What’s in store for the 2019 Camaro refresh? That’s (arguably) the biggest question on the hearts and minds of every Camaro enthusiast today.
Introduced for the 2016 model year, the sixth-generation Camaro is one heck of a sports car that looks great and drives even better. What’s not so great is the model’s sales performance, which was down to 72,705 U.S. deliveries in 2016, a 12 percent decrease from the Camaro’s modern-day record of 88,249 annual sales in 2011. The situation is even more bleak for 2017: sales probably won’t surpass 70,000 units. To that end, there has been significant debate about whether the sales drop is intentional, with Chevy making more on a per-unit basis… but the bottom line is that we simply do not know if that is the case.
What we do know is that an update to the gen six Camaro is expected for the 2019 model year – so here’s what we believe will be in store for the 2019 Camaro refresh.
1. New Fascias
We’ve already seen spy shots of what’s assumed to be the 2019 Camaro prototypes with their front and rear ends covered in camouflage. This means that the 2019 Camaro refresh is likely hiding new front and rear fascias for the entire model range. Exactly how the updated nose and tail will look like is currently unclear.
Probability: 100%, as evidenced by 2019 Camaro prototypes wrapping the car’s front and rear ends with camouflage.
2. Packaging & Pricing Changes
Arguably one of primary reasons for the depressed sales volume of the sixth-generation Camaro is its higher price. With models such as the new Camaro SS and SS 1LE, Camaro ZL1 and Camaro ZL1 1LE, the price of a new Camaro has never been higher. But that may have come at the expense of sales volume on the lower end of the spectrum.
“We’re trying to do more in the lower end,” Todd Christensen of Chevrolet Performance Marketing told us at the 2017 LA Auto Show in November. “When I think about Camaro, it’s still the heart of the market. So we’re thinking about ways to repackage/reprice.”
It would seem enough consumers have picked competitors’ vehicles such as the Mustang and Challenger based on the Camaro’s higher price level to warrant the sales growth of those models. That’s why we believe that the 2019 Camaro refresh will likely bring about some notable changes in pricing strategy, perhaps with the introduction of new trim levels or repackaging existing ones.
Probability: 70% or higher, as evidenced by decreased sales and the opportunity to decrease the Camaro’s base price.
3. Interior Updates
By looking at the spy photos, we can’t tell if the 2019 Camaro refresh will bring about interior updates or changes. One specific area of the Gen Six Camaro’s interior that seems to bring about the most criticism is the poor outward visibility. But it is highly unlikely that the outward visibility issues will be addressed in a mid-cycle refresh, since such changes would require a significant generational model overhaul that includes a complete re-design and re-engineering of the vehicle.
Even so, some would argue that one must only spend a few days driving the Camaro to get accustomed to the model’s decreased visibility. In fact, the outward visibility of the sixth-gen Camaro doesn’t differ all that much from that of the previous generation, which was a sales success.
4. Potential Powertrain Changes
The Camaro’s current powertrain lineup is extremely competitive: the turbocharged 2.0L LTG four-pot sits as the base engine on LS and LT models, with the naturally-aspirated 3.6L V-6 LGX being optional. The naturally-aspirated 6.2L V-8 LT1 powers the Camaro SS while those looking for supercar levels of performance can opt for the supercharged 6.2L V-8 LT4 in the Camaro ZL1 and ZL1 1LE. That’s a pretty broad and potent lineup.
However, Ford dropped the base 3.7L V-6 in the 2018 Mustang, leaving the 2.3L EcoBoost I-4 as the pony’s base motor, and we could see a day that Chevy trims one of the two base engines for the 2019 Camaro refresh. Even so, Mr. Christensen tells us that, Chevy still needs “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”.
We could also see Chevy replacing the 8-speed automatic, which has been critiqued as a rather unremarkable transmission, with the new GM 10-speed automatic transmission. Co-developed with Ford, the 10-speed is currently offered exclusively on the ZL1 in the Camaro lineup.
5. Introduction Of Z/28
With the existence of the eye-popping Camaro ZL1 1LE, we don’t see much need for a range-topping Camaro Z/28, a vehicle that has been rumored for the entire lifespan of the sixth-gen Camaro. But there is one major exception to that line of thinking, and that is if the Camaro team can find a way to make a sixth-gen Camaro that would outperform the ZL1 1LE.
We could see a similar scenario unfolding for the rumored gen six Camaro Z/28 as with the recently-announced 2019 Corvette ZR1 in relation to the Corvette Z06: start with the Camaro ZL1, stuff it with an even more powerful engine (such as the new LT5 V-8), give it even more extreme aero bits, and call it a Z/28. Sure, that formula wouldn’t follow tradition of the Z/28 being an naturally-breathing beast… but if the end result is a faster and more capable machine, would it matter?
When Is It Coming?
So, when might we see Chevy announce the updated Camaro? Well, the Detroit Auto Show is in less than two weeks, followed by the Chicago Auto Show in February, the Geneva Motor Show in March, and the New York Auto Show in April. Our bet is that the 2019 Camaro refresh will be unveiled at one of these venues.
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