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- Highs Awesome 650-hp V-8 power, staggering acceleration, excellent handling.
- Lows Short on interior storage space, small trunk, almost nonexistent back seat.
- Verdict Built for speed and handling, the track-ready Camaro ZL1 is not for the faint of heart.
Chevrolet dealers created the Camaro ZL1 in 1969 by using GM’s COPO special-order system “to create racing-intended models.” Chevrolet then revived the ZL1 badge for its 2012-15 Camaro. It went on hiatus with the all-new 2016 Camaro, with its Alpha rear-wheel-drive platform, which retains much of the previous model’s retro design cues and returns for the current model year. The 2017 Camaro ZL1 is 200 pounds lighter than the previous model, but with 60 more horses and an additional 80 pound-feet of torque from a reworked version of the same supercharged small-block V-8, to keep the horsepower wars alive and well against Ford’s Shelby Mustang and Dodge’s Challenger SRT Hellcat.
What's New for 2017?
The Camaro ZL1 returns for 2017 with the latest version of the 6.2-liter small-block supercharged V-8 shared with the Corvette Z06 and the Cadillac CTS-V. The new ZL1 is offered with the choice of the Tremec manual transmission or a new 10-speed automatic that GM developed with Ford. The 2017 model has a new hood with carbon-fiber inserts and heat extractor, large front splitter, unique rocker panels, a wing-style rear spoiler, and widened front fenders. For 2017, all Camaros, including the ZL1, come with a “Fifty” badge on the steering wheel to commemorate the very first Camaro, of 1967.
- Coupe: $63,435
- Convertible: $69,435
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Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The rear-wheel-drive Camaro ZL1 is powered by a 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 with direct-injection and dual-mode exhaust, tuned to the same 650 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque as the smaller, lighter Corvette Z06. The result, according to Car and Driver’s testing, is a blistering 3.4-second 0-60 mph time and a quarter-mile time of 11.5 seconds at 125 mph. Top speed is 198 mph, according to Chevy. Unlike earlier monster Camaros, the new ZL1 is well-behaved in the corners and at the track, relying on a well-tuned suspension enhanced by magnetic ride control with Performance Track Management programming, electronic limited-slip differential, and drive-mode selector. With its 285/35R-20 front and 305/30R-20 rear Goodyear Eagle F1 tires, the ZL1 circles the skidpad at 1.04 g. Six-piston Brembo brakes, with ZL1 emblems on the calipers, and huge, 15.35-inch two-piece rotors haul down the two-ton car from 70 mph in just 143 feet.
EPA fuel-economy testing and reporting procedures have changed over time. For the latest numbers on current and older vehicles, visit the EPA’s website and select Find & Compare Cars.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Snug, heavily bolstered heated leather Recaro front seats are standard on the Camaro ZL1, and the heated flat-bottom steering wheel and the shift knob are covered in genuine suede. The ZL1 retains its traditional driver-oriented cockpit-style interior surrounding the pilot with all the necessary gauges and controls. Rearward visibility is compromised by a “mail slot” rear window and thick, blind-spot-enhancing C-pillars—though in the case of the ZL1, what’s behind you is not important. Expecting it to seat four only sets the table for disappointment. Even with the front seats shoved forward to accommodate shorter drivers, there’s essentially no space for rear-seat passengers’ legs. There's also very little interior stash space for small items, and the trunk is shallow and oddly shaped.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Chevrolet’s latest MyLink interface with an 8.0-inch touchscreen is standard on the ZL1, as are Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, USB ports, a WiFi hotspot, and a Bose nine-speaker audio system with satellite radio. Navigation and a performance data recorder are optional.
Safety Features and Crash Test Ratings
Some older vehicles are still eligible for coverage under a manufacturer's Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program. For more information visit our guide to every manufacturer's CPO program.