Between the rollouts of the Corvette Grand Sport, Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE, Camaro ZL1, Camaro ZL1 1LE, and the introduction of the 2019 Corvette ZR1, the past 24 months have been a constant barrage of 6.2L V8 rockets of Americana to all challengers from Chevrolet.
For the money, the Chevys all punch well above their weight, even if they’re still considered expensive. $70,000 for a Camaro is, after all, a far cry from the days getting a 5.7L-powered F-Body for the price of a family car. To that point, Chevrolet seems to be acknowledging that the bottom end of the performance spectrum could use some love, too.
“We’re trying to do more in the lower end,” said Todd Christensen, of Chevrolet Performance Marketing, at the 2017 LA Auto Show last month. “When I think about Camaro, it’s still the heart of the market. So we’re thinking about ways to repackage/reprice.”
The Camaro is currently holds the most expensive V8 entry price in the segment. To wit, Dodge will sell a Challenger with a 375 hp Hemi V8 for around $32,995. A 455 hp Camaro SS starts at $37,995 with destination. There’s an 80 horsepower difference between the two, but Dodge also offers a 485 hp Hemi in the Challenger T/A, for just a grand more than the Chevy. Meanwhile, the newly revised 2018 Mustang GT with 460 hp starts just over $35,000.
The competition is fierce, and the V8 engines are what make the muscle car segment so captivating. So for buyers south of Hellcat, Shelby and ZL1 models, eight cylinders are the gateway into the full muscle car experience. And Chevy keeping the LT1 on a shelf higher than the others might be one reason that Camaro has slipped to the no. 3 sales spot.
“We’re looking at a lot of different options. (Getting the V8 price down) may be one way to make the middle of the market grow a bit more. The middle of the market is where we could spend a little more time,” acknowledged Christensen.
“When we had Gen. 5, we sold a lot of V6 engines. And we went into Gen. 6 kind of thinking the same way, but V8 demand has been higher than what we expected. We still sell more V6s, but now there’s something about that V8 that’s capturing hearts a little bit more.”
Probably because the performance of the Camaro SS tells anybody with a BMW M4 that they may have wasted their money. But as for the entry level, with the 2.0L LTG turbocharged four-cylinder, Christensen says they haven’t forgotten about it.
“We still need to put attention on the 2.0L. Not that we ever abandoned it, but I think there are some things we can do to improve that a little bit,” he said.
To that end, it may come down to more marketing.
“There are people that follow cars, and know all about Camaro. And then there’s a group that doesn’t pay as close of attention, and we need to be a little more proactive. We can probably do better job about selling the aspects of Camaro to those guys a little bit better.”
Reading between the lines, here’s what could actually be happening. We know that Chevrolet has been working on an updated Camaro, as evident from spy photos, likely for the 2019 model year. And Chevy appears to recognize a strong V8 demand, but not for the current price. With that, we expect some notable changes in pricing strategy, and perhaps some new trim levels, for the 2019 Chevrolet Camaro.
As for when we might see an updated Camaro, the Detroit Auto Show is next month, followed by the Chicago Auto Show in February. The Geneva Motor Show is in March, and then the season ends with the New York Auto Show in April.
New York was the show of choice to reveal the updated Gen. 5 Camaro, as well as a big surprise reveal of the Z/28. Will history repeat? Time will tell.
For further reading, check out what we think it would take for the Gen. 6 Chevy Camaro to regain the sales lead.