Is a Camaro Most Bitchin’ With a V-6?

Critics’ Notebook for Jan. 26, 2015.

Ben Preston/

During high school in the mid-Nineties, plenty of my classmates drove late-Eighties V-6 Camaros. These cars were appropriate platforms for teenage parking-lot tomfoolery, being sporty-looking but not all that fast. Since then, the V-6 Camaro has continued to play a distant second fiddle to the honking V-8 models.

My former classmates who retain their 18-year-old predilections but make some money would probably spring for a '16 model equipped with a snarling V-8 mill. But how many people with car payments and insurance providers unsympathetic to a cracked rocker panel suffered in a chicane at Watkins Glen are really going to be flogging these cars? My guess is not many.

The V-6 Camaro, with its rakish stance and significantly lower sticker price, could be Chevrolet's ticket for drawing more buyers into the Camaro niche. It's sharp-looking, fast and—with sport exhaust mode selected—loud. It's just the ticket for more approachable bad behavior, like stoplight drag racing and the aforementioned teenage tomfoolery.

But it also kills on curvy roads, something no one would have expected from a Camaro back in high school. Behind the wheel, it feels not unlike a turns-on-rails Corvette, but it has enough of a backseat to accommodate my four-foot-eleven mother-in-law. Granted, anyone taller needn’t attempt to stuff themselves into one of the rear perches.

Quite simply, this is a bitchin' Camaro. More bitchin', perhaps, than many of the V-8 Camaros that preceded it.

How could a V-6 Camaro be so cold-blooded? Simple. The car’s Cadillac-sourced 3.6-liter engine cranks out 335 horsepower, enough to propel the car to 60 mph in just over 5 seconds. Whereas the V-6 engine in Dodge's base-model Challenger wheezes out a pathetic buzz when you stomp on the gas, the V-6 Camaro's loud pedal gives you the satisfaction of a Cadillac CTS-ish rasp, along with enough horsepower and torque to drive the thing sideways down any boulevard or suburban lane you choose.

Ask me how I know.


2016 Chevrolet Camaro 2LT RS
PRICE (as tested): $35,150
POWERTRAIN: 3.6-liter V-6, 335 hp, 284 lb-ft torque; six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
MPG: 18 city / 27 highway