Chevrolet's pony car. The Ford Mustang may have officially launched the pony car segment, but it isn’t the only player in the mix. Like the Mustang, the 2021 Chevrolet Camaro is offered in coupe and convertible configurations; the Dodge Challenger is only available as a coupe. All three models comprise what we love best about the segment, though we think considering the Nissan 370Z and BMW 4-Series is also warranted.
Like its domestic competitors, the Camaro is a beefy model with seating for up to five, but two is the ideal. The outward sight lines are challenging enough up front, but they’re miserable in the rear. The amount of leg room is even less than the published figure, especially with tall people up front.
From capable to blistering power. There's a gas engine for everyone who is interested in the Chevy Camaro. Importantly, every motor pairs with either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission.
The standard 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine makes a capable 275 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission is available.
For just $100 more, a naturally aspirated 3.6-liter V6 engine is available. This one makes 335 hp and 284 lb-ft of torque. It brings with it a muscle-car tune and shaves nearly a half-second off the time of the base engine for a 0-60 mph time of 5 seconds. Besides the manual, a 10-speed automatic transmission is available just like with the two V8 choices.
At the top of the power spectrum is a 6.2-liter V8 engine offered in natural and boosted power choices. The standard engine makes an even 455 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque. Choose the supercharged version and this track-ready ZL1 has an output of 650 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque. Get ready for the best 0-60 mph time this side of a Chevy Corvette.
An alpha platform we love. The Camaro is based on GM’s alpha platform which underpins several luxury models. Early on, the Cadillac ATS and Cadillac CTS models rode on it. More recently, the Camaro has been sharing its bones with the Cadillac CT4 and Cadillac CT5, the successors to the two earlier models.
The benefits of the platform include MacPherson struts up front, a five-link independent suspension on the rear, a mix of high-strength steel and aluminum, and other weight-saving measures. The current Camaro may be the best handling pony car of all, as it benefits from its natural agility. In SS or higher guise, it quickly becomes a true track star.
Poor standard safety equipment. Perhaps the Chevy Camaro’s weakest link is in the realm of all things safety. Although it garners decent crash test scores from the IIHS and NHTSA, it falls short in other areas.
Specifically, the sight lines are poor, even horrible for some drivers. You’ll have a tough enough time looking over your shoulder and directly rearward, but the forward lines are simply not good. You may have to adjust your seat to improve it, but expect to crane your neck when navigating tight corners. This is where the judicious use of mirrors and the rearview camera system is an absolute must.
We’re disappointed that Chevrolet hasn’t overhauled the Camaro’s active safety features. Buyers must spend up to acquire features such as blind-spot monitoring and rear parking sensors, although they’re newly standard on the top-trim 3LT. The safety bar has lifted substantially over the past five years and the Camaro hasn’t kept up.
Final thoughts. The 2021 Chevy Camaro doesn't hide what it is. It's a sports car with agile handling, powerful engines, and natural good looks. But that also means there are downsides. Namely, the rear seat is tiny, fuel economy is poor, and safety takes a back seat.
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