A screaming deal with some obvious drawbacks.
A well-equipped Chevrolet Camaro SS will probably cost you more than $40,000. But new for 2020 is the budget-minded Camaro LT1, which starts at a more reasonable $34,000. Like the SS, the Camaro LT1 uses the same 6.2-liter V8 good for 455 horsepower and offers the same two transmissions. But unlike the more-expensive SS, the LT1 only has a handful of features, losing things like magnetic ride control and leather seating, in particular, making for a relatively basic V8 sports car.
That said, the Camaro LT1 is still fun as hell. Though it lacks the leather, tech, and advanced features we like on the SS, it more than makes up for thanks to the Camaro’s superb driving dynamics and impressive straight-line speed. Looking for a V8 on a budget? This may be your best option.
The $34,000 (not including $995 for destination) Camaro LT1 is the cheapest V8 muscle car on sale in the U.S. right now. A comparably equipped Dodge Challenger R/T costs $34,595, and a matching Ford Mustang GT asks $35,630. Even with the optional 10-speed automatic transmission (a $1,595 option) over the standard six-speed manual, our tester only costs a modest $37,000 out the door. That's a screaming deal for a car that has 455 horsepower.
Don't think just because the Camaro LT1 starts at under $35,000 that it’s merely a budget beater. Sure, this trim does lack some of the SS Camaro's refinement and technology – particularly magnetic ride control – but it still has a standard limited-slip differential, gobs of power from that SS-sourced V8, Brembo brakes, and phenomenal handling.
Even though it lacks the Camaro SS’s magnetic ride control, the LT1 still has a refined ride that’s comfortable over long stretches of driving. Not even the 20-inch tires wrapped in performance rubber make the LT1 feel too harsh on rougher stretches of road, nor do the cheap seats cloth seats feel too rough. Other muscle cars, like the Mustang and Challenger, are more punishing to drive over longer stretches.
Opting for the Camaro LT1 package does require some sacrifice. The standard seats, for example, are cheap. While the cloth buckets (available in either black or grey) are at least comfy over long stretches, they’re neither great to look at nor any better to touch; they feel like they belong in any vehicle from the early 2000s. Our tester wears the light grey buckets with the matching light grey carpeted floor mats, a combo we don't recommend to any owners prone to messes.
A 7.0-inch touchscreen comes standard on the Camaro LT1. It's tiny, doesn't respond well to inputs, and angled down and away from the driver. The setup does have Apple CarPlay, at least, which makes the smallness of the screen somewhat more acceptable. But we suggest opting for the Technology package instead. The $900 add-on affords you a slightly larger 8.0-inch screen and a better Bose premium audio system.
Like a lot of sports cars and muscle cars, the Camaro LT1 isn't the quietest car around town. The exhaust, while fun to rev, is always turned up to 11. The note echos throughout the cabin with even a tiny bit of pedal pressure – especially when passing on the highway. There’s not even a dual-mode exhaust option to help tone down the noise when you don’t need it. And at high speeds, wind and tire noise are pretty daunting. It takes much more than a whisper to talk to your passenger.