To honor its sixth-gen pony car, Chevrolet hatched a plan to cover every state in the continental U.S. with 2016 Camaro tire tracks, with the LA Auto Show as the ultimate destination. With so much road to cover, Chevy broke the country into sizable chunks; we were called on to “Find New Roads” (the name of the rolling cross-country expedition) from Syracuse, New York, to Boston.
We bounced around ideas the night before and devised a plan to put the Camaro in every realistic situation it will face in everyday driving. In order to make that idea a reality, we planned a route that allowed us to put an almost unreasonable amount of highway miles on this Camaro. The intinerary would interweave trips to small towns, big cities and back roads before taking us to our final destination in the heart of downtown Boston.
And at the crack of dawn, we take the reins of a manual-equipped 2016 Camaro RS 2LT, a stick-shifted V6 Camaro with all the goodies save for a V8, and head…west. We're well aware that our final destination is east of Syracuse, but the Syracuse University campus is conveniently situated just west of our hotel and the young Camaro semed hungry for knowledge.
The detour is the first of what will become a handful of rush-hour jaunts. Heavy traffic combined with Syracuse's hills adds up to one of the worst situations imaginable for a manual transmission, but the ordeal gives us the perfect chance to test the 2016 Camaro&;s electronic parking brake. Mid-hill, we pull up on the switch placed conveniently right behind the shifter and play the waiting game. The light turns green, we slam the Camaro into first, let up on the clutch and the brake disengages automatically. Inclines have never been so easy.
This won&;t be the last time we&;ll use the electronic parking brake, in part because it makes the whole manual-trans driving experience exponentially easier. Even people who aren&;t stick-savvy should be able to expertly maneuver on hills -- without rolling into the car behind you.
Our westward push sets us back about an hour from the schedule, so we bid farewell to Syracuse University and start our trek east.
On the highway, we don&;t miss the extra 115 hp the V8 would have provided; actually, we really enjoy the usable 335 hp pumping out of this 3.6-liter six-cylinder. It easily moved us down the highway while also feeling quick enough to actually enjoy the driving experience. We wouldn&;t have minded hearing the burble of the V8, but the exhaust note coming out the V6 is still sporty.
The first scheduled stop is Albany, New York, about 2.5 hours away. Along the way, we decide to roll into a small town called Little Falls hoping to peep some tiny water falls. There weren&;t any. Instead, we found a chance to see how effective the shrunken Camaro was in small city streets. Driving around the town square, we notice that the smaller Camaro seems more practical than its plus-sized predecessor. It is an easy car to navigate around tight streets, allowing us to get an up-close taste of the home of Vincent Manufacturing (upstate New York's go-to source for cotton fabric finishing, in case you were wondering) and an annual cheese festival. We look at the clock on the dash and realize we&;re now two hours behind schedule.
Getting eyes full of multicolored upstate New York foliage is great, but soon we&;re back on the highway towards Albany. Thankfully, it's only about an hour from Little Falls -- not that the Camaro isn't set up for long-distance touring. As we cuise into the state capital, we realize that this isn&;t a fatigue-inducing muscle car. Still, driving is hunger-inducing, so we stop and have a quick lunch at a local restaurant before gearing up to start making up time.
Of course, that&;s when the rain starts.
We run to the Camaro trying to avoid water like the Wicked Witch of the West and set our sights on Hartford, Connecticut. The main reason for the side trip to Hartford is to see the home of Mark Twain, but we&;ve also expertly timed our arrival to hit peak Hartford rush hour.
This probably isn&;t our best idea, as we spend at least an hour in traffic, but the Camaro continues to impress us. Though warm, the clutch isn&;t doing anything wonky like grabbing or slipping because of the heat -- nice, considering the stressful conditions placed on the car over the course of this day. The V6 provides enough power to make quick maneuvers, without the risk of overpowering the rear tires in the rain as we would have in the 455-hp V8. Visibility is better than the previous generation.
We get fed up with traffic, and start our final stretch of highway travel. We use Chevy&;s OnStar to help us find and book a hotel room in Boston&;s Chinatown and put the hammer down.
It&;s around 10 o&;clock by the time we get to the hotel, and we&;ve clocked just over 500 miles. Not bad for a day full of side-tracking. Surprisingly enough, we were barely fatigued. This Camaro turned out to be a road warrior&;s friend -- at least in the half-lux trim. We assume that the base trim will be about as comfortable.
In most video games, there is a final boss, a last challenge to deal with. On this trip, our final boss is Boston. The traffic is intense, and the city isn&;t the easiest to navigate. So after we rest a little, we hop back into the Camaro. Our mission? Track down some of the shooting locations from “Good Will Hunting.” This takes us all over the city, and also gets us to our first major issue. The Camaro is equipped with Apple CarPlay, which in turn uses Apple maps. Until this point, Apple maps had done everything we&;d expected it to do; however, on this day it took a turn for the worse. It was apparently overwhelmed with the concept of finding addresses. So we unplug our iPhone and explore the world of the onboard Chevy gear -- a refreshing jump into a flawless navigation system.
Boston was a combination of everything we&;d already encountered in this trip, amplified. As we blast around landmarks and bask in both the foliage and beeping horns of on the crowded old streets of Boston and Cambridge, we almost forget we&;re in a sports car. The ride is comfortable. The audio system is clear with tight bass response. The brakes are confident, stopping the car well without being grabby.
Eventually, with our new roads found, it was time to hand the keys back over to the folks at Chevy. Our not-so-scientific testing procedures revealed the Camaro as the chameleon of sports cars, a capable performer that isn&;t opposed to doing traffic duty. Are there faster cars? Absolutely, and there are also cars that are more traffic-friendly and even better-looking. It's not a featherweight like the Mazda MX-5, but the Camaro is down a couple hundred pounds compared to the last generation -- which is great, considering one of the major complaints against the last generation was its porky curb weight.
Even in V6 guise -- or maybe especially with the six-cyldiner underhood -- the newest Camaro does everything well enough to make everyone happy. It&;s a leap above the last model, and a confident step in the right direction for modern mass-market muscle.