The first Chevrolet Camaro made its debut in 1967. So why, in 2018, is Chevy offering a 50th anniversary Hot Wheels edition? Because the Custom Camaro was the first Hot Wheels model released in 1968 and was a part of the original 16 vehicles released by the toy car maker.
So, this special edition, which is available on the 2LT and 2SS trims, commemorates a 50-year partnership between the two brands.
"The Chevrolet Performance design studio is full of designers who were inspired by Hot Wheels," said Tom Peters, director of exterior design for Chevrolet Performance Cars, in a press release. "The Camaro Hot Wheels 50th Anniversary Edition captures that passion, turning childhood fantasy into reality."
And the reality is pretty darn fun.
Camaro is in its sixth generation, and I really like the hard lines and expressive front fascia that seems to say "Move!" should you catch a glimpse of one in your rearview mirror.
The Hot Wheels edition specifically comes in a Crush exterior paint with stripes that mimic the Hot Wheels' orange tracks. It also includes several special badging icons peppered around the vehicle including a Hot Wheels badge on the sill plates and fenders, as well as embossed front-seat headrests.
Other Hot Wheels Camaro specific details include orange brake calipers, dark taillights, black Chevrolet bowtie emblems, orange seat inserts and stitching and orange knee pads on the doors.
I loved the orange accented interior, and thought it was tastefully completed rather than overdone. Initially I questioned whether I would get sick of the orange, but actually grew to like it even more each time I got behind the wheel.
The center console has a simple design with a large infotainment screen that manages things like navigation and audio. What I really appreciated, however, were the hard buttons for the HVAC - I'm not a fan when automakers bury those controls in the info screen.
Ride & Handling
Is it enough if I just say "fun," and leave it at that? No? Well, okay.
Because the Hot Wheels Edition is available in both 2LT and SS trims, there are three available engines:
- 2LT: 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbo, delivering 275 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque
- 2LT: 3.6-liter V-6 engine, delivering 335 horsepower and 284 pound-feet of torque
- SS: 6.2-liter V-8, delivering 455 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque
The test vehicle was an SS and had phenomenal power. It was outfitted with Brembo brakes, 20-inch performance tires, dual-mode exhaust, flat-bottom steering wheel, magnetic ride control and a six-speed manual transmission.
The steering and clutch were both stiff, as you'd expect from a vehicle of this caliber. So, while it's great for aggressive driving on curvy roads or long-haul highway trips, the Camaro SS would be a bit tough to deal with on a daily basis if you have a lot of stop-and-go driving on your commute.
EPA estimates that you should get 16 mpg in city driving and 25 on the highway with the V-8, and I averaged 16.8 mpg in combined driving during the test week.
That's on the low end of the scale, sure. Then again, it's probably a measure of how much fun I had in this car.
Tech & gadgets
Since the test vehicle was an SS model, it came with a lot of performance features such as Brembo six-piston monobloc brake calipers, four-piston rear calipers, two-piece brake rotors, dual-mode exhaust, magnetic ride control and an FE4 performance suspension.
Outside of performance technology, there is a fair amount of other features available on the Camaro, including Chevrolet MyLink with an 8-inch color touchscreen display, head-up display, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, passive entry, push-button start, heated and ventilated front seats, blind spot monitoring and rearview camera.
As previously mentioned, the Camaro Hot Wheels edition is only available on the 2LT and 2SS trims, which means different engine and transmission options as well as feature inclusion. It is also available in both coupe and convertible body styles.
The Hot Wheels Edition package is $4,995, and these vehicles must also have the Convenience and Lighting Package for another $2,800 (on 2LT, included on 2SS).
2LT ($39,290): This trim comes with the 2.0-liter turbo engine and has convenience features such as an 8-inch infotainment touch screen display, dual-zone automatic climate control, Apple Carplay/Android Auto connectivity, 9-speaker premium Bose sound system, 2 USB ports, 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, passive entry and push-button start. The 3.6-liter V-6 engine is available at this trim.
2SS ($47,990): This trim comes with the 6.2-liter V-8 and adds features such as a head-up display, heated steering wheel, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, wireless charging pad, memory driver's seat, magnetic ride control and Brembo performance brakes.
The Camaro has all the standard safety features you'd expect such as a rearview camera, dual-stage front air bags, side-impact air bags and knee air bags for the driver and front passenger. Available features are slim and really only include blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the 2018 Camaro an overall 5-Star Safety rating. If you dig into the crash-test page you'll see that Camaro gets some 4-Star ratings on the front crash tests, but the side and rollover tests are 5 Stars across the board.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also gives Camaro fairly good marks with "Good" ratings for everything except the roof strength, which receives a "Marginal" rating. Camaro is not in contention for the IIHS Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick + awards because it doesn't have any crash avoidance systems available.
Not sure what the safety ratings mean? We break it down for you here.
New for 2018
The Hot Wheels edition is all-new for 2018 and will only be offered for this model year.
A few of my favorite things
I absolutely loved the orange interior accents and all the Hot Wheels emblems scattered through out the vehicle. The Camaro is already a fun vehicle, but the Hot Wheels edition makes it unique and hearkens back to a time when fun could be had without video games and digital displays.
What I can leave
While I'm not a fan of suede on steering wheels, I know a lot of people love it. But for me, it's kind of like nails on a chalkboard. Every time my fingers touched the wheel, I cringed. And, unfortunately this is standard with the Hot Wheels edition.
For a double dose of ick, the shift knob is also covered in suede.
The bottom line
It's been several years since I've driven a Camaro, and I'm happy to say it has not lost its mojo. It's still just as fun and slightly impractical (like all muscle cars) as it has always been.
I'm a particular fan of the SS trim, which adds an even higher level of fun and sport.
And when you add in the Hot Wheels edition, you have a cool-looking collector's item on your hands.