|1LT||Inline-4 Gas||6-Speed Manual||Rear Wheel Drive||$30,303||$31,500|
|2LT||Inline-4 Gas||6-Speed Manual||Rear Wheel Drive||$32,227||$33,500|
|3LT||V6 Gas||6-Speed Manual||Rear Wheel Drive||$35,594||$37,000|
|1SS||V8 Gas||6-Speed Manual||Rear Wheel Drive||$41,366||$43,000|
|2SS||V8 Gas||6-Speed Manual||Rear Wheel Drive||$46,176||$48,000|
by Jared Rosenholtz
It's time for a family trip to Disney World and you want to rent a fun car to enjoy the Florida sun. Chances are the rental car company will hand you the keys to a Ford Mustang or a Chevy Camaro, likely with a convertible top, with either a V6 or turbocharged four-cylinder engine, maybe a V8 if you're lucky.
We were hoping Chevy might send us a Camaro Coupe to review, since the last one we tested happened to be a convertible. It's been almost three years since the last time we tested the Camaro and in that time Chevy has facelifted the car with a (let's just say bold) new look. Unfortunately the press car gods did not shine upon us and instead delivered a white, automatic convertible model in 2SS trim - just like the one you'll get from the rental counter. It was even painted in a dismal shade of white. But hey, at least it had the V8.
Where have we seen this front end before? That's right, it looks just like the 2019 Silverado Trail Boss we reviewed a few months ago. In an effort to give its cars a 'corporate front end,' the refreshed Camaro ended up with controversial styling. The biggest change is found on the SS model, which now features a massive black bar across the front end.
There is some good news because Chevy is aware of the criticisms towards this new front end and is already working to make changes. Next year's model will likely feature a body-color front end and will move the bowtie to the upper grille. Chevy showed off a concept version of what this new front fascia will look like at last year's SEMA show and we think it is a huge improvement. Both the four-cylinder and V6 look just fine after the 2019 refresh and the hardcore ZL1 model retains the front end from the 2018 model, so just avoid the SS model for now.
The biggest factor in considering Camaro ownership over a similarly-priced alternative from Europe or Asia is a red, white, and blue love of speed. All Camaro SS models are packed with a 6.2-liter LT1 V8 engine cranking out 455 horsepower and the same amount of torque. Power is sent rearward through either a six-speed manual - or in the case of our tester - a 10-speed automatic that is shared with the Ford Mustang. Very few cars in this price point - aside from the Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger - offer as much oomph as the Camaro.
The SS trim isn't lacking in performance, with 0-60 mph taking around 4.1 seconds, even with 3,956 pounds weighing it down. The automatic is faster in a straight line but hardcore enthusiasts will prefer to row their own gears with the manual.
Even with a honking great V8 up front, the Camaro manages EPA fuel economy ratings of 16/27/20 mpg city/highway/combined using cylinder deactivation technology to shut down four cylinders. Driving around town, we found fuel economy fell under EPA expectations but on the highway, we were able to eke out almost 30 mpg.
GM clearly spent most of its budget developing the Camaro's engine and drivetrain components because the money certainly wasn't spent on the interior, where cheap plastics and odd ergonomics run rampant.
Our tester was a 2SS model, meaning it is as 'luxurious' as a Camaro can be. A $5,000 package, the 2SS adds heated and ventilated leather seats with power adjustment, dual-zone climate control, Bose Premium audio, a rear-view camera mirror, heated steering wheel, illuminated sill plates, interior ambient lighting, head-up display, blind-spot monitors, rear parking sensors, and what Chevy calls "uplevel interior décor accents."
If we're being frank, none of these 2SS features made the Camaro feel particularly luxurious, so we'd save the $5,000 and spend it elsewhere, like on the 1LE Performance Package. Even the Mustang, which has a cheap-feeling interior of its own, felt more upscale than the Camaro.
Visibility in the Camaro is an absolute nightmare, made only slightly better with the inclusion of a digital mirror on the 2SS trim. We thought having a convertible top might make the situation better but high beltlines in the front and rear make it difficult to place the car on the road.
GM's excellent Alpha platform can feel smaller and more nimble than this, as we discovered when we tested the Cadillac ATS-V. But in Chevy's efforts to make this Alpha platform car look more like the fifth generation Zeta platform car, the Camaro feels larger than necessary and cumbersome to drive as a result.
At least rear occupants will have some headroom with the convertible top lowered. There are some nice elements in the interior, such as Chevy's easy-to-use MyLink infotainment system and fun ambient lighting option but It feels like GM skimped on the interior. The sun visor mirrors, for example, don't have covers, making them massively distracting while driving. Just remember, you buy a Camaro for the drivetrain, not the interior.
If you do end up renting a Camaro, you'd better have traveled lightly. Due to the unique way the Camaro's rear end is styled, the trunk opening is abnormally small, making it tough to make good use of the available space. The trunk itself offers just 7.3 cubic feet of storage, which pales in comparison to the Mustang Convertible with 11.4 cubic feet. In order to drop the top, the Camaro has a partition that clips in to block off more than half of the available trunk space. As a rental car, the Mustang Convertible clearly comes out ahead, as does the Dodge Challenger.
It is only when you forget about the lackluster interior and set off for a drive that the Camaro starts to come alive. The Mustang and Challenger may be competent muscle cars but the Camaro feels like it belongs in a different class. Apart from its unnecessary size, the Alpha platform feels well balanced and the steering deserves to be praised alongside Europe's best. Putting the Camaro into Sport Mode or Track mode drastically increases the weight of the steering, which is fine on a track but extremely cumbersome at slow speeds. Our test car did not have the optional Magnetic Ride Control suspension, so it felt compliant but too soft for spirited driving.
If your goal is to have a weekend car to blast on a back road, we highly recommend opting for the more rigid coupe, which is lighter than the convertible. We'd also recommend getting the six-speed manual transmission. The 10-speed does a great job of shifting quickly and even has a special mode to prevent it from upshifting unnecessarily but we constantly felt as though we'd be having more fun with a manual.
We like the braking ability of the four-piston Brembo brakes found on the SS model, although they felt a bit grabby in traffic and aren't quite as good as the six-piston units found on the 1LE Package. While the V8 certainly feels potent, we preferred the loud bark of Ford's 5.0-liter Coyote engine with the optional performance exhaust. Our tester didn't come equipped with Chevy's optional performance exhaust, meaning we could only hear the faint cry of the V8 at wide-open-throttle. The rest of the time, the Camaro sounds like a ferocious lion with a muzzle - nothing an aftermarket exhaust couldn't fix, but disappointing nevertheless.
Pricing for the 2019 Camaro SS starts at $37,995 for the 1SS Coupe, which is pretty reasonable for such a powerful car. Opting for the convertible model jacks the price up to $43,495 - money we'd gladly spend elsewhere. Ditto for the 2SS trim for an additional $5,000, bringing the total cost up to $48,995. Add in the 10-speed automatic transmission for $1,595, and the as-tested price of this 2019 Camaro Convertible comes in at $50,590.
If we were going to option a 2019 Camaro, we'd option it quite differently - with an emphasis on performance. Save $5,500 to get a coupe instead of a convertible, $5,000 for the 2SS trim, and an additional $1,550 for the automatic transmission. Then take those savings and put them into the $7,000 SS 1LE Package which includes magnetic ride control suspension, better tires, a black hood, variable exhaust, an electronic limited-slip differential, and six-piston Brembo brakes for a total of $44,495.
It's also worth noting that both the four-cylinder and V6 Camaro models can be equipped with the 1LE Package for just $4,500. The four-cylinder car with 275 hp and the 1LE Package will ring in at just $30,490 while the 335-hp V6 model will cost just a bit more at $31,990. For a saving of over $10,000, we'd highly consider opting for one of the better-looking but lesser-engined Camaro models with a manual transmission and the 1LE package.
We understand that many of our readers have a craving for speed built into their DNA but we prefer our speed to come with a certain level of comfort and refinement. The Camaro feels like it has a sports car platform buried somewhere deep within but this automatic convertible model covers it up with unneeded comfort. It comes across like a pro athlete that let themselves go after retirement. We hope to review a 1LE package car or the more powerful ZL1 model in the near future to see if we can find more enjoyment from the Camaro.
As it sits, we preferred our time in the Mustang even though the Camaro's steering and chassis felt more precise. We are often asked why we prefer more expensive, less powerful cars from Europe - just sit in a new Camaro and we think you'll understand why the stuff from Europe deserves to cost more. This 2019 Camaro is still a fun sports car but with the wrong options and an ugly redesign, we rank it as Worth A Look.