Overview (Final Score: B)
The 2017 Chevrolet Camaro is the current rendition of this iconic American sports car. The Camaro is best known for its muscular look, fast-paced past and beautiful convertible option. The 2017 model sees the addition of the ZL1 performance model, fitting above the SS thanks to its supercharged V8, and some options shuffling through the trim lineup.
The Camaro comes in four basic flavors, each designated by its engine. The 4-cylinder base model is decent enough for a four banger, offering enough power to keep the Camaro from feeling cheaply sluggish. The V6 is an excellent choice for everyday drivers and those who want performance appeal without the insurance and pump price that comes with the V8. The V8 options are both muscular and throaty, bringing all of the love that entails.
Both enthusiasts and new-to-sports buyers will enjoy the Camaro's good mix of power and driveability along with its strongly-styled exterior.
What We Love About the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro:
What We Don't Love About the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro:
- Excellent drive dynamic in both V6 and V8 models
- Great look with a good mix of nostalgia and future
- Solid performance from all four engine options
Exterior View (10/10 relative to market)
- Poor visibility to the rear
- Angle of the infotainment screen creates glare
- Interior ergonomics hit-and-miss
There's no way around it, the 2017 Camaro is a looker. From its GT-inspired roofline to its muscular fenders and fast-paced hood lines, the Camaro is a powerfully-built machine. There is a certain look to an American pony car and the Camaro certainly captures it.
The 2017 Chevrolet Camaro has peering headlights to either side of its bowtie-clad, thin grille. Underneath that is a wide expanse of intake above a Daytona-styled front aero kit. The hood runs up from the grille, bulging in the middle with three parallel lines to create the airflow duct that opposes the over-roof airflow dimple. Hunched fenders finish the muscular front end, which flows into the bodywork with simple lines.
A deep cut in the lower panel adds accent to an otherwise smooth panel and creates a counter line to the powerfully muscular rear fenders, which emphasize the rear-driven strength of the Camaro. A coupe-style roofline and clipped trunk finish the body. The rear end is smoothly rounded, in partial homage to Camaro models of the past while keeping a modern edge with its elongated corners and LED lighting.
Everything about the 2017 Camaro says that it's fast, road-ready and powerful to drive.
Interior Comfort, Quality, Ergonomics (7/10)
If the only comparison for the 2017 Camaro were against the previous-generation of the car, then the interior would be considered top shelf. Improvements are massive, but when compared to the market as a whole, they are still barely at par.
Materials quality is very good, a nice uptick from what might be expected when looking at current comparables. Yet ergonomics and comfort are hit-and-miss in the Camaro, with some missing more than hitting. Outward visibility is a serious concern in the 2017 Camaro and could be a safety problem if a driver isn't astute.
Yet with these negatives, there are a lot of up-sides. Styling is perspicacious in the Camaro, with the interior having a mixture of Americana and Euro appeal. We especially like the flow of the dash and the feel of the driver's position. Most of the cockpit is canted towards the driver, making that the central location for all of the action. As it should be in a sports car.
Seating in front is very good with excellent bolstering and good leg, hip and shoulder room. The side bolsters manage to be supportive and unobtrusive, striking a good balance between everyday comfort and sporty hold.
As with most 2+2 coupes, though, the back seats of the Camaro are useful only for an extra bag of groceries or a small dog.
The 2017 Chevrolet Camaro has some excellent infotainment options and sport driving aids to be had. There are two small downsides that keep them from being a real "10" on our meter, though. The first is the down-over cant of the infotainment screen, which makes it prone to receiving glare from the side mirrors and dashboard lights. The second is the marginal voice recognition, which is not on par with current expectations in ease of use and natural language capability. Woe unto those with an accent here!
The tech offered in the Camaro is otherwise top shelf. Chevrolet's system is fast and runs on a large, clear screen with excellent graphics quality. Smartphone integration is equally good and those who are fans of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto will find full integration.
The base infotainment screen is a 7-inch MyLink system from Chevrolet with a good amount of functionality for a base offering. The upgrade is to an 8-inch screen running a more robust version of MyLink.
Fuel Economy (8/10)
The 2017 Chevrolet Camaro has several options in powertrains, each with a differing fuel economy return. The best mix of performance and fuel economy is with the Camaro's V6 engine option.
The base engine is a 4-cylinder that returns 20 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway with the manual transmission and 22/31 with the automatic. The latter being the best return available for the Camaro in terms of MPG.
The V6 engine in the mid-grade packages returns 16 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway with the manual transmission and an impressive 19 mpg city and 28 highway with the automatic. Our real-world driving of a Camaro Convertible with the V6 automatic saw close to that in the near-identical 2016 model.
In the performance-oriented V8 packages, there are two engine output options depending on configuration. The standard V8 packages are rated at 14 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway with the manual transmission and 17/27 with the 8-speed automatic. Our time in the SS model found that these are on the more optimistic end, as driving with fuel economy in mind with a performance car like the Camaro SS requires much more self-control than we could muster.
With the 10-speed automatic in the performance ZL1 package, fuel economy numbers drop to 12 mpg city and 20 highway. The manual transmission raises those to 14/20 in the ZL1.
Predicted Reliability, Initial Quality Ratings (8/10)
There isn't much to go on with the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro in terms of reliability expectation, but the 2016 model year received good marks from J.D. Power and Associates in their Vehicle Dependability Study, so we believe these will carry forward for 2017.
Among those in the American muscle class, safety ratings have usually been secondary to performance and style. That's changed in the past few years and the Camaro reflects that well. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ranks the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro with a best-possible 5-Star overall rating, with four stars for frontal crash tests and five stars for both side crash and rollover protection.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has given the 2017 Camaro a top ranking of "Good" for all but the roof strength test, which received a second-best "Acceptable" rating. The Camaro does not have advanced safety options such as crash mitigation available.
Performance levels in the 2017 Camaro are excellent. The 4-cylinder outputs pretty well considering its size and entry-level status, but the V6 is surprisingly powerful and astute in this pony car and the throaty V8 in either format is about as good as it gets. Add in the excellent cornering and road dynamic of the Chevrolet Camaro, especially with the upgrade to adjustable dampers, and you have a seriously excellent sports car here.
The 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine is rated at a respectable 275 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. In a rear-wheel drive sports car selling for about $25,000, that is unusually good. This isn't a race-winning engine, but it's better than might be expected from a little four banger. An 8-speed automatic transmission is standard and a 6-speed manual is optional.
The V6 is surprisingly awesome in the Camaro. This 3.6-liter six has 355 horses and 285 lb-ft of torque output with the same transmission options as above. This makes the Camaro a great performance vehicle, though V8 purists might disagree. Zero to 60 times of 5 seconds are doable without much expertise in this setup.
The V8 engine comes in two flavors, both of which are 6.2-liter monsters nearly identical to that found in the Corvette. The SS model uses the 455 hp version with 455 lb-ft to match. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard here, but the 8-speed automatic is an option. Zero to 60 mph times are in the sub-4-second range.
The other V8 is the same engine up-tuned and supercharged to produce 650 horsepower and 650 lb-ft for the ZL1 package. A 6-speed manual is again the standard transmission, but a new 10-speed automatic is available. Insane 0-60 times will be had and could culminate in nearly 200 miles per hour as a top speed for this version of the Camaro.
Unlike many American sports cars in this arena, the Camaro backs up its muscularity with wonderful cornering dynamics. Although not quite on par with the Europeans it might be compared with overseas, the 2017 Camaro learned a lot from GM's Corvette and Cadillac engineers. And it shows. This may well be the best-handling American pony car available.
Pricing and Value (8/10)
The value term in sports cars is a bit vague, given that it's entirely subjective. Brand loyalty is big with American sports cars, so choice of purchase is more likely to hinge on the car model than it is on qualified metrics like safety or value. Still, the Camaro does well on this front.
Pricing for a base model is about par with the segment and the 2017 Camaro has an interior that is competitive, and sometimes better, than rivals. At the mid-point with the V6-equipped LT series, the Camaro is priced about right in the $35,000 range. Performance models like the SS begin in the $40,000 area and are also price-competitive.
Resale values for the Camaro vary a lot by model. Higher-end models hold higher resale, but it's difficult to say whether transmission choice is as important as it once was. In years past, having a manual transmission was a boon to resale value, but today, with the excellent programming and capability of the automatics, that may not be as true.
Total Score and Competitive Comparison (68/80, 85%)
The obvious competition for the Chevrolet Camaro is its long-time rival the Ford Mustang. The Dodge Challenger is another American muscle coupe option. Some might consider European options like the BMW 2 Series Coupe as well.
Comparatively, the Mustang is the closest rival to the Camaro, as it has been historically. Engine options are similar, though Ford offers some turbocharging early on that may peak some buyers' interest. Handling is similar, but we think the Camaro is a tad better in the corner. Safety is better in the Mustang, according to crash tests, and there are more options for driver aids and crash mitigation there. So compare closely when shopping.
The Dodge challenger is a different animal than the Camaro, so comparisons are difficult. It's a bigger, roomier, more nostalgically-styled coupe that has no convertible option. It has a usable back seat, spacious trun, and more rumbling style in comparison to the Camaro. It's not as quick until you get into the high-end model comparisons and look at the hellaciously muscular 707-horsepower Hellcat model. Which doesn't come cheap.
Overall, we are big fans of the Chevrolet Camaro in this newest rendition. The 2017 Camaro in both its coupe and convertible forms and with either the V6 or V8 muscle is an excellent sports car.