2016 Camaro SS First Drive Review

The 2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS is a car that has transcended being an American Muscle Car and has become, in my humble opinion, a world class sports car. For 2016 it has moved from the aging Zeta platform to Chevy’s new Alpha platform . With this big change the 2016 Camaro was downsized, lightened and the engine lineup was reworked. For 2016 the Camaro offers three engine options, a 2.0L I4 Turbo, the updated 3.6L V6 and the 6.2L LT1 V8 from the Corvette.

Recently I was able to get behind the wheel of a 2016 Camaro SS and I must say this car is much improved over the outgoing fifth generation. The car I drove was an 1SS equipped with the sunroof, 8 speed automatic, magnetic ride, and dual mode exhaust system as options.

So with some of the basics out of the way let's get down to the car itself. When I got out to the car and hit the remote start it caught me completely off guard. The roar of the LT1 on start up was staggering and initially unexpected for a car with a factory exhaust. Once inside the bellow smoothed out and I was greeted by the updated gauge pod and center infotainment screens.

The interior is a wonderful jump from the fifth generation, much of the plasticy feel is gone with the use of higher quality materials. The gauges and screen between them are easy to read and present plenty of info on every aspect of your car. Behind the shifter on the center console is the vehicle drive mode switch with 4 drive modes available; Tour, Sport, Track, and Snow and Ice. Tour mode is for everyday driving, letting the magnetic dampers give a softer ride and keeps the dual mode exhaust a little quieter. Sport mode opens up the exhaust valves, and sharpens the steering, transmission, and magnetic ride. Track mode goes all out, tightening up the throttle response, increasing shift points, setting the dampers and steering even stiffer and more responsive than the sport mode. and However there are still some drawbacks. The infotainment screen has been tilted downwards to try and minimize sun glare, however now the glossy screen reflects parts of the shifter and center console. Interior storage space is also lacking. The center console is rather shallow and too far rearward for easy use. The rear seat room is also basically gone with the new generation. At 6’2” with my comfortable seating position there was less than an inch of space between my seat and the rear seat. My biggest interior gripe however is with the sunroof. With the headroom cut out to fit the sunroof, I was scraping the headliner. Now this could be remedied by opting to skip that feature, but for this test I was stuck with it. The poor visibility from the previous model still exists in the sixth generation. It has been improved slightly and with proper mirror adjustments, blind spots can be mitigated.

After getting everything set and hitting the road, I was pleasantly surprised how easy the Camaro was to drive slow. At no point in the busy lot did the Camaro feel jerky or unrefined. For a car with 450 horsepower on tap, I almost expected it to feel a bit hard to handle at low speed, but the engineers did a great job keeping it tame. Once out on the roads the best parts of the Camaro began to shine. The low ceiling and oddly tilted radio screen didn’t matter any more. The dual mode exhaust opened up, the LT1 bellowed, and the transmission effortlessly picked out the perfect gear to send me down the road. I started out with a brief highway drive and the Camaro was nothing out of the ordinary. The ride was smooth in tour mode and the transmission was quick to drop down when the throttle is opened to pass. The seats were nicely supportive while still maintaining the comfort needed for extended use. I felt like I could use the car for a long road trip without worrying about feeling exhausted or beat up at the end.

On some curvy and bumpy back roads in southwest Ohio, the Camaro showed a whole different side of itself. I put the vehicle into Sport mode and gave it some throttle and it took off. The difference between the modes was was very welcome and noticeable. The sharpened steering was weighted perfectly, and helped inspire confidence that the car was going where you point it. Aided by the magnetic ride, the car feels very planted, even with rough pavement below. At no point did the transmission feel like it was hunting for gears as the car pulled out of the corners with the exhaust roaring. One of the most impressive things was how the new Camaro handles it speed. With 455 horsepower of course the speedometer climbs quickly, what really impressed me was the way it stopped. The front and rear four piston brembo brakes never felt overpowered by the car, and were quick to grab and slow you down.

Overall the new Camaro is an amazing car, and a testament to what the engineers from GM can achieve. The new engine, chassis, and gearbox are a great step up from the fifth generation and it all comes together to form an amazing package. While there are still some quirks, none of them would stop me from buying this all American sports car.

Photo Credit to GM Media