Grip levels are impressive, with the 1LE’s peak 0.98 g on the skidpad being significantly better than the 0.91 g we recorded in the standard V-6 coupe, if some way short of the huge 1.05 g that the V-8 SS 1LE managed on its fatter tires. It’s worth mentioning that our test car also showed evidence of a hard life during its 6500 miles, suffering noticeably more understeer when turning right than left; a factory-fresh car or brand-new rubber might have done even better. But the V-6 Camaro is 215 pounds lighter than the V-8 car, and although it can’t produce the same ultimate adhesion, it feels very agile when attacking a series of corners. In the dry, on-road traction is pretty much absolute, with only the hardest use causing the rear to squirm. In the wet, grip levels are much more limited on these summer-spec tires—the 1LE felt positively skittish, especially when asked to deal with standing water.
It’s stomping the major routes that our Vauxhall still shines. On a fast-moving motorway, the Cavalier is surprisingly subdued, with minimal wind or road noise, demonstrating that all those hours in the wind tunnel were fruitful. And this 2.5-litre V6 engine has even more grunt than the 2.0-litre in our test, delivering effortless roll-on performance, despite being paired to a rather sluggish four-speed automatic gearbox. It’s easy to see why 'the Cav' was the repmobile of choice.
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It sounds simple, and it is. The days are shorter and the weather is worse during the winter months, so maintenance of your exterior lights an important aspect of any winter car checklist.
Vision to the side and back is scary at first but you get used to it, mostly thanks to a convex mirror insert on the outside rearviews. You can’t see behind you unless you’re backing up and looking at the backup camera, and even then the screen is really hard to see. Some backups were done on faith. Give a wide berth to everything within about two blocks.
If you can’t start your car, but have access to a 12-volt power supply in another car, then you can use a set of jump leads. If you're skilled enough and it's accessible, you could remove the battery and charge it indoors. This can be complex, not least because car batteries are heavy. You should always refer to the owner’s manual.
The worst thing you can do when a slide occurs is to panic. If you freeze behind the wheel, then there's more chance of you having an accident, but if you keep calm, you will be able to deal with any situation that occurs. The aim is to avoid an accident, but if one is unavoidable, keeping calm will allow you to deal with the situation better and reduce its severity.
The track-focused Camaro is attractively priced, with the V-6 1LE in its base 1LS trim starting at less than 33 grand—some $5000 cheaper than the least expensive V-8 Camaro SS. (Get one with a few niceties, as on our 2LT test car, however, and the cost advantage over the SS becomes narrower.) As it does when ordered on V-8 and ZL1 models, the 1LE option brings a bundle of both cosmetic and mechanical modifications. Here that means a version of the SS’s suspension with retuned dampers, rear subframe mounts, and anti-roll bars. There also are staggered-width 20-inch forged-aluminum wheels carrying 245/40ZR-20 Goodyear Eagle F1 tires at the front and 275/35ZR-20s at the rear; a limited-slip differential; Brembo four-pot front brake calipers; enhanced cooling for the engine, transmission, and differential; and a dual-mode exhaust system. Visual changes for the V-6 model include satin-black vinyl wraps for the hood and side mirrors, a splitter beneath the front bumper, and a lip spoiler on the trunklid.