If the regular V6-powered Camaro lacks the horsepower you're seeking, perhaps it's time to take a look at the V8-motivated Camaro SS. The high-performance model first arrived at dealers as a range-topping model, but now with the arrival of the ZL1 and Z/28, the SS occupies the middle ground.
For the latest model year, the Camaro SS benefits from a subtle nip-and-tuck that includes a narrower upper grille flanked by restyled headlights, a widened lower grille, single-piece taillights and a new spoiler.
Previously, the SS gained a performance-focused, ZL1-inspired 1LE Package. Also new is an available MyLink infotainment system that can be outfitted with navigation functionality - a first for the Camaro.
The Camaro SS is motivated by a 6.2-liter V8 that can be had in two forms depending on transmission selection. When coupled with the six-speed automatic transmission, the SS is good for 400 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque, while opting for the manual gearbox will net an additional 26 horsepower and 10 torque, for a grand total of 426 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque.
The more powerful version of the SS, with its six-speed manual transmission, will return 16 city, 24 highway miles per gallon. Opting for the automatic will raise the highway figure to 25 mpg.
Other SS goodies include four-piston Brembo brakes, a sportier FE3 suspension and Competitive/Sport modes for the car's StabiliTrak stability control system, including launch control for manual SS models.
Of note, GM claims the Camaro SS lapped Germany's Nurburgring in 8 minutes 20 seconds. While not as blistering as the Corvette ZR1's 7:26.4 second lap, it still puts the car in some pretty decent company, such as the E46 BMW M3.
The Camaro SS recently gained an electric power steering system taken from the fine-handling ZL1. Despite this addition, the Camaro SS remains slightly less nimble than its main competitor - the Ford Mustang - due largely to its heftier curb weight. It continues to offer up a comfortable ride and excellent directional stability, however.
Inside, the Camaro recently received a minor cabin update with a new steering wheel and a revised gauge cluster. While the changes help make the car's stylish interior a bit more user-friendly, they do little to mitigate the visibility problems created by the show-car exterior styling - thick pillars and a high beltline mean that seeing out of the sides and back of the Camaro can be a challenge. Thankfully, Chevrolet does offer an optional backup camera.
New to the Camaro is an optional MyLink infotainment system, which offers voice control of certain entertainment functions and includes Bluetooth smartphone connectivity and streaming audio via Pandora radio and Stitcher SmartRadio. MyLink comes with a color touchscreen and can be outfitted with navigation.
Trim Level Breakdown
The entry-level 1SS trim comes standard with A/C, full power accessories, a six-speaker FM/CM/CD/SiriusXM stereo, Bluetooth connectivity, power-reclining front seats, cruise control, keyless entry and 20-inch painted aluminum wheels. The 2LS brings an automatic gearbox.
The 2SS adds leather upholstery, an eight-speaker Boston Acoustics sound system with a USB port, an auxiliary four-gauge cluster, a heads-up display and a rearview camera.
An RS appearance package is available on the SS and includes HID headlamps with an integrated halo ring feature, spoiler, specific tail lamps and 20-inch wheels. There is also a recently added Rear Vision Package with combines Rear Park Assist, Rear Vision Camera and inside rearview auto-dimming mirror with built-in rearview camera display.
The 1LE package adds several goodies from the top-spec Camaro ZL1 while keeping the overall bottom line in check. Aimed at the road racing crowd, it can be added to 1SS and 2SS trim levels equipped with a six-speed manual transmission. However, 1LE cars ditch the SSï¿½ standard Tremec TR6060-M10 in favor of a performance-tuned Tremec TR6060-MM6 with a numerically higher 3.91 final-drive ratio.
The 1LE also replaces the twin-tube dampers found on standard SS cars with monotube rear dampers, which Chevrolet says provides better body-motion control while maintaining a comfortable on-road ride. Other 1LE performance upgrades include larger stabilizer bars, a strengthened rear end, strut tower brace and a ZL1-derived high capacity fuel pump. A dual-mode exhaust system will stand as a 1LE option.
Although those improvements donï¿½t change the Camaro SSï¿½ 426 horsepower rating, Chevy says the car can pull 1g in the corners.
In order to visually set the 1LE apart from its SS counterparts, the package includes a matte-black hood, front splitter and rear spoiler, as well as 10-spoke alloy wheels borrowed from the ZL1. Inside the 1LE borrows even more content from the ZL1, including a flat-bottomed steering wheel and shift knob.
All Camaro SS models are equipped with dual front, front side and full-length side-curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems.
Those looking at the Camaro SS should also consider the Ford Mustang GT, Dodge Challenger R/T and the Hyundai Genesis Coupe.