When a GM rep asked if I’d like to have a conversation with one of the new Chevy Camaro’s engineers at SEMA, I jumped at the chance. Although I’ve never owned a Camaro personally, I’ve always seen its merits. Looking at the upcoming car with a historic perspective made me pause to consider the change that the new model brings. Over the years, the Camaro’s gas mileage ratings have rarely been a selling point.
While most folks associate the Chevy Camaro with a V-8 engine, the base model has come with a range of lesser engines, starting with the inline six cylinder that was fitted beneath the hood of the ’67 and ’68 models. With variations of the straight six running all the way through the ’79 model year, 1980 saw the introduction of the 3.8 liter V-6.
The third generation base Camaro was fitted with the four-cylinder engine in 1982. It was all about fuel economy in those days, for many folks. I speak first hand when I say that the Iron Duke four-banger had just enough ooomph to get the Camaro up to highway speed, but not much more. I remember that car and engine quite well – as I’ve mentioned before – my wife, for better or for worse, ordered a base model ’82 Iron Duke Camaro, complete with pie-tin hubcaps. While it might have been good on gas, it was perhaps the most underpowered Camaro of all time. Ah, to be young, broke, and easily mislead by the salesman …
Flash forward more than twenty-five years to the upcoming 2010 Camaro and the base engine configuration situation has gone through a remarkable transformation. A V6 is destined for the spot beneath the hood of the base 2010 Camaro, and it’s a 304 horsepower screamer – a far cry from the lackadaisical straight six and four bangers of days gone by.
Considering the power in the new V6, the gas mileage might just surprise you.
Chevrolet originally estimated that the 3.6-liter V6 engine in the LS and LT models would deliver approximately 27 MPG in highway driving … not too shabby for an engine that produces 304 horsepower and 273 foot pounds of torque. A six-speed manual transmission will be standard, with an electronically-controlled six-speed automatic (with TAPshift paddle shifters) available as an option.
UPDATE 3/17: 2010 V6 Camaros (LS and LT models) have been EPA-rated at 18 MPG city / 29 MPG highway with the six-speed automatic transmission, and 17 city / 29 highway with the six-speed manual. This represents a significant improvement over earlier estimates.
– by Daniel Gray