For the driver and a friend. . . only ONE friend
Before you think, WOW! What was the Camaro ZL1 like? The base Camaro doesn’t have anywhere near 455hp like the ZL1, but it was a capable performer even with ‘only’ 275hp. Even so, it wasn’t too shabby with the accelerator.
The little 2.0L turbo 4 was anxious to go at the slightest tap of the gas pedal, but the exhaust note had no hint of the desired V8 growl. It actually sounded so poor that I wondered if the car didn’t already have an exhaust system leak. There’s PLENTY of space between the engine block and the grille for a bigger turbo or any list of mods.
I asked my friend in the backseat,
“how’s the seats back there?”
Without hesitation she said “It sucks! If I was an animal, I’d be a turtle and just stay in my shell!”
The front passenger and I laughed of course, but after closer inspection, I felt a little guilty having both of my 5’7″ friends in either seat. The front passenger seat was tight with the power seat up about half way to allow minimal leg room in the back.
My driver’s seat was back almost all the way which left less than 2″ of legroom for a poor soul that would have been behind me. Needless to say, this is really only meant for 2 front seat occupants. Even an infant car seat would be a difficult squeeze in the back.
The rear view highlights the wide body and narrow cabin. Outward visibility from all angles is horrible, but as they say “If you are going fast enough, you only need to be aware of what’s in front”. The base Camaro looks pretty good for a sub-$30,000 coupe, but it’s definitely a mild toned-down version of the much more in-demand V-8s. Since this Camaro is so stripped down, maybe Chevy views it as a blank slate for the customers that want the endless add-on and customization possibilities.
I’m surprised that halogen headlights are still the standard and not the more modern LED or Xenon bulbs, but halogen blends with the retro styled center console.
There was very little storage space in the Camaro. The center console has capacity for some spare change, a phone, a phone charger, and some fast food napkins but that’s about it. Only two cupholders in the entire cabin would leave the backseat passengers to holding their drinks for the trip duration.
I liked what Chevy did with the retro styled vents, but they scored a big fat zero on practicality of the rest of the controls. The temperature is controlled by the left metal trim surround and the fan speed is controlled by the right, but the fan speed dial doesn’t work when the defrost setting is on. It seems you are at the mercy of the auto setting until you change the setting to ‘face’ or ‘foot’. I fiddled with it at several stoplights, but it was unnecessarily frustrating to figure it out completely. The rest of the climate control buttons were also very small and only lit by a tiny amber light. It’d be very difficult to see what was activated in direct sunlight. The standard issue 6-speaker stereo was very good and here’s an odd trick that improved it. I lowered the power seat enough to where my knee wasn’t blocking the door speaker resulting in a drastic improvement of sound quality. That was a strange first!
The driver’s seat was comfortable on my legs, lower back, and my sides. As you can see in the picture, there was a strange crease in the seat bottom fabric that wasn’t on the passenger seat. I can’t comprehend how that could happen without having permanent internal damage. Did something collapse in there? Someone enlighten me!
Compared to many of the other cars I’ve rented this year, the Camaro was one of the few that could actually get use from the steering wheel paddle shifters. It’s a big no-no to track a rental car, but at least laps around a track would make sense in this [albeit] automatic Camaro vs. the Continental of a few months ago. Also an oddity, I think the 4-cyl turbo could get near that 160mph speedometer maximum. The 125mph (200kmh) speedometer maximum on last weeks Hyundai i10 would have been a terrifying experience.
The trunk opening was miniscule also. I’m sure the wasted space setup is for the optional convertible top, but it’s really pointless to have so much covered dead air below the trunk hinges.
The traction control defeat and ‘Mode’ buttons for the Touring/Track/Ice-Snow settings was prominently placed like drivers would change that regularly. Maybe for the SS or ZL1 models, but I think that’s lost on the target market 4-cylinder crowd.
We all know someone that had a maintenance nightmare 3rd generation Camaro and time will tell if the 2018 models will be the same or better. I’m anxious to hear repair histories of the 5th and 6th generations after 120,000 miles of daily use.
Things of note:
MSRP starts at about $26,700 for the base 4-cyl.
Achieved an impressive 26.9 mpg thanks to the 8-speed auto. EPA says 22CITY/31HWY.
Top shelf ZL1 convertible easily can reach $75,000.
Imagine the fun at 400 fewer pounds.
Buy it? Rent it? Avoid it?
Not even when I was 16 years old was a Camaro on my wish list of first cars. Granted, when I was 16, the 3rd generation F body was selling like crazy, but I never had a poster in my bedroom. I’d rent one again, but only if I had no chance of having any people in the back seat. Plus, I have yet to test out the 2-door Mustang or Q60. There’s so many choices of 275hp vehicles that are bigger, sound better, more comfortable, and equally fun to drive to recommend buying one. I understand that Chevy’s target audience is most interested in the name badge and 50+ year heritage.
Chevy if you’re listening . . .
How much weight could be saved if this was a 2-seater?
On a scale from 1-100: (1- nay / 100- yay)
Buy it now – 25
Buy it later at half the current price – 45
F.E.D. (Fun, Efficiency & Desirability) – 75
Oooh and ahhh factor – 40
Recommended to rent – 55