2019 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE Preview & Buyer's Guide

Chevy updates the track-focused Camaro ZL1 1LE with minor exterior changes and an upgraded tech package.

Chevrolet has revised much of the Camaro lineup for 2019, with the breakout star coming in the form of the Turbo 1LE Camaro. External design cues have become only more aggressive across the lineup, with the exception of the ZL1 and ZL1 1LE packages that require ample vents for their supercharged V8 engines. Finally glimpsed in public without any camouflage, a series of subtle changes should help the Camaro ZL1 1LE maintain its dominance at the track.

Exterior Design

The Camaro's resurrection for the 2010 model year brought Detroit a new ethos for their retro-styled muscle cars. During the years since, the major form hasn't changed though external details have advanced with the time. The 2019 Camaro in its track-specific ZL1 1LE trim has transformed into a jagged-edged beast, complete with plenty of aero goodies including massive vents, a body kit, and of course, an enormous carbon fiber wing.

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The main goal of every exterior design detail is to improve downforce so that the ZL1 1LE can stay planted in tight corners and during radical acceleration. While the rear spoiler may be standard fare for track-focused sports cars, few vehicles in the Camaro's class feature the same level of commitment, highlighted by air deflectors and dive planes—those additional fascia serving as angular additions to the front grille. At the rear end, dual-element tail lamps and a new fascia setup are new for 2019 models.

The Camaro ZL1 1LE actually leaves the factory with smaller wheels than its lower-spec ZL1-only sibling—aluminum 19-inchers measuring 11 inches in front and 12 inches at the rear—which point to weight reductions and rolling inertia being prioritized over outright style. The wheels are shod in Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3R tires, which combine with the ZL1 1LE's aero package and lighter weight to produce cornering grip of up to 1.10 g of lateral acceleration.


Drivetrain & Mechanicals

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The heart and soul of the Camaro ZL1 and ZL1 1LE is the LT4 supercharged 6.2-liter V8 under its hood cranking up to 650 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque. Those figures are unchanged from 2018 models, as is much of the rest of the drivetrain, and once again the ZL1 1LE comes with a six-speed manual transmission as its only option. (The six-speed stick shift saves weight over the ZL1's 10-speed dual-clutch trans, which Chevy boasts can upshift faster than Porsche's legendary PDK gearbox.)

The Camaro ZL1 1LE's suspension offers lower weight and increased traction relative to its lower-spec stablemates. Dampers called Multimatic Dynamic Suspension Spool Valve are placed front and rear, saving an estimated 23 pounds versus earlier models.  The Multimatic DSSV system allows Chevy to further include an adjustable front-end ride height, adjustable camber plates, and a three-way adjustable sway bar at the rear end.

A limited-slip differential comes standard on both the ZL1 and ZL1 1LE, as do 11 heat exchangers to help the entire drivetrain stay cool. Brembo brakes measure 15.35 inches up front with two-piece floating rotors, six-piston badged calipers. All of Chevy's performance enhancements allowed the 2018 ZL1 1LE to record a Nürburgring Nordschleife lap time of 7:16.04, the fastest ever recorded by a Camaro, and the subtle changes for the 2019 model year could possibly help to improve that time incrementally.


Interior & Tech

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The major 2019 model year revisions for both ZL1 and ZL1 1LE Camaros come in the form of technological upgrades. The Chevy Infotainment system features an 8-inch color touchscreen with cloud connectivity, voice recognition, and available navigation. A full-display rear camera mirror receives high-definition view quality. Coupe models (all Zl1 1LE models are coupes) come with Collision Alert.

Track enthusiasts looking to improve on their lap times will be happy to receive an updated Performance Data Recorder, while wireless accessory charging, blended color-choice ambient lighting, Bose premium audio, and dual-zone climate controls fit into the mix, as well. ZL1 Camaros come with Recaro front seats, while the ZL1 1LE adds heating and ventilation to both front seats and completely deletes the rear seats to trim additional weight. Thinner rear window glass achieves a similar goal. A heated steering wheel, presumably for cold track mornings, also comes standard.

Safety features on both ZL1 and ZL1 1LE Camaros include industry standards like Rear Park Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, and Side Blind Zone Alert with Lane Change Alert. Front safety belt pre-tensioners should prove excellent for both safety and for keeping drivers and passengers planted in their seats while blasting around tight curves.


Pricing & Buying

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The Camaro ZL1 1LE's minor revisions for 2019 shouldn't lead to much of a price increase over 2018 models, which started at $62,495. The rest of the Camaro lineup, including the  Turbo 1LE with its 2.0-liter four-cylinder, has trended towards lower sticker values in an effort to compete with the Ford Mustang's superior performance at lower price points. Chevy's made a point of debuting the Turbo 1LE in big press releases, but expect the ZL1 1LE to receive plenty of fanfare later this year.


The Camaro in all its iterations has hot competition in the form of the Ford Mustang. Case in point: following in line with Ford's turbocharged Mustang, 2019 sees Chevy release a budget track-star in the form of the Turbo 1LE Camaro. But at the top end, the Camaro ZL1 1LE may sit in an in-between level, not quite as potent as the forthcoming 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 with its rumored 800 horses—though its aero package and track-specific design choices may allow it to prevail in tighter handling situations.


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