Ever since the public availability of the fifth-generation Chevy Camaro, pundits and enthusiasts alike have bemoaned several aspects of the bow tie-wielding pony car. And while rumors of improvements have come and gone without much fanfare, Chevy has just spilled the beans about the sea of changes to the 2012 Camaro.
First and foremost, the 2012 Camaro will get an improved version of the direct-injected 3.6 liter V6 LLT engine. Dubbed LFX and also standard in the Cadillac SRX and Chevy Impala, the powerplant has several advantages compared to the outgoing LLT, including:
- New cylinder head design with integrated exhaust manifold
- Improved intake port design and larger intake valves within the cylinder heads
- Longer-duration intake camshafts
- Composite intake manifold
- New fuel pump and isolated fuel rail
- New, optimized-flow fuel injectors
- Structural front cover and cylinder block enhancements
- Stronger and lighter-weight connecting rods
- Camshaft cap and throttle body design enhancements
The LFX is good for for a whopping 323 horsepower (241 kW) at 6,800 RPM — an increase of 11 ponies (8 kW) compared to the LLT — without so much as a drop in fuel economy. The new engine, however, isn’t only about more power — it’s also 20.5 pounds (9.3 kg) lighter than its predecessor, providing a more balanced driving experience.
Rounding out the powerplant changes are a new fuel pump for the direct injection system that’s quieter as well as a new isolated fuel rail system that reduces fuel system noise. The addition of the LFX puts the Camaro at the top of the pony car power wars in the V6 segment.
With a focus on refined handling, the FE4 package — exclusive to the Camaro SS coupe — provides more effective body control and more precise response in performance driving situations. It includes:
- Retuned front and rear dampers
- New solid front (23 mm) and rear (24 mm) stabilizer bars
- Twenty-inch aluminum wheels and P245/45R20 front/P275/40R20 rear tires (SS)
“Our objective was to create a more precise sport suspension for the SS coupe, with greater road-holding capability,” said Al Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer. “We applied lessons learned from extensive track testing to better refine the suspension geometry for flatter cornering, a more neutral balance during hard turns, and minimized understeer at the limit.”
With adjusted suspension geometry and reshaped stabilizer bars, the FE4 has its roots in the ongoing development of the king of all Camaros — the ZL1.
Most likely the subject of most Camaro-related complaints is the the interior of the 2010 and 2011 Camaro. Chevy has rectified this with ergonomic and technology updates, including:
- Revised instrument panel appearance with new instrument graphics and trim
- New steering wheel design intended to support performance driving
- Power lift feature for the front passenger seat
- Rear Vision Package that consists of a rearview camera inside of the auto-dimming rearview mirror in the existing Rear Park Assist feature
Chevy will also make a number of updates to what is most likely the best aspect of the fifth-generation Camaro, including:
- A new standard rear spoiler
- Standard tail lamps that were previously part of the optional RS appearance package
- The addition of a new body-color “sharkfin” antenna for the RS package
- Crystal Red Tintcoat will replace Red Jewel as exterior color
The GM Authority Take
Perfection! If there was a better word to describe these much-welcomed features, we can’t think of it. The Camaro will now truly be a “class-leading” vehicle in every sense of the word, with buyers no longer having to be ashamed of the hard-touch materials and somewhat lackluster appearance of their Chevy’s interior.
And while GM’s presser didn’t mention it, do we see a soft-touch dashboard in the press pics? It sure looks that way. The only thing remaining is the increase in power for the SS model and a touchscreen navigation system with Chevrolet MyLink… then we’d be all set.