By now you have probably seen something new at your local Chevy dealer. Camaro is all new for ’16 and we had a week to spend with a V6 version of the American classic.
Each evolution of a model should try to be lighter and faster than its predecessor, and the new Camaro definitely measured up. The new lightweight Alpha chassis is shared with the Cadillac ATS and CTS. It uses more aluminum and less steel than the 2015, and the stiffer unibody allows for lower spring rates. Softer springs make for a comfy ride, but more on that later.
Looking for something familiar, we popped the hood to find the latest version of GM’s 3.6L V6. Now rated at 335 hp, it makes great use of the new 8-speed automatic transmission. This car will surprise you. Down shifts are quicker than most other automatics since many of the transmission’s components are shared with Corvette. Using the paddles to drop a few gears will awaken the high revving six. The exhaust note is exotic and muscular, another plus for this mid-range model.
Inside we expected a cheap plastic interior. My own 2002 SS has more molded plastic than Wal-Mart, so I was shocked at the quality of leather and contrast stitching. Gone are the embarrassing climate controls. Chevy now offers innovative vents with integrated temperature controls. Ambient lighting makes a return, with more color options and more hidden LEDs. Yes, the door panels and dash are enormous, but the quality and styling are much improved. Controls and buttons are more intuitive, and you can tell that engineers spent many late nights getting it right.
A few of Camaro’s old problems were still evident. This is a low car, and coupled with the short windows, it takes a few minutes to adjust the mirrors and seat for visibility. The A-pillars are chunky, making for a distracting diversion to your line of sight. Storage and back seat comfort could use some revisions, but they aren’t priorities for the Camaro connoisseur. Even with those issues, we all agree that this is the best Camaro since 2002.
Fuel mileage is rated at 19 city/28 highway, and the MSRP lands a hair under $40,000. Chevrolet is asking us to forgive them of the Camaros of the past. If you are in the market for a sporty daily driver, the 2016 Camaro RS is just the right blend of technology and fun.