I don’t really like the term “sports car”––it lacks much in the way of nuance and attempts to encapsulate a massive range of different vehicles under a single umbrella. It works, I suppose, but it fails to really get at the heart of the variety of cars it describes since so many models can fall under this one term. Of course, once you start using words like “muscle car” and “pony car,” all of a sudden, you have people arguing about which is which and what is what. Case in point: the 2023 Chevy Camaro is certainly a sports car, but even as a single model, there’s a tremendous amount of variation across its trims.
At a casual glance, the 2023 Camaro is everything you’d expect from a sports car: a two-door coupe (or convertible) with a powerful engine, responsive handling, and good old-fashioned rear-wheel drive. That being said, some of these things are not like the others. While the first four (out of eight!) trims all use the same 2.0L Turbo engine, things really start to change once you hit that fifth trim. The LT1 is where the Camaro transforms from a familiar “sports car” that delivers a predictable, though still impressive, ride into a growling beast ready to tear up the road!
A Basis for Comparison
As I said, four trim levels are available before you even get to the LT1, so let’s quickly look at them to get a real sense of how much the LT1 adds to the Camaro. I could look at the starting 1LS trim, but I’ll actually go a step up from that and get into what the Camaro 1LT (not to be confused with the LT1 despite how frustratingly similar the names are––thanks, Chevy!) brings to the road. For starters, there are two engines available for the 1LT: the standard 2.0L Turbo with 275 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque and a 3.6L V6 that offers 335 hp and 284 lb-ft of torque. Both engines come with a six-speed manual transmission standard, though a paddle-shift automatic is available.
The 1LT rides on 18-inch silver-painted aluminum wheels wrapped in all-season tires, with a limited-slip rear differential and a sport suspension. It comes with a dual-outlet exhaust with bright tips for optimal performance and a nice touch of style. Inside the Camaro 1LT, you’ll find a seven-inch infotainment display, a six-speaker audio system, and support for Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It has an eight-way power driver’s seat and a six-way power front-passenger seat, plus a leather-wrapped flat-bottom steering wheel, keyless open and start, and more. All of this comes together to make for an excellent piece of machinery––but the LT1 takes things further.
Traditional V8 Performance
I’d argue that the most important way the LT1 differs from the four trims available before it is in its V8 engine and the incredible power and performance it delivers. Now, I’ll admit that this isn’t the most powerful engine available for the 2023 Camaro, but you have to go all the way up to the pinnacle ZL1 trim to get that supercharged monster, nearly doubling the cost of the car. One of the things I love most about the Camaro is that it’s a very accessible sports car (there I go using that term, please forgive my need for simple clarity) with a relatively low price. Sure, the ZL1 is amazing, but it pushes the price tag of the Camaro up to the point where you might as well start looking at the mid-engine Corvette instead.
The Camaro LT1 remains an accessible option, yet it’s packed with a 6.2L V8 engine that delivers 455 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque. Glancing back up at the specs on the 2.0L Turbo, we can see that this is way more power than the standard engine affords and significantly more than what the available V6 engine offers. Much like those lesser engines, however, this 6.2L V8 comes with a six-speed manual transmission. You can also choose a 10-speed automatic if you prefer––it offers smooth and precise gear changes with paddle shifters that let you stay in command.
Due to the added power of this engine, the Camaro LT1 includes an external engine oil cooler to keep it from overheating and to help maintain peak performance when you’re behind the wheel. Three selectable drive modes, including Tour, Sport, and Snow/Ice, can adjust eight different vehicle attributes for optimal handling and traction in different conditions. You get a performance suspension and Brembo four-piston front brakes to provide incredible stopping power even at high speeds.
Customization and Comfort
The Camaro LT1 rides on 20-inch wheels wrapped in all-season tires, and a number of different wheel styles are available. You can also choose from a huge selection of exterior options that let you customize the look of your ride to perfectly match what you want. From simple things like black accents and bowtie emblems to spoilers, splitters, and rocker moldings, you have a vast array of options. There are even three different pre-configured Design Packages available to provide you with a single, comprehensive look for the exterior of your Camaro.
My only real gripe with the LT1 is that the interior isn’t quite as refined or decked out as it probably could be, though it’s a minor gripe. You’ll find a neves-inch infotainment display inside the 2023 Camaro LT1, a six-speaker sound system, wireless smartphone support, and the same power-adjustable seating that the 1LT brings to the road. There’s a leather-wrapped flat-bottom steering wheel, a leather-wrapped shift knob, and a Driver Information Center with gauges and data for you. You also get great convenience features like keyless open and start, cruise control, single-zone automatic climate control, and more.
In fairness, the available Technology Package significantly upgrades some of these interior features. This package replaces the standard features with an eight-inch infotainment display and a Bose Premium audio system with nine or seven speakers (depending on if you choose a coupe or convertible, respectively). It’s a great package and doesn’t add much to the price of the LT1, but it really feels like these features should just be standard on this trim.
A Sports Car for Sports Car Fans
Minor interior shortcomings aside, the 2023 Camaro LT1 is clearly a stunning piece of machinery designed for someone who wants a sports car that feels as powerful as it looks. The addition of an upgraded engine––the same engine found in the higher SS trims, I might add––and several other features help transform this model into a gorgeous expression of raw power and precision. With all signs indicating that the Camaro, at least as we currently know it, is on its way out, it’s nice to see that it’s at least making its exit with a flourish of sophisticated strength. What the future holds for this legendary model is up for a great deal of debate, but whatever we see in the years to come will have to live up to models like the current LT1; we’ll see if Chevy’s designers and engineers are up to the challenge.