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Chevrolet took a few years to get the new Camaro on its feet after its debut nearly a decade ago. Now, the new ‘Maro has hit its stride and comes with a baffling amount of trim levels. From four cylinders to eight, the 2021 Chevrolet Camaro is a pony car for the ages. It’s time to sort out which trim level is the best for your new Camaro.

That means looking at everything from infotainment to performance and sorting out exactly what the hell “SS”, “1LE”, and “ZL1” means, and which of those mysterious terms is the best.

The base Camaro just isn’t worth it

A grey Chevrolet Camaro shot from the 3/4 angle at an auto show
The base Camaro just can’t hold a candle to the SS | Raymond Boyd via Getty Images

In a lot of other cars, 275 hp is a lot. Tuned Volkswagen GTI’s push that power all day, and they’re a riot. However, 275 hp is not enough in the 2021 Chevrolet Camaro 1LS. While the name may lead you to think it’s somehow got a 275 hp LS motor, that’s not the case. Instead, you’re ending up with a turbo four cylinder Camaro.

And at 3,351 lbs, the power to weight ratio of the Camaro 1LS just doesn’t scream “pony car” to us. However, the optional manual transmission does and seeing as the Camaro is more sports car than muscle car, it’s practically a must in any trim. That said, your $25,000 is better spent on a more practical hot hatchback than this thing.

The 2021 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is a V8 monster

A red 2021 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 coupe and convertible at sunset
The 2021 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 | Chevrolet

Now for the other end of the spectrum: the 2021 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. How does an extra 375 hp over the four-cylinder Camaro sound? Like a lot? We think so too, and so does Car and Driver. The ZL1 Camaro is far and away the most extreme Camaro money can buy. Well, short of a COPO drag Camaro. Thankfully, you’ve got your choice in transmissions here as well, be it a 10-speed auto or a 6-speed manual.

Still, even at its $65,000 price point, the ZL1 is an incredible value. You have to add another zero to start getting that kind of power out of any other sports car. You’re also keeping a lot of niceties (like leather and Android Auto) from the Camaro SS 1LE. There’s no Porsche GT3 lightweighting here.

Is the Camaro 1LE worth it?

The 2021 Chevrolet Camaro SS shot from the high 3/4 angle in a warehouse
The 2021 Camaro SS | Chevrolet

That brings us nicely to the 2021 Chevrolet Camaro you should really want. It’s the Camaro everyone should want for the last 40 or so years: the Camaro SS. Moreover, the addition of the track-focused 1LE package makes the new muscle car a true track weapon. Chevy adds a new diff, better brakes, suspension, and seats to turn the Camaro SS up to 11. Plus, it’s a real value at $38,695. 455 hp is a heck of a lot more than a Supra, and for almost $10,000 less. Frankly, the Camaro SS 1LE with a stick might just be one of the best performance cars out there right now.


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