7 Things I Learned Driving a 4-Cylinder Chevrolet Camaro

Chevrolet’s Camaro is one of the most exciting cars on the market today – it’s stylish and engaging yet still surprisingly affordable.

So far, I’ve been fortunate enough to evaluate it in both V6 and SS flavors, but there’s a third option on the table, one that promises strong performance and even better efficiency.

For drivers that care about fuel consumption, GM has wisely decided to offer a four-cylinder engine in this legendary sports machine. Far from what you’d find in some malnourished economy car, this turbocharged ‘banger delivers way more than you’d probably expect. After spending one week in a Camaro 1LT with the optional RS package, here’s what I learned about it.

7. The Engine is a Winner…


It may displace just 2.0-liters, but this car’s base engine is quite impressive. With direct fuel injection, a turbocharger and plenty of other technology, it’s good for 275 horsepower. But even better than that, torque measures 295 lb-ft.

Unfortunately, peak twist doesn’t come on until 3,000 rpm, which makes the Camaro feel quite peaky. It’s tuned to pull strongly at higher engine speeds, and it really comes alive at about 4,000 rpm on the tachometer. After that, it pulls eagerly to the 7,000-rpm limiter

This engine is smooth, quiet and muscular. According to GM, it’s able to shoot the Camaro to 60 miles an hour in less than six seconds, which is plenty fast. However, despite several laudable traits, this powerplant is not perfect.

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6. …But it Lacks Brute Force


Sure, it delivers plenty of oomph, but there’s not a lot of giddy-up to be had at normal driving speeds, plus there’s a fair bit of turbo lag. Mash the gas, and you have to wait an uncomfortably long time for the engine to wake up and start hustling; after the delay, however, it moves enthusiastically.

In comparison, SS models with the burly 6.2-liter V8 respond instantly at any speed in any gear. Just a couple degrees of throttle input make these cars leap ahead; the four-cylinder needs time to catch its breath first.

SEE ALSO: 2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS Review

Unfortunately, when it finally does wake up, the sound it produces is as unappealing as screams from a dentist’s office. Rather than singing a melodious tune, it grumbles all the way to redline. Eight-cylinder Camaros thunder like a broadside from the USS Iowa, but that’s not the case with this car, which at best sounds like a Malibu, and at worst? Maybe microphone feedback mixed with a baby crying.

5. Transmission Troubles


The RS variant I tested was equipped with a manual transmission (Tremec TR-3160), which at first made me exceedingly happy. However, after a short trip around the block, my enthusiasm wore off; this gearbox isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, either that, or GM needs to totally redesign the shifter.

This ratio-selector is totally unsatisfying; every gear-change feels like you’re causing irreparable harm to the transmission’s innards. It’s gritty and arthritic feeling, requiring an inordinate amount of effort to use. The TR-6060 found in Camaro SS models, and plenty of other high-performance cars, is infinitely more satisfying to shift.

Thanks to its shoulder-dislocating gear-selector, this is a rare time I’d recommend getting an automatic transmission. This manual is that unsatisfying.

4. Look on the Bright Side


Aside from the Camaro’s hoarse-throated base engine and unlovable gearbox, there’s still plenty to like and even love about this car. For starters, it looks great and drives even better. Thanks to GM’s rigid and lightweight Alpha architecture, she’ll dance like a ballerina in the hands of a skilled driver.

Beyond these virtues, this car is also amazingly efficient. According to the EPA, it should return 21 miles per gallon in urban driving and 30 on the highway. All told, it ought to average 24 mpg, but it doesn’t … it’ll do waaaay better than that.

I easily exceeded 27 in mixed, heavy-footed driving; interstate jaunts were even thriftier. And believe me, I wasn’t babying it; that figure includes PLENTY of trips to redline.

3. Yep, You Still Can’t See Out of It

Not to continue bludgeoning a deceased equine, but it’s worth noting … again: outward visibility is a severe issue in the Camaro, regardless of cylinder count. With that out of the way, let’s move on…

2. Chassis Magic


With the $1,950 RS Package, the base 1LT Camaro gains stylish 20-inch wheels with run-flat tires, high-intensity discharge headlamps, LED tail lights and some minor styling tweaks.

So equipped, its suspension is quite stiff. Consequently, the car transmits every bump, rut and pothole in high-fidelity, which makes the ride less than ideal, though its harshness is livable. Still, the benefit of this starchiness is that the Camaro devours corners like a hungry child attacking free pizza. 

From the steering wheel, turn-in is eager, with the car changing direction easily while clearly communicating its intentions to the driver. It will rotate a bit if you want, but the SS is more appropriate for this sort of driving.

1. The Future, Today


Sure, a four-cylinder engine may feel totally out of place in a muscle car, but the results it delivers are hard to argue with. The Chevrolet Camaro 1LT Coupe is incredibly stylish, engaging and reasonably speedy, plus the fuel economy it offers is so good you may not believe it.

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Recent Updates:

November 10th, 2021 – updated text to improve accuracy. Added new links. 


smartacus says:

this 2.0 makes the same 275HP that the 5.7 LT-1 in the Camaro Z28 did 20 years ago.

Joe Tokoph says:

Still Junk.

Richard Joash Tan says:


jazzman says:

Don’t get it! Probably too sophisticated for you anyway!

Tsunami says:

You are fired. Who even gets a 4 cylinder muscle car…. Pointess. Z28 dope af.

Jim says:

It’s just wrong !

Eric Cameron says:

I’m having a hard time with the pricing of the Camaro. I can get an ATS 2.0T with similar options for just a couple grand more (in Canada, anyway), and it has way more back seat room and trunk space. I really wanted a Camaro, but the ATS looks like it could be a better option for many.

craigcole says:

The ATS is a damn-good car.

Carlton Anderson says:

Agree. . . good car. Different than the Camaro. Camaro . . . .also a damn-good car.

jazzman says:

Camaro vs ATS. . . . .two different vehicle types . . . .2 door coupe vs 4 door sedan. Not logical to compare the two.

najirban says:

Good looking Rs package might make the car unlivable as a daily. Base 2.0 with some comfort picks would be a good haul for 36k all in (can)

Fred Bar says:

The Alpha platform….hated by trolls everywhere. I can afford the Turbo 4, get the base with only the auto option, put an ICE with a tune, get stickier summer performance tires when the factory ones are worn out….Lots of funs with Mustang GTs, as attested by those who have done this (with the manual, though). Yeah I guess it is crap 😉

Paul says:

Fun car but for what my 2 cents is worth the V6 is the better all rounder.

Duke Norris says:

why 4 cL In 8cl car ?

David Traver Adolphus says:

There are Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards mandated by the EPA. Offering smaller, more efficient turbo engines lets people who want a sporty car, but might be making long commutes, get into one. It helps keep not just V-8 options, but the entire platform alive.

With decent power and often much lighter engines, they can also be really fun to drive.

Sbkgcb says:

It’s a good looking car. The four is smarter if your not an ass who races at all the lights

Mike says:

4 banger not for me. V6 maybe V8 yes

Joseph says:

I had a 2.0t RS with the 8 speed and it was a blast to drive and extremely comfortable. Exactly one year later I traded it for a new Camaro SS 6 speed due to V8 envy. It of course was a blast to drive, but between the frequent gas stops and it wearing out the first set of tires in 12,000 miles and 6 months in on the new tires with less than 50% tread left I got rid of it. Which do I miss the most? The RS, hands down. Plenty of power for street use, great fuel mileage and I found it more fun to drive.