Is There A Place For A New, Four Cylinder Camaro?

Greg Zyla
I recently spent a week behind the wheel of the 50th Anniversary, sixth generation Chevrolet Camaro, delivered in RS trim with a turbocharged four-cylinder for power.
The new sixth generation Camaro debuted in 2016 and went on to win the coveted Motor Trend Magazine "Car of the Year" award hands down.
Now up front, I'll admit it doesn't have the get up that my long gone 1968 SS/RS 396/375 had, but it surprised me in many ways during my test drive review.
This was the first time I ever drove a Camaro with a four-cylinder engine, which combines with the new platform's smaller, lighter and stronger Camaro layout.
All of the new Camaros will surely impress even the most finicky of driving enthusiasts, thanks to great looks and a propensity to hug corners.
Under the hood of our tester sits the aforementioned 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that pumps put 275 horses and 295 lb. ft. of torque.
These numbers are fine, especially considering that when Camaro debuted in 1967, a 327 that developed 275 horsepower was a popular option choice.
However, and this is one big "however," the 2017 Camaro engine lineup also offers a 3.6-liter, 335-horse direct injection V6 up to a 6.2 liter, 455 horse Corvette style V8 that is standard in the SS model.
If that's not enough, you can add the ZL1 option, which lifts horsepower to a staggering 650 ponies thanks to a supercharged 6.2 LT engine (starts at $61,140) and offers either an optional 10-speed automatic or the standard six-speed manual.
Non-ZL1 Camaros feature a standard six-speed manual or, as is the case with our tester, an optional paddle-shift eight-speed automatic that adds $1,495 to the base price.
Another notable concerning the new generation is Chevrolet utilizing heavy-duty yet lighter components throughout, resulting in our tester Camaro shedding near 390 lbs. versus the previous generation in 2015. This combines to assist both in acceleration and braking abilities.
Notable is our Camaro came with an optional $485 Heavy Duty Cooling and Brake Package that adds performance Brembo brakes to assure bringing all 2017 Camaros to quick, straight stops.
You can also choose from three specific drive modes ala touring, sport and snow, the latter if you happen to be caught in nasty weather. Fuel mileage is good at 22 city and 31 highway, the EPA estimates.
Another area that deserves praise is the interior, as Chevy integrates today's top technological amenities. Included are an eight-inch display, SiriusXM, Premium Bose stereo, new configurable instrument cluster, heated and cooled seats, all connectivity features and much more. Leather trim also appears thanks to the 2LT option that graced our tester.
The exterior is still noticeable as a Camaro although Chevy didn't move too far from its fifth generation design. New headlights and front grille are most noticeable, as is a taillight revamp.
Although Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger perhaps do a better job of rekindling the look of the early 1970s, the new Camaro from day one never intended to look that much like the first and second generation Camaro, sans some Camaro badges, interior features and other ancillary items.
Options include a $1,950 RS (Rally Sport) package that features 20-inch Goodyear run flat tires on aluminum rims, rear spoiler, unique grille and headlights and more; a $2,800 convenience package adds rear park assist, rear cross traffic alert, side blind zone alert and more. With $995 delivery, the final tally came in at $38,130.
Personally, I wasn't sure at first that a four-cylinder engine fits the modern Camaro principle, but after driving it for a week I've changed my mind.
For now, the Turbo-4 won't let you down when it comes to being adequate and in the four cylinder's defense are several factors.
First, there is nearly $7,000 in options on our tester that pushes the price beyond what I'd call a good buy; second, the fuel mileage advantage of the four is way better than the V8's 16 city and 25 highway. The V6, by the way, starts at $27,400 and is also a fine choice that delivers 19 city and 28 highway.
Finally, the zero to 60 mph numbers for the four are impressive. I did three zero to 60 runs and came in at 5.8, 6.0 and 6.1 with the larger 20-inch tires. So the Turbo-4 does indeed have some muscle.
The V6 comes in at 5.4 seconds and the V8 at 4.2 seconds. The ZL1? How about 3.5 seconds to 60-mph! (V6 and V8 numbers estimated).
Overall, a new Camaro in any stage of dress fits well for those who seek a sporty, sleek car that has few peers on the highway.
All expected safety equipment is included and we can't end this review without mention of Camaro receiving a Five Star government safety rating to add to its positives.
The best Turbo-4 buy, in my opinion, is a Camaro that doesn't go much past the $32K mark. Once you go over that, the entry SS model starts at $37,900 and is overall a better buy.
If your "fun to drive" factor is high on your list of new car demands, not testing a brand new 2017 Camaro is a mistake.
There's no car around today that offers so much performance, handling and excitement for so little.
To summarize…yes, there is a place for a Turbo-4 Camaro.

Facebook Twitter
View Count 1,475