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2018 Chevrolet Camaro Overview
The Chevrolet Camaro transforms into a truly extreme machine for 2018 with the all-new ZL1 1LE Extreme Track Performance package, designed to boost the iconic muscle car's track-ready handling and performance while maintaining its daily-driver characteristics. Chevy offers a milder 1LE track package as an add-on for V6- and V8-powered Camaros, but the ZLE 1LE Extreme Track Performance is a completely different beast. It turns the already top-of-the-line, performance-oriented ZL1 into the most powerful, most aggressive, and sportiest Camaro ever built.
The ZL1 1LE Extreme Track Performance package, or more simply the ZL1 1LE, starts with an upgraded racing-derived suspension featuring Dynamic Suspension Spool Valve (DSSV) dampers from Multimatic, a Canadian company with a long history in creating performance dampers for motorsports. The unique suspension allows drivers to adjust the front-end ride height for track or over-the-road driving. Similarly, the upgraded rear stabilizer bar has 3 adjustment levels for various types of performance. The ZL1 1LE package also includes exclusive lightweight 19-inch forged-aluminum wheels and specially designed Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3R tires, which are the widest ever for a Camaro and ensure optimal lateral grip.
Outside, the ZL1 1LE package adds unique air deflectors to improve aerodynamics, while a revised front fascia, front dive planes, and a carbon-fiber rear wing create downforce and help the Camaro stay firmly planted while accelerating or motoring through tight turns. Other ZL1 1LE add-ons include a track cooling package, a dual-mode exhaust system, a satin black hood, and black exterior mirrors. Thinner rear glass, a fixed-back rear seat, and lighter wheels and dampers help to reduce the Camaro ZL1 1LE’s weight by about 60 pounds when compared to the standard ZL1 coupe, making for a leaner, meaner, more aggressive machine. It can even lap the 2.9-mile test track at GM’s Milford Road Course 3 seconds faster than the base ZL1.
Chevrolet unveiled a new sixth-generation Camaro in 2016 to coincide with the muscle car's 50th anniversary, so other than the introduction of the ZL1 1LE package, it makes no changes to the street racer for 2018. The Camaro continues to come in both low-slung coupe and convertible body styles and base LS, mid-level LT (1LT and 2LT), sporty SS (1SS and 2SS), and high-performance ZL1 trims. Buyers can add a 1LE track package to the V8-powered SS coupe or to the LS and LT coupes when equipped with the available V6 engine. But it's the ZL1 1LE package that has the most impact—paired with the ZL1’s supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine, 6-speed manual transmission, and performance features like Brembo brakes, it turns the Camaro into the ultimate track-ready sport coupe.
The automaker continues to offer a Redline Edition package for the 2018 Camaro. Rolling over from the previous year, it includes such features as a red-accented grille, a blacked-out decklid, black exterior mirrors, black bowtie emblems, dark-finished taillights, and 20-inch black aluminum wheels with red accents. Chevy offers the Redline Edition on the LS, LT, and SS trims.
As in previous years, a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine powers the base LS and LT trims. Producing 275 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, it mates to either a 6-speed manual transmission (standard on the LS and 2LT trims) or an 8-speed automatic (standard on the 1LT and available on the 2LT) and drives the Camaro to 60 mph in about 5.5 seconds. The most fuel-efficient engine available for the Camaro, the turbo 4 manages numbers of 22 mpg city, 31 highway, and 25 combined with the automatic transmission and 20, 30, and 23 with the manual. An available 3.6-liter V6 engine, offered on all three lower-level trims, boosts horsepower to 335 and torque to 284 lb-ft and makes the car eligible for the 1LE Track Performance package. The V6 also links to either the 6-speed manual transmission or 8-speed automatic and shaves 3 seconds off its 0-to-60 time. Fuel-economy numbers slide to 16, 28, and 20 with the manual transmission and 19, 28, and 22 with the automatic, respectively.
The Camaro SS trims continue to come equipped with a beefy 6.2-liter naturally aspirated V8 engine borrowed from the Corvette Stingray. It pumps out 455 hp and 455 lb-ft and mates to either the manual or automatic transmission. With this V8, the Camaro makes the trek to 60 mph in about 4 seconds and comes standard with a limit-slip rear differential, a larger-capacity cooling system, Brembo brakes, and dual stainless-steel exhaust pipes. EPA figures check in at 16, 25, and 19 with the manual transmission and 17, 27, and 20 with the optional automatic.
The Camaro ZL1 blows all other Camaros out of the water with its supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine. Borrowed from the Corvette Z06, it keeps a low profile under the hood despite kicking out 650 hp and 650 lb-ft, enhanced at both the low and high ends by an intercooled Eaton supercharger. The ZL1 comes standard with a 6-speed short-throw manual shifter with Active Rev Match, although buyers of the base ZL1 can opt for an all-new 10-speed automatic with paddle shifters. When equipped with the ZL1 1LE Extreme Track Performance package, it comes exclusively with the manual shifter. The ZL1 rockets from 0-60 in 3.5 seconds and posts fuel-economy numbers of 14, 20, and 16 with the manual.
The Camaro rides on a sport suspension and a rear-wheel-drive (RWD) platform shared with the Cadillac CTS and ATS, which means it provides a certain level of refinement while delivering all the handling and stability Camaro drivers expect. The steering has a good, weighted feel, especially in tight corners, and it can be adjusted via the Drive Mode selector along with the throttle progression, transmission shift points, and stability control settings. Drivers can choose from Tour, Sport, and Snow/Ice modes, as well as a Track mode on the SS trims. All Camaros come standard with StabiliTrak, while the ZL1 gets a Magnetic Ride Suspension and Tour, Sport, and Track drive modes.
The Camaro remains a good-looking car, with a wide stance, a low roofline, a hunky front end, and an aggressive profile. Camaro convertibles come equipped with a fully electronic fabric top, which drivers can raise or lower at speeds up to 30 mph. The SS and ZL1 trims come with high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights and a rear spoiler, while the 2SS and ZL1 also receive heated auto-dimming side mirrors. The LS and LT trims ride on 18-inch wheels, which are upgraded to 20-inchers for the SS and ZL1 trims.
The Camaro's 4-passenger cabin was significantly improved with the sixth-generation update, now offering better ergonomics and cutting-edge tech features. However, some reviewers note that the quality of the interior still doesn't match that of competitors like the Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger. Front passengers will find well-bolstered seats and plenty of legroom, but the back seat remains cramped and tough to get into. Standard features across the lineup include power-adjustable front seats, a leather-wrapped flat-bottom steering wheel, and Chevrolet's MyLink infotainment system with a touchscreen, satellite radio, and a reversing camera. The 2LT, 2SS, and ZL1 trims receive dual-zone air conditioning, heated and ventilated front seats, and a Bose audio system, while the 1LE Track package adds a suede-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. GM's OnStar system and Teen Driver come as standard safety equipment on all Camaros, along with a full range of airbags.
The Camaro holds its own performance-wise against its competitors, and its exterior styling continues to turn heads wherever the Camaro goes—including on the movie screen. Sore spots remain its fuel-economy numbers and interior fit and finish, but when it comes to track-ready performance, the 2018 Camaro is hard to beat thanks to its impressive new ZL1 1LE Extreme Track Performance package.
Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in California.
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