The Camaros that really stick to my ribs sound like battlefields on big wheels.

They thunder and roar – the ear-popping sounds of massive mechanical violence coursing through ground-pounding V-8s.

Solid, spicy food for the soul, I say.

Sorry, but I just find tamer, more civilized six-cylinder versions of the Camaro to be about as satisfying as a can of low-calorie green beans.

Once again, though, this strange, digi-babble century we’re stuck in may force me to adjust my thinking and my ears.

Get this: The red 2016 Camaro that I tested recently sported a 3.6-liter V-6 with 335 horsepower, a six-speed manual, 20-inch wheels and a raspy exhaust system.


Even worse for my classic muscle-car friends, the six-banger Camaro can howl to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds, according to the clocks at Car and Driver.

What’s next – autonomous electric pods on spindly wheels that deliver themselves to your house?

Probably. But in the meantime, I’m working to fully grasp the new Camaro.

As you may have heard, Chevy restyled the Camaro for 2016, carving away some of its blockiness and fat while preserving the basic 50-year-old shape.

It looks good to my boomer eyes, like an old friend that’s been in the gym for the last two years.

The RS model I had still wore many of the lines from the last-gen Camaro, a car that resembled a ’69 Camaro.


The new one, about 300 pounds lighter, seems leaner, meaner and more modern than ever.

Its small upper grille and skinny, angry-looking headlamps look more purposeful than the face on the previous Camaro.

Short overhangs front and rear maintain the car’s street-fighter stance, enhanced by a slight muscular curve in the sides and a powerful shoulder over the rear wheels.

Moreover, the one I had clung tightly to good-looking 20-inch alloy wheels shod with 245/40 tires.

While I’m still getting accustomed to the relatively new horizontal taillamps, I was impressed by the huge dual exhausts that looked just like those on big-boy V-8 models.

I took it as a loud, proud statement from Chevy about its potent new six-banger Camaro.


Although the engine is the same size as last year’s V-6, it benefits from a number of tweaks that give it 12 more horsepower and a bit more torque than the previous model.

Of course, what really helps is the car’s loss of 300 pounds – an 8 percent reduction.

Despite the raspy six-pot exhaust sound – similar in some ways to the Infiniti 3.7 V-6 – the Camaro seemed far more muscle car than econobox.

The engine felt almost like a V-8 in its initial surge away from a stop, pushing driver and passenger back into their seats.

But once I left the congestion behind and was able to get Western with the engine and fine six-speed gearbox, it seemed to run out of breath a bit over 5,000 rpm.

It wasn’t a side-of-the-road gasp, mind you, but the motor did flatten out over the final 1,000 rpm.


Still, this engine is plenty stout, capable of 13.5-second quarter-mile runs and made even more pleasurable by a positive-shifting six-speed gearbox.

It also gets to propel a new platform – shared with the Cadillac ATS – that delivers the best handling I’ve felt in any Camaro.

The car sliced into corners with the abandon of a teenage athlete, holding a tight line with very little lean.

Push really hard and the rear-wheel-drive Camaro will drift lightly through curves, maintaining its balance and grip.

In addition, the car benefits from General Motors’ growing ability to fine-tune steering units. (Remember when GM units had all the feel of a stick stirring paint?)

In sport mode, the steering was really quick, had the right heft for a vehicle weighing nearly 3,500 pounds and transmitted good feel from the road.


As you might guess, the Camaro’s performance-oriented independent suspension provided a pretty fidgety ride around town, clomping and banging over big imperfections.

But it smoothed out nicely at highway speeds, which was a fine excuse to drive faster.

At $35,150, the Camaro struck me as pretty good bang for the buck. The next step up would be the tire-melting SS with its 6.2-liter V-8 _ and those go for around $47,000.

Just don’t expect much sparkle inside. The interior in mine was black, spare and somewhat improved from last year. However, like last year, it remains the Camaro’s weakest link.

At least you won’t have to worry too much about the area around the rear seats because no normal human can fit comfortably back there.

Save it for the friend who introduced you to your ex.


Though the black interior in mine felt as claustrophobic as ever, it looked a little better.

The top of the dashboard was pretty flat, looping around squared-off hoods over the tach and speedometer that had a sort of odd, intriguing reptilian feel to them.

As in previous Camaros, much of the right side of the dashboard was bare, occupied only by a small line of white stitching.

Meanwhile, an 8-inch display screen with Apple CarPlay capability was tilted slightly forward for reasons I never figured out.

For those of you into digital devices – presumably just about everyone but me – the Camaro offers 4G LTE Wi-Fi.

The front seats were above reproach, with perforated, sectioned centers and supportive bolsters.


But I’ve got to warn you: The top of the car is so low that the interior headliner was only a few inches off my head – and I’m what you might politely call diminutive. In some intersections, I could barely see the traffic signal overhead.

That wouldn’t deter me, though, if I were in the market for a new pony-car. Heck, it might even get you out of a ticket.

The fact is, no Camaro in my experience has been this good overall. If I were stroking the check, I wouldn’t dwell on fuel economy. The salty six gets 18 mpg in town, compared with 16 for the road-burning V-8.

So if I could handle the much greater expense of the V-8, I would probably go with that engine.

But just the fact that the two engines are worthy of a debate now says a lot about the new Camaro.

Even I can’t automatically nix a six these days.

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