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For tire-burning power and Hollywood looks, it doesn't get much better than the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro. The reintroduced Z/28 model is sure to thrill around a racetrack as well.
Strong acceleration with any engine; head-turning looks; good V6 fuel economy; capable handling.
Poor visibility; cramped backseat; tiny trunk opening.
The Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 returns for 2014 (this time with the slash). The new, race-ready Z/28 features a variety of upgrades, including the V8 formerly used in the Corvette Z06 and unique suspension and brake upgrades. Throughout the Camaro line, you'll see an updated look with a wider lower mouth, a compressed upper grille, new headlights, one-piece taillights and a new spoiler and exhaust tips. New optional Recaro front seats are available for the SS and ZL1 coupes.
After fourth-generation Camaro production stopped back in 2002, many feared this automotive icon was dead for good. Thankfully, Chevy brought it back after a nearly decade-long hiatus. Even better, Chevrolet has been making steady improvements since. For the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro, you'll instantly spot the car's sleeker front grille, new headlights and taillights, and minor changes all around. But the return of the Z/28 moniker adds a whole new level to Camaro performance this year.
With the existing 426-horsepower SS and 580-hp ZL1 models, the Chevy Camaro lineup certainly wasn't short on tire-frying power. New for 2014, the racetrack-themed Z/28 buffs out the Camaro's handling capabilities. To start, Chevy implemented a variety of weight-saving measures, including no standard air-conditioning and reduced sound-deadening material. The Z/28's performance is further fortified by a trick race-oriented suspension, standard carbon-ceramic brakes and special aerodynamic body pieces. Under the hood you'll find the 7.0-liter V8 formerly used in the (now-discontinued) Corvette Z06 that cranks out approximately 500 hp.
Essentially, the Z/28 is a stripped-out, beefed-up, maximum-grade version of the Camaro that's happiest on a racetrack. But should all this seem like too much (whether in terms of specs or price), know that any Camaro is still going to be loads of fun. If the three available V8 engines are too much grunt for your needs, a 323-hp V6 is still available, and it gets respectable mileage, too. Meanwhile, with its sleek lines, big wheels, bulging hood and swollen wheel arches, the Camaro continues to be a real looker.
Alas, there are some downsides endemic to the Camaro. Seeing out of the thing, for instance, is one of the car's more distracting elements. The tiny windows look great from the outside, but they result in poor outward visibility. And if you're planning on taking friends anywhere, you'd better hope those friends are very small children, as the backseat is a real squeeze for adults.
Then again, limited practicality is pretty much a given with a muscle car. The Dodge Challenger and the Ford Mustang are two names that have gone head-to-head with the Camaro for years and they both offer different strengths. The Mustang provides similar performance for less money and is still our favorite pick for base V6 and V8 models, but the ZL1 is better than the GT500, and there's no Mustang equivalent to the new Z/28 this year. The Challenger, meanwhile, is the roomiest and most comfortable in this group, but it does feel significantly larger and less nimble to drive. As an alternative to all of the above, Hyundai's Genesis Coupe might be worth a look.
Whichever performance car you settle on, know that the Camaro will turn heads on a regular basis and will seldom fail to put a smile on your face.
The 2014 Chevy Camaro is available in both four-seat coupe and convertible body styles. There are eight trim levels, including the V6-powered 1LS/2LS and 1LT/2LT, the V8-powered 1SS/2SS and high-performance ZL1. Topping out the range is the ultra-performance Z/28. The 1LS/2LS and Z/28 models are available only as a hardtop coupe, while all other Camaro models are available as a coupe or convertible.
Standard equipment on the entry-level 1LS includes 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, keyless entry, air-conditioning, manually adjustable front seats with power recline, cruise control, a manual 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 foglights, remote start (automatic transmission models only), eight-way power front seats, a 7-inch touchscreen with smartphone app integration (Chevy's "MyLink") and Bluetooth audio connectivity. In addition to a power-operated soft top, all 1LT convertible versions also come standard with rear parking sensors and a rearview camera.
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 parking sensors and a rearview camera, leather upholstery, heated front seats and a nine-speaker Boston Acoustics audio system. Most equipment on the 2LT is optional on the 1LT, so the main distinction between these two trims is leather upholstery, which is not available on the 1LT.
The 1SS is equipped similarly to the 1LT but adds a V8 engine, a limited-slip differential, 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. The 1LE Performance package available only 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 several performance upgrades in the form of a supercharged V8, Brembo brakes, adaptive magnetic suspension dampers, unique 20-inch wheels with performance summer tires and retuned power steering. Exterior styling features include a functional carbon-fiber air extractor for the hood as well as a unique rear spoiler and unique front and rear fascias. Inside the cabin you'll find simulated suede upholstery and a smaller, flat-bottomed steering wheel.
The RS package (available on all trims but the 1LS/2LS and ZL1) adds 20-inch wheels, a rear spoiler 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. Recaro sport seats are available on SS and ZL1 coupe models.
A stripped-out, ultra-high-performance version of the Camaro, the new Z/28 weighs a claimed 300 pounds fewer than the ZL1 thanks to a variety of weight-saving measures, including reduced sound-deadening material and the deletion of the air-conditioning system (don't worry, you can get it back as an option). The Z/28 Camaro comes with a larger, more powerful V8 engine, special lightweight 19-inch wheels, a special race-oriented suspension, performance tires and carbon-ceramic brakes. The 2014 Chevy Camaro Z/28 is only offered with a six-speed manual transmission. Xenon headlights and foglights are not available and the car's minimalist stereo has only one speaker.
The 2014 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 20 mpg combined (17 mpg city/28 mpg highway) with the manual transmission. The automatic transmission equipped on the 1LS, 1LT and 2LT returns an EPA-estimated 22 mpg combined, while the automatic transmission on the 2LS has a longer final-drive ratio and gets 21 mpg.
The Camaro SS has 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 4.8 seconds; EPA-estimated fuel economy is 19 mpg combined (16 mpg city/24 mpg highway). The automatic is only slightly less fuel-efficient at 18 mpg combined.
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 a very quick 4.4 seconds. Fuel mileage estimates are 16 mpg combined with the manual transmission and 14 mpg with the automatic.
The Camaro Z/28 gets a 7.0-liter V8 with an estimated 500 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. A six speed manual is the only transmission available.
Every 2014 Chevy Camaro comes standard with antilock disc brakes, traction and 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, a Chevy Camaro SS with the 1LE came to a stop from 60 mph in 108 feet, while a ZL1 Convertible did it in 107 feet. Both are excellent distances, but keep in mind that both of these test cars had summer performance tires. Camaros with all-season tires likely won't stop as short.
Old-school pony cars weren't known for their jazzy interiors, but the 2014 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, and you'll want to make sure you can live with this aspect of Chevy Camaro ownership during your test-drive.
The Camaro's touchscreen display interface features a clean layout and intuitive menu structure, and it allows 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 of larger items a frustrating experience.
The Camaro Convertible has 10.2 cubic feet of trunk capacity with the top up and dips below 8 cubes with the top down. Although the convertible top is power-operated, you have to release a manual latch in the cockpit to open it, and the protective vinyl cover for the top must be secured from outside the car.
No matter which engine you choose, no one will ever accuse your 2014 Chevrolet Camaro of being slow. Buying a V6 Camaro isn't the stigma it used to be. The V6 is responsive and revs freely, and the exhaust note is pleasingly sporty. Still, the V8 better fits the Camaro's tough guy persona with its tire-shredding power and thundering sound. All of that goes double for the supercharged ZL1.
Driven around turns, the Camaro grips hard and steers with precision. 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 on twisty roads. The world-class ZL1, however, is in another league entirely. Not only does it deliver acceleration on par with exotic supercars costing many thousands more, but its adaptive suspension and upgraded Brembo brakes make it equally well-mannered on the racetrack and your daily commute.
We haven't driven the 2014 Chevy Camaro Z/28 yet, but expectations are high for its dominance on the track.
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