Camaro announces its sporty intentions with its looks but compromises some function for its form.

The sixth-generation Camaro plays off the fifth generation’s modern retro looks, which were inspired by the iconic 1969 Camaro. It’s a small car and some of the lines don’t have enough room to play out, but it’s still menacing. Inside, the look is a bit stark, but there is some interesting design detail, and a lower dash that makes it feel more open. We give the Camaro an 8 for styling, noting its iconic shape, sleek exterior, and even its interior. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The evolution from the fifth- to the sixth-generation Camaro is subtle. Chevy toned down some of the bolder, more cartoonish elements of the car while scaling it down slightly and maintaining the same basic shape. The car still has high sills and a chopped roofline that is stylish but compromises outward vision. A fairly small car with big design gestures, some of the Camaro’s lines look great from some angles, but stubby from others. The strong rear haunches and their relationship with the sweeping rear roof pillars is an example. From the side, it’s bold and attractive. From the front three-quarter view, however, it can make the tail look cut off or short.

The thin grille plays off the 1967-68 models, while the last generation recalled the ’69 Camaro. It still has a large intake look, and the headlights form a squinty line up top. It’s not as evil looking as the last-gen car, but the bulging hood, available with a variety of scoops, still gives the nose plenty of menace, especially when viewed from the side.

The interior benefits most from a more open feel than the last-generation car, as well as more design finesse, fewer seams, and better materials. The dash is still somewhat stark, with a large swath of empty space on the passenger side. A touchscreen is plastered in the middle of the dash, without a lot of design flair, but the instrument binnacle framed by “Star Wars” Tie Fighter shapes, gimbaled air vents that also provide the climate controls, and digital gauges all add some style that will look fresh for years.

Performance
Powerful and quick with any engine, the Camaro has the moves of a sports car to go with its retro cool pony car looks.
Is it a muscle car or a pony car like it has been in the past? No. We think the 2018 Chevy Camaro has graduated beyond those monikers to become a genuine sports car. Brilliant suspension tuning with some advanced systems, unrelenting V-8 power, and a balanced chassis make the Camaro one of the best performance cars on the market. We give it points for steering, acceleration, braking, and overall agility, and rate it a 9 for performance.)

A variety of powertrains

Any Camaro is quick. Your choice of powertrain will determine how quick. At the base level you get a 2.0-liter turbo-4 that makes 275 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Chevy reports a 0-60 mph time of just 5.4 seconds, which is so quick that it seems a bit optimistic to our butt Vboxes. Still, the 2.0-liter is paired nicely to either the 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic transmissions. The manual has short throws and natural clutch engagement. In fact, it feels even better than with the V-8. The automatic provides smooth and responsive shifts, which is important with a turbocharged and relatively small displacement engine.

Compared to Chevy’s other engines, the 2.0-liter sounds docile. It howls a bit when pushed hard, but is otherwise relegated to the background. That’s anathema to the Camaro way.

For a little more power and considerably more sound, buyers can choose the 3.6-liter V-6. It features direct injection and cylinder deactivation, and it spins out 335 hp and 284 lb-ft of torque. Chevy says 0-60 mph takes 5.0 seconds. The V-6 emits a nice mid-range howl, something akin to a vintage Ferrari, but it drones up near redline. Chevy cheats by piping in some of the noises and amplifying them.

Next up is the 6.2-liter LT1 V-8, which cranks out 455 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque. Punch the gas and it socks you in the gut like a prize fighter as it knocks out the 0-60 mph sprint in just 4.0 seconds. Both transmissions work well, and the manual has rev-matching downshifts. The V-8 is fantastic, wringing the best out of the Camaro and making it truly fast without giving up agility.

Sports car dynamics

Even in base form, with its stock 18-inch tires, the Camaro is stable, tracks well, and delivers a composed ride. Broken pavement doesn’t send the car in search of traction front or rear, and that’s without the high-end suspension upgrades.

A standard Camaro Drive Mode Selector lets drivers choose the driving personality. It has Sport, Tour, Snow/Ice programs, and in SS and other performance variants, Track modes that adjust the throttle mapping, shift timing, steering weight, and stability control programming. The Sport and Track modes let the chassis play, but the Camaro still sticks to narrow trajectories with precision.

The secret is the premium Alpha platform, which originated from Cadillac and the ATS/CTS. The front suspension has a double-pivot, control-arm and strut design from Cadillac, as well as a similar electric power steering system. These components help the Camaro feel present, alive, and stable in corners, with balanced handling.

The steering has some nice weight to it, even in Tour mode, and it cuts a sharp line. Dial up Sport or Track and it’s even more stable.

With the 20-inch wheels, the Camaro can bobble over patchwork pavement and pound over bumps, but the SS’s base suspension is stable at speed. Opt for the Magnetic Ride Control dampers and they calm the ride, blunt the impacts, and make bad roads tolerable. That’s the sophistication you’d expect from a sports car, not the brutality of a muscle car.

Braking is strong across the lineup. The SS has four-piston Brembo brakes that are available on base models.

Of course, Chevrolet ups the ante further with several performance models. The 1LE is offered for the V-6 and V-8, adding suspension, cooling, and braking equipment to make these cars real track performers. They can take the pounding of track duty while delivering improved levels of agility, grip, and braking.

The ZL1 is the ultimate Camaro. Well, actually the ZL1 1LE is. Both models boast 650 hp from their supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 as well as a host of go-fast goodies. The ZL1 can reach 60 mph from a standstill in a scant 3.5 seconds, cover the quarter mile in 11.4 seconds, and top out at 198 mph.

The ZL1’s power is dramatic, breathtaking, and seemingly unquenchable. Speeds rise quickly and become illegal without notice. The car squats on its rear haunches and goes. Its exclusive 10-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly, drops several gears quickly for downshifts, and uses better shift logic than a human could for performance purposes.

Unfortunately, our drive in the ZL1 was limited to freeways, so we haven’t tried it on a track where it should excel. We also haven’t driven its crazier brother, the ZL1 1LE, which is even more track-focused. We’ll report back when we have.

Comfort & Quality
Front seats occupants will do just fine but don’t get caught in the back seat of the 2018 Chevrolet Camaro, and don’t expect the trunk to hold a lot of groceries.

The 2018 Chevrolet Camaro has great front seats, but its back seat and trunk are small. In fact, it doesn’t really have four usable seats. We rate it a 4 for comfort and quality based on that plus and those minuses.

The latest generation Camaro allots its limited interior space to the front passengers, giving them good head room, which is a trick given the low roofline. Heck, tall drivers even stand a chance of fitting when wearing a helmet. Front leg room is also good, and the front seats are nicely shaped and supportive, though the nylon fabric on the base seats looks budget-grade. Those who value their comfort might want to shell out for the pricey Recaros with heating and cooling.

The dash, doors, and center console go rather heavy on the plastic, but it doesn’t look nearly as cheap as in the previous generation car. Plus, it now offers a big 8.0-inch touchscreen and a neat pair of round vents that also incorporate the climate controls in their outer rings.

The back seat has decent head room, but that doesn’t matter because leg room is almost nonexistent. The convertible brings rear passengers closer together to make room for the top mechanism. That top is a quality unit with multi-layer construction that does a good job of sealing out noise, and it can be operated remotely.

The trunk is also very small at just 9.1 cubic feet, and that drops to 7.3 cubic feet in the convertible.

Safety
Without forward collision warning, the 2018 Chevrolet Camaro can’t receive the highest crash test scores, and outward vision is abysmal.

The 2018 Chevrolet Camaro has some active safety features but arguably not the most important one: forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking. It has done fairly well in crash-tests, but hasn’t aced them, and it has very poor outward visibility, so we give it a 6 out of 10 for safety.

Standard safety features on the 2018 Chevrolet Camaro are modest. It comes with a rearview camera, eight airbags including dual knee bags, and all the mandatory safety features like tire-pressure monitors and traction and stability control.

The options are modest as well, with rear park assist, blind-spot monitors, and rear cross-traffic alerts on the docket.

Test scores are good for what it has, but reflect what it lacks. From the IIHS, the Camaro received the top score of "Good" in the small front overlap driver-side, moderate front overlap, side, and rear crash tests, but it wasn’t subjected to the new small front overlap passenger-side test and it got only an "Acceptable" rating in the roof-strength test. Those results prevented it from earning the Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ awards.

From NHTSA, the Camaro received a five-star overall score, with five stars for side crashes and rollovers, and four stars for front crash safety.

The Camaro, more than any non-supercar, suffers from poor outward vision, a concession to its form over function design. The gun-slit windows make even forward vision compromised at times and the vision to the rear is blocked by thick rear pillars.

Features
Priced from the upper $20,000s to more than $70,000, the Camaro’s sweet spot is around $43,000, where the V-8-powered SS is a performance bargain.

Model for model, the Camaro is priced well given its features and equipment. A simple order sheet makes building your own—or configuring your dream car—easy, too. With its generous standard features, a good list of options, and a user-friendly infotainment system, we rate the Camaro an 8 for features.

The 2018 Chevrolet Camaro is offered as a four-seat coupe or convertible, with numerous models and prices ranging from the upper $20,000s to above $70,000, depending on performance. The lineup starts at 1LS and switches to 1LT, then moves up through 2LT, 1SS, 2SS, and ZL1. The 1LE option package is a sporty pick for both body styles and this year it becomes available on the higher line 2SS, making it available on all LT and SS trims.

The trim walk is similar for LS/LT and SS models. SS just means it gets the 455-horsepower V-8, while LS/LTs have the turbo-4 or V-6.

Standard equipment on 1LS includes power accessories, cloth upholstery, cruise control, eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat, a six-way power passenger seat, air conditioning, keyless ignition, a drive-mode selector, and 18-inch alloy wheels. Infotainment features consist of a six-speaker AM/FM audio system run through a 7.0-inch touchscreen or by voice commands. It comes with satellite radio, two USB ports, an auxiliary jack, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, Bluetooth connectivity, Teen Driver functionality, OnStar with turn-by-turn navigation and automatic crash response, and three months of in-car 4G LTE data services including a wi-fi hotspot (a three-month trial is offered, subscription for data required separately).

The 1LT adds remote starting and an 8-speed automatic transmission.

The 2LT and 2SS models enlarge the touchscreen to 8.0 inches, and add dual-zone automatic climate control, heated and cooled front seats, and a nine-speaker Bose audio system.

Every SS model also features performance upgrades, including Brembo brakes, a limited-slip differential, a performance exhaust, 20-inch alloy wheels on summer-only run-flat tires, and heavy-duty cooling for the engine and transmission. They also get HID headlights with LED signature accents, an SS instrument cluster, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen.

The ZL1 is a supercar in Chevy clothing. In addition to the 650-hp engine, it gets a 6-speed manual transmission with rev-matching or a 10-speed automatic. The powertrain has 11 heat exchangers to handle the rigors of track duty, and the car comes with GM’s Magnetic Ride Control dampers, an electronic limited-slip differential, Brembo brakes with 15.35-inch two-piece rotors and six-piston calipers up front, and 20-inch forged aluminum wheels on 285/30 and 305/30 Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires. Inside, it has Recaro front bucket seats and suede trim on the shift knob and flat-bottom steering wheel. It also adds some safety features including blind-spot monitors, rear-cross traffic alerts, and rear park assist.

New for 2018 is the ZL1 1LE, which turns the ZL1 up to 11 with a carbon fiber rear wing, air deflectors and dive planes on the front fascia; an advanced, adjustable suspension with spool-valve dampers, adjustable front ride height, adjustable camber geometry, and three settings for the rear stabilizer bar; a fixed-back rear seat, lighter rear glass, and lighter shocks that cut 60 pounds; and Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3R summer-only tires.

LT models are available with an RS package that adds a unique grille, HID headlights, LED taillights, a lip spoiler for the coupe, and 20-inch split 5-spoke wheels on 245/40 all-season run-flats.

Also offered for LS and LT models is the Redline Edition. It comes with black front and rear bowtie emblems, red-accented grille, a hash mark graphic, a decklid blackout graphic, dark-finish taillights, black exterior mirrors, and 20-inch black alloy wheels with red accents.

The standard 1LE package is offered for V-6 and V-8 models. The LT version comes with the SS’s FE3 suspension that consists of the dampers, stabilizer bars, ball-jointed rear toe links, and rear cradle mounts. It also gets the fuel system from the SS for its higher load capability through corners. Other features consist of the dual-mode exhaust, Brembo four-piston front brake calipers, a mechanical limited-slip differential with a 3.27 gear ratio, and 20-inch forged aluminum wheels on Goodyear Eagle F1 245/40 front and 275/35 rear tires. Exterior cues consist of satin black for the front splitter, hood, and three-piece rear spoiler, and a high-flow grill trimmed in satin black. Inside it gets a short-throw shifter and steering wheel covered in suede.

The SS variant takes things further. It adds the Magnetic Ride Control dampers, Brembo brakes with 14.6-inch rotors and six-piston calipers, an electronic limited-slip with 3.73 gears, 285/30ZR20 front and 305/30ZR20 rear tires, and Recaro bucket seats. The track cooling package is also included that adds transmission, engine-oil and differential coolers. On the outside, it has satin black on the hood, exterior mirrors, and rear spoiler, plus satin graphite on the rear diffuser and rear spoiler.

Notable options include Magnetic Ride Control dampers, a dual-mode exhaust system, a head-up display, navigation, a sunroof, remote starting, a heated steering wheel, wireless phone charging, and ambient lighting.

The 1LE and ZL1 models also offer Chevrolet’s Performance Data Recorder.

Fuel Economy
Make your choice with the 2018 Chevy Camaro: power or fuel economy, though the base V-8 isn’t too hard on fuel.

With turbo-4, V-6, and various flavors of V-8 power, the 2018 Chevrolet Camaro’s fuel economy numbers go down as the power goes up. All models are in line with the Camaro’s main competitor, the Ford Mustang, and the 4- and 6-cylinder models are fairly efficient, earning the Camaro a 6 for fuel economy. 

We start with the good news. With the 2.0-liter turbo-4 and the 8-speed automatic, the EPA rates the Camaro at 22 mpg city, 31 highway, 25 combined. With the 6-speed manual, those numbers fall to 20/30/23 mpg.

With the 3.6-liter V-6 and the automatic, the ratings are 19/29/23 mpg, and they drop to 16/28/20 mpg when the V-6 is paired with the manual.

Opt for the base 6.2 liter V-8 and the automatic, and the ratings are 17/27/20 mpg, and the manual takes the ratings down to 16/25/19 mpg.

The Camaro ZL1 comes with a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8. Its ratings are 13/21/15 mpg with a 10-speed automatic and 14/20/16 mpg with the 6-speed manual.

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