Review: 2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS packs plenty of muscle

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The 2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS has a lot of power, good everyday dynamics, a wonderful road presence, and better handling than any pony car you can name(Credit: Aaron Turpen / NewAtlas)

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The 2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS model comes with a muscular V8 that is very similar to that powering the Corvette, but which is surprisingly fuel efficient in the Camaro. Add in some excellent design work for the new Camaro's look and a fresh new interior and you have a serious contender in the pony car field.

For the 2016 model year, Chevrolet's team of designers and engineers completely redesigned the Camaro from the ground up. That resulted in a car that is lighter (thus faster and more efficient) and which comes with a lot of wallet-friendly options.

At the lower end, the Camaro can be powered by a four-cylinder turbocharged engine, which seems anathema to what muscle car buyers would want. Yet it's not so far fetched given that the little four banger is pumping out 275 hp (205 kW). A V6 is now the volume engine in the 2016 Camaro and, again, is surprisingly powerful for such a fuel-sipping chugger. We drove it as a convertible and loved the V6 2016 Chevrolet Camaro.

But the real fun comes when the bestriped SS model shows up in all of its grumbling fury. A few might get nostalgic at a V8-powered Camaro, as they should, but the truth is that no Camaro has ever been as powerful as this one. The 6.2-liter eight-cylinder monster under the 2016 Camaro's hood churns out 455 horsepower (339 kW) and 455 pound-feet (617 Nm) of torque. If those numbers sound familiar, the 2016 Corvette Stingray has the same powerplant. The six-speed manual transmission in our test SS is one gear shorter than the Corvette, but the optional eight-speed automatic is almost identical. Pricing for the 2016 Camaro SS starts at US$37,295. Add in a host of goodies like we had in our test model and that bumps to $48,000 or so. Still a fair piece from a comparably equipped 'Vette. And paying around $40k for a muscle car in today's market is a bargain. Especially one as well done as is the new Camaro.

These similarities result in similar measurements in speed. In a straight-line 0-60 mph (96 km/h) run, the Corvette gave us sub-5-second sprints. The SS was almost the same, coming within a tenth of a second on average. The difference is in weight and gearing. The Corvette is much lighter than the Camaro SS, by several hundred pounds, but has lighter gearing on the rear wheels with larger wheel diameters. The Camaro SS has heavier gear ratios in its rear end, making the resulting output very much the same when the rubber is on pavement.

Cornering is another matter. The Corvette did our 90-degree two-lane turn at a benchmark 75 mph without tire squeal whereas the Camaro SS required a little less speed to keep the tires from squealing, doing it at 72 mph. That's still better than the Mustang GT managed on the same curve and far superior to the sub-65 mph turn speed required for the Dodge Challenger R/T. The 2016 Camaro SS is a very good cornering machine, when compared to its American contemporaries.

The real difference between the Corvette and the Camaro SS is in looks and practicality. The Corvette is a much more svelte car, with a very well-defined, sinuous look whereas the Camaro SS is a more classic muscle car with its large rear end and more powerful stance.

Inside, the comparison is similar, with the Corvette having a more European feel to its beautifully compact interior and the SS having a more open cabin feel thanks to its (mostly for show) rear seats and simpler dashboard. Liking one over the other is a matter of taste and we can see appeal in both. We did note, however, that visibility to the rear of the new Camaro SS is very poor, thanks to those thick rear pillars and small rear glass.

As an everyday driver, the 2016 Camaro SS is as comfortable and smooth as its V6 sibling. With the exception of the beautiful rumble of that big engine and its eagerness to be pressed into fast action, the Camaro SS is a good highway drive with a quiet demeanor and solid ride.

The trouble comes from that throttle. The pedal to the right virtually begs to be pushed down at every opportunity, so the EPA-estimated 19 mpg combined, with 16 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway (12.4/14.7/9.4 l/100 km), is ... well, unrealistic. The driver who can ignore that primal call for more speed, as the engine's grumble demands, is a person who should consider the rigors of Shaolin as a career choice.

There is a lot to love about this new Camaro SS. Chevrolet is definitely taunting Ford and Dodge with this new pony car, pushing the limits of what might be expected at every turn. The 2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS has a lot of power, good everyday dynamics, a wonderful road presence, and better handling than any pony car you can name.

Product Page: Chevrolet Camaro

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