In today’s market, paying $25,000 for a new vehicle is fairly low-priced. You can get yourself a Prius, a Forester, or a compact SUV new for that price, or you could have one of the most powerful performance vehicles on the road. Seriously, if you can have a 2022 Chevy Camaro for as little as $25K, why would you want anything else? Even if you have a family to traipse around, you have room in the back seat for kids and a trunk for their backpacks or groceries. Maybe it isn’t the most convenient vehicle to get into and out of on a daily basis, but once upon a time, coupes were common. Kids are flexible, and they don’t care about having to duck under the seat belt to get in the back seat.
This begs the question of how to decide on a trim level or features that will give you the most bang for your buck. Automotive news geeks are all excited about the release of Chevy’s choice to make COPO Camaros with a big-block 572 engine that will likely border on outrageous power output with over 700 horsepower, but few people can afford a Camaro built strictly for the track. It’s cool, and anyone who sees it will probably drool, but if you want a Camaro, it’s more fun if you can drive it all the time. So, which 2022 Camaro should you get? Let’s break down a few of the trims in terms of pricing and features, and then we’ll get into paddle vs manual shifting just for those who aren’t sure which to get.
Trims and Features for Performance and Price
It might surprise you, but at entry-level, you get a lot of features and a decent 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that puts out 275 hp with 295 lb-ft of torque. With this engine, Chevy claims you can go from zero to 60 in about 5.5 seconds. Plus, tech like wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard with a seven-inch touchscreen. You also get automatic climate control, keyless entry, and push-button ignition. For good contact with the road, you will ride on 18-inch wheels, and the rev-matching six-speed manual transmission will deliver the enjoyment you deserve with a pony car. For this trim, you will have to settle for a coupe, but even at its most affordable, you get a beautiful ride.
Upping your budget to at least $27,500 for this trim means you get to opt for the more powerful 3.6-liter V6, which makes 335 hp at 6,800 rpm and 284 lb-ft of torque at 5,300 rpm. The option to add on the Brembo four-piston front brakes is a great choice for superior stopping power, and you can choose to lower the suspension if you want better aerodynamics, though this trim already comes with a sport suspension. What’s great about this trim level is it comes standard as a convertible with a powered blacktop if you like the idea of driving with the top down, and climate control is upgraded to a dual-zone automatic. Heated front seats are also standard, and you have the option to add the Bose audio system for premium sound.
A few thousand more gets you a powerful 2022 Camaro variant that starts at $37,500, and instead of adding on the options for the 2LT, you can have features that come standard with the 1SS variant. The engine is bordering on outlandish with the 6.2-liter LT1 V8 that blasts out 455 hp at 6,000 rpm and 455 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm, paired to the standard six-speed manual transmission. The performance will be enhanced by the larger 20-inch wheels, though you won’t have to worry about ride quality suffering because you get the magnetic ride control feature as standard. In addition, you get six-piston copper-free Brembo brakes, dual-mode exhaust, front splitter, and those gorgeous Recaro seats.
Obviously, this is the trim to buy if money is not an issue and you don’t care about how much you spend at the pump. And yet, the starting price of $63,000 for the best-performing street-legal 2022 Camaro isn’t unfair. Only the ZL1 gets the supercharged 6.2-liter V8 which practically roars with 650 hp at 6,400 rpm and 650 lb-ft of torque at 3,600 rpm. Again, this is paired with the standard six-speed manual transmission, though you could have it with a ten-speed automatic if you choose. You will ride on 19-inch wheels fitted with widened performance tires, once again benefitting from magnetic ride control to make the ride quality more comfortable. Like the 1SS, you get a front splitter, but it’s unique to the ZL1, and you also get a carbon-fiber hood insert so your supercharged engine can suck air to stay cool. Of course, you get the Recaro seats and lots of special badging and ZL1 details lest anyone not know exactly what kind of Camaro you own.
Paddle vs Manual Shifting
Driving with a clutch and manually shifting the gears is arguably one of the finer points of owning a fast car. It’s satisfying to engage so closely with the way the vehicle responds to the road, to control the speed as you round a tight corner and slug the lower gear into place with one foot on the clutch and the other already gassing the accelerator to get up to speed again. Whether it’s actually faster to use paddle shifters or not, manually shifting fills some kind of primal lizard brain need to feel the experience of the vehicle with all four limbs. And yet, on racecourses, paddle shifters are the norm.
Which is actually better: paddle shifters or manual? On the off chance that you’ve never experienced paddle shifting, it may seem a little silly when you look at those small levers on a steering wheel and think of them as real. If you understand how paddle shifting works, you know that the paddle is essentially electronic, a direct connection to the computerized transmission which allows you to choose to shift at a different point than the computer. In the case of true racing vehicles built for the track, paddle shifters work instantaneously without delay. Paddle shifters you get with a vehicle manufactured for us regular folk – at least on the Camaro – are not instantaneous; you will experience a delay after you hit the paddle.
If you plan to buy a 2022 Camaro and you know how to shift manually, you’re likely to get far more enjoyment out of driving stick. It’s a lot more fun to drive a pony car with a throaty engine you get to hear every time you shift, and a Camaro is one of the most powerful vehicles you can legally drive on the road. Harnessing that kind of power using the manual transmission teaches you a lot more about what’s happening with your vehicle when you so directly engage with it, so the short answer is that paddle shifters, at least in a Camaro, are not going to be as much fun in terms of performance. Go with manual or let the Camaro automatically shift itself to get the most out of your engine.
If you plan to buy a 2022 Chevy Camaro, you have a lot of options for building a pony car your own way for a price that fits your budget. Whether you go with an entry-level trim or choose one of the more spectacular performance models, you have lots of packages and features you can add to any trim to make it yours. Paint colors and exterior details really make it easy to personalize, but the truth is that any Camaro is going to be fun to drive no matter what trim you buy.