2016 Chevrolet Camaro Review

The Chevrolet Camaro has been completely redesigned for 2016 and when the folks at GM say this muscle car is brand new, they truly mean it.

Aside from the name and retro-inspired styling, only two parts carry over from its predecessor, the rear bow-tie badge and SS emblems on V8-powered models. That’s it.

Smaller, leaner, faster and more capable, Chevy’s latest performance car is like an athlete that’s spent years in training and is finally ready to join the U.S. Olympic team. It may resemble the outgoing model in basic form, but it’s all new, and in practically every case, better for 2016.

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Alpha Dog

The Cadillac ATS is one of my favorite small luxury cars. Available as a sedan, coupe or V-Series model, this welterweight wonder is a red-white-and-blue foil to German legends like the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro Front Three Quarter 07

And its excellence isn’t merely sprinkled on top like some fancy garnish, it’s baked right in. GM’s compact Alpha platform is the underlying structure that gives this Caddy its excellent manners and these same bones support the new Camaro, well, almost.

The Chevy’s architecture is about 70 percent unique, but that doesn’t mean engineers forgot what they learned while developing the ATS. This sixth-generation Camaro is 28 percent stiffer than its predecessor and significantly lighter. The body-in-white alone lost 133 pounds.

But that wasn’t good enough. Excess grams were trimmed everywhere and the results are impressive. Overall, the 2016 Camaro is at least 200 pounds lighter than the outgoing model, though depending on trim, certain variants lost nearly twice that much.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro Side 01

Aside from ruthless optimization, another reason this car is so much trimmer than before is that it’s physically smaller. Overall, it’s around 2.5 inches shorter, its haunches are nearly 1 inch narrower, and it sits more than an inch closer to the ground. Even its wheelbase has been truncated by more than an inch and a half.

Horse Tranquilizer

These dimensional changes make the Camaro an ideal rival to a certain unnamed ponycar from Dearborn. The primary dimensions of these classic adversaries are within spittin’ distance of each other and, oddly enough, they’re are exactly the same length at 188.3 inches, which is just weird.

But if that’s not enough, their powertrain lineups are creepy doppelgängers. Like its equine opponent, the Camaro offers a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a potent V6, and a range-topping V8.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro Grille 01

Serving base duty is a 2.0-liter ‘banger, but its output is anything but entry level. It delivers a surprising 275 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, numbers that would have been impressive for a V8 just a decade and a half ago. Likewise, the acceleration this engine provides should make even the most ardent big-block enthusiast take notice. It can get you to 60 miles an hour in the mid five-second range.

One tread up the powertrain staircase is a 3.6-liter V6, which is sort of the middle manager of this company. It puts out a remarkable 335 ponies with 284 lb-ft of twist. Bolstering efficiency, it also features cylinder deactivation, which shuts down two pots during light-load driving for enhanced fuel economy. Despite sipping fuel, 60 miles an hour can be yours in the low five-second range.

But the engine you probably want – or at least the one that seems the most appropriate in this Detroit dominator – has two banks of four-cylinders. SS variants of the Camaro are propelled by a 6.2-liter LT1 V8 borrowed from the Corvette Stingray. It puts out a muscular 455 horsepower and an identical amount of torque. This unit can deliver mile-a-minute velocity in four seconds flat.

Maximizing choice, all three engines are available with either a six-speed manual transmission or an eight-ratio auto-box. The Camaro LT we evaluated over an extensive road trip was equipped with the V6 engine and a manual transmission. As for consumption, it stickers at 18 miles per gallon around town, a number that swells to 27 during highway jaunts. Combined, this car should return an average of 21 mpg.

Features and Amenities

Despite being transformed by a ground-up redesign, the 2016 Camaro still looks like its predecessor, with get-out-of-my-way-before-I-rip-your-face-off-and-use-it-as-a-chamois exterior design. Scowling headlamps, a gaping lower grille and broad rear fenders are all accounted for and rendered with greater sophistication. It’s one fine-looking automobile with stunning proportions.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro Interior 01

Like its stylish body, this modern-day muscle car’s interior also has a familiar look and feel, which is something of a double-edged sword. On the plus side, it’s stylish and well laid out. The controls are easy to use and it offers quite a lot of technology. Apple CarPlay is available, which makes it a snap to safely use your iPhone while driving. Also, the flat-bottom steering wheel is meaty and the instruments are legible enough for Stevie Wonder to read.

One of my favorite parts of the Camaro’s interior is its climate control system. The temperature and fan-speed knobs are integrated into trim rings surrounding the lower air vents, which is a brilliant touch. They work well and help clean up the center stack.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro Vents 01

But there are a number of unexpected downsides to the Camaro’s cockpit, and its most egregious fault is visibility. Sight lines remain catastrophically bad; Hitler probably had a better view of the outside world sitting in his Führer bunker, and it was underground. The claustrophobia the car’s cramped cabin engenders is just so offputting.

The Camaro’s windshield is limited and provides all the visibility of a main battle tank’s view port; beyond this, the car’s backlight is even smaller. Its side glass stops at shoulder level, which further limits visibility and makes resting your elbow on the top of the doors uncomfortable. And then there are the C-pillars, which are about two feet across and annihilate rearward vision at oblique angles. Fortunately, a backup camera is standard.

Since visibility is such a precious commodity, it’s difficult to get your bearings while driving the Camaro. You’re never really sure where its corners are or how far the front bumper extends. While maneuvering around town, you constantly ask yourself questions like, “Am I going to hit that parking curb?” and, “As I turn, will I clear that pickup truck three spaces over?”

And if all of this wasn’t enough, the car’s trunk opening is also tiny and its back seat unusably small. The cloth-covered front buckets in the V6-powered LT1 we sampled weren’t particularly comfortable or well bolstered, plus they don’t recline very far, so if you ever wanted to put the seat back and take a nap while parked, that’s off the table.

Fun Trick Pony(car)

But enough griping! The Camaro looks great and drives even better. Thanks to its Cadillac origins, this ponycar is nimble, quick and despite having “just” a V6 engine, it sounds great, especially as the tachometer needle sweeps toward seven grand. Oh, and if you’re curious, it’s plenty fast as well.

GM’s totally redesigned 3.6-liter engine is incredibly smooth and responsive. It’s as silky feeling as any V6 from any other automaker in the world, it’s really that refined. Helping it snarl at high revs is a dual-mode exhaust system, a technology shared with SS models. To eliminate unwanted thrumming, four-cylinder cars feature active noise cancellation instead.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro Side 02

Like its sophisticated engine, the new Camaro’s steering is superb, with ideal weighting and zero slack or deadness on center. It’s the same story with the brakes, which are tight and easy to modulate.

Burnishing the SS model’s appeal, magnetic ride control is available, which adjusts shock-absorber damping 1,000 times per second to deliver an unbeatable combination of performance and smoothness.

Unfortunately, the last remaining major interface point in this vehicle is only so-so. The V6 car’s shifter feels gritty and crude, not slick and fluid like rival gearboxes, notably the one in the Mustang … I mean a certain rival ponycar. On multiple occasions, I inadvertently grabbed the wrong gear, which is never a good thing. Luckily the clutch is light and easy to modulate.

The Verdict: 2016 Chevrolet Camaro Review

If it’s not available right now, but the 2016 Chevy Camaro should be arriving at dealerships very soon. You can pick up an LT-trim car with the 2.0-liter turbo for less than $27,000, including $995 in shipping. An SS model with a brawny V8 engine can be yours for a little more than 37 grand. Spanning that gulf, the six-cylinder model I’ve been driving cost $31,920 out the door.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro Rear Three Quarter 01

I love the way this new Camaro looks, how it drives and even the way it sounds. In practically every way, this car is a tremendous upgrade over the outgoing model. However, its cramped interior and unbelievably obscured outward visibility make a tough sell.

Discuss this story on our Camaro Forum

  • Mark S

    Hopefully Autoguide gets to review the SS with magnetic ride control pretty soon…reads like the set up the ATV-V should have! The bunker driving mentality does not look fun, but if they offered blind spot monitoring, good reversing sensors/camera, would that make it a bit better to live with?

    Think Chevy was right to have the 2.0l turbo as the intro level and the V6 in the middle. Does not read this car needs the 1LE handling pack that the last gen needed.

  • Rochester

    Great review. Excellent content and relate-able comments about both the pros and cons of the car from a daily driver’s perspective. However, Craig could dial back the whiny sarcasm, and focus on the car experience itself. Stop trying to emulate the skinny dude from Xcar… he’s kind of annoying.

  • STAN24

    I’ve owned the previous generation since its first year, and in spite of its reputation for having even worse visibility than the new generation, I think it’s fine. Maybe it takes longer to get used to than the day or so car reviews last, but once you do get used to it, it’s not a problem maneuvering it.

    The SS might not need a performance package like the 1LE as the previous generation had, but hopefully it gets one anyway – getting the manual SS’s 0-60 down to 3.9-4.0 seconds like the automatic and adding handling performance would be very impressive. Hopefully a performance package is offered for the V6 this time, too, particularly for when Ford delivers on their promised retune of the Ecoboost Mustang, which I would expect to only be available with its own performance package. The Camaro V6’s performance almost certainly can’t keep up with the Ecoboost when aftermarket tuning gets more aggressive, but adding better gearing could maintain at least parity with the more conservative factory tuning Ford is likely to offer while maintaining the Mustang’s warranty.

  • Rochester

    Abysmal visibility and cheap quality build was what kept me from buying the new Camaro SS years ago. Made me really sad, too. I was wanting that car so bad for so many years, the disappointment was devastating.

  • And the only devastating disappointment is that YOU ARE A BULLSHIT!

  • Mark S

    Pretty sure that both Stang and Camaro, will have lots of options and variants over the life cycle of this generation. Cool part for the Camaro is that is sounds like they have the handling sorted out the gate and anything they do now is icing on the cake. Thinking about it, this maybe the cheapest way to get a GM car with magnetic ride (cheaper than going the SS route).

    Looking at what they have done with the Focus RS, the ability to get more out of the 2.3l from the factory is there. I think though the aftermarket can look after both Mustang and Camaro turbo’s, but warranty is the fun then as you say (though Ford has a deal with Mountune, where the warranty stays intact). Ford seems to leaving their V6 on the rocks a bit, which is a shame.

    Agree that you get use to a car visibility issues and I would like to think the same of the Camaro, but seems like a chance for the nannies to really do their job. Have blind spot monitoring on one car and while I still look over my shoulder out of habit, it is a nice extra. Reversing camera with cross traffic alert though is awesome, the rear blind spot is reduced and you are alert of movement way before you see it, especially when reversing out of a parking lot and parked between two huge trucks.

    So far in the V8 battle, Motortrend and Car & Driver have the new Camaro beating the Mustang, so let us see how Ford responds! Camaro will also need a weapon to match the GT350, which just won the R&T performance car of the year award (and it sounds damned amazing).

  • Mark S

    Just missing the SS due to pulling the wrong key of the hat….I think I would be whinging for a week!

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  • The only disappointment that was devastating is your COMMENT I WILL BUY THE 2016 CAMARO SS!

  • BlakeS

    Felt the same. Was really hoping tey would fix visibility for this gen but instead they listened to existing customers who clearly never minded not seeing outside. Crazy to me

  • BlakeS

    Craig your Hitler bunker reference only furthers my man love for you. Alsways great points with the perfect touch of sarcasm. Love it. Keep up the great work my friend

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  • JBsC6

    Great review Craig cole….interesting insights on the new camaro v6. Now get your butt in a v8 ss and give us your impressions.

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  • Popeye D. Saylorman

    I just drove an SS yesterday at the dealer….the writer is FOS. Outward visability is equal if not better than the Gen 5. The rear is about the same. And the backseat is about the same except maybe an inch narrower in width. I know, I have had a Gen 5 since 2011 as my daily driver. Hopped out of my Gen 5 into the Gen6 for the test drive then right back in my Gen 5.

  • Popeye D. Saylorman

    Don’t mind him, he just stepped out of a Honda Accord just like my niece drives.

  • Mark S

    I think that unless you are a daily driver, getting into a Challenger or Camaro is a bit bunker like (at least that is how I find it). Nanny tech, like reversing camera and blind spot will help a lot on the road (not the track!). How much better was the Gen 6? It sounds pretty damned awesome in terms of handling, no 1LE pack needed here.

  • goodtoberight1

    Craig Cole provided an honest and factual video that I really enjoyed.
    I test drove a new Camaro on Saturday and found it to be seriously cramped feeling with terrible visibility. No not terrible, rather dangerously restricted visibility. I could not even put my elbow out the window due to the too high beltline. Bummer! I had hope hope for the new Camaro, but it is not the car for me.

  • Mark S

    Sadly no cars here to take a look at yet, but if you had reversing camera/sensors and blind spot monitors, you think this would alter the view of owning one of these? I like what I read about the handling, but visibility is a concern.

  • Popeye D. Saylorman

    A bunch of wimps, ever looked out of the back window of a 73 Mustang Mach1? Ooops you probably never heard of a Mach 1.

  • Mark S

    No need to call folks “wimps” just cos they voice a concern. Visibility is about safety on the road and also on the track. I do not think Camaro’s are “dangerous” (NHTSA would all over it, if it was), but like driver a convertible with the top up, requires more driver effort to see where others are around you on the road. Luckily we have tech now that can help. Nothing worse than seeing two cars nearly collide infront of you the freeway, when one car goes to change lanes and does not see the other car due to a bad blind spot.