2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

MSRP $54,095

Ranked #2 in Coupe

7.3

Overall Rating

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2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Price, Review, Ratings and Pictures

Updated on: August 11, 2021

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Nathan Dyer 

Senior Editor


The year 2012 is an exciting one for the Camaro fanboys as Chevrolet announces a new high-performance variant called the ZL1. Along with resurrecting a legendary name, the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 delivers supercar levels of performance and technology for the price of a sports car. So, the 2012 Camaro ZL1 coupe is a part of the 5th Camaro generation introduced for the 2010 model year of the car. With a lot of pedigree under its sleeve, this 2-door mid-size American muscle car has the potential to give a lot of super expensive performance cars a run for their money.

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Pros

Incredible performance for the price

Nameplate with a lot of pedigree

Attractive and unique muscle car looks

Stable handling

Cons

Poor outward visibility

Cramped rear seats

Interior quality is not up-to-the-mark

Subpar cargo capacity

What's New?

Introduction of the new ZL1 trim

Camaro ZL1 is the first sports car to feature the third generation of Magnetic Ride


Features

vehicle bio

base price

$54095

bodystyle

2dr Coupe

passenger capacity

4

top speed

191 mph

drivetrain

rear wheel drive

engine type

displacement

376 cu.in.

horsepower

580 hp @ 6000 rpm

torque

556 lb.-ft. @ 4200 rpm

transmission

6 speed manual w/OD

chassis

suspension front

Independent front strut suspension w/anti-roll bar

suspension rear

Independent rear multi-link suspension w/anti-roll bar

dimensions

wheelbase

112.3 in.

length

190.4 in.

width

75.5 in.

height

54.2 in.

curb weight

4120 lbs.

ground clearance

4 in.

capacity

cargo volume

11.3 cu ft.

performance

zero to 60 mph

4 sec.

standing 1/4-mile

12.3 sec.

fuel economy

city/combined/highway

14/16/19 mpg

highway range

361 mi.

warranty

basic warranty

3 yr./ 36000 mi.

drivetrain warranty

5 yr./ 100000 mi.

powertrain warranty

5 yr./ 100,000 mi.

corrosion warranty

6 yr./100,000 mi.

roadside assistance

Yes


Pictures & Videos


Trims

Base$54,095 onwards

Colors and Styles

2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in Adrenaline Red color
Adrenaline Red

Vehicle images are guides only and may not reflect the model's exact specifications/features– exact specifications/features should be confirmed with the seller.

Ratings

Pricing and Feature

9.0

Engine and Performance

6.0

Fuel Economy

6.0

Interior

8.0

Exterior

6.0

Safety

8.0

Competition

8.0

7.3

OVERALL RATING

Expert Review, Pricing Analysis and Buying Guide

7.3

Overall Rating


The 2012 Chevrolet Camaro is available in seven different variants to choose from, and the ZL1 is one of them. Being a high-performance variant of the Camaro, the ZL1 gets a lot of performance upgrades over the regular Camaro. With a starting price of $54,095, the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Coupe competes with the likes of Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, Dodge Challenger SRT8, Cadillac CTS-V, and other similar 2-door muscle cars in the market.


6.0/10
Engine and Performance

6.0/10
Fuel Economy

8.0/10
Interior

6.0/10
Exterior

8.0/10
Safety


2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Features

The 2012 Chevrolet Camaro is broadly available in four different trim levels to choose from, and the new ZL1 trim is one of them and stands as a standalone trim in this review. As mentioned earlier, the ZL1 is their top-of-the-line high-performance variant and comes with ultra-high-performance upgrades like an exclusive supercharged V8, active "Magnetic Ride Control'' suspension dampers, massive Brembo brakes, four-mode stability/traction control, along with unique 20-inch wheels with Goodyear Eagle F1 tires, and a retuned power steering unit as well.

The exterior of the ZL1 also gets some special treatments with functional carbon fiber components to enhance performance. Other features include heated power-adjustable front seats, Leather/Suede Microfiber upholstery, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, heated mirrors, auto-dimming rearview and driver-side mirrors, head-up display, rear park assist, a rear-view camera, and much more.

Trim

ZL1 Coupe

MSRP

$54,095

Key Features

Unique 20-inch wheels with Goodyear Eagle F1 tires

 

Automatic headlights

 

Heated power-adjustable front seats

 

Leather/Suede Microfiber upholstery

 

Rear park assist

 

Four-mode stability/traction control

For an additional $470, you can choose between a dark gray and a black roof and rear decklid strip. There is also an Interior Suede Microfiber package which you can get for an additional $500. You can also get 20-inch bright aluminum wheels for $470, a power sunroof for $900, a stripe package for $470, and an exposed-weave carbon fiber hood insert for $600.

We Recommend

Since the ZL1 is one of the trims available for the 2012 Chevy Camaro which comes with all the features that the car has to offer, there is nothing much to choose from, apart from the few standalone options available for a few extra dollars. Unlike the regular Camaro models which are available in both coupe and convertible form factors, the ZL1 is only available as a coupe.

2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Engine and Performance

6.0/10

The 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Coupe comes with its own exclusive 6.2L Supercharged V8 under the hood capable of producing 580 HP and 556 lb-ft of torque. With a 6-speed manual transmission as standard, the ZL1 also has a 6-speed automatic gearbox available as an option, and all the power is sent to the rear wheels. While the regular Camaro variants are pretty quick on their own, the ZL1 takes performance to the next level with its supercharged V8 under the hood. It can go from 0 to 60 mph in and around 3.9 seconds, which is supercar quick and has a top speed of 184 mph.

If you are thinking that the Camaro ZL1 is quick only in a straight line, you would be wrong. With all the performance upgrades under its sleeve, starting from a sport-tuned suspension with active "Magnetic Ride Control'' suspension dampers to the retuned power steering unit, the ZL1 can lap the Nurburgring in 7:41.27, which is nothing to scoff at. The coupe costs $54,095, making it the second most expensive option in the competition after the Cadillac CTS-V Coupe.

Model

2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Coupe

2012 Ford Shelby GT500 Coupe

2012 Dodge Challenger SRT8 Coupe

2012 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe

MSRP

$54,095

$48,810

$44,125

$63,215

Engine

6.2L supercharged V8

5.4L supercharged V8

6.4L V8

6.2L supercharged V8

Drivetrain

Rear-wheel drive

Rear-wheel drive

Rear-wheel drive

Rear-wheel drive

Transmission

6-speed manual

6-speed manual

6-speed manual

6-speed manual

Power

580 HP @ 6000 rpm

550 HP @ 6200 rpm

470 HP @ 6000 rpm

556 HP @ 6100 rpm

Torque

556 lb-ft @ 4200 rpm

510 lb-ft @ 4250 rpm

470 lb-ft @ 4200 rpm

551 lb-ft @ 3800 rpm

0-60 MPH (seconds)

3.9

3.5

4.5

4.2

Quarter mile (seconds)

11.9

11.6

12.9

12.5

Top speed (mph)

184

202

182

188

While the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is pretty fast, especially for its price and the competition, it is still not the fastest. That crown will go to the Ford Shelby GT500, which has an even faster 0-60 mph time of 3.5 seconds and topping out at 202 mph, which are just crazy numbers. When comparing the power and torque outputs, Chevrolet stands at the very top with 580 hp and 556 lb-ft of torque.

2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Fuel Economy

6.0/10

With all that power and performance available on tap, you won’t be expecting much in terms of fuel economy, and you would be right. The ZL1 has an EPA estimated mileage of 14, 19, and 16 MPG in the city, highway, and combined, respectively. These might be low, but this is the sacrifice you need to make in exchange for raw power and outright performance. You should not even think about buying the ZL1 in the first place if fuel economy is one of your concerns.

Model

2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Coupe

2012 Ford Shelby GT500 Coupe

2012 Dodge Challenger SRT8 Coupe

2012 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe

MPG (City)

14

15

14

14

MPG (Highway)

19

23

23

19

MPG (Combined)

16

17

17

16

Fuel Capacity (Gallons)

19

16

19.1

18

Range (City/Highway/Combined, in Miles)

266/361/304

240/368/272

267.4/439.3/324.7

252/342/288

Although the Camaro ZL1 might be a bit disappointing in terms of fuel economy, it is actually in a very similar ballpark to most of its direct competitors. In terms of range, the Camaro can go over 300 miles in a full tank of gas, which is impressive considering the segment. Both Ford and Dodge offer better efficiency numbers in the competition at 17 mpg combined.

2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Interior

8.0/10

This is where the Chevy Camaro disappoints big time. Muscle cars traditionally have bland interiors, and the Camaro stays somewhat true to those stereotypes as well. However, the 2012 Camaro did get some improvements in its interior. The use of soft-touch inserts for the dash along with the new steering wheel with a much more ergonomic and comfortable grip makes it better than ever before. However, it is still not enough, and on top of a relatively bland-looking interior, the use of below-average materials for the interior along with the presence of cheap and hard plastic with subpar build quality makes it a pretty underwhelming experience when you step inside the car.

That being said, you do get most of the creature comfort and convenience features you can ask for, such as heated power-adjustable front seats, Leather/Suede Microfiber upholstery, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, and much more. But the outward visibility is not good, and having one of the smallest back seats in its class does not help either. The Chevrolet Camaro is one of the least practical cargo spaces in the competition as it only offers 11.3 cubic feet of space.

Model

2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Coupe

2012 Ford Shelby GT500 Coupe

2012 Dodge Challenger SRT8 Coupe

2012 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe

Seating Capacity

4

4

5

4

Front Row (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (in)

37.4 / 56.9 / 42.4

38.5 / 55.3 / 42.4

39.3 / 58.2 / 42.0

36.9 / 56.0 / 42.4

Rear Row (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (in)

35.3 / 50.4 / 29.9

34.7 / 51.6 / 29.8

37.4 / 53.9 / 32.6

34.6 / 50.9 / 35.0

Cargo Capacity (cubic feet)

11.3

13.4

16.2

10.5

In terms of interior dimensions, the Chevy Camaro is a bit of a disappointment in terms of rear-seat legroom and the total cargo capacity of the trunk. But since the ZL1 is not meant to be a practical family car in the first place, it is not a deal-breaker by any means. While these might be a bit more important for the regular variants of the Camaro, someone wanting to buy the high-performance ZL1 for its performance potential will probably look over these shortcomings. Noteworthy interior features include:

  • Heated power-adjustable front seats
  • Leather/Suede Microfiber upholstery
  • Red accent stitching
  • A smaller, flat-bottomed steering wheel
  • Auto-dimming rearview mirror

How intuitive is the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Coupe’s infotainment unit?

The 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Coupe has a pretty generic infotainment system, to say the least. You won't find a fancy touchscreen infotainment display. Needless to say, with the exhilarating performance on offer, you'll appreciate that there are no distractions. However, you do get some basic amenities. Standard features available with the coupe are:

  • Bluetooth phone connectivity
  • CD player with a small graphic display
  • USB and AUX connectivity, AM/FM radio
  • SiriusXM satellite radio
  • Steering-wheel-mounted audio and cruise control
  • Premium 9-speaker sound system from Boston Acoustics

2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Exterior

6.0/10

The Camaro has a pretty distinctive look that makes it instantly recognizable from any angle. The high-performance ZL1 trim gets a few performance enhancements in the form of functional body enhancements such as unique front and rear fascia with a functional carbon-fiber air extractor for the hood. The ZL1 features an aerodynamic design that generates downforce to press the tires against the track. Instead of a traditional front air dam, the ZL1 incorporates a racing-style splitter to help create downforce. The front tire deflectors push airflow around the rotating wheels and tires more efficiently in order to reduce lift and drag. The ZL1 also comes with a rear spoiler which contributes approximately 150 pounds of downforce.

Model

2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Coupe

2012 Ford Shelby GT500 Coupe

2012 Dodge Challenger SRT8 Coupe

2012 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe

Curb Weight (lbs)

4120

3820

4170

4217

Length (in.)

190.4

188.1

197.7

188.5

Width (in.)

75.5

73.9

75.7

74.1

Height (in.)

54.2

55.6

57.1

56.0

Ground Clearance (in.)

3.5

5.7

4.8

NA

Wheelbase (in.)

112.3

107.1

116.0

113.4

In terms of exterior dimensions, the Chevrolet Camaro holds the middle ground in the competition, which is true with regards to its curb weight as well. That being said, the ZL1 has one of the lowest ground clearances at 3.5-inches. The Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 is the lightest car here, which might be the reason for its breathtaking acceleration. Few major exterior features are:

  • Carbon-fiber air extractor for the hood
  • Front splitter
  • Front tire deflectors
  • Belly pans
  • Rocker panels
  • Rear spoiler

2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Safety

8.0/10

Standard safety tech on the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Coupe includes six airbags, antilock brakes, and four-mode stability/traction control. It also comes with OnStar safety, security, and convenience technologies, which include OnStar Hands-Free Calling, Automatic Crash Response, and Stolen Vehicle Slowdown. The ZL1 also has a strong body structure that provides a protective “safety cage” around occupants in order to absorb the energy in an unfortunate event of a crash. Major safety features include:

  • LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) child seat attachment system, which is included in all second-row seating positions
  • Antilock brakes
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)
  • Four-mode stability/traction control
  • OnStar safety

2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Final Verdict

If you want a modern thoroughbred muscle car, you have a very limited choice. And to have something with such pedigree as the Camaro is even rarer. To make things even better, Chevrolet released a high-performance ZL1 variant for the 2012 Camaro. Yes, it might have uncomfortable back seats, below average truck capacity, poor outward visibility, and low gas mileage, but who cares. You get a crazy powerful supercharged V8 under the hood along with a plethora of performance upgrades in order to provide you with a supercar level of performance at a fraction of the price.

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