2013 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 - FROM $54,350
For tire-burning power and Hollywood flash, it doesn't get much better than the 2013 Chevrolet Camaro.
What's New for 2013
The 2013 Chevy Camaro gets a new MyLink touchscreen audio system on LT, SS and ZL1 models, as well as a new MyLink-based GPS navigation system option (late availability). SS models equipped with a manual transmission can also be had with a new road-racing-inspired 1LE option package that includes unique gearing, suspension tuning and tires. Hill-start assist is now standard on all manual transmission models.
f ever there was a car to put a mischievous spark in the eye of a driving enthusiast, it would be the 2013 Chevrolet Camaro, the fifth-generation version of this famous nameplate.
For starters, this coupe and convertible have the classic muscle-car looks that cause enthusiasts to drool. In its ZL1 guise -- named after a legendary 1969 model and packing a monster 6.2-liter V8 with a mind-blowing 580 horsepower on tap -- it also gives its pilot the power to do long, smoky burnouts at will. Even the 323-hp V6 of lower trim levels and the 426-hp V8 of the SS model are impressive, meaning there isn't a pokey Camaro in the bunch. Handling also is as sharp as you'd expect, yet the ride is reasonably compliant as well.
In terms of everyday practicality, however, the Camaro has a few shortcomings. Visibility is subpar all around. Rear-seat legroom is virtually nonexistent and the modest-sized trunk is hampered by an opening small enough to make loading longer items like a set of golf clubs a real challenge.
Will you care? Probably not. The Camaro's sex appeal is enough to make many buyers overlook those weaknesses. Still, we'd still recommend test-driving two other reborn pony cars, namely the 2013 Dodge Challenger and 2013 Ford Mustang. Both offer similar performance potential without the Camaro's downsides. That said, we think the 2013 Chevrolet Camaro has what it takes to bring out the playful hooligan in anybody.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Chevy Camaro is available in both four-seat coupe and convertible body styles. There are six trim levels, including the V6-powered 1LS/2LS (coupe only) and 1LT/2LT. The V8-equipped 1SS/2SS and ultra-performance ZL1 round out the lineup and are available in both coupe and convertible body styles.
Standard equipment on the entry-level 1LS includes 18-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, keyless entry, air-conditioning, manually adjustable front seats with power recline, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth phone connectivity, OnStar and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, auxiliary audio input jack and satellite radio. The 2LS adds an automatic transmission.
The 1LT tacks on 18-inch alloy wheels, foglights, remote start (automatic transmission models only), eight-way power seats and the new MyLink smartphone integration, which includes Bluetooth audio capability and a USB port/iPod interface. The 2LT includes these items plus 19-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, auto-dimming rearview and driver's outside mirrors, extra gauges, a head-up display, rear park assist, a rearview camera (with a rearview mirror display), leather upholstery, heated front seats and a nine-speaker Boston Acoustics audio system (available separately on 1LT).
The 1SS is equipped similarly to the 1LT but adds a V8 engine, 20-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The 2SS essentially combines the 1SS model's performance bits with the 2LT's convenience and luxury features. A new 1LE option package on manual transmission-equipped SS models includes racetrack-inspired hardware upgrades including unique gearing, suspension tuning and tires.
The ZL1 is equipped similarly to the 2SS but adds ultra-performance upgrades in the form of a supercharged V8, massive Brembo brakes, four-mode stability/traction control, active "Magnetic Ride Control" suspension dampers, unique 20-inch wheels (with Goodyear Eagle F1 tires) and retuned power steering. Exterior styling features include a functional carbon-fiber air extractor for the hood as well as unique front and rear fascias. Inside the cabin are microfiber suedelike upholstery, red accent stitching and a smaller, flat-bottomed steering wheel.
The RS package (available on all trims but the LS and ZL1) adds 20-inch wheels and xenon headlights. A sunroof is optional on all coupe models except the LS, while a variety of exterior stripes and trim detailing are available across the board.
In addition to a soft top that powers down in about 20 seconds, all convertible versions also come standard with rear park assist (includes rearview camera).
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Chevrolet Camaro LS and LT are powered by a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 323 hp and 278 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a six-speed automatic is optional. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 19 mpg city/30 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined with the automatic transmission; these numbers drop 2 mpg across the board with the manual gearbox.
The Camaro SS gets a 6.2-liter V8 that produces 426 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque with the standard six-speed manual and 400 hp and 410 lb-ft with the six-speed automatic. With the manual, the SS hits 60 mph in 5 seconds; EPA-estimated fuel economy is 16 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined. The automatic is only slightly less fuel-efficient at 15/24/18.
The Camaro ZL1 boasts a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 with 580 hp and 556 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, with a six-speed automatic optional. In Edmunds track testing, the ZL1 accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds. Fuel mileage estimates are 14/19/16 with the manual transmission and 12/18/14 with the automatic.
Every 2013 Chevy Camaro comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Also standard is the OnStar telematics system, which includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking, stolen vehicle assistance and turn-by-turn navigation.
In government crash tests, the Camaro earned a top five-star rating overall, with five stars for front crash protection and five stars for side-impact protection. In Edmunds brake testing, both Camaro V6 and V8 coupes with 20-inch wheels came to a stop from 60 mph in an excellent 111 feet.
Interior Design and Special Features
Old-school pony cars weren't known for their jazzy interiors, but the 2013 Chevrolet Camaro makes a clean break with that tradition. Done up with a number of retro touches like square bezels around the gauges, the overall effect is stylish despite the use of a little too much hard plastic. Outward visibility, though, is hampered by thick roof pillars and a low roof line.
The Camaro's new MyLink display interface features a clean layout and intuitive menu structure. Pleasingly, it allows further control of smartphone radio apps, such as Pandora and Stitcher. Unfortunately, the interface can prove frustrating to use at times, as reactions to touch inputs are occasionally slow or missed entirely.
While the front seats are comfortable enough, the Camaro's rear seat is the smallest among its rivals. The trunk is equally tiny at just 11.3 cubic feet, and that space can't be expanded due to the absence of fold-down rear seatbacks. The smallish trunk opening also makes loading and unloading larger items a frustrating experience.
No matter what engine you choose, no one will ever accuse your 2013 Chevrolet Camaro of being slow. Buying a V6 Camaro isn't the stigma it used to be. The V6 responds quickly to the throttle and then revs freely, and the exhaust note is more liter-bike motorcycle than commuter car. Still, the V8 more ably fits the Camaro persona with its tire-shredding power and thundering exhaust note. All of that goes double for the supercharged ZL1.
Around corners, the Camaro grips hard and feels precise through the steering wheel. It's not the easiest car to see out of, and there's a lot of weight to manage, but by and large the Camaro is pretty talented. This year's new 1LE package further ups the car's handling potential, but the world-class ZL1 is in another league entirely. Not only does it deliver acceleration on par with exotic supercars costing many thousands more, but also the high-tech adaptive suspension and upgraded Brembo brakes give it well-rounded performance that works as well on the racetrack as on the daily commute.