Motor Trend announced their favorite car of this year. Surprisingly, it was the 2016 Chevy Camaro that was their top pick.
The Camaro had to go up against some pretty tough competition to get this award. Cars like the Audi TT, BMW 7 series, Honda Civic, Mazda MX-5 Miata, Mercedes-AMG GT S, and Toyota Mirai were among the contenders. So, how did a car like the Camaro win this award?
In order for a car to be awarded “car of the the year” by Motor Trend, the finalists are judged in 6 categories: engineering excellence, advancement in design, safety, performance of intended function, efficiency, and value. The new 2016 Camaro excelled in all these categories. Motor Trend praised its high-performing engines, exceptional handling, and lighter platform. Ultimately calling it one of the finest driving vehicles on the market.
Motor Trend editor-in-chief Edward Loh said the Camaro’s win “may come as a surprise.” But surprise or not, the muscle car has clearly surpassed the competition.
The engineering masterpiece has the Camaro’s new platform as the star of the show. The Camaro is supported by the same chassis in the Cadillac ATS, which is a rear-drive Alpha platform. Even though it’s lighter, the classic unibody of the Camaro is still a lot stronger than the previous chassis. Chevy has also employed the use of suspension tweaks to help further this architectural goldmine. There are now holes that have been drilled into the five-link rear suspension, aiding even further in weight loss. These components, along with the use of more aluminum parts, results in a base curb-weight loss of 390 pounds. Significantly lighter than the 2015 model.
Hours of testing in a wind tunnel was the main catalyst for engineering the new exterior design. The Camaro now has a new draft angle and wider grille that leads into a “reverse mohawk” channel on the roof, tapering off smoothly at the spoiler. Combined to make a slimmer figure that significantly reduces airflow.
This lighter weight means more responsive braking, tighter steering around corners, and a much nimbler performance overall.
The designers were charged with the difficult task of sculpting a modern Camaro body around this smaller architectural design provided by the new platform, while still giving credit to the older model design. The tighter proportions of the Camaro accompany the new design well, making it an intimidating presence on the road. It may be slimmer to reduce airflow, but it is still plenty muscular.
The hood is beveled inward toward the draft angle in the center, giving off the impression of a stoic mountain sitting in a rolling valley. The sides of the Camaro are still accented with thick and muscular bulging lines that continue on to the fenders in the back, which pop out like the perfect size bicep. Emphasizing the term “muscle car” even more.
Inside is just as refined, no cheap plastics in this hot-rod. The interior is rich with durable top-quality plastic, and where there isn’t plastic there is premium leather with fine, accented stitching. The design of the center console is sleek and compact, a storage area and two cup holders nestled behind the stick-shift. The overall design still provides ergonomic excellence for grabbing gears as you tear down the road, punishing the asphalt.
Edward Loh from Motor Trend again said “In terms of design, it is one of the sexiest cars on the road today — sharper and more sophisticated inside and out,” also stating “Yet, still instantly recognizable as the icon it is.”
The days of sacrificing safety for the fun and power of a hot-road are officially over; now you can have both. The new platform from the Cadillac ATS received a 5-star rating in every single category from NHTSA for crashworthiness. There is no reason for the platform to be any less safe on this muscle car. The Camaro also sports just as many air bags as most sedans that win 5-star safety awards.
With dual-stage frontal, thorax, side-impact and knee, driver and front passenger, head curtain side-impact, and in front and rear outboard seating position air bags. It also sports child safety seats through a LATCH system, OnStar for if you need help on the road, Rear Cross-traffic Alert, Rear Park Assist, Rear Vision Camera, Side Blind Zone Alert, StabilTrak stability control system with brake assist, and the list goes on depending on the trim.
With safety features comparable to the most state of the art vehicles, its no wonder this muscle car turned some heads in this category. Especially when a car with a 5-star safety rating platform has muscle behind it.
Performance of Intended Function
It wasn’t just the Camaro RS 1LT V6 that caught the attention of Motor Trend, but also the legendary SS model with a V8 engine as well. Since this is a muscle car, I think it’s safe to say that its intended function is to rip down the asphalt. Obviously, Motor Trend thinks it is one of the better cars out there to do that.
Gone is the stigma that the V6 automatic Camaro is a weaker shell of the V8 manual, it’s no longer something to underestimate.
The 222 cu. in. V6 aluminum block engine is paired to an 8-speed automatic that churns out an impressive 355 horsepower. That is just for stepping on the pedal. If you really want to be blown away, the infamous SS paired with a 376 cu in V8 aluminum block and 6-speed manual transmission puts out a roaring 455 horsepower. A significant increase in horsepower when compared to previous models. The new Camaro SS is supposed to hit 0-60 in 4 seconds flat, and crush the standing quarter-mile in 12.3 seconds.
Motor Trend said that the Camaro transcends the criteria of performance, not in relation to the Mustang GT, but tests against BMWs, Audis, and AMGs. Stating that it is a revelation with “…world-class sports car performance and dynamics from an American Icon. The new Camaro is one of the finest driver’s cars in the world. and that’s before you even talk about the price.”
For those Camaro enthusiast out there at war with your arch-enemy the Mustang GT, get ready. Since the GT put on 196 pounds, the Camaro is bound to be more efficient in terms of performance and fuel economy. Oh sweet, sweet revenge.
The fuel economy of the Camaro isn’t anything stellar in a general sense, but for a muscle car it’s pretty darn good. The lighter weight reduction definitely helped with fuel economy, the bigger SS model with a V8 was recorded with Motor Trends Real MPG tests getting 16 mpg city, 25 mpg highway, which is 19 mpg combined.
Nothing extravagant, but then again this is American muscle we are talking about.
This is probably the biggest factor that cinched the award, and will for consumers as well. Motor Trend named this car of the year award by weighing in multiple factors, and a heavyweight was the price. The price of the new high-performance muscle rocket is, surprisingly, viciously competitive. The Camaro starts off with a baseline model at $25,700 MRSP and the highest end model sits at $41,000 with a 6.2-liter V8 Direct Injection. Combining a powerful, muscular, animal of a hot-rod with a price that is almost too good to be true.
Expect this beast to storm the market with teeth bared and claws sharpened in early 2016.