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A closeup of the canards of a 2021 Camaro ZL1 1LE is shown closeup.

Spoilers, Wings, and Splitters – Understanding Factory Aero on the 2022 Camaro

Nothing makes a car look faster than some stickers and a large rear spoiler, and while you’ll have to get the stickers yourself, Chevy does offer a multitude of different spoilers, splitters, wings, and other aero parts for the 2022 Camaro. While aftermarket aero is, of course, an option for those who don’t mind drilling into the body panels of a brand-new car, you can get your thirst for a racecar-like look satisfied by factory-stock cars waiting for you on the lots of your local Chevy dealers. But which aero package is right for you?

A lot of factory aero options are nothing more than appearance packages, and the 2022 Camaro is no exception. These are designed to make your car look fast without actually affecting its handling or efficiency on the street. However, unlike other manufacturers, Chevy also offers a variety of race car-inspired aero options for the 2022 Camaro that produce real downforce and will improve high-speed handling on the track.

Sometimes, Just Looking the Part Is Fine

If you’re buying a 2022 Camaro with the 2.0L Turbo or the 3.6L V6, first of all, shame on you (not really––the base engines aren’t terrible by any means, even if they aren’t a V8); second, you aren’t going to get the available high-end aero options. You can choose to outfit your car with a front splitter, side rockers panels, and rear spoiler, but while these certainly spice up the looks of the Camaro, they aren’t designed to seriously improve the aerodynamics. However, this isn’t a bad thing. In fact, aero parts like spoilers and splitters are usually better left to dedicated track cars.

For the uninitiated, aero elements are, in effect, miniature (or not so miniature as the case may be) upside-down wings. Rather than generating lift like the wings on an airplane, they generate downforce (which is just lift pushing down rather than up). The idea is that cars are better off when all four wheels are securely on the ground––but at high speeds, the body of the car itself will begin to act as an airfoil and lift itself off the ground. While your car won’t launch itself into the sky, it will begin to lose grip on the road and become more difficult to handle. Adding aero parts counteracts this tendency and keeps the car grounded.

However, while all of that sounds good, downforce comes with its share of drawbacks. First, it has more effect at high speeds––the sort of speeds that you aren’t going to legally reach on public roads. This isn’t to say that aero elements don’t work at lower speeds, but the effect is nowhere near as pronounced unless the parts are very aggressive. So even if you add aero parts to your daily driver Camaro, you probably aren’t going to notice any actual improvement in handling.

This leads to the second issue; aerodynamic downforce almost always comes with increased drag. After all, almost by definition, an aero element is sticking out into the wind and disrupting the smooth shape of the vehicle. This not only means that vehicles with lots of downforce often have lower top speeds, but it also means that your car will get lower gas mileage. So if you use your Camaro as a commuter vehicle, adding real aero parts means you’ll be spending more on gas and not seeing many real-world benefits.

A white 2021 Camaro ZL1 1LE is shown from the front at an angle after the owner searched 'Chevy dealers in OH'.

But Other Times You Need the Real Deal

The one serious aero element available on the majority of trims of the 2022 Camaro is the Spoiler with Wicker Package. This option is available on every trim of the Camaro except for the ZL1. A trunk lip spoiler is arguably the most basic aero part. Rather than using an airfoil to generate downforce, a lip spoiler acts more like a sail, diverting air to create a low-pressure area and improve the car’s overall downforce. The Camaro’s blade spoiler is bolted to the trunk lid, and the Wickerbill bolts to the spoiler, improving its effectiveness.

As a side note, one quick way to help determine if something is a serious aero part is to look at how well it is attached to the vehicle––real downforce-generating parts need to be very securely attached, or the airflow will literally rip them right off. However, aesthetic parts will usually only be attached with a bolt or two or even simply held on with double-sided adhesive tape. If you can pull on it without fear of it coming off, then the odds are higher that it is generating actual downforce.

However, for maximum aero, you are going to have to select the ZL1 trim with the 1LE Extreme Track Performance Package. This adds a genuine front splitter, front dive planes, a rear wing spoiler, and the suspension mods needed to support all the additional downforce. The SS trims come with their own SS 1LE Track Performance Package, but this does not include the same aero elements as the ZL1 1LE package.

Breaking Down the ZL1 1LE Aero Package

The centerpiece of the ZL1 1LE aero parts is the exposed carbon fiber GT-style rear wing. This wing is a true airfoil and is designed to generate an impressive 300 pounds of downforce when traveling at 150 mph––that means a full 300 additional pounds of force are pushing down on your rear axle, keeping the rear wheels securely connected to the ground. Chevy engineers actually designed this rear wing in an F1 wind tunnel, and it demonstrates some of the latest aerodynamic design principles, including end caps to keep airflow moving smoothly over the wing.

However, the wing is not the only aero part added as part of the ZL1 1LE package. A look at the front of the car reveals a massive front splitter and front dive planes. These aero elements balance out the rear wing, keeping the front planted at high speeds. It is important that a serious aero package adds downforce to the front and the rear, or you will be changing the car’s balance––a huge rear wing will keep the rear wheels planted but allow the front wheels to wander, reducing steering control and inducing understeer.

But as impressive as the ZL1 1LE aero is, it also demonstrates the downsides of a high-aero car. First off, the additional drag from the aero elements means that adding the package reduces the ZL1’s top speed from over 200 mph to around 180 mph. Still, the odds are that if you ever do manage to get going that fast, you’ll appreciate the added stability from the aero package more than the extra 20 mph of top speed.

Second, the suspension in ZL1 1LE has springs that are three times stiffer. The added downforce from a high aero car means that you are effectively adding weight to the vehicle, and the suspension needs to be reinforced to keep up. However, just like an unloaded one-ton truck, that stiffer suspension means you are in for a much bouncier ride when the car isn’t making full use of its aero elements. In other words, the ZL1 1LE isn’t going to be the most comfortable daily driver around.

A white 2021 Chevy Camaro ZL1 1LE is shown from the front at an angle.

How Much Aero Is Right for You?

If you’re shopping for a 2022 Camaro, it’s up to you to decide how much aero you want on your car. Do you like the look of a nice splitter and spoiler but don’t want to deal with the downsides? Then every trim of the 2022 model has plenty of options for you. Do you want a bit more rear downforce for your car? Then look for the blade spoiler and wicker option. And if you will only settle for a true track-worthy aero package using real motorsports parts, then the Camaro ZL1 1LE is the car for you. Still aren’t sure? Then it’s time to head out to your local Chevy dealers and see which option appeals to you.

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