The Chevy Camaro has always been a more practical Corvette. It has similar performance when ordered with its V-8 engine — the same basic V-8 you get in the Corvette — but for a lot less money and with one thing you can't get in a Corvette: an extra pair of seats.
There may not be much legroom in those back seats, but they're there. They make it at least possible to take more than one passenger along for the ride.
You can also get something surprising in the Camaro: gas mileage that's not bad.
Although it is a rear-wheel-drive muscle car, it's available with a fuel-efficient turbocharged four-cylinder engine that can get 31 mpg on the highway. That's only about 4 mpg less than most current front-wheel-drive economy cars get on the highway.
And front-wheel-drive economy cars do not get to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds.
The Camaro can.
And with its optional V-6 and V-8 engines, it can get there even sooner .
What It Is
The Camaro and its two rivals, the Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger, are living legends connecting the present to a time when Americans couldn't get enough horsepower — and were still able to afford it.
There are plenty of high-powered cars available today, but not many of them are available for the $25,000 Chevy asks for the base-trim LS Camaro, which comes with the 275-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a six-speed manual transmission and better performance (along with much better gas mileage) than any of the V-8 muscle cars of the late '60s and early '70s offered.
And if 5.4 seconds to 60 mph isn't enough performance, you can upgrade to a 335-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 in the LT trim ($26,995) or a 455-horsepower V-8 in the SS trim ($37,000), which will get you to 60 in 4 seconds.
To get there any quicker, you'll have to give up the extra seats — and get a Corvette!
Lots of big changes for 2019, including a $1,000 price drop for the base LS trim and a new 1LE Performance Package for four-cylinder-powered Camaros, which includes front and rear stabilizer bars with a larger diameter, firmer suspension tuning, upgraded 4-piston Brembo disc brakes, a 20-inch wheel/tire package and a limited-slip rear differential.
All 2019 Camaro trims get updated front and rear styling.
It has muscle car performance and looks, and economy car starting price and gas mileage.
It's got back seats.
It has exceptional legroom up front (43.9 inches).
What's Not So Good
Those back seats don't have much legroom (about 24 inches).
The Corvette has almost twice the trunk room (15 cubic feet versus 9 in the Camaro).
The low-cut roofline and raked rear glass can make it hard to see outside from the inside.
Under the Hood
The Camaro is available with three engines — the standard 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (275 horsepower), a midrange 3.6-liter V-6 (335 horsepower) or a 6.2-liter V-8 (455 horsepower) in the top-of-the-line SS trim.
You can select either a six-speed manual transmission or an eight-speed automatic with the 2.0- and 3.6-liter engines; the V8 is available with a six-speed manual or a 10-speed automatic.
All versions are rear-wheel drive.
On the Road
Whether you buy the four-cylinder, the six-cylinder or the V-8, you'll get where you're going in a hurry.
Your dilemma will be whether to get where you're headed even more quickly by going with the V-6 or at light speed with the top-of-the-line V-8.
Though this is a muscle car, it handles as precisely as a sports car ... once you get used to its muscle-car size. It sometimes feels like it occupies every inch of pavement in between the double yellow to your left and the white shoulder line to your right.
But the car steers like an X-acto knife and you soon get comfortable knowing it will go exactly where you point it.
Its main deficit is its outward visibility, especially to either side. Your view is impaired by the low roofline. It's a case of function following form.
At the Curb
The current Camaro is the closest yet to being a four-seater Corvette. The back seats are still there, but the legroom back there is almost nonexistent — even for a muscle car.
The trunk is also very small for such a relatively big car.
Both of its rivals have more livable back seats and much more trunk space, especially the Challenger.
But there's a case to be made for function following form. The Camaro is radical and bitchin' (as we Gen Xers used to say back in the '80s), and people who value that can probably deal with a tight back seat and a tiny trunk!
Camaro sales are down compared with that of its rivals, hence the price cut for 2019. It also means you'll likely be able to haggle that asking price down even more — which makes buying a new Camaro even more bitchin'!
The Bottom Line
If you missed the original muscle car era, here's your chance to relive it!
To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com. His new book, Don't Get Taken for a Ride! is available now.