The perpetual rival to the Ford Mustang, the 2018 Chevrolet Camaro is the latest in a line of adaptations that have transformed the vehicle from a pony car to a legitimate sports car. The performance of this generation of Camaro has been often compared to some of the best offerings from Europe, and has come out on top in many tests. It really is that good. Best of all, the Camaro is available in a wide variety of trims and price points so almost anyone can join in on the fun, from the rental-fleet chic base trim to the hardcore monster that is the Camaro ZL1.

Best Value

While the turbo-four and V6 engines of this generation of Camaro are actually a ton of fun, the big 6.2-liter V8 that lies under the hood of the 1SS trim is absolutely worth the money. A sports car is supposed to put a smile on your face, and a huge, powerful V8 is really good at doing that. The SS also gets big Brembo sport brakes and larger 20-inch wheels to cover them, as well as an upgraded suspension system. It may miss out on some of the niceties of the 2LT trim, but let's be real here; the entire point of a Camaro is to be a high-performance vehicle at a price attainable for the every man. Fitting with this theme, we'd stick with the manual transmission and forgo the convertible top.

While the price is steep, we'd also go with the 1LE Track Performance Package, as it turns the Camaro into something that you'd take to your local track day every chance you'd get. This high-performance package adds heavily bolstered Recaro sport seats, performance tires, an electronic limited-slip differential, aerodynamic and styling upgrades, a head-up display, and best of all, GM's magnetic ride suspension, which is among the best adjustable suspensions on the market. While it may make the overall cost of the Camaro pretty expensive compared to the base trims, you'll be able to keep up with cars costing a lot more.

Here's how our Camaro would look:

  • Model: 2018 Chevy Camaro 1SS
  • Engine: 6.2-liter V8
  • Output: 455 hp/ 455 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Six-speed Manual
  • Drivetrain: Rear-wheel drive
  • MPG: 17 City / 27 Hwy
  • Options: 1LE Track Performance Package ($7,000, Recaro Sport Seats, Heads Up Display, Electronic Limited Slip Differential, Black Satin Exterior Trim, High-Performance Tires, Brembo Performance Breaks, Magnetic Sport Suspension, 20-inch Wheels)
  • Base Price:$37,995 (including a $995 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price:$44,995

Performance

Ford Mustang

The Camaro can be had with four different engines, which can be paired with either manual or automatic transmissions. The bottom of the range is 275 horsepower 2.0-liter turbo-four cylinder, but it can be replaced with the optional 3.6L V6 which gives the Camaro 335 horsepower and a surprisingly awesome engine note. SS models get a 455 horsepower 6.2-liter V8 that's taken from the Corvette, and is really the sweet spot for the Camaro. If that's not enough, Chevy offers the supercar-fast Camaro ZL1 with a supercharged version of the V8 that cranks the power up to 650 horsepower, a breathtaking amount of power that is addictive and capable of insane speeds that will get you pulled over very quickly.

Unlike Camaros of yesteryear, this generation is no longer a muscle car, but a true sports car. The Camaro is built on GM's excellent Alpha platform, which it shares with the Cadillac ATS and CTS, giving it an advanced suspension and steering set-up that allows the driver to feel in complete control during dynamic handling. The Camaro is even better when equipped with the 1LE Performance packages that are available on all models, which heavily upgrades the brakes and suspension, while also improving the cooling system so the Camaro can spend a day chasing the engine's redline and carving apexes at the local race track.

The ultimate expression of the Camaro is the ZL1 with the 1LE Performance Package, which is capable of blitzing around the infamous 12.9-mile Nurburgring racetrack in Germany in 7 minutes and 16 seconds. The package most notably adds to the ZL1 a gigantic rear wing and front splitter for maximum aerodynamic downforce, along with weight reductions, exhaust upgrades, thick and sticky tires and a new suspension. The result is grip for days combined with more power than can be reasonably use at most race tracks, giving a fantastic amount of performance for a sum well short of six figures.

Style

The 2018 Camaro continues to build on the major retro-inspired redesign that first hit the streets with the previous generation, although it is sleeker and meaner. It looks fast, even when sitting still, much like a concept rather than a production vehicle. Unfortunately, the stylish high door sills and low roof that add to this feel also make the Camaro notoriously difficult to see out of, a carryover from the previous generation. Overall, it looks less like a muscle car and more like a sports car, which is important for a car that is trying to prove that it is in fact a sports car.

Inside, the Camaro is actually well laid out, with better materials and design elements that feel modern, but there's still a lot of plastic that doesn't look particularly high end. The rear seats are only really there for looks, and the trunk isn't going to hold a ton of stuff. The front seats are comfortable and supportive, and the optional Recaros are well bolstered for high-G cornering. Overall it's nice, but no one will be tricked into thinking they are in anything but a Chevy.

The Best and Worst Things

The latest generation Camaro offers a ton of performance for the price, and it can easily take on sports cars with higher pedigrees and higher price tags. Also, the different options allow a Camaro buyer to configure it to be the car they want. Want a reasonably priced, track day-capable daily driver that can shame an M4? Get a 1SS coupe with the 1LE package. Want a Camaro that's pretty fast but more focused on cruising and having fun? Get the 2LE convertible with a V6 and the automatic transmission.

However, the Camaro seriously suffers from limited visibility. You just can't see that much out the sides and back, which can be difficult to get used to. It's not practical either, and we wonder why the vestigial rear seats are still there, as they add weight and take up room that could be used for a parcel shelf.

Right For?

Ford Mustang

The Camaro is perfect for people who want a daily driver capable of a fun time at the local track day, or someone who wants to have a bit more fun on their daily commute. There's something to be said for people without kids buying an unpractical convertible to take advantage of their lack of responsibilities. More people should do this.

Wrong For?

If you're ever responsible for hauling of more than one other human, don't buy the Camaro. It's cruel and unusual, and you'd be better off with a hot hatch or sport sedan.

The Bottom Line

The Camaro is a highly capable sports car that defies the old logic that American vehicles can't corner well. This is a car that can keep up with almost any sports car out there in one trim level or another. It also remains an affordable option, even if that cheapness can creep up to higher trim levels. At the end of the day, don't underestimate the Camaro, because it is very good at what it does.