The Chevy Corvette hasn't had much in the way of styling continuity in its seven generations. In the last few, the proportions have been more or less constant, but the C7 is a wild, extroverted scoop addict far removed from the sleekly surfaced C6 it just replaced.
While some may see the newest shape as a break with tradition, there's no denying that it is attention-getting and well-liked by those passing and giving it honks and thumbs-up. Few cars have such long histories or are as instantly recognizable in all their forms as the Corvette—and few cars get the approval of other drivers as easily.
We give it an 8 for styling. The exterior shape is arresting—though not to everyone's taste—but the interior is just above average. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
There are a lot of details on the latest 'Vette, and they have to be viewed together to be understood. Taken as a whole, you get the long, low hood, steeply swept windshield, and bluff rear end that has come to define the Corvette's proportions. Each is a confluence of smooth curves and sharp creases, planes that intersect and warp. It's a high-tech—almost exotic—design theme that somehow still transmits the car's classic DNA. It's also incredibly busy in anything other than black, and while that's appropriately frightening to some other sports cars, it puts the Corvette at a disadvantage for buyers that want a shape sure to be as appealing in 20 years as it is today. At the price point the Corvette now approaches, timelessness is a virtue.
The C7 Corvette's interior look has also been upgraded. Gone is the plasticky kit-car-like cabin of the previous model; the Stingray and Z06's interiors are fully wrapped, even in their most basic forms, and can grow into true luxury accommodations in the higher trim levels.
The shape of the center stack and instrument panel is driver-focused and simple, but with a high-tech touch that makes it clear that the Corvette Stingray is all about performance. A carbon-fiber instrument panel surround looks like it comes from a six-figure supercar; suede and rich leather trim and upholstery are available, with deep colors that speak of designer influence. We still think Porsche's 718 has a better basic interior, but the Corvette has closed lots of trim gaps here.
The Corvette is rife with catchy styling hooks—but there are a lot of them, and the interior isn't as striking.
The Chevrolet Corvette is an incredible performance bargain, whether it's a Stingray with the Z51 handling package, the Z07-equipped Grand Sport, or the Z06 with the Z07 upgrades. It's an amazing bundle of unfathomable power and grip, one that tips our performance ratings scale at a perfect 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
In base form, the Corvette Stingray throws off enough naturally aspirated power to erase the four-second mark. The LT1—GM's 6.2-liter V-8—turns out 455 horsepower (or 460 hp with the performance exhaust option), making all the right noises along the way, mating up willingly with a slick-shifting 7-speed manual or an 8-speed automatic. The V-8 has plenty of push to accelerate the car, hitting 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds with the manual—or 3.7 seconds with the 8-speed automatic. Quarter-mile times are a mere 11.9 seconds with the automatic or 12.0 seconds with the 7-speed manual.
The Corvette Grand Sport sharpens that blade into a track-ready street car. It mates the Stingray drivetrain to a wider rear end that can accommodate high-performance tires, and adds an aerodynamics package. It's good for 0-60 mph times of 3.6 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 11.8 seconds at 118 mph, hauled down from speed by big Brembo brakes. (Read more about the Corvette Grand Sport in our first drive.) Add in the Z07 package for about $8,000, and the Grand Sport gains Michelin Pilot Super Sport Cup 2 tires, carbon-ceramic brakes, Magnetic Selective Ride Control dampers, and a more aggressive aero package.
The Z06, of course, stomps all comers with a supercharged 6.2-liter LT4 good for 650 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque. With the manual, it can click off 3.2-second 0-60 mph runs, while the automatic is even quicker, clocking in at an astounding 2.95 seconds.
GM says their 8-speed automatic with shift paddles shifts quick enough to beat Porsche’s PDK by 80 milliseconds. We'll say that it's remarkable either clicking its paddles manually or letting the computer figure out which gear is best. it doesn’t feel in any way slower than the manual, which gives potential Corvette buyers their only real quandary when waltzing through the online configurator.
All of that power, plus an electronically actuated rear differential (in Z51 cars and the Z06) mates impressively with the new aluminum-intensive chassis and suspension setup, particularly when configured with the adjustable dampers.
Add to that Chevy's latest Performance Traction Management system, and the Corvette is bred for performance. Flat cornering, over 1g of lateral grip, and surprisingly accurate and feedback-laden electric power steering combine to yield truly addictive driving traits for the enthusiast. It's simply astonishing how well this Corvette drives, even in comparison to its direct predecessor. There's an experience to driving the new Corvette, just as there should be with every long-running, history-rich sports car family. The C7 runs with cars that cost twice its price or more, while mostly hiding its cost-savings in other areas.
If you're considering a Corvette Convertible, don't be afraid of compromised performance. In fact, don't be afraid of stepping up to the track-ready Z51 or crazy Z06. The C7 Corvette was engineered as a roadster to begin with, so you won't be sacrificing any structural integrity. Even the coupe, with its removable roof panel, is more rigid than the previous-generation car.
The Corvette remains an incredible performance bargain; the Z06 is a benchmark at twice the price.
Chevy spent a lot of time improving the Corvette's interior. Base versions don't show it as much, but at long last, a $100,000 'Vette doesn't look completely out of place in its competitive set.
We give the Corvette a 6 for comfort and utility. All models have great front seats, especially the more expensive models, and in terms of interior space, the 'Vette does exactly what Chevy promises for a two-seater. Storage and trunk space are good for a car of this kind, but in the wider view, just average. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
On base cars, the Corvette's driver seat is highly adjustable, and the tilting/telescoping steering wheel makes it easy to find a comfortable driving position for a wide range of body types and sizes. Contortions are no longer required to reach and interact with the shifter on manual models, no matter where you place the seat. Upgraded Competition Sport seats with more race-inspired form and function are available for those who’d like yet more secure positioning for spirited driving.
Hip, head, and leg room are all good enough even for those a bit over 6 feet tall (and cresting the 200-pound mark). The flat-bottomed steering wheel is comfortable and fairly small in diameter, making room in the Corvette's snug-but-not-tight cabin.
The Corvette has space for your things, too. In the cabin, there are a few cubbies and boxes for smaller items; even the navigation screen has a James Bond-esque hidden compartment behind it with a plug-in jack for your phone. The real magic, as before, is how the coupe makes use of the large, flat cargo area under the rear hatch. It holds a surprising amount of luggage or other cargo, and makes the Corvette a rather practical option for a two-door, two-seat sports car. Convertible models offer a smaller but still adequate trunk.
The interior's style is sharp and modern without being annoyingly avant garde. Touches like the passenger climate controls integrated into the outboard vent or the available carbon-fiber center-stack surround elevate this from a workaday sports car to grand-tourer status. Even in out-of-the-way places, the materials are good, with soft-touch surfaces at almost all interface points. You will have to pay for the nicest interior trims, while cars like a 911 or an AMG GT come with a higher standard grade of trim—admittedly, at twice the price. We'd point to Porsche's 718 for a tight-fitting, low-key interior from which the Corvette could learn some lessons.
The convertible offers a tight-fitting automatic top, which requires no additional lock at the top of the windshield, allowing you to raise or lower the top at speeds of up to 30 mph—not that you'd want to, but we appreciate the flexibility. Wind buffeting isn't as well-managed as in some touring convertibles, but it's not bad either. A dealer-installed windblocker makes a meaningful improvement.
The Corvette seats two in comfort, but we've seen better interiors.
The Corvette can't be rated for crash safety. Neither the IIHS nor the NHTSA has put one through their regimen of tests—and we don't expect them to, either, given the car's low sales volume and high levels of performance.
We haven't rated it for safety, but will update this page if either agency decides to crash-test an example. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The Corvette does a fair job at providing some of the latest safety features. Along with the usual standard airbags and stability control, the Corvette comes with a standard rearview camera and Bluetooth; a curb-view camera is an option, and so is a head-up display.
GM also includes OnStar hardware for in-car telematic service, including SOS and 911 assistance, but some of its latest features—lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitors—are not offered. Frankly, the car could use the help: outward vision is miserable to the rear quarters.
No crash-test data exists, but the Corvette can be fitted with some worthwhile safety gear.
Chevy sells the Corvette in three basic flavors. Each of those models—Stingray, Grand Sport, and Z06—each come in a variety of trim levels, and in either convertible or coupe body style.
With all of them, Chevy gets kudos for content. The Corvette offers a great selection of standard equipment, lots of well-conceived features, a useful infotainment system, and a killer app in the form of its performance data recorder. We give it a 10 out of 10 for this category. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
All Corvettes come with power features; dual-zone automatic climate control; an infotainment system with an 8.0-inch color touchscreen; satellite radio; Bluetooth with audio streaming; USB and power ports; a rearview camera; keyless ignition; cruise control; and a leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel.
Additional trim packages add to those models with HD radio; 10-speaker Bose audio; competition sport seats; custom luggage; and navigation.
The Z06 and Grand Sport can be cranked to 11 with the Z07 package, which combines Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes, adjustable front and rear aero components, and Michelin Pilot Super Sport Cup 2 tires for a true track-attack vehicle.
Performance upgrades for the Stingray include the Z51 package, a roughly $2,800 option that adds upgraded brakes and dampers, stiffer springs and anti-roll bars, an electronic limited-slip differential, a dry-sump oil system, unique wheels, and upgraded cooling for the differential and transmission. Also included with the Z51 package is a set of aerodynamic upgrades. Adjustable ride control settings are available with the Magnetic Selective Ride Control option, enabling various levels of ride comfort and performance. The magnetic ride suspension is available without the Z51 package and comes bundled with the Z51's rear spoiler and wheels.
Buyers can opt for delivery of their new Chevy Corvette Stingray at the National Corvette Museum across from the plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Z06 buyers can also sign up to build the LT4 engine for their new Corvette at the Bowling Green engine facility. And a personalized dash plaque is also on offer to make the 'Vette truly your own.
Corvettes can be customized to your heart's content, but even base models come well-equipped.
Corvettes come in either naturally aspirated or supercharged form; the Stingray and Grand Sport use the former LT1 engine, while the Z06 sports the latter LT4.
Gas mileage with any Corvette is as you'd suspect: OK for what it is, subpar by any rational measure—even though all models have cylinder deactivation and tall top gears to help boost economy in low-load and high-speed cruising.
We give it a 5 for fuel economy, based on the EPA averages for its best-selling models. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The LT1-powered manual-transmission Corvette Stingray is rated by the EPA at 16 mpg city, 25 highway, 19 combined; the automatic scores 15/26/19 mpg. Those numbers have dropped significantly, thanks to a tighter calibration on the EPA's test cycle.
The Z06 trades some economy for its prodigious performance: the LT4 backed by an automatic rates 13/23/16 mpg; the 7-speed manual is better in most ways, achieving 15/22/18 mpg.
The Corvette's gas mileage should come as no surprise.