For decades the Chevrolet Camaro has been all about muscle and attitude at an affordable sticker price. It has not been about deftness and sophistication—until now. Even though it looks similar to the previous-generation car, the new Camaro is an entirely different kind of machine. Yes, it is it still scorchingly fast, but serious chassis tuning and all-around upgrades mean the Camaro is now a world-class GT car instead of just another all-menace no-manners bracket dueler.

Pricing and Equipment

The 2016 Camaro coupe (a convertible is due late in the model year) starts at a reasonable $25,700 plus delivery for the 1LT which includes a turbocharged inline-four, a limited-slip differential and SiriusXM radio. Moving up to the 2LT or 2SS runs about an extra $4,000 in either case and adds heated leather seats, an upgraded stereo with Bose speakers, and other niceties.

The V6 is a $1495 upgrade on either LT. The excellent automatic transmission is that same amount again across the line.

The 1SS stickers at $36,300 and brings the 6.2-liter 455-horsepower V8 and a batch of appropriate performance upgrades.

  • We strongly recommend the near-supernatural Magnetic Ride Control shocks; even at a considerable $1,695 they simply rewrite the rules for the traditional ride/handling tradeoff. (There's a reason Ferrari uses them.)
  • For the more traditional-minded Camaro buyer there are plenty of racing-stripe graphics on the option list.
  • The $895 dual-mode exhaust is fun; the $3,175 Brembo six-piston front calipers are overkill unless your warm-weather scheduling prioritizes track time over eating and sleeping.

Regardless, it takes serious effort to push a Camaro into unreasonable pricing territory. And once you understand what you get for that price, this turns out to be one of the best deals in the modern automotive marketplace.

Performance Pros

Chevrolet Camaro

The new Camaro is based on the same GM Alpha platform as Cadillac's excellent ATS and CTS. From this lighter, well-balanced, much more sophisticated basis Chevrolet's engineers have worked wonders. Hold the hockey-hair jokes and snobbish sneers—the Camaro has become an all-around world-beater with no real dynamic flaws.

  • The turbo inline-four—Chevy's idea of a "base" engine—cooks up 275 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque while still getting good fuel economy. The fast-revving V6 feels and sounds like something out of a formula car. The Corvette-spec V8 is one of the all-time great powerplants, combining brilliant drivability with quarter-mile times in the twelve-second bracket.
  • The six-speed manual transmission is crisp and direct. The eight-speed automatic is perfectly calibrated and instinctively responsive. We instinctively favor the manual but will freely admit that the auto is brilliant—and its quick shifts trim a few tenths from the acceleration times.
  • No Camaro has ever handled like this before. The structure is tight, the steering is wonderfully accurate, and the chassis (especially when equipped with the near-magic magnetic shocks) offers a level of control and a planted ride that's more high-price European road racer than barroom-brawler muscle car. To top it all off, the brakes feel like they could stop a train.

Performance Cons

Um....

Interior Pros

Chevrolet Camaro Interior

The cabin benefits from the same better-for-the-sake-of-being-better mentality as the chassis. The previous retro theme has been sent back to the archives; the sixth-generation's interior is now all about modern design and much-improved quality.

  • Forward visibility is improved, front-seat space is increased, and materials are significantly upgraded.
  • The instruments are now actually positioned to be readable, and the reconfigurable LCD display is a huge improvement in driver information delivery.
  • The cabin is loaded with high-tech features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and is full of clever details: twist the ventilation bezels to adjust air temperature, for example.

Interior Cons

  • The rear seats are great for messenger bags and grocery sacks and small pets. They are not great for humans.
  • As with the fifth-generation car, side and rear visibility are better than in many armored military vehicles, but we still appreciate (need, really) the rearview camera when backing out of parking spaces.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

Chevrolet Camaro Rear

It is amazing to feel how the new Camaro comprehensively shuts down the brute-force muscle-and-mullets clichés from all directions. Not only does the Camaro bring more power than the equivalent outgoing models but instead of turning the driver's experience into something bland and distant, the new levels of sophistication and control make the car even faster and more engaging.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

Market perception lags behind reality, so you too will probably have to deal with the dissonance between what you're experiencing and the outdated stereotyped snark and swipes you'll inevitably hear from the ill-informed. Also, speed limits still exist. Such is life.

The Bottom Line

This is not just the best Camaro ever—though it definitely is—but one of the very best all-around high-performance cars, and maybe the best high-performance value, on the market right now.