LOS ANGELES—First things first: I’m pretty sure no one, not even Chevrolet, expects you to buy a 2020 Chevrolet Camaro SS like the one I took possession of for this test-drive review. Chevy built this car to show off a gaggle of the dealer-installed options it sells so buyers can really make their Camaro their own special thing. But this 2020 Camaro SS test car carried $17,655 worth of such accessories, and I doubt anyone would go that crazy on parts. Though if you’re the type that would, please drop me an email. I’m dying to meet you.
I won’t give you the full list of those add-on parts here—I’ll do that down below at the end of the story, in case you’re that hungry to see it and need to skip ahead now—but I will tell you the accessories ranged from functional (Brembo brakes, $3,645; lowering kit, $1,970; upgraded anti-roll bars, $805) to form-enhancing (racing stripes, $625 and $450; carbon-fiber shift knob, $150; black fuel door with carbon-fiber insert, $280).
2020 Chevrolet Camaro SS Test: Making It Your Own
Such accessories are an important factor in the auto business: They’re profit centers for General Motors and its dealerships. As for the buyer, perhaps they can get a better deal on the aftermarket, but buying through Chevrolet has its advantages.
First off, you can roll the accessories into your financing; also, they are covered under the car’s warranty; and finally, installation quality should be good, since the dealership has the expertise (in theory) on how to get the cars apart and back together. And if the dealer does it wrong, we refer to you that part about the warranty.
Personally, I thought my Camaro SS looked pretty bitchin’ with all the add-on swag. Okay, I could do without the giant carbon-fiber spoiler, borrowed directly from the Camaro ZL1 1LE and the most expensive add-on at $5,495. Chevrolet calls it a “visible carbon-fiber spoiler,” which I assume refers to the exposed carbon-fiber weave—still, the name made me wonder how much Chevy charges for the invisible one, and how much downforce it produces.
But I liked everything else—the ground-effects kit, red and black stripes, and those big red Brembo brake calipers. I even dug the metal pedals and the embossed floor mats. I must be turning into a dealer shill in my old age.
2020 Chevrolet Camaro SS Test: Muscle Car Theater
It’s been ages since I’ve driven a Camaro, and I was happy to be back behind the wheel, even if it meant I couldn’t see much of the world outside through the gun-slit windows. The Camaro’s 455-horsepower, 6.2-liter V-8 is everything it’s cracked up to be, a bellowing beast always up for a good time. My tester had the $995 dual-mode performance exhaust which perfects the soundtrack. In terms of power and fury and noise, Chevrolet has the 2020 Camaro SS so well dialed-in, it could probably capture the experience and sell it in bottles.
Though the 10-speed automatic has been around for a little while, this was my first time trying it, and my experience was marred somewhat by the paddle shifters. Response was all over the place: Sometimes the transmission shifted as soon as I hit the paddle, and other times I felt like I was waiting on the Chevrolet’s electronic bureaucracy to process my request, which I had apparently made in writing and sent third-class mail via riverboat. (For the record, I saw more immediate response from the push-buttons in the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban I drove recently.)
I thought the transmission did a much better job when left to shift on its own, but can I really say that with any authority? The 6.2 has so much torque, it’s just not possible to be in the wrong gear. Chevrolet could probably fit an old THM-400 three-speed automatic to this engine and it’d still maintain its ability to ra-arrange your internal organs with a mere tap of the accelerator.
2020 Chevrolet Camaro SS Test: Do Accessories Help or Hinder the Handling?
As for the handling, well, it’s hard to say. In some of the sharper, lower-speed turns, I found the 2020 Chevrolet Camaro SS used for this test had a tendency to understeer on turn-in (which could be a factor of the “upgraded” anti-roll bars, or merely the fault of my own impatience). Alright, no problem—ease off of the accelerator to let the front end bite. But if I got back on the power too quickly, the rear tires would break loose. (That 455 lb-ft is a mixed blessing.) You have to be judicious with all of the power, which I’m told is the way the world generally works. On the other hand, if I didn’t have to ease off the power in the first place, I could get out of the corners much more neatly.
The Camaro felt happier in faster corners, perhaps because I wasn’t as close to the tires’ limit of adhesion, but at higher speeds the car hits the bumps a lot harder. That was a constant problem, even in more relaxed driving: The Camaro’s ride was unusually busy and bouncy, and while it did cushion the bumps rather nicely, I know these roads well and don’t recall there being quite so many of them.
The bottom line here is that GM’s chassis engineers do wonderful work, particularly with rear-wheel-drive performance cars. Messing with success only ends in tears, and I think the modified Camaro I drove proves that. Is it worth upsetting the Camaro’s handling balance to give it that cool ground-hugging look? That’s up to the prospective buyer.
2020 Chevrolet Camaro SS Test: Should You Accessorize?
And that brings us, quite neatly, back to the first premise of our story, all those dealer-installed accessories. Do they make the Camaro a better car? Obviously, chucking everything you find in the pantry into a single pot will never make the ideal meal, but selective use of ingredients can yield something really great.
The point Chevrolet tried to make with this car, I believe, is that if you want to customize and individualize your Camaro, you needn’t leave the comfort of your dealer’s showroom. I am inclined to agree. None of the accessories on my test car rattled or buzzed. Everything fit nicely. I’m sure somewhere in the parts catalog it says, “Engineered by GM to fit your GM car,” or something to that effect, and if it doesn’t, it should.
As for the 2020 Chevrolet Camaro SS, well, what else can I say? It’s an over-powered, hairy-chested handful of a car, and long may it ride. In its unmolested form, I think its handling betters Dodge’s Challenger, though the latter is easier to see out of (as are most things, including windowless rooms). Personally, I prefer the Ford Mustang GT for its tidier dimensions—provided you fit it with the V-8, that is. (The EcoBoost four is a great engine, but give me that V-8 rumble any day.) I find it just as much fun and potent as the Chevy, sort of the scrawny-but-cut street fighter versus the mountain-sized bouncer that is the Camaro.
At the end of the day, no matter how you accessorize it, the 2020 Chevrolet Camaro SS delivers all the muscle-car theater you could possibly ask for. And if you ask for more, Chevy is happy to have your local dealer install it.
2020 Chevrolet Camaro SS Dealer-Installed Accessories As-Tested
- Visible carbon-fiber spoiler, ZL1 1LE spec, $5,495
- Four-corner Brembo caliper brake-upgrade system in red, six-piston front, four-piston rear, $3,645
- Carbon flash metallic ground effects, $2,250
- Suspension-lowering kit, $1,970
- Anti-roll bar suspension-upgrade system, $805
- Black metallic stinger stripe, $625
- Red spider stripes, $450
- Painted engine cover, $545
- 2 strut tower brace, $395
- Red knee pads for center console, $350
- Black fuel door with exposed carbon-fiber insert, $290
- Premium carpeted floor mats with Camaro logo, $160
- Sport pedals, $155
- All-weather cargo mat, $155
- Carbon-fiber appearance shifter knob for auto transmission, $150
- Black Camaro fender badge, $145
- Cargo net, $70
- Total dealer-installed accessories: $17,655
2020 Chevrolet Camaro Pros
- All the sound and fury you could want from a modern-day muscle car
- Good fun to drive in the curves—judiciously
- Nice selection of accessories to make it your own
2020 Chevrolet Camaro Cons
- You can’t see well out of it
- Suspension “upgrades” alter a basically good ride-handling balance
|2020 Chevrolet Camaro 2SS Coupe Specifications|
|PRICE||$42,995/$63,142 (base/as tested)|
|ENGINE||6.2L OHV 16-valve V-8/455 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 455 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm|
|LAYOUT||2-door, 4-passenger, front-engine, RWD coupe|
|EPA MILEAGE||16/27 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||188.3 x 74.7 x 53.1 in|
|0-60 MPH||4.1 sec|
|TOP SPEED||165 mph|
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