2019 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible Test Drive

“2019 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible”
The Hottest Camaro Yet Comes Two Ways
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Looking for an alternative to the ZL1 Corvette? Name your poison – a Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in either Coupe or Convertible form. Both are powered by the same energy source as the ZL1 Vette – a big honkin’ V-8. Unlike the Dodge Challenger, which comes with more power, but only with an automatic transmission, the Camaro ZL1 offers either a six-speed manual gear box with auto rev-matching or with a 10-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.

OVERVIEW

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Coupes come standard in 1LS trim, but both Coupes and Convertibles are available in 1LT, 2LT, 3LT, 1SS, 2SS and ZL1 trims. There’s an RS performance-oriented package available for LT models and a coupe-only 1LE package available for any engine.

OUR TESTER

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The vehicle provided for our week-long test was the 2019 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible with the 10-speed automatic transmission. The primary exterior finish was in a luscious Garnet Red tintcoat with metallic Black trim elements. The interior was executed in Jet Black with Red accents. The base price was set at $67,500., with the final sticker totaling $72,585. after adding the Gas Guzzler Tax, automatic transmission with remote vehicle start, the Garnet Red paint and destination and handling charges.

NEW FOR 2019

New for 2019, the 7- and 8-inch touchscreens have been upgraded with increased personalization capability and Cloud-based connectivity. Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, OnStar, 4G LTE Wi-Fi and a six-speaker sound system come on all as standard fare. The Camaro ZL1, gets a supercharged version of the 6.2-liter V8 delivering 650 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque. Published 0-60 times fall in the mid-3-second range. Consequently, fuel economy is less than stellar, with an estimated 13 mpg city and 21 mpg hwy. But hey, who’s counting?

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The two-door convertible is categorized as a four seater. Good luck with that as the diminutive rear seat is unrealistic for accommodating normal sized passengers when the front seats are occupied. The trunk space is also exceptionally limited to allow for stowing the power soft top. The convertible models elevate the sticker across the board by roughly $6,000 over comparably equipped coupe models.

SUPERCAR POWER

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Supplying the mind-boggling get-up-and-go is a 6.2-liter LT4 OHV, 16-valve supercharged V-8 with VVT and direct high-pressure fuel injection that cranks out a serious 650 horses at 6,400 rpm, while developing a like amount of torque at
3,600 rpm. Energy from the longitudinally mounted front engine is geared to the rear wheels via a Hydramatic ten-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and selectable drive modes including: Tour, Sport, Track and Snow and Ice.

COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE

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The cabin is dark and cozy with limited outward visibility when the top is up, but hey, this is a convertible and unless it’s raining, the top should be stowed. The interior design is more modernistic than its competitive counterparts with soft-touch surfaces. The large rotary air vents are stylish as well as effective.

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The seven or eight inch touchscreen display is positioned high on the dash and tilts down – a plus as far as glare is concerned with the top down, and it’s easy to use. Sunvisors are fixed to the windshield header with a vanity mirror with no cover and do not extend or swing around to the side. With the visor down, one has a distracting view of their lap. The power top is operated by a single switch that raises or lowers it in roughly 15 seconds, and all windows lower with the top, but do not raise with it, requiring separate switches for front and quarter windows with a dual motion.

Connectivity is supplied by Chevrolet’s Infotainment 3 Plus with the eight-inch diagonal HD color touchscreen with voice recognition. There’s also Bluetooth audio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability along with SIRIUSXM all access and 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot capability.

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Front seats are Recaro performance bucket units and are highly supportive with memory settings.

Safety and security issues are covered with Stabilitrak stability control with traction control, frontal, knee and side impact and head protection for driver and front passenger. There’s a rear vision camera, rear park assist, rear cross traffic alert, and lane change alert with side blind zone alert.

PERFORMANCE

Handling characteristics are like that of a large sports car that feels light and agile with adjustable steering feel through the drive modes. The ride quality is firm but not harsh in Tour mode, but tightens up considerably in Sport and Track modes, while the Goodyear Eagle F1 staggered high performance rubber grips like glue.

The 10-speed automatic changes gears smoothly and flawlessly, while the engine and exhaust notes are heavenly with an “old school” V-8 authoritative rumble.

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OUR BOTTOM LINE TAKE

The 2019 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 convertible is definitely a highly desirable alternative to its Corvette brother (or sister), and as a bonus, you even get a back seat – sort of.

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SPECIFICATIONS: 2019 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible

Base Price: $67,500.
Price as Tested: $72,585.

Engine Type and Size: 6.2-liter, LT4 OHV, 16-valve supercharged V-8 with VVT and direct high-pressure fuel injection.

Horsepower (bhp): 650 @ 6,400 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 650 @ 3,600 rpm

Transmission: Hydramatic ten-speed automatic with paddle shifters.

Drive Train: Longitudinally-mounted front engine / Rear-wheel drive.

Suspension: Front – MacPherson-type strut with dual lower ball joints, monotube struts and direct acting stabilizer bar with Magnetic Ride Control.
Rear – independent five-link with monotube shocks and direct acting stabilizer bar with Magnetic Ride Control.

Brakes: Power assisted four-wheel vented discs with four channel ABS and Stabilitrak stability control.

Tires: Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3 – 285/30 ZR20x10 TPC 1487-front / 305/30 ZR20x11 TPC 1488rear forged aluminum 5-split “W”-spoke Anthracite grey painted alloy wheels.

Wheelbase: 110.7 inches
Length Overall: 190.2 inches
Width: 74.7 inches
Height: 52.4 inches
Curb Weight: 4,148 lbs.
Turning Circle: 38.4 ft.
Fuel Capacity: 19 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 12 mpg city / 20-mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: Not given
0 – 60 mph: 3.5 seconds

Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.

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