Should you commit to today’s Camaro or can Chevy make the all-new 2016 worth waiting for?

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What changes will make it different?

Many cars in recent years have grown in size, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing…unless it’s a muscle car. A larger size invariably means more weight; that compromises performance, and performance is everything where a car like the Camaro is concerned. The good news is that it seems the somewhat portly Camaro is going to be all new in model-year 2016, and it will be built on GM’s Alpha platform (which it will share with the Cadillac ATS). The bottom line is that it will be smaller and lighter.

Why should I wait for the 2016?

If you’re also considering a Ford Mustang or one of Dodge’s hooligan Challengers or Chargers, you’ll want to see more of the model-year ’16 Camaro before making a decision. Competition in this segment is being ramped up beyond all reason by Dodge and Ford, so we have to hope that Chevy will come up with something impressive in order to keep pace.

Should I buy a 2015 model instead?

Despite its gargantuan proportions, the model-year ’15 version is still a real head-turner of a car that has plenty to offer. With its stunning body and variety of forms—which include the relatively cost-effective V-6, the potent V-8 SS, the track-ready Z/28 and the ridiculously fast ZL1—you shouldn’t rule out this model.

Will the styling be different?

Spy photos of the new car undergoing testing by Chevrolet have started to surface on the Internet. Although the vehicle is obviously heavily camouflaged, the design appears to be toned down. Some people think that’s exactly what Chevy should be doing; others lament the passing of a design that looks like an auto show concept car that was never going to make it into production but somehow did.

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Any mechanical changes?

A number of engines could make an appearance in the next version. In addition to V-6 and V-8 options, it’s possible we’ll see a more frugal four-cylinder offering with a turbocharger to compete against the Mustang’s EcoBoost model. The 6.2-liter LS3 engine might be replaced with the fifth-generation small-block V-8 that is already in the Corvette and Silverado. The twin-turbo 3.6-liter V-6, which can be found in the CTS Vsport, is another contender.

Will fuel economy improve?

A manual transmission option should remain available in model-year 2016, and GM’s eight-speed automatic paired with a four-cylinder turbo engine might deliver some significant improvements in fuel economy. Although just about every new vehicle we hear about these days is boasting better gas mileage, this is a segment where such a concern probably holds the least importance with potential buyers. Even though cars like the new Mustang and the Corvette are making noises about their gas mileage, Dodge is showing that there is still a place for pure power over economy with its HEMI Hellcat offerings.

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Will it have new features?

Expect some new and exciting developments with the underpinnings of the ’16 model to cope with an expected increase in power. As for creature comforts, it’s difficult to predict since the model-year 2015 version varies so much depending on the specification. When you look at how much electronic wizardry is available from the competition, you can be sure the model-year ’16 Camaro will feature just about everything imaginable. It simply comes down to what specification you want: a basic coupe, a luxurious and comfortable touring car or a track-focused performance machine.

How will 2016 prices be different?

There isn’t a lot of room for Chevrolet to move from the model-year 2015 starting price of $24,550, especially in the face of stiff competition from Ford’s Mustang. Expect prices to remain pretty much the same, although the high-end models could increase by a little if they have significantly more to offer.

When will it come out?

Make no mistake: A new Camaro is a big deal, and we expect it to be unveiled at auto shows during 2015. It might come out by the end of ’15, but it is more likely to land in showrooms early in 2016. The convertible version will probably arrive later than the hardtop.

Best competitors

Dodge Challenger, Ford Mustang, Hyundai Genesis Coupe, Nissan 370Z

What change would make it better?

If you’re a fan of the model-year ’15 version, there isn’t a lot to wish for. Issues exist with the amount of headroom for taller passengers and the lack of all-round visibility for the driver, but correcting those shortcomings would mean considerable restyling that might detract from the car as a whole. However, the model-year 2016 offering does need to be a bit smaller and lighter, and it appears as if that’s being addressed.

Quick hit

The Z/28 did seem impressive when it was launched, with its 7.0-liter V-8 that develops some 500 horsepower and 470 pounds poor foot of torque. But Dodge has blown it out of the water with the SRT Challenger and the 6.2-liter supercharged HEMI Hellcat V-8 engine that produces 707 horsepower. The model-year ’16 Camaro probably doesn’t have to go quite that far to retain its place in our heart, but the gap between the two offerings needs to be narrowed a little bit.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]