The Chevrolet Corvette returns for the 2017 model year doing what it does best—raising hell, taking names, doing it all without too high a pricetag.
This year, a new Grand Sport model slots in between the naturally aspirated Stingray and the supercharged Z06, taking the former's drivetrain and twinning it with the latter's handling bits for a track-ready daily driver that splits the lineup down the middle. Otherwise, it's a carryover year for the 'Vette, both in coupe and convertible form.
The Corvette earns a score of 7.8 out of 10, thanks to its extreme performance and an extremely thorough set of features. It loses points, not surprisingly, for comfort and gas mileage. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Chevy Corvette styling and performance
The latest Corvette hasn't met a slit, scoop, or duct it doesn't like. All the sharp lines, crisp angles, and vents give it that supercar air, but we'll confess to getting a little tired in the eyeballs after staring too long. At least it says what it does, in so many lines and surfaces: It’s wide, low, and looks fast even when standing still. Inside, the Stingray’s design is much improved over the previous generation of the Corvette, though base versions are still a little basic. The high-end looks that can be applied, should be applied--they make a world of difference in the 'Vette's cabin. The Z06 adds to the Stingray's exterior and interior design with wider fenders, an array of aerodynamic add-ons, and a performance-themed cabin treatment.
Under the hood of the Chevy Corvette Stingray is the latest performance small-block, a 6.2-liter LT1 V-8 generating 455 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque, or 5 hp more in performance trim. The Grand Sport adopts that powertrain, while the Z06 ups the ante with a supercharged LT4 V-8 displacing 6.2 liters that's rated at 650 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque. A 7-speed manual is standard with both engines, offering an automatic rev-matching downshift function that was enhanced for 2015. The Corvette can also be fitted with a quick-shifting, in-house-designed and built 8-speed automatic with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
All Corvettes spit out eye-popping performance. The Stingray's 455-hp V-8 can knock off 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 with the 7-speed manual. Grand Sports are tweaked to be a couple of ticks quicker. Whether tackling the straights or the curves, the Stingray offers ample performance, with surprising grip, nimble reflexes, and a great deal of communication through the seat, pedals, and steering wheel, all of which inspires driver confidence. A Z51 package is available to further enhance the Stingray’s performance, with modified aero, lighter wheels, and bigger brakes among its features.
In Z06 trim, the manual car can click off 3.2-second 0-60 mph runs, while the automatic is even quicker, clocking in at an astounding 2.95 seconds. Both it and the Grand Sport offer a Z07 handling packaged, bundled with carbon-ceramic brakes, that turn those cars into beastly, controllable track specialists.
The 'Vette's Performance Traction Management system keeps the car balanced and easy to control even near the limit with Track mode (and the Race sub-mode) engaged. The 'Vette can be a bit harder to control with all of the aids off, though it still exhibits remarkable poise and balance. Realistically, it can run with sports cars costing twice its price.
The Corvette's fuel economy isn't the huge win it used to be. The EPA has tightened up its formulas, and the best a Corvette can do now is 19 mpg on the combined cycle, despite transmissions with tall top gears and cylinder-deactivation technology.
Corvette comfort, safety, and features
The interior of the Corvette sports more room for two than some drivers might expect. All seats, even the base ones, are supportive and grippy, though the sport-bucket option for track-intended cars is well worth it. Leg and head room are good even for those over six feet tall, and, as with the last Corvette, there's ample storage space inside and under the hatchback. The 'Vette with a roof can carry a couple of roll-aboard bags, no apologies; convertibles don't lose much in translation in terms of performance, and their automatic soft-top can lower or raise itself at speeds of up to 30 mph.
Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS have crash-tested the Chevy Corvette in recent years, but a rigid chassis, a full complement of airbags, plus stability and traction control, and the Corvette's innate grip and handling should make it relatively secure in emergency situations.
All Corvettes have power features, Bluetooth, a rearview camera, and a fully wrapped interior for a more premium look than in years past. Keep spending, and the Corvette gets much better interior trim—nappa leather, aluminum, carbon fiber, and micro-suede. The killer app it offers is primed for track days: a performance data recorder keeps video tabs on how you're doing, complete with lap times—or can be used as a valet-security device that grabs the the most recent video clips in case the car is involved in an accident.