The Chevrolet camaro’s reputation as an American icon is undeniable. Since its introduction in 1967, the Camaro has attracted much attention as a capable and sporty coupé. Although Chevrolet discontinued the Camaro in 2002, the manufacturer revived it in 2010, marking the debut of the fifth-generation Camaro.
Each fifth-generation Camaro model year has four to seven different finishes, but not all model years are worth buying used. In another article, we elaborated on the issues of the fifth-generation Camaro model years. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the best features and specs you can get on a Camaro, the most budget-friendly options, and which editions offer the best value for money.
Most powerful: choose the 2015 Camaro ZL1 for the best performance
While the 2015 Camaro Z/28 comes with a massive 7.0L V8 engine, the ZL1’s 6.2L offers about 75 horsepower more thanks to the supercharger.
The supercharged LSA V8 mounted under the 2015 Camaro ZL1 has 580 ponies and 556 lb-ft of torque. EPA estimates ZL1 trim sticks out 12 miles to the gallon in the city and 19 on the highway (14 combined), which is by no means economical, but is expected from a performance vehicle. Sprinting from idle to 60 mph takes no more than 4.1 seconds with the 2015 Camaro ZL1.
The V8 is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission that smoothly transfers all the power to the rear wheels. On the other hand, the Z/88 offers a manual transmission that feels more attractive on the track. But the difference in engine power (580 vs. 505 hp) makes choosing an automatic transmission over a manual transmission easier.
On the outside, the ZL1 has design elements that are aesthetically pleasing and practically performance-oriented. For example, the rear spoiler can add a whopping 150 pounds of downforce and make the Camaro look more menacing than ever.
Most cost-effective: The 2011 Camaro 1LS offers impressive features for buyers on a tight budget
You might think that the 2010 Camaro would be the most budget-friendly option to buy on the second-hand market, as it comes with the most affordable price tag. While that may be the case, it’s safer to skip the V6-equipped 2010 models due to widespread low-mileage issues. The Car Complaints website rates 2010 as the worst model year for the Camaro due to expensive engine overhauls and airbag issues†
The base 1LS trim of the 2011 Chevy Camaro has a 3.6L V6 under the hood that can produce 312 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque. Although the numbers lag behind the more expensive versions, the basic Camaro model is certainly not weak. Buyers can also choose between a manual or an automatic transmission.
Besides being more affordable, another advantage of the V6 engine is that it is more fuel efficient. With the automatic transmission, the 2011 Camaro 1LS is rated on: 19 mpg in the city and 29 on the highway (22 combined)†
According to the RepairPal website, de cost of ownership for a 2011 Camaro is $577 a year. On the other hand, RepairPal estimates the maintenance cost of a 2010 Chevy Camaro at about $640, significantly more expensive than the 2011 model.
Most Valuable: The 2012 Camaro 1SS comes with a powerful V8 without drilling a hole in your pocket
Last but not least, the 2012 Camaro 1SS offers the best bang for your buck. You can find one on the used market well under $20,000. A roaring 6.2L V8 SFI lurks in the 2011 Camaro 1SS that can produce a whopping 426 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. While this is a high-capacity V8, it’s not as fuel-guzzling as the ZL1 model. You can expect to drive 16 miles per gallon in the city and 24 on the highway (19 combined). Chevrolet only offered a six-speed automatic transmission for this model.
With launch control engaged, the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro 1SS idles to 60 in 4.4 seconds, just 0.3 seconds slower than the top-of-the-line 2015 ZL1 trim. According to the JD Power website, de 2012 Camaro 1SS scores 84 out of 100 in reliability, which is impressive for a sports car. Compared to its biggest rival, the 2012 Ford Mustang, the 2012 prevails in reliability and longevity.
In addition, the 2012 model is one of the most affordable editions of the fifth-generation Camaro to maintain, with an average cost of $563 per year.