2021 Chevrolet Camaro
2021 Chevrolet Camaro
The 2021 Chevrolet Camaro is an American icon that’s grown in its performance level to the point where it now rivals European sports cars. It has retro good looks, power at the touch of a toe, and track capability with options for improved suspension, brakes, and cooling.
It’s also cramped in the spartan cabin, with a child-only rear seat and tiny trunk. It’s short on standard safety equipment, and not very fuel efficient.
For 2021, the Camaro gets standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
The Camaro is available with a choice of four engines: a quick 275-horsepower turbo-4, a powerful 335-hp V-6, an awesome old-school 455-hp V-8, and a mind-blowing supercharged 650-hp V-8. All the engines come with either a slick-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission that always seems to be in the right gear, or a manual 6-speed gearbox.
The turbo-4 is EPA-rated at 22 mpg city, 30 highway, 25 combined with its automatic transmission, while with the 6-speed manual, it drops to 19/29/22 mpg. The V-6 gets 18/29/22 mpg with the automatic or 16/26/20 mpg with the manual.
The 6.2-liter V-8 gets 16/26/20 mpg with the automatic and 16/24/19 mpg with the manual. The supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 gets 13/21/16 mpg with the automatic and 14/20/16 mpg with the manual.
The Camaro’s crash-test scores are good, with 5 stars overall from the NHTSA, and four stars for frontal crashes. The convertible gets five stars for rollover but has not been subjected to the other tests. In IIHS testing, the 2020 coupe earned top “Good” scores in all crash tests except for roof strength, which was deemed as “Acceptable.”
The 2021 Camaro does not offer automatic emergency braking. Only the 3LT, 2SS, and ZL1 get blind-spot monitors and rear parking sensors.
The 2021 Camaro comes in these models: 1LS, 1LT, 2LT, 3LT, LT1, 1SS, 2SS, and ZL1. Base prices range from $25,995 for the 1LS, to $63,995 (plus a $2,100 gas-guzzler tax) for the ZL1. All models are available as a coupe or convertible, and have an optional performance package.
For $25,995, the 1LS comes with the turbo-4 engine, cloth upholstery, an 8-way power driver seat, a 7.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, satellite radio, and 18-inch alloy wheels.
The 1LT, 2LT, and 3LT come with either the turbo-4 or V-6 engine.
The LT1, 1SS, and 2SS come with the 6.2-liter V-8.
For $36,495, the 2SS adds heated and cooled front seats, Bose 9-speaker audio, satellite radio, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, a head-up display, a rear camera mirror, 20-inch summer tires, and Brembo brakes. The 1LE performance package for this model costs $7000, and includes magnetic dampers, stiffer suspension tuning, 6-piston front and 4-piston rear Brembo brakes, an electronic limited-slip differential, a dual-mode exhaust system, Recaro bucket seats, and a flat-bottom steering wheel.
For $63,995 (plus the $2,100 gas-guzzler tax), the ZL1 comes with the supercharged 6.2-liter V-8. It adds magnetic dampers, Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar summer tires on forged-aluminum wheels, Recaro seats, and Chevy’s Performance Data Recorder that can time and record track laps. For this model the 1LE Extreme Track Performance Package costs $7,500, and adds spool-valve dampers, Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3R summer tires, a front splitter, front dive planes, and a carbon-fiber rear wing. Its camber settings, front ride height, and rear stabilizer bars are also adjustable.
The Camaro’s high beltline and low roof contribute to a sleek profile, while its wide rear haunches and retro face with slim horizontal grille give it a muscular stance, when viewed head-on. It might also be seen as a Coke-bottle shape.
There is a price to pay for the cool styling, and the cost is outward vision. It’s poor in the Camaro, but the low seating position allows enough front head room for all but the tallest drivers.
The Camaro’s interior is more functional than inspirational. It has slick gimballed air vents controlled by their outer rings, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, and available two-tone upholstery with contrast stitching. Fit and finish is good, but the cabin has a lot of hard plastic. The infotainment screen—7.0 inches standard and 8.0 inches on upper models—is easy to reach and easy to use, having simple control tiles with intuitive operation.
The seats start out basic, but move up to heated and cooled Recaro buckets that are supportive without being too restrictive. Grownups will balk at being presented with a ride in the tiny back seat—and the trunk measures just 9.3 cubic feet in the coupe and 7.3 cubic feet in the convertible.
The sweet ragtop uses multiple layers of cloth that keep out noise very well, and flips up and down with a power switch.
Dan Gurney’s race shop used to have a sign: Speed costs money. How fast do you want to go? Chevy dealerships could have that sign in their showrooms over the Camaro.
The 2.0-liter turbo-4 engine makes 275 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. It provides ready power and a 5.4-second 0-60 mph time. That’s very good acceleration, but the exhaust note isn’t quite up to the Camaro legend. Like every other Camaro, the base engine comes with either a slick 10-speed automatic that’s perfectly programmed, or a manual 6-speed gearbox.
The 3.6-liter V-6 costs only $100 more, and plays a sweeter tune. Its 335 hp and 284 lb-ft of torque (notice that’s less torque than the turbo-4) cut the 0-60 mph time to 5.0 seconds. That matches the speeds of original muscle cars, but the V-6 can’t run with today’s power monsters.
The LT1, 1SS and 2SS gets the 6.2-liter V-8 (378 cubic inches) that makes 455 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque. It rumbles and roars like a Camaro should, and blasts from 0-60 mph in a scant 4.0 seconds. We’re getting real, now.
In the ZL1, that 6.2-liter engine is supercharged to crank out 650 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque. It doesn’t just rumble and roar, it whines as it delivers supercar-like acceleration: 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds, an 11.4-second quarter-mile, and, with the 1LE package, a Nürburgring lap in 7:16.
The Camaro has the chassis to handle all that power, and enables the Camaro to corner as well as it accelerates. The front suspension’s double-pivot, control-arm and strut design creates more tire contact patch to create sharper steering response, and provides fantastic feel through the hefty electric-assist power steering. The available magnetic dampers balance ride quality with agility. The Camaro still can be stiff, and the ride can jiggle on bumpy roads. It can be astonishingly grippy on the right roads, and a handful on the poorly paved ones.
The 2021 Chevrolet Camaro offers pony-car credentials across wide price range. It’s quick in all of them, has excellent handling, and hero-grade performance in its exquisite V-8 versions. It can be cramped and expensive—but many enthusiasts are willing to pay that price for its terrific acceleration and grip.
—by Sam Moses with driving impressions by The Car Connection