2017 Chevrolet Camaro: Lighter, Meaner, More technology, More refinements,
Chevrolet pays homage to a performance icon with the 50th Anniversary Edition.
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Gutsy engines, aggressive sheetmetal, and rear-wheel drive are essential for any muscle car, but the Camaro stirs in excellent handling and great steering, too. Available as a coupe or convertible, the base engine is a 275-hp 2.0-liter turbo four; a 335-hp 3.6-liter V-6 and a 455-hp 6.2-liter V-8 are optional. All offer either a six-speed manual or optional eight-speed automatic. The interior, though, is tight and offers limited visibility. The V-6 and V-8 Camaros are 10Best winners for 2017.
Let’s cut right to the hyperbole: The 2017 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE is a rolling manifestation of Bruce Springsteen’s most celebratory lyrical fairy tale, the “all-American boy with a nose for trouble finds his way by means of a pushrod-V-8–powered muscle car with a weary but naturally beautiful girl in the passenger seat.” Born from the same humble two-door-coupe blueprint that launched the Camaro 50 years ago, it’s the everyman’s super-Camaro: a 455-hp, apex-craving monster that rings in with a $44,400 base price ($6500 for the SS 1LE Performance package on top of $37,900 for the 1SS coupe). That’s $16,435 less dear than the expected $62,135 sticker for the 2017 Camaro ZL1, and it will likely undercut the price of the upcoming 2018 Camaro Z/28 by even more. While we’re talking matters of finance, the only other option on our test car was a performance data recorder for $1300, which brought the as-tested price to $45,700. It may not be free, but it’s at least attainable for most aspiring part-time track rats.
Regular readers may recall that, over some 15,000 miles, our long-term 2016 Camaro SS has proved itself to be a comfortable cruiser as well as an extroverted destroyer of tires. Although it’s otherwise similar, the 2017 Camaro SS tested here is further equipped with the vaunted 1LE package, a collection of performance and cosmetic upgrades aimed at putting a sharper edge on all the attributes that make our long-term SS such a blast to drive. (For 2017, the 1LE package is also available on 1LT and 2LT V-6 models, but this review focuses on the V-8–powered SS.)
The $6500 1LE package includes a comprehensive list of hardware. Key items include an FE4 performance suspension with specific tuning for the springs, anti-roll bars, and magnetorheological dampers (GM’s Magnetic Ride Control); Brembo six-piston front monoblock calipers and four-piston rear calipers (painted red); aluminum-hat and iron-friction-surface rotors; an electronically controlled limited-slip, 3.73:1 differential; a six-speed manual transmission; a dual-mode performance exhaust system; and a track cooling package with engine, transmission, and differential coolers. Tasked with keeping the car in contact with the pavement are Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3 tires constructed with a rubber compound developed specifically for the Camaro. Sized 285/30ZR-20 in front and 305/30ZR-20 at the rear, the imposing tires wrap 20-inch Satin Graphite forged-aluminum wheels (10 inches wide up front, 11 inches at the rear).
Telltale cosmetic items include an aggressive-looking fascia and grille with a larger splitter plus a rear blade spoiler; the aero aids are rendered in the same satin black as the hood wrap. The interior features a head-up display and Recaro front buckets, while the flat-bottomed steering wheel and the shift knob are both wrapped with a soothing synthetic-suede material that feels great under your fingers.