By on August 24, 2018

2018 Chevrolet Camaro SS front quarter

2018 Chevrolet Camaro SS

6.2-liter V8 (455 hp at 6000 rpm, 455 lb-ft at 4400 rpm)

Six-speed manual transmission, rear-wheel drive

16 city / 25 highway / 19 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

18.7 (observed mileage, MPG)

Base Price: $42,995 (USD)

As Tested: $51,075

Prices include $995 freight charge.

There is absolutely nothing subtle about a bright orange, V8-powered Camaro. Press the starter button, and dogs cower for their thunder shirts. Neighbors alternately complain or crane their necks to listen and see more intently. Children swoon.

I’m not kidding. A neighbor kid, friend of my daughter, rolled down the school bus window to yell out to me — “Mr. Tonn? I love your new car!”

So, at very least Chevrolet has the 11-year-old boy market covered.

Is this 2018 Chevrolet Camaro SS Hot Wheels edition a toy that can only be appreciated by those who would have bought the original dollar diecast in 1968? Or can all generations play?

2018 Chevrolet Camaro SS profile

The noise. Oh, god, the noise. I’m certain that the 6.2-liter Chevrolet LT1 V8 under the hood of this Camaro SS sounds as close as any new car can get to a vintage Trans-Am racer. A guttural, lumpy idle builds to a staccato roar as the tach climbs to the 6,500 rpm redline. Drop a gear or two — an action made easier by active rev matching that blips the throttle — and the exhaust pops and crackles like a vintage Trans-Am racer. No need for a stereo if your commute includes a tunnel or two; just open the window and enjoy the music.

When driven conservatively, however, the Camaro can be somewhat civilized. Keep the revs low with the gear lever in the upper ranges, and the sound is inoffensive. Such civilized behavior is aided by the skip-shift programming for the transmission, which guides the shifter into fourth gear under light throttle acceleration from a stop, rather than second gear. It’s ostensibly a fuel saving feature, too, but it’s easily defeated when performance is desired. Just maintain hand pressure, and second is once again available.

Of course, the bottomless aftermarket offers skip-shift eliminator devices once your warranty period has expired.

As for the Hot Wheels package… if you are a diehard diecast collector, I can see it being a fun choice. But the package runs $4,995, for which you get the orange paint, special grey wheels, the pair of grey stripes down the center, special badging, and the orange trimmed interior — including orange seatbelts. Orange brake calipers and a black Chevy bowtie are part of the package. That’s a big chunk of change and, as far as I can tell, you don’t get the diecast version of the car for your $4,995. I went full geek and bought one. Wonder if our managing editor will notice if I put a one dollar toy on an expense report.

2018 Chevrolet Camaro SS center stack

The styling is, well, retro. Ever since the fifth-generation Camaro debuted in 2010, and this sixth-gen car in 2016, Chevrolet has done plenty to play up the connection to the iconic original from 1967. The vents, scoops, and gashes that make up this car’s front end are definitely not retro, however — they are modern concessions to the airflow requirements of a high-powered sports car.

2018 Chevrolet Camaro SS front

If you aren’t a fan of the look, the coming 2019 Camaro has a restyled facia that is even more aggressive.

2018 Chevrolet Camaro SS rear

Critics love to complain about the high-sided look that raises the beltline while lowering the roof, leading to miniscule slits for windows. I’ll grant that it takes some getting used to, and that the massive C-pillar gives a nasty blind spot that requires caution when backing out of the driveway in the morning. Further, the high door line means the door mirrors are placed accordingly high — adding another blind spot when maneuvering in tight parking lots. I can’t imagine how shorter drivers manage to see out. Plus, that high beltline means I can’t comfortably rest my elbow on the windowsill while driving sedately. Once underway, however, the view is acceptable.

2018 Chevrolet Camaro SS gauges

I’m oddly in love with the suede steering wheel fitted to this Hot Wheels edition. It’s not the material itself, as I’m not convinced the surface will hold up to sweaty hands over time. But the diameter of the grip itself feels a touch smaller — less girthy? — than most cars I’ve driven. It’s a firm grip with little padding, which means a touch less slop in the steering response than in a more plush wheel.

2018 Chevrolet Camaro SS interior

I’m quite pleased with the handling and steering response, as well. Cornering is flat and neutral, with the ability to steer with the right pedal as needed. It is a bit darty on the highway, and the Goodyear F1 run-flats want to follow grooves a bit, so a steady hand is needed on long drives. But the ride, while firm, is comfortable and not jarring.

2018 Chevrolet Camaro SS front seats

While a younger, childless Chris would revel in the performance of this V8 Camaro, I struggle to see this as an ideal daily driver for someone like current Chris, who has a pair of kids to cart around. My daughters required significant contortions to sit in the rear seat behind me — they’d sit cross-legged with their feet on the seat cushion, rather than risk getting feet and knees crushed by the front seatback. Further, the wireless phone charging pad is located behind the driver, in a pod between the rear passengers’ knees. It’s an odd placement, out of sight, which meant I occasionally left my phone in the car — requiring a quick walk of shame back to the parking lot from the office.

2018 Chevrolet Camaro SS rear seat

This 2018 Chevrolet Camaro SS has a few minor niggles that stem from a focus on performance and style, rather than family hauling. For a driver who doesn’t need to haul offspring, it’s a magnificent daily driver that will not go unnoticed. It’s a toy that can be used every day.

2018 Chevrolet Camaro SS rear quarter

[Images: © 2018 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

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42 Comments on “2018 Chevrolet Camaro SS Hot Wheels Review – The Pony Car Die Is Cast...”

  • avatar

    I have a theory on the rise of the girthy steering wheel in the performance car realm but I’ll leave it alone and just say this- I lift weights, and the Olympic barbell grip has remained ~28mm this whole time. Not sure how or why a steering wheel would need to be any girthier than that.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m waiting for us to hit Peak Steering Wheel, when we no longer have a ring-shaped wheel but instead a disk with which to steer.

      Maybe next we’ll have steering wheels that are knockoffs of the rims.

    • 0 avatar

      If your theory is one based on supposed safety, then you’d likely be right. Even when I was learning to drive, when the steering wheels were no thicker than the mouth of a Coke™ bottle, I was taught never to let my fingers go inside of the wheel… that if the wheel were to spin due to collision, road hazard, whatever, that it would break fingers and potentially even amputate them due to its hard surfaces and sometimes sharp edges on horn buttons, etc. Much of that still stands true, though the wheels are far more padded today than they were.

      I do believe, however, that the padding also offers a more comfortable grip… up to a point. When the wheels were so thin, you had to wrap your fingers around them pretty tightly just to have any grip on them. Sure, some people would drive by simply laying their wrist on top of the wheel (guilty!) when power steering first became common but if you drove a car without power, you either needed a strong grip or an add-on knob to handle slow-speed steering. Thin wheels made that much, much harder.

      On the other hand, some of today’s cars are getting wheels that are too thick and hard to hold. My wife’s Renegade is an easy to drive car, but in putting almost 3000 miles on it last month in 12-hour driving sessions, I started getting an ache in my palms because it seemed all the pressure of holding the wheel was on a single, narrow band in my palm and not spread across the hand. I have a relatively small hand (though not as tiny as one person we all know) and the grip over time just grew less comfortable. My wife’s hand, by comparison, is longer and she has no problems with the grip.

      This leads me to believe that the thinner wrap around the Camaro’s wheel will not only make the grip more comfortable but also offer better control by allowing a firmer grip.

  • avatar

    So much not to like – that instrumentation though is spot on. Love how crisp and clear it is, a full set of gauges and “needles up” for normal range.

  • avatar

    I was driving a ZL1 the other day, and I can attest to the bunker-like greenhouse. My 11 year old son in the passenger seat could see nothing but door panel when he turned his head to the right.

    The shifter is lovely though, and I really liked the silver knobs surrounding the vents acting as the temperature control (once I found them, 20 minutes after climbing into the car.)

    For my money I’d still get an R/T Scat Pack. But lolz, I don’t have money, so it isn’t really a problem.

    • 0 avatar

      @NoID: First off, please don’t take this as an insult; I acknowledge that I know neither you nor your son.

      That said, some states require booster seats for children as long as they are below a certain weight. While I don’t believe they were all that necessary in older cars, the way seat belts are installed today PLUS safety devices like side-curtain air bags may make them more necessary today simply for safety. Add to this the height issues and a booster may still be effective for your son’s comfort and ability to see outside the car.

  • avatar

    There is no vehicle I simultaneously love and hate as much as the Alpha-platform Camaro SS.

    • 0 avatar

      V-8s are nice and all, but I’d just rather have an ATS-V. Grown-up, big-boy-pants version of this, aesthetically speaking.

      • 0 avatar

        While not a fan of the trite styling for the 6th gen. I’ve always had the impression that the Camaro SS was ATS-V done right and at the very least the value proposition for the two provided you weren’t looking for four doors.

  • avatar

    Look at most cars from the 60s, 70s and 80s and how (not) thick their tires were, what their wheels/hubcaps looked like, and how the tires/wheels didn’t visually fill the wheel wells. And then look at how the look changed after that.

    All those kids growing up with Hot Wheels… got what they wanted. Even on family cars.

  • avatar

    I’m with ajla here.

    Never driven one blue by all counts it is a superb vehicle from in all the important aspects. And God I love V8s.

    But I just would never buy. I don’t think it will age well, and I have to think that the Mustang or Challenger are just better all around cars. Sure the GM has the chassis and engine steering etc down pat. But I would give that up for something more timeless, and easier to drive every day.

    It’s too bad the ATS never got this engine.

    And it’s too bad you can’t get this car in a more normal looking 2 or 4 door package.

    Chevy, Ford, and Mazda I continue to wonder why they don’t leverage these excellent RWD platforms into sports sedans and such. Or in the case of Ford a truly “proper” Lincoln. All these cars end up at risk if / when the sports car market dies.

  • avatar

    The Camaro was never meant to be a family hauler, so that’s one complaint resolved. As for the “walk of shame”, I would remind everyone that you’re not supposed to be handling your phone while driving anyway. By pairing to the car with Bluetooth, you should have almost full control of entertainment through the infotainment head and if you have Apple’s Car Play or Android Play installed, then you even have access to Maps, etc. for full functionality without having to even touch the phone.

    • 0 avatar

      Silly me, I forgot to click the “notify” button before posting.

    • 0 avatar

      What does forgetting your phone due to an awkward location of the charging mat have to do with handling the phone while driving? He wasn’t still driving when he got out of the car and didn’t remember the phone because it was out of sight/out of mind sitting behind him.

      • 0 avatar

        “What does forgetting your phone due to an awkward location of the charging mat have to do with handling the phone while driving?”

        Everything. If you can’t reach the phone, you won’t be tempted to try, thus reducing the risk of a distracted driving collision.

        • 0 avatar

          Which has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with forgetting it in the car.

        • 0 avatar

          I love how bad design is excused (rear seat extremely uncomfortable for a pre-teen girl? This ain’t no Caravan!) or made out as some sort of “safety feature” when it isn’t a Ford being reviewed.

          Let me guess, the horrid visibility is another wonderful safety feature because it keeps the driver from being distracted by May flowers?

          • 0 avatar

            “Let me guess, the horrid visibility is another wonderful safety feature because it keeps the driver from being distracted by May flowers?”

            — Close. But no cigar. As you well know, these slit windows are for the occupants’ protection… less glass all around means less glass likely to slice a passenger to ribbons in the event of a crash. Yes, even the Mustang has them, though admittedly the Mustang does have better visibility… barely.

  • avatar

    I test drove an Ace of Base 1SS (~$37k) a while back and came away pretty impressed with the value for the dollar. The engine is a gem, the controls were solid, the quality seemed impressive, and the car was easy to drive. The visibility is what it is, but after a minute it doesn’t bother me. I think $50k for this one as tested is a bit much though.

    I do really wish they’d find a better way to save a couple bucks instead of recycling the shifter paddles as the rev match on MT cars though. It’s jarring to see and feel paddles on a manual car, and it’s such a waste of space for something most drivers will turn on or off once and never mess with again.

    • 0 avatar

      My C7 ‘Vette has the same deal with the paddles for rev match, I just wish they were smaller because as mentioned its an on/off thing so you don’t need them sticking up constantly. The system works great it nails every downshift perfectly even if you skip gears.

      The other controls seem to mirror the ‘Vette as well, stuff like the HUD, lights, cruise control, etc. The digital dash is sweet since you can configure all kinds of read outs and information.

      I will warn you the radio is horrible, the presets stink and the touch panel is slow to respond. My XM antenna has already failed, thankfully an aftermarket fix is cheap and easy.

      Does the Camaro have the switchable exhaust like the C7? The LT1 sounds amazing, but there are times when having it toned down is nice too. Are the seats truly cooled? On my C7 they are just ventilated and thus basically worthless after about 10 minutes.

  • avatar

    Where are the photos of the diecast version?

  • avatar

    Does anyone have a car with a suede steering wheel that is a few years old? I can’t imagine a used one looking very good unless you always used driving gloves.

    • 0 avatar

      I have one on my 2 year old ATS-V and it’s still good as new. Granted it’s not old but I have been impressed that it has shown no wear after 26k miles. It really is a great option, highly recommended

      • 0 avatar
        cimarron typeR

        I know the Alcantara on my old zhp wore smoothe fairly quickly, but it was still a great steering wheel, or maybe it was the car it was attached to.
        how has reliability on your ATS-v? I’ve only spoken to 1 other owner that I accosted at a car wash. He was more than happy with his car , but he had just a few thousand miles on his.

  • avatar

    You guy realize those wheels are meant to mimic Hot Wheels wheels right?
    “Because who wouldn’t want that?” said no one, ever.

    also said no one ever: “Orange and black would make for [insert any positive adjective] interior”

  • avatar

    The look of this gen is growing on me, even if the pony car segment would never warrant consideration.

  • avatar

    SS sedan is (was) the biggest reason not to buy this, no idea why this survived over that. Visibility like a W-body Impala, with adult looks.

    I’m sorry but I just can’t get over the windows, which is made much worse by the even smaller cabin of the Alpha platform.

    • 0 avatar

      Probably cheap advertisement since GM makes money on them even if the sales are pitiful. The Camaro is an aspirational car the SS sedan can never be and as the Corvette gets ever more out of reach for your typical peon the Camaro remains at least somewhat affordable.

      And thanks to the profligate use of the term “sports car” people consider it as such (case in point Ford should be criminally fined trillions for repeatedly saying the Mustang is the best selling “sports car” in the world).

      It also helps that this is alpha based and provides yet more utility with the platform. Camaro included IIRC sales were around 130k or so a few years ago.

  • avatar

    Man, if only GM would dump the tired 1st gen styling and look to the early 2nd gen cars for inspiration.

    How sweet would a car reminiscent of the 2nd gen car with an LT iteration of the LS7. Granted power output wouldn’t substantially exceed the previous LS7 but just having the big cube V8 there would be a killer selling point for the Camaro.

    I remember when rumors started to surface about an LS7 powered Camaro with the 5th gen before the Z/28 made its reveal. That had me seriously thinking about a 5th gen Camaro after the GT500 was paid off. Too bad it launched in the Z/28 which was a helluva perfromer but with the CCB’s and street/track tires entirely too impractical for a daily driver.

    The CCB’s would have lasted a long time but even at thier cheapest I think its still about 6k to do a complete brake job and downgrading the tires to extreme summer or all season would have diminshed the car’s handling.

    • 0 avatar

      When I found out the Camaro was coming back, I was excited…until I saw it. Wow, talk about blowing it. I hated the looks of it and it keeps getting worse. A gen 2 looking one would have to be better, I would hope. Whatever it would be, it would have to have some kind of usable trunk space for me to buy it. A hatchback would be fine, but no more Gen 1 “tributes”! How Dodge could do the Challenger so right, and GM do the Camaro so wrong just amazes me. As a 2 time Camaro, and one time Firebird owner, it saddens and angers me. And then I get into my ’18 Challenger Scatpack and all is well again.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Armored HUMVEEs are easier to see out of. Yes, I’ve driven both. Same demographics too.

  • avatar

    Do they plan on giving it useful outward visibility anytime soon?

    • 0 avatar

      While mine is older (2011), it’s not THAT bad. People like to make a big deal about visibility, but like anything else you get used to it. Hell I don’t even have a backup camera and somehow I have managed not to back over anything or anyone.

      The only time I find difficulty is if I am parked in a street spot with angled spaces, but I’ve done that but a handful of times.

      Y’all need to simmer down.

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