It’s almost 2020. You’re sitting in a chair on your patio with your family on New Years Eve, thinking about cars. You tune out them out like every family gathering before it. Your mind wanders to Nissan. Specifically, the 370Z. You feel your blood start to boil. “Why did Nissan put enthusiasts on the backburner?” You silently scream. ”Why won’t anyone make a rival? At least something to spur Nissan into action? Why can’t I have a true V6 sports car anymore?!” You shout. Your family stares.
What if I told you that someone did make a rival? What if I told you that, yes, you can buy a true modern V6 sports car today? Enter: The Camaro V6 1LE.
(Full Disclosure: Chevy wanted me to drive this car so bad that I drove 800 miles to Arizona and bought it myself. It now has almost 10,000 miles on it, and I use it as a personal car. Credit to VinylLens.com for the shots)
What is it?
The Camaro V6 1LE is a special track package attached to a humble V6 Camaro. It gets you the same FE3 suspension from the SS that’s been specially tuned for the lower weight of the V6, along with a staggered tire set up, a front splitter, a rear blade spoiler, the front brakes from the SS, as well as oil, brake, and transmission coolers to handle the extra heat for extended track sessions. Essentially, you’re getting an SS without, well, the V8.
What’s it like to drive?
In a sense: This is going to be the closest you’re going to get to a true 370Z competitor. It has a 3.6L direct injected V6 making 335 horsepower at 7000 rpm and 284 pounds of twist at 5300 rpm. It weighs 3500 pounds and goes from a dead stop to 60 in 5 seconds flat. It may be a Camaro that’s plagued by the stigma of just a neutered muscle car, but make no mistake, this Camaro is a real bonafide sports car.
Per Road and Track, this car can circle the skidpad at 1G, and has a top speed of 155 miles per hour. Pretty good figures for just a V6 Camaro. Now if you’re asking what it’s like to actually handle, I’m afraid I cannot offer much beyond my encounters of spirited canyon carving, not true track experience. In this case, the only bar I have to compare to is an ND Miata.
And the two couldn’t be more different. The best way I could put it is that the Miata felt like an inexperienced, but willing, dancer. The limits were low but as long as you stayed within those limits you were always in step. The Camaro feels like a 2 time award winning salsa dancer. It is and continues to be entirely too much car for me during spirited corner carving, much less any sort of track use. The limits are high. Grip is not just plentiful but abounding, and there’s simply too much of it for the amount of power it’s putting out. It requires a truly experienced driver to fully realize the potential of this car.
But even with those criticisms in mind, that’s more than you can say about the 370Z. It’s supremely balanced, and although the limits are high the confidence this car gives you as a result is profound. It’s not just a corner carver, but a corner monster. This is not a muscle car. This is a sports car.
Is it a good daily?
The best I can say for the Camaro is that it’s a better daily than the Miata. But that’s not exactly the highest bar to clear. The sightlines are atrocious. The backseat nothing more than a glorified shelf and the trunk opening struggles to even fit golf clubs. Speaking of space, the inside of the Camaro is rather cramped, despite how big this car actually is. The Mustang makes a much better daily. And don’t even mention the Challenger.
Despite that though, it makes for a great cruiser. This particular model sports heated and ventilated seats, a suede wrapped heated steering wheel, dual zone climate control, a Bose audio system, and most importantly, Apple Car Play and Android Auto.
Gas mileage is... okay, for a V6. I’m able to get up to 30 miles per gallon if I really hyper mile it, but that’s rare. Overall, with city driving mixed in, I usually get around 20 MPG. Luckily, this V6 is rated to make full power with regular gas, which is great.
Now, I asked a lot of you what questions you’d like answered for this review, and ya’ll delivered. Here are some of your questions, answered.
Do these sell at a discount? Seems like Camaros are priced above similarly equipped Mustangs.
Yes, these very much do sell at a discount. I picked up this particular 2017 Camaro with 11 miles on it for $28,000. Now that seems pretty in line with most V6 Camaros, right? What if I told you the MSRP for this was $42,000? Yes, because no one wanted a loaded V6 track-packed Camaro for 42 grand I was able to pick this up for more than $10,000 off MSRP after it sat on the lot for 2 years. You can get some great deals on these if you’re willing to travel. And for the money, I say it’s worth it.
Why V6 over Turbo-4? I’ve heard great things about the 4 but the 6 seems to often be described as a rental car engine.
Before I bought this particular model I looked at a Turbo 4 Camaro and I gotta say; I don’t agree with that consensus. The V6 is smooth, linear, makes much of the same power and has an absolutely fantastic wail once you reach 5000 RPM. Plus, with the fact that it’s rated for full power on 87 octane, you save some money at the pump too.
I’m assuming you cross-shopped with the comparable Mustang, (would that be the V6 or the 4 cylinder) what made you go with the Camaro over the Mustang?
Simply because there is no V6 Mustang anymore, and even if there still was, the current generation was never made with any sort of performance package. Besides, after having several cars with inline 4s, I was ready for a change.
How many frozen burritos and/or hamsters can fit in the glove compartment?
At least 7.
Why not get the V8?
Now this is a good question. It all depends on money. If this car were listed at it’s full MSRP price of 42K, I would have never have bought this car. And after driving the new Camaro LT1, which starts at 35K, I can’t say I don’t miss having a V8. In fact, a V8 might be my next car after I get tired of this one. But that’ll be a while.
I want to know how many people ask if it’s a V8 and what’s their reaction to the V6.
It depends on the crowd. If I go to Cars and Coffee and try and park next to the rest of the V8 Camaros, I’m shown no love. But this car has garnered the attention of regular enthusiasts out on the street, and they seem to love it. Especially if you give it a good rev. I’ve received more than enough comments of “That’s a V6?!”
Is it as fun as an older 300hp Mustang?
Oh yes, absolutely. If you don’t mind the stigma of not having a V8, you’ll have a ton of fun with these newer Camaros.
How many small dogs fit in the glove box?
One, provided that said dog is the size of 7 frozen burritos.
What happens if a bird poops on the hood? I was looking at one of these, but that matte black hood worried me since I was going to be parking it outside 24/7.
I also park mine outside, and it’s honestly fine. A good wash will get it off. It’s actually fairly good vinyl.
Curb weight and weight balance (front-rear)?
Per Road and Track, it has a curb weight of 3514 pounds and a weight distribution of 51.9% front and 48.1% rear. So almost 50/50 weight balance.
I work at a Chevy dealer and personally believe the V6 1LE is the best ~$35K sports car. With that said, what would you change about yours?
I also believe it’s the best V6 sports car you can get for the money, but if it was me, I’d wish for more space and more power. At that point though, what you got is a Mustang. And that’s saying something.
The V6 Camaro 1LE is what Nissan should use as the benchmark for the next 370Z. It’s just that good. But if you have the money, and want more space, or more power, there are better options out there. And that’s hard to say when you’re talking about the car you own. But that’s the honest truth. There’s a reason I was able to pick this up for more than 10K off MSRP. Because it’s a unicorn that no one wants.