Used 1996 Chevrolet Camaro Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1996

A new 200-hp base V6 is available. Z28's 285-hp LT1 V8 (gets 10 more horsepower this year). SLP Engineering provides a 305-horse Z28 SS. The RS trim level returns, and chrome-aluminum wheels are optional.

Vehicle overview

"From the country that invented rock n' roll," claim the advertisements for this Quebec, Canada-built sport coupe. A small technicality, we suppose, but there are no technicalities when it comes to the Camaro's performance abilities, particularly in Z28 guise. The Z is blazingly quick, holds the road tenaciously, costs less than the average price of a new car in this country, and gets decent gas mileage when it's not being hammered along a twisty two-lane road.

For 1996, Camaro buyers will note few visual changes to their favorite pony car. Cayenne Red Metallic paint is new this year, and chrome aluminum wheels are available to the gold chain set. A new RS trim level is available, sporting lower front and rear fascia extensions, rocker panel moldings and a three-part spoiler.

Engine enhancements are the big news this year. The base engine is the 3800 Series II V6, which makes 200 horsepower. That's 40 horsepower more than last year's base engine, and 45 more ponies than Ford's Mustang can produce. Phased in during the 1995 model year, the new V6 can be mated to a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmission. With a manual, the Series II V6 gets the Camaro to 60 mph nearly as quickly as a Ford Mustang GT. In fact, the existence of this powerplant makes a strong argument for avoiding the higher insurance rates and prices of the Z28. An optional Performance Handling Package puts bigger tires, alloy wheels, tighter steering, four-wheel disc brakes and a limited slip differential on the V6 Camaro.

From a bang-for-the-buck standpoint, the Z28 is unbeatable. A Corvette-derived 5.7-liter V8 gets 285 horsepower to the pavement through the rear wheels, 10 more horses than last year. Also new is an SS version of the Z28, and it makes 300 horsepower, thanks to a big air scoop on the hood that forces cool air into the engine. SLP Engineering, known for working magic with GM's F-bodies since the late 80s, does the conversion work on the Z28 SS. See your dealer for details.

The interior of the Camaro is functional, if not slightly garish. New trim cloth graces the cabin, and you can order your Camaro with a new interior color called Neutral. The Camaro holds a respectable amount of gear in the cargo hold, and airbags and antilock brakes are standard. More mature drivers can order traction control, but that option defeats some of the fun of Chevy's ponycar: smoky, adolescent burnouts that leave the drivers behind choking on charred Goodyears.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.