EXECUTIVE EDITOR RORY CARROLL: I almost got out and lifted the hood to confirm that this 2014 Chevrolet Camaro 2LT was the V6 model. It's got great power, and it feels lithe compared to the big-engined Camaros that have made their way into our fleet. This latest Camaro is lighter than the last one, which probably has as much to do with the way this car feels as anything else.
The interior was not exactly top-shelf, but it didn't feel cheap, either -- I certainly don't think I'd demand any more from a sub-$30K car in terms of quality.
The only trouble I see with this particular model is that once you approach the $30K mark, the V8 cars almost within reach and orders of magnitude are more desirable.
ASSOCIATE EDITOR GRAHAM KOZAK: This was the second Camaro I've been in recently that didn't quite manage to tick all the right boxes. The first was a convertible (strike one) ZL1 with a supercharged engine (heck yeah!) and an automatic gearbox (strike two). This 2LT does have a nice manual transmission, but not only is it not supercharged -- it doesn't even have a V8.
The missing pair of cylinders isn't quite a deal killer. Many good things have been said about this car's V6, and rightfully so: It is a good motor with more than adequate output. If you're not driving like an idiot you can even wring a few more miles out of each gallon of gas than you do with the bigger engine.
But be warned, prospective V6 Camaro buyers: It's not enough motor to satisfy a deep muscle-car craving. Given the number of drag strips the average Camaro owner visits (somewhere between none and zero) it's a deficit that will make it known in relatively subtle ways. Such as that awesome cammy idle that builds into a ferocious roar so readily when you punch the gas in a V8 car. Yeah, you're not getting that with the smaller engine. The V6 sounds farty at lower rpm and when it clears its throat at around the 3,000 mark, it might as well be an aftermarket unit.
That said it's an easy motor to live with, with accessible torque all the way around the tachometer -- good for stop-and-go around-town driving. Good motor, good power. We should all feel spoiled to live in an age where 300-plus hp is so affordable and so…tame.
But I'm not buying a Camaro because I like love all the hard plastic inside or because it's a particularly spritely handler -- I'm buying it because of that sweet, honkin' V8. Take that away and you're left with a competent performer wrapped in a flamboyant body. There's nothing particularly special, just a somewhat practical, relatively affordable, all-around sensible Camaro.
If that's what the Camaro is about to you, you'll enjoy this car a lot.
EDITOR WES RAYNAL: I got to admit I wasn't real excited when handed the Camaro V6 keys. I'm always tempted to dismiss V6 muscle cars for lacking, well, muscle. This car is an exception. Get it up above 3,500 rpm and there's plenty of power and the engine actually sounds good -- not so much at lower revs. The car feels light on its feet, too. It's wieldy and predictable and arguably better balanced than some V8 applications -- all good things. It's also quiet and refined on the road and frankly smoother than I thought it'd be. I'd have to say the overall driving experience was a pleasant surprise.
As noted above, the interior materials could use an upgrade. The design is fine, fit and finish is, too, but some places where your hand or arm or elbow rest you'll find hard surfaces. Not a disaster, but like my middle school report card often said, it could use improvement.
The car looks terrific to my eye. Nice and mean like its V8 siblings. And while, yes, I would plump for a V8 in my Chevy Camaro/Ford Mustang/Dodge Challenger, this car is not necessarily all show without the go.
2014 Chevrolet Camaro 2LT coupe
Base Price: $29,950
As-Tested Price: $34,190
Drivetrain: 3.6-liter V6; RWD, six-speed manual
Output: 323 hp @ 6,800 rpm, 278 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm
Curb Weight: 3,802 lb
Fuel Economy (EPA City/Highway/Combined): 17/28/20 mpg
AW Observed Fuel Economy: 19.4 mpg
Options: RS package including HID headlamps, LED halo ring, LED tail lamps, rear spoiler, summer tires ($1,650); 20-inch polished aluminum wheels ($900); dual-mode performance exhaust ($895); navigation system ($795)
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