We faced the latter question after Chevy sent us this juicy, red, sweet, ripe tomato, a Camaro 2LT RS with the four-cylinder turbo. When you buy a car that looks this good and this fast, your bench-racing buddies are going to ask you the inevitable: what’s the horsepower? In this case, it’s a highly respectable 275 with 295 lb.-ft. of torque (more than the V-6), enough to send this baby to 60 in about 5.4 seconds.
Yes, we’ve driven the V-8 Camaro SS on street and track, and we love its 455 horsepower, not to mention the roar of the exhaust and the pop-pop-pop when you let up on the gas. It turns heads. It announces to the world aurally that you’ve just arrived on the scene. It makes us feel 18 again.
Secure and Confident
But if you’re secure about your place in the world and confident enough to brush off the horsepower questions, the four-banger in this 2LT is the refined and sensible way to go.
Over the past five decades, both the Camaro and Chevy’s smaller engines have undergone a remarkable transformation. Throw in stiff chassis engineering from Cadillac and you have a touring machine that’s absolutely perfect for a long weekend or a trek across country.
At $38,130, our tester was beautifully equipped. With the base price of $30,405, you already get a bunch of goodies, from leather interior to dual-zone climate control to a Bose sound system to Chevy’s excellent, user-friendly MyLink infotainment system.
The RS package ($1,950) includes 20-inch aluminum wheels, run-flat tires, HID headlights, some LED lamps, special front grilles and a rear lip spoiler. The heavy-duty cooling and brake package ($485) is a must, with its four-piston Brembos.
The convenience and lighting package at $2,800 adds a touch of needed luxury with memory seat and mirrors, interior spectrum lighting, illuminated sill plates, power mirrors, rear park assist, rear cross traffic alert, 8” driver information center, side blind zone and lane change alerts, head-up display and heated steering wheel. The razor-sharp spectrum lighting on doors, center screen and console is trés cool, especially when it changes from blue to red as you adjust the driving mode from Touring to Sport. The cherry on this sundae is Chevy’s “Red Hot” color, which gives you gobs of Porsche- or Ferrari-style curb appeal for no extra money.
Inside, the seats are supportive (except for the lack of a lumbar adjuster) and the leather is finely sewn. The dash is well-organized and a far cry from, say, the jumbled 2010 version. Gauges could not be easier to read and we like the digital dials that are front and center to check oil, water and other functions.
We also appreciate the ease of the climate controls and the idea that they are separate from the MyLink screen. Bose sound is top-notch and our iPhone became an integral piece of our trips, thanks to Apple CarPlay. There’s a wireless charger at the rear of the console, reachable by all passengers.
While there’s little room in the back seat for anything but small children or parcels, there is ample space in the trunk, with room for two suitcases plus accessories. If you need more, the rear seatback folds down.
OK, now you’re asking yourself how a car can be this good for around $38,000. So let’s get on to the nitpicks.
First and foremost is the exhaust sound. Push pedal to the metal and you get a robust tone worthy of a car that looks this good. But spool up the transmission normally and the hunt for gears is accompanied by an up-and-down, wow-wow-wow from the exhaust that sounds like an errant bumble bee or fly has invaded the cabin. It reminds you – no, assaults you – with the reality of four cylinders under the hood. Surely, if GM can produce a chassis this good, it can find a way to install a better exhaust, even if the roar has to be piped electronically into the cabin through those Bose speakers.
Then, there’s the somewhat claustrophobic cockpit. The chopped top and slit side windows bring panache to the exterior, but the black cabin can sometimes be as bleak as a coal mine, especially on a sunny spring day. If you don’t want to spend an extra $7,500 for the ragtop, then brighten things up with a power sunroof ($900), red or Kalahari (tan) interior trim (no extra cost) or at least a bit of red accent trim ($500) for some of the interior bits.
Sensible, Cerebral Choice
So, there’s no need to buy the 2LT, slap your head and exclaim, “I coulda hadda a V-8.” Instead, enjoy this beautiful touring coupe for what it is: the sensible and cerebral choice for those who love cars. No, it’s not a muscle machine. But at this price -- with solid power, a stiff chassis and gorgeous looks -- you won’t be disappointed.
2017 Chevrolet Camaro 2LT RS
Base Price: $30,405
Price as Tested: $38,130
Torque: 295 lb.-ft.
0-60: 5.4 secs.
See the window sticker