The Camaro is one of Chevrolet’s bread-and-butter products that appeals to a wide variety of customers, ranging from rental car agencies to professional drag racing teams. Yes, the Camaro can be all things to all people – assuming they want a 2+2 sports coupe or soft-top convertible – thanks to its vast array of available powertrains.

Those powertrain choices will be more plentiful in2016, thanks to the all-new and completely revised sixth-generation 2016 Chevrolet Camaro’s new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Granted, the mighty supercharged 6.2-liter LSA from the ZL1 and the honkin’ 7.0-liter V-8 in the track-ready Z/28 will no longer (for now, at least) be an option in the Camaro, but the 2016 pony car now sports the Corvette C7’s EcoTec3 6.2-liter V-8 with a slightly less-aggressive output rating. The former base engine, the 3.6-liter V-6, now pulls mid-trim-level duty, thanks to a modest power increase and a new, surprisingly sporty, exhaust note.

The buzz around the new Camaro is hot. Its newish design and all-new chassis make it a sharper-looking and more nimble car that’s worthy of its historic nameplate. An updated interior with large touch screens and TFT displays bring the interior into modern times, while lavishing occupants in a leather-wrapped environment.

But what about its predecessor, the outgoing fifth-generation Camaro: Is it as bad as some of its critics say it is, and what areas needed the most improving? I recently spent a week with one to find out. But my tester wasn’t some stripped-out rental, but rather an SS fitted with the 1LE handling package.

Continue reading for the full driven review

  • 2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE - Driven
  • Year:
    2015
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V8
  • Transmission:
    six-speed manual
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    426 @ 5900
  • MPG(Cty):
    16
  • MPG(Hwy):
    24
  • Torque @ RPM:
    420 @ 4600
  • Displacement:
    6.2 L
  • 0-60 time:
    4.5 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    156 mph
  • Layout:
    Front Engine; Rear Drive
  • car segment:
  • body style:

0Exterior0

2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE - Driven Exterior Test drive
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2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE - Driven Exterior Test drive
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2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE - Driven Exterior Test drive
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Check the 1LE box on your Camaro SS order form and you’ll get quite a bit of noticeable equipment and visible upgrades. Starting with the body, the hood keeps the SS’ louver that acts as a heat extractor, but adds a matt black wrap regardless of the car’s body color. The front bumper gets a chin splitter that helps create downforce. Out back, the trunk gets the ZL1’s spoiler, though it’s keyed in matching matt wrap rather than glossy black paint. Finally, the 1LE rides on the ZL1’s 10-spoke black wheels.

The car got a minor refresh in 2014 that included a squinty upper grille and larger lower grille, smaller headlights, revised taillights, and a new lower edge of the rear bumper.

Unlike the high-horsepower, supercharged Camaro, the 1LE wears the same size wheels and tires on all four corners. The size does, however, match the ZL1’s front tire specs at 285/35-20 and use the same Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar G:2 rubber.

Jumping to the 1LE package also brings the optional dual-mode exhaust system that’s found on both the Corvette and 2014-2015 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Its quad, chrome tips protrude from beneath the rear bumper and blast noises that produce goosebumps, scare small children, and remind you that America makes some of the sweetest V-8 engines. (More on that later.)

Beyond those changes, the Camaro 1LE looks the part of a standard SS. The car got a minor refresh in 2014 that included a squinty upper grille and larger lower grille, smaller headlights, revised taillights, and a new lower edge of the rear bumper.

The remainder of the car carries over from its 2010 introduction. Long doors and a low-slung roofline give the coupe a distinctive look. Large rear quarter-panels with faux vents help visually widen the car, giving it a menacing stance.

0Interior0

2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE - Driven Interior Test drive
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2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE - Driven Interior Test drive
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2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE - Driven Interior Test drive
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Like the outside, the 1LE package brings some added equipment to the interior. My tester came already well-equipped with the range-topping 2SS trim package, which includes the MyLink infotainment system, performance gauges on the center console, and a heads-up display. Added to that are the optional (and very much worth it) Recaro seats with Alcantara inserts. Matching the seats’ coverings, the flat-bottom steering wheel and short-throw shifter are also covered in Alcantara suede.

Despite the nice coverings, the interior does feel dated. That’s especially true with the overtly retro gauges and the yesterday-tech of the MyLink infotainment software.

Despite the nice coverings, the interior does feel dated. That’s especially true with the overtly retro gauges and the yesterday-tech of the MyLink infotainment software. The Camaro’s low roof mixed with the Recaro’s high bolsters means entry and exit require a bit of folding and twisting. The Camaro isn’t a small car, but you begin to think otherwise after squeezing in and out a few times. That’s even truer for the back-seat passengers. Legroom, headroom and shoulder room are very compromised in the tight space. It’s best to leave the rear for the kids.

Ergonomics, on the other hand, aren’t too egregious, but there is certainly room for improvement. Viewing the top two gauges in the lower center console is impossible from my driving position, and large drinks in the two cup holders somewhat interfere with shifting. The high-counting, large-increment and small-font speedometer is basically useless, leaving the driver to rely on either the heads-up display or the center driver information screen.

Otherwise, the interior functions well. While it might seem impossible to recover from such a scathing evaluation thus far, the Camaro does it with its willingness to drive hard, its exhaust noises, and the chassis’ sporty feel. It’s that seat-of-the-pants feel that reverberates around the cabin that makes the car fun, even on a trip to the grocery store. The 1LE is tuned very much for performance. Don’t expect grandma to enjoy a cross-country trip riding shotgun. This isn’t that car.

The car’s overall usefulness is decent, though it’s likely best relegated to a weekend toy or bachelor-mobile. Oh, and yes, trunk space is generous enough for a couple of suitcases packed for a cross-state track-day event. The back seats even fold down for extra storage.

0Powertrain0

2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE - Driven Exterior Drivetrain Test drive
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Now to the meat and potatoes: that LS3, naturally aspirated, small-block, 6.2-liter V-8. Oh, that V-8! Its sultry music pours from its four-pronged exhaust pipes like notes from Gabriel’s trumpet. Compared to the standard exhaust on the SS, the dual-mode system is otherworldly and well worth the extra coin. Not opting for it is simply a crime.

My obvious affections for the GM LS small-block doesn’t blind me to the fact the LS3 is down on power when compared to its competition: the Mustang GT’s 5.0-liter V-8 makes 435 horsepower and the Challenger’s mighty 6.4-liter makes an impressive 485 horses. The Camaro’s weight doesn’t help either. It tips the scales at 3,884 pounds, leaving the Zeta-based car with a horsepower per pound ratio of 9.1:1 – the porkiest of the trio. Officially the Camaro SS with the manual transmission makes 426 horsepower at 5,900 rpm and 420 pound-feet of torque at 4,600.

My obvious affections for the GM LS small-block doesn’t blind me to the fact the LS3 is down on power when compared to its competition.

The Camaro is still a competent performer despite its weight. The sprint to 60 mph comes in 4.5 seconds and the quarter mile passes in 12.9 seconds at 111 mph. A half-second and a few ticks on the stopwatch isn’t bad when considering the SS is $10,00 to $15,000 less than the supercharged ZL1, the Camaro’s top straight-line performer. What’s more, those track numbers are very competitive against the Challenger and Mustang.

The Camaro might have newer tech in the engine bay, but the gen-five Camaro continues to boast some impressive hardware elsewhere. Under the floorboards of the 1LE is a close-ratio Tremec TR6060 manual six-speed transmission. The gearbox is chunky in its operation, with positive gear engagements met at the end of a short throw. Gear changes are best done with purpose, as the shifter does take some muscle, but it’s a satisfying experience. The clutch is linear in its take-up and provides plenty of feedback.

Opting for the 1LE package also gets a set of 3.91 gears in the rear end, just like the ZL1.

All these go-fast bits cost the Camaro in fuel economy. The EPA rates the SS 1LE at 16 mpg city, 24 mpg highway, and 19 mpg combined. Driving modestly in mixed conditions with some highway jaunts stirred in resulted in an average of 20 mpg combined over the week.

0Driving Impressions0

2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE - Driven Exterior Test drive
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So how does all this tech work on the road? Rather well, in fact. Slip the suede-covered shifter into neutral, depress the clutch, and turn the key to awaken all eight cylinders. The Camaro rumbles to life; its dual-mode exhaust giving a sharp Blat! as the engine kicks over before setting down into a low, lumpy idle.

It’s just as fun to lumber around town keeping the revs down as it is to bury the throttle and explore the LS3’s upper register.

Ignition sets the state for the 1LE’s performance around town. A smooth throttle pedal, abundant torque at low revs, and a smooth shifter contribute to a docile ride when exercising self-control. It’s just as fun to lumber around town keeping the revs down as it is to bury the throttle and explore the LS3’s upper register. The 1LE defies the typical logic of fast cars not being fun to drive slowly.

At the opposite end, the Camaro is a blast to hoon. All 426 ponies work to move the car as you ride the engine’s rather broad power band. Revs come and go quickly, despite the engine’s size. Shifts are fun when done rapidly. Acceleration from a stop is surprising considering the power to weight ratio. Perhaps the LS3’s biggest downfall is its power in highway passing. Dropping the Tremec into fourth at 70 mph results in loads of revs, but not as much steam as you might expect. Still, the car has no trouble passing in a hurry.

Handling wise, the 1LE takes plenty of pointers from its big brother, the ZL1. The parts sharing include the ZL1’s toe links, rear shock mounts, and wheel bearings – along with the 285/38-series Goodyear tires from the front of the ZL1 and sway bars that bear a similar design. The package also includes a front strut tower brace that helps with torsional rigidity.

Behind the wheel, the 1LE is a visceral machine. Its vibrations and noises add much to the experience. The car simply feels fast. Outward visibility is not nearly as bad as some make it out to be. In fact, if your mirrors are adjusted correctly and the drivers’ seat isn’t pushed completely rearward, there are almost no blind spots. I say that about the seat position because the Camaro’s long side glass provides a wide field of view, despite the large C-pillars. Even rear visibility isn’t that bad.

0Pricing0

2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE - Driven Exterior Test drive
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Much of the 1LE’s appeal comes in its pricing. For $3,500, the performance handling package can be optioned on even a base Camaro SS. That puts the base price of a 1LE at $38,000. Opt for the dual-mode exhaust – which you should do without hesitation – and the price only increases by $895.

Opt for the dual mode exhaust – which you should do without hesitation – and the price only increases by $895.

My tester came a bit more well-equipped. It started with the range-topping 2SS trim package. That includes leather seats, the color driver information center and heads-up display, performance gauges, Boston audio system upgrade with SiriusXM, and the rearview camera.

The options continue to pile up on my tester, and include the Recaro seats ($1,995), the dual mode exhaust ($895), the navigation upgrade ($495), extra cost yellow paint ($395), and the RS Package that includes extra body moldings, HID headlights with LED halo rings, and daytime running lights ($1,350).

Tack on the $995 destination charge, and the total comes to $46,930.

0Competition0

12015 Ford Mustang GT Performance Package1

2015 Ford Mustang Performance Package High Resolution Exterior
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The Mustang has a year’s advantage on the Camaro. It entered its latest generation in 2015 and is much better for it. The new car makes use of a tighter chassis, a reworked V-8, and a new interior that’s worth staring at. Like before, the Mustang offers its Performance Package that consists of bigger brakes, stiffer springs, thicker sway bars, a K-brace on the front sub frame, and some sticky tires mounted on aggressive-looking wheels.

The Mustang’s 5.0-liter V-8 makes 435 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual gearbox is the right choice for enthusiasts. With its 275-series rear tires on solid ground, the ‘Stang will pull a 60 mph run in 4.5 seconds – matching the Camaro SS 1LE.

The Mustang GT with the Performance Package starts at $35,695. Check a few of the option boxes, and the Mustang will end up in the mid $40,000 range.

Read our full review here.

12015 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack1

2015 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI Scat Pack Shaker High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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The big Dodge takes a different approach to things than the Camaro and Mustang. It focuses nearly all its efforts on raw horsepower and straight-line performance. It’s easily the best muscle car of the bunch. The R/T Scat Pack puts SRT’s 6.4-liter, naturally aspirated V-8 under the hood. The engine is good for an impressive 485 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque. Sadly, that power advantage is lost on the Challenger’s hefty curb weight of 4,226 pounds. It only bests the Camaro and Mustang’s 60 mph sprint by a tenth of a second.

Handling isn’t as crisp as the others. The car fights its weight in the corners and its 245-series tires have a hard time gripping the pavement. Still, the car is quintessentially American and all the better for it.

Prices for the Challenger R/T Scat Pack start at $38,995 and rise into the upper $40,000 with the added options.

Read our full review here.

0Conclusion0

2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE - Driven Exterior Test drive
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The fifth generation Camaro has had a good run. From its introduction in 2010 and its staring role in several notable movies to the ZL1’s introduction in 2012, and the refresh of 2014 happening alongside the mighty Z/28’s introduction, the car has secured its spot in Chevrolet history.

Granted, it would be a harsh daily driver, but for some, that’s exactly what they want.

No matter the trim level or performance package, the car does have its shortcomings – most of which will hopefully be addressed when the sixth generation, 2016 Camaro hits dealer lots in the fall of 2015.

Nevertheless, the 2015 Camaro still represents the best Camaro to date. Its suspension is dialed in, its V-8 powerplants are strong and reliable, and its range-topping performance is downright impressive.

While the ZL1, Z/28, and to some extent the COPO, are toys left for the privileged, the SS 1LE offers a more affordable track-day experience that isn’t terrible to live with on a daily basis. Granted, it would be a harsh daily driver, but for some, that’s exactly what they want.

  • Leave it
    • * Cramped interior
    • * Old-school infotainment system
    • * Hard-to-read gauges
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