Garish horsepower numbers have become de rigueur in the world of muscle cars, where supercharged and big displacement V8 engines dominate drag strips and fuel fantasies of aerosolized rubber.
The 2016 Chevrolet Camaro LT bucks that trend by proving that humble six-cylinder power is more than enough for the vast majority of drivers – and certainly easier on your bank account when it comes time to fill up at the fuel pump.
It’s strange to use words like ‘modest’ or ‘humble’ to describe an engine that churns out 335 horsepower and 284 lb-ft of torque like the Camaro’s V6, as 10 years ago those stats would have stood tall as line-up leaders among domestic coupes. In fact, the Chevrolet Camaro’s 3.6-liter engine is only meek in the face of the 455 horsepower offered by the 6.2-liter SS model’s V8. Out on the street it does a brisk business in a straight line, especially when paired with its available six-speed manual transmission. The soundtrack isn’t that bad either – although missing the deep rumble of a V8, the available dual-mode exhaust opens its baffles at higher RPMs to unleash a pleasantly angry buzz.
Completely redesigned for 2016, it’s also important to note that the Chevrolet Camaro has lost a few hundred lbs in the process. The new Alpha platform on which it sits (shared with the Cadillac ATS) puts it in a strong position to out-handle beefier rivals from Ford and Dodge, as well as improve its fuel efficiency. Then there’s its eye-catching angular bodywork and livable rear seat, although the former feeds into the difficult sightlines that have been a Camaro staple since the latest-generation car was introduced.
The 2016 Chevrolet Camaro is of course far from the only muscle car to be offered with a V6 engine under the hood, but it’s certainly the most recent. How does it stack up when compared to the rest of the six-cylinder competition? Read on to find out.
2016 Ford Mustang
Killer Features: This is a tough one. Ford has shifted the focus away from the V6 version of its pony car in favor of the EcoBoost four-cylinder turbo model that sits just above it. As a result, for 2016 you really can’t get any of the cool performance-oriented gear that used to be offered with the coupe, although the Track Apps software for tracking acceleration and other performance metrics is still available, and a limited-slip rear differential is included free of charge.
Better Than The Camaro LT? It’s much easier to see out of the Ford Mustang V6 than it is its Chevrolet counterpart, even through the sloped glass of its rear ‘fastback’ design. The six-speed manual transmission available with the Blue Oval contender also shifts with a little more certainty than the Camaro.
Worse Than The Camaro LT? The Mustang’s 300 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque from its 3.7-liter V6 don’t match up on paper with the Chevy’s 3.6-liter motor, although it’s still respectable off of the line.
2016 Dodge Challenger
Killer Features: Simply put, the 2016 Dodge Challenger pulls off its retro-menacing vibe better than any other muscle machine out there. Its loyalty to the shape of the original 70s-era Challenger should not be interpreted as an indication that Dodge is looking exclusively into the past, as there are plenty of modern elements that update the coupe’s visual template for the current century.
Better Than The Camaro LT? The Dodge Challenger’s rear seat is absolutely enormous for its class, a legacy inherited from the platform that it shares with the full-size Dodge Charger sedan. It also boasts a similarly-gigantic trunk, making it a legitimate daily driver even for buyers with a family.
Worse Than The Camaro LT? That extra size also brings with it some unwanted bulk – to the tune of nearly 4,000 lbs, making the Challenger the heaviest member of the V6 coupe segment. Handling is of course impacted, but the effects of the Dodges chubbiness are most noticeable when stomping on the gas pedal: the 306 horses and 268 lb-ft of torque produced by its 3.6-liter V6 simply aren’t up to the task of moving the car forward with authority. It also doesn’t help that an eight-speed automatic is the only transmission offered with the Challenger V6, which screams for a third pedal to best manage its powerband.
2016 Hyundai Genesis Coupe
Killer Features: How about a 348 horsepower 3.8-liter V6? That’s what’s under the hood of each and every 2016 Hyundai Genesis Coupe, which is often on the outside looking in when it comes to six-cylinder muscle cars due to its Korean heritage and sports car leanings. Still, combine its mighty motor with a strong list of standard equipment and you have a very compelling and affordable two-door entry onto our list.
Better Than The Camaro LT? Aside from the 295 lb-ft of twist produced by its six-cylinder motor, the Genesis Coupe also offers the R-Spec trim, which introduces Brembo brakes, sport seats, a stiffer suspension system, and a limited-slip differential to qualify it for track rat status. The Camaro RS package that’s available with its V6 engine is focused more on aesthetics than performance.
Worse Than The Camaro LT? Fuel mileage for the Hyundai isn’t all that rosy. The older-tech 3.8-liter V6 checks in with 19-mpg in combined driving, with only 24-mpg available during highway cruising (a fair bit thirstier than the 28-mpg on offer from the Chevrolet Camaro LT).