2016 Chevrolet Camaro: First Look Review

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceAll-New
On only five other occasions has Chevrolet introduced an all-new Camaro. The first time was in 1966 when the company took the wraps off the original 1967 model. The last time was when the 2010 model arrived after an eight-year absence from the market. That is until today, when the completely redesigned 2016 Camaro rolled out for the first time at Belle Isle in Detroit. And complete redesign is not an exaggeration — the only carryover from the fifth generation is the bowtie emblem in the rear and the SS badge.
Video: Driving the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro engineering prototype at Belle Isle.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSubtle Changes — At First Glance
When the new model drove onstage at Belle Isle, our initial impression was that the new Camaro doesn’t look much different from the current generation, but on closer examination the changes are quite clear. Camaro still features bold rear fenders, but the lines have been smoothed to give the car a wider appearance. A sculpted hood that gives the impression of wrapping around the engine and deep lines in the door panels add depth. The grille and headlights are narrower and look a bit more menacing, providing a more aggressive stance.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceAerodynamic Lines
Even though the lines of the new Camaro are immediately attractive, every shape and curve is driven not only by design but by aerodynamic requirements. “The importance of aerodynamics increases exponentially as we increase vehicle performance,” said Kirk Bennion, Camaro’s exterior design manager. “As engine output increases, we need more engine cooling. As acceleration and top speeds climb, we need to reduce lift for better high-speed stability.” However, Bennion noted that the team could not make any changes that would increase drag, thus impacting fuel economy. “To balance these different aerodynamic targets, we tested literally hundreds of changes on the new Camaro, millimeters at a time,” he said.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceFirst Turbo Engine
With regard to performance, the new Camaro certainly brings much to the table. Three engines will be available when the 2016 model arrives in showrooms later this year, including the car’s first-ever turbocharged powerplant. The new Ecotec 2.0-liter turbo puts out 275 horsepower, pushing Camaro to 60 mph in less than 6 seconds while delivering better than 30 mpg. GM anticipates the turbo option will bring in a younger buyer used to driving other turbocharged sport coupes.

© General MotorsV6 and V8 Power
An all-new 3.6-liter V6 engine will also be added to the roster, putting out 335 horsepower. And the sportiest of the Camaros — the SS — gets a 6.2.-liter LT1 V8 engine boasting 455 horsepower — the most power Chevrolet has ever offered in the SS. An 8-speed automatic or 6-speed manual is offered with any engine.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceLighter Weight
In addition to increasing power, the Camaro team had to improve performance as well as fuel economy. To meet this goal, engineers managed to make the new model more than 200 pounds lighter than the outgoing generation. “Our global engineering team is incredibly passionate about Camaro, and they sweated all the details to make Gen 6 the best Camaro we could possibly put into the hands of our customers,” said Mark Reuss, GM executive vice president of global product development.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSmaller Footprint
The 2016 Camaro is smaller than its predecessor — wheelbase and overall length are about 2 inches shorter, and new car is about an inch narrower and shorter. GM told us the space lost was primarily from the already tight rear seat; the logic being that the rear seat was already tight and seldom used by customers. That said, one of the attending journalists at Belle Isle did manage to get in the back seat and quipped that it’s survivable, at least for short trips.

© General MotorsImproved Interior
The rear seat may be tighter, but the overall interior is greatly improved compared with the outgoing model. Higher-quality materials are used throughout the cabin; seats are both attractive and comfortable. Although the entire car is slightly smaller, the dashboard is designed to look wider and thus provide a more spacious feel. Chevrolet designers made clever use of space by making controls simpler, which allows for a lower dashboard.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceInnovative Climate Control
One innovative example: center vents that double as climate-control knobs. Camaro will also have available LED interior lighting — doors, cupholders, the nav screen surround — that can display any of more than 20 different colors. Up-level Camaros will have real aluminum trim on the doors and attractive contrast stitching on the flat-bottomed steering wheel and other surfaces.

Drive Mode
Another new feature for the 2016 Camaro is Drive Mode, which can be selected via a switch in the center console. Depending on the trim level and engine/transmission combination, the car can adjust up to eight different vehicle attributes for Snow/Ice, Tour, Sport and Track (SS only). Switching modes makes adjustments to the electronic throttle, automatic transmission shift map, stability control system, engine sound management, steering calibration, magnetic ride calibration and ambient lighting.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceBetter Performance
The new Camaro features a stiffer platform as well as the aforementioned smaller dimensions. When combined with the lower weight, increased power and more aerodynamic styling, the 2016 Camaro should handily outperform the outgoing model. We had a chance to drive a V6-powered prototype and compare it directly against the current V6 Camaro, and the new model easily satisfied our expectations. The new car feels much lighter and more agile with impressive steering and braking response. The 2016 Camaro is quick, and the 8-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly and quickly. The exhaust note has surprisingly good roar — especially for a V6.

© General MotorsGame Changer
The fifth-generation Camaro has proven to be quite popular and certainly looks the part as the modern version of Chevrolet’s classic pony car. But it has a number of drawbacks: the interior is underwhelming, and unless you upgrade to one of the high-powered variants, the performance is nothing exciting. That has all changed with the 2016 model. Exterior and interior designs are stylish and feel upscale, while the three engine choices should all be attractive options. Best of all, performance will improve considerably over the outgoing Camaro. Despite our limited time behind the wheel, we’re completely convinced this lighter, more agile sixth-gen Camaro will be the best one yet.

© General Motors2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS flanked by Camaro RS

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS

© General Motors2016 Chevrolet Camaro RS
Note the LED lights in the door panel, as well as around the center screen and in the cupholder.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2016 Chevrolet Camaro RS

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS
The assembled media at the Belle Isle reveal event shortly after the 2016 Camaro rolled out.

© General Motors2016 Chevrolet Camaro RS

© General Motors2016 Chevrolet Camaro RS

© General Motors2016 Chevrolet Camaro RS

© General Motors2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS

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8 Comments

  1. VegasDude

    THIS is the Camaro I’ve been waiting for !! The re-design is Totally Amazing
    When the 5th Gen came out, I was in LOVE with the Aqua Blue Metallic
    I planned to buy one the next year, but it was Discontinued… I was pissed.

    All set to get a new Orange Mustang, until I saw the new Hyper Blue 2016….
    OH HOLY F#*K… and that’s an understatement… The color is Truly Stunning!

    Sick of loud heavy V8’s… So thinking of the Turbo 4 or 6 with stick
    Fully Optioned… GM.. You totally just made my day… HUGE KUDOS TO YOU !!!

  2. Douglass

    So I own a 2012 with the RS package and the reason I bought the car was BECAUSE of the retro / modern styling. Chevrolet has totally screwed the pooch on this one. I felt the refresh looked bad, this is even worse! It looks like a damn import. In 2010 the Camaro won the world car of the year award for design, THIS IS NOT THAT CAR!

  3. delete itunes

    Looks nice, the rear end was always the big question. I like how the v6/4 gets the vertical fog lights and the SS gets the horizontal ones and the bigger lower grille. Biggest upside is it still looks like a camaro not a corporate chevy like how ford did with their front end.But i like it.

  4. Baba M

    That video of driving the Camaro was fun to watch. I didn’t know the Camaro was a sports car but it looks like one and drives like one.

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