Ranging from the cost-effective V-6 and potent V-8 SS, to the track-ready Z/28 and lightning-quick ZL1, to the well-rounded 1LE V-8, the 2015 Chevrolet Camaro can be had in a lot of ways. Regardless of which way you choose, the Camaro lives on as a bold expression of America’s passion for muscle cars, even as the world shifts its attention to other kinds of performance cars.
It’s a polarizing vehicle, no doubt, with outrageous lines and an almost cartoonish exterior–so much so, that the Camaro continues to find itself a home in the Michael Bay Transformers series. The Camaro has muscle-car attitude, high shoulders, scorching performance, and it still turns as many heads on the street as it did when it re-debuted a little more than five years ago.
Last year, the Camaro received a long list of styling tweaks–including a functional hood vent for SS models, new headlamps and tail lights, and an updated grille that somehow makes the car look a little sportier, a little lower to the ground than before. The interior remains mostly unchanged, with exception to last year’s addition of a new gauge cluster information center mounted in the dash.
With a lineup that includes the LS, LT, SS (and 1LE), ZL1 and Z/28, equipment also spans a wide range, and the Camaro can be a rather basic coupe, a luxurious touring car, or an all-out performance machine. OnStar comes standard and navigation is available; Bluetooth, USB, and iPod connectivity are offered as options or as standard gear, and a head-up display mimics the one found in the Corvette. Convertibles get power-folding soft tops with glass windows, and standard rearview cameras (omitted from the coupe). The ZL1 bundles it all together in instantly collectible form–but even SS Camaros, especially 1LEs, show the same potential to entertain auctioneers long after they’ve thrilled their original drivers.
The cabin appointments are where your love affair with the current Camaro’s style and performance might come to a screeching halt. Why? Because the low-set roofline means that there’s a severe shortage of headroom for taller drivers (not just the really tall ones, but most six-footers will find it tight, too). SS and ZL1 Camaros can be trimmed up with suede and leather and brightly colored trim pieces–some of those combinations are love-or-hate, really–while on all Camaros the back seat is for children only and the trunk is tight.
Powertrains essentially remains the same. There’s the stock 2015 Chevy Camaro, with its 323-horsepower V-6 and a choice of six-speed automatic and manual transmissions. It’s the foundation for greatness, and in truth, it doesn’t fare too badly as a sports car. Overall, if you can forgive the odd driving position, its electric power steering, rear-wheel drive, and independent suspension bring relatively nimble responses and a ride that’s comfortable enough for just about any enthusiast type. EPA highway numbers ranging up to 30 mpg are an unexpected bonus.
The V-8s are still what most people have in mind when they think of the Camaro; the 6.2-liter V-8’s lyrical engine note is a hypnotic for men of a huge range of ages. We’re looped by it too–and by the gripping 60-mph runs of 5 seconds or less. With huge staggered tires and a front-end weight bias, there’s still room for improvement in the way the SS handles; get the 1LE package that rights out the tires to equal sizes, tightens up the steering and manual gear ratios, and you can tap into some easy, controllable oversteer.
The sledgehammers in the lineup are the ZL1 coupe and convertible. With their supercharged, 580-hp version of the 6.2-liter (with either transmission) and the magnetic shocks found in the Corvette and some Cadillacs, they not only provides near-supercar numbers (0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds, a top speed of 184 mph)–they’re also somewhat affordable at about $60k, considering their performance stats.
Less affordable but ever more track-ready is the Camaro Z/28. With a focus on track capability, the Z/28 takes after the original 1960s models, and not the later ’70s and ’80s ones carrying that nomenclature. In it, a 7.0-liter V-8 makes 500 horsepower and 470 lb-ft. There’s no standard A/C, and all Z/28s have a six-speed manual gearbox, but the design saves 100 pounds overall in weight. Spool-valve dampers, stiffer spring rates, and special Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tires all boost handling, making the Z/28 the most capable, trackable Camaro ever.