2009 Chevrolet Corvette Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
October 21, 2008

While the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette provides plenty of impressive performance to dream and/or brag about, this car is not a one-trick pony. If ever there were a practical sportscar, this is it.

Experts from TheCarConnection.com have spent extensive time behind the wheel of each 2009 Chevrolet Corvette model. TheCarConnection.com's editors have also reviewed competitive write-ups on the Chevy Corvette to create this comprehensive review. Loaded with this information, TheCarConnection.com can provide a clear opinion on America's best-selling sportscar.

The much-anticipated 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 is big news for fans of the Corvette, Chevy’s legendary flagship sportscar. TheCarConnection.com has driven the ZR1 on the road and track and finds it a truly impressive sports car—no reservations, no qualifications.

Along with the introduction of the ZR1, there's another 2009 change that we like a lot. Chevrolet now offers a less expensive 2009 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible. New this year, the Convertible can be ordered as a base 1LT model that costs about $3,000 less than the 2LT "base" model that used to be the least expensive drop-top. Today the difference between a Corvette Coupe and Convertible is around $5,000, down from about $8,000 in 2008.

Across the entire 2009 Chevrolet Corvette line, styling hasn't changed much from 2008 to 2009 or since the introduction of the sixth-generation car in 2005. The bolder Z06 and ZR1 wear more muscular bodywork to cover the wider tires on those models, and the ZR1 has a new engine window, which doesn't add much excitement, according to the styling gurus at TheCarConnection.com. All Corvettes get down to business inside, with a cockpit-like interior bearing a large, hooded gauge cluster and prominent, high center console; two-tone schemes help damp the visual effect of the plentiful dark-toned plastics.

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Genuine excitement (whether or not you see it through the hood) comes in varying degrees from every 2009 Chevrolet Corvette powertrain. The base 430-horsepower 6.2-liter LS3 V-8 Vette coupe tops out at 190 mph and can run from 0-60 mph in 4.1 seconds (manual six-speed) or 4.3 ticks (automatic six-speed).

Stepping up to the Z06 model with the larger 7.0-liter LS7 V-8, top speed goes up and 0-60-mph times drop: 198 mph and 3.7 seconds. Because of the mammoth, accessible torque from either engine, the 2009 Chevy Corvette is enjoyable to drive with the optional automatic but definitely at its best with the manual, even though the shift action tends to be overly deliberate and notchy.

The top-of-the-line, 638-horsepower ZR1 tops out at an electronically limited 205 mph (engineers estimate the unleashed top speed to be approximately 210 mph). The hand-built, supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 launches this car to 60 mph in only 3.4 seconds and through the quarter-mile in 11.3 seconds at an astounding 131 mph—significantly quicker than a Dodge Viper.

The Corvette's ride is vastly superior to previous generations that often rode like ox carts. Even the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 (with its huge tires) rides well thanks to new tire technology and magnetic ride control. The compliant ride and overall refinement make these cars more than weekend toys. For the right person, they can be daily transportation. Impressively, when driven modestly on the highway, it's not uncommon to achieve nearly 30 mpg.

Seating is comfortable and visibility is good for a car so low. Exterior and interior fit and finish are solid, and squeaks and rattles are absent. TheCarConnection.com particularly likes the leather-wrapped interior that is part of the 4LT package. Additionally, the hatch provides room for more than just a travel pack of Kleenex. There's 22.4 cubic feet of cargo volume in the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe and a useful 11 cubic feet under the trunk lid of the Convertible. The Convertible uses a layered fabric soft top that isolates the cabin well from wet and cold but not as admirably from road noise.

The 2009 Chevrolet Corvette is an extremely safe vehicle from an active point of view; stability control, ABS, and traction control are all standard. In terms of passive safety, only front airbags are standard. Side airbags are optional, but side curtains are not available as they are on so many 2009 vehicles. The sixth-generation Corvette had not yet been crash-tested at the time this story was posted.

Keeping pace with technology, the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette gets to tap into GM's deep well of features. High-end audio and voice-activated navigation systems are available, as are as a growing list of services from GM's OnStar. In recognition of the reality of cell phones and other mobile communication devices, GM is now offering Bluetooth connectivity. Don't miss the special two-stage exhaust option. As the revs climb, the sound from these pipes is pure magic.

And unlike some other performance cars, the Corvette comes with functional cup holders!

The next closest competitor to the Corvette is the Porsche 911. With its proliferation of models (rear- and all-wheel drive, naturally aspirated, and turbo powered), the German sportscar offers more choice and arguably more refinement than the American. However, these advantages come at a considerable cost.

When comparing price tags, the Porsche Boxster lines up nicely against the base Corvette, but its six-cylinder engine matches the Chevy's muscular V-8. The same point can be made against the Nissan 350Z, although with a new model expected soon, the equation may change.

9

2009 Chevrolet Corvette

Styling

The 2009 Chevrolet Corvette looks fast even when standing still and finally has an interior to get excited about.

It's hard to find a more iconic American sportscar than the Chevrolet Corvette. The current generation of Chevrolet Corvette features much more angular exterior styling and a vastly improved interior when compared to the C5 Chevrolet Corvette.

The 2009 Chevrolet Corvette lineup has been expanded with the recent introduction of the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. According to reviewers at Edmunds, the "2009 Chevrolet Corvette is available as a two-seat coupe or convertible," while available "trim levels include the standard Corvette, Z06 and ZR1." Only the base Chevrolet Corvette is available in convertible form, and Edmunds also notes that the base coupe "is actually more of a targa, as it comes with a removable body-color roof panel," offering the security of a fixed hardtop and the convenience of open-air motoring on sunny days. Cars.com says that "many familiar styling cues highlight the latest Corvette, but the current generation is the first one since 1962 with fixed headlights."

All versions of the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette just scream “"speed,”" and while reviews read by TheCarConnection.com contain lots of love for the base Corvette’'s styling, some reviewers feel that GM hasn’'t distinguished the upper-end models enough. Edmunds says that the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 and Z06 models “"look too much like the standard Corvette,”" though the body panels differ in their construction. Consumer uide weports that the ZR1 incorporates “"lightweight carbon fiber on the hood, roof panel, roof bow, front fascia splitter, and rocker moldings,”" though despite the change in materials, the overall styling is quite similar to the base Corvette. Cars.com notes that the major differences between the Z06 and the regular Chevrolet Corvette are “"wheel-opening extensions at the front and rear and a front splitter,”" which play a large part in explaining why “"the Z06 is 3 inches wider than other Corvettes.”" The 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 also features what Jalopnik reviewers call a “"tacky Lexan hood window”" that lets curious onlookers get a glimpse of the supercharger’'s intercooler system, though many reviewers question its styling appeal.

Previous generations of Chevrolet Corvette didn't offer much in the way of interior styling, so for the sixth generation, Chevrolet tried to address some of the common criticisms with a completely redesigned cockpit. The results are promising, and Cars.com loves how "the dashboard carries on the Corvette's dual-cockpit theme with a two-tone split." Kelley Blue Book raves about the "clean, uncluttered interior" that they feel offers "world-class" styling. Others don't go quite that far, and Edmunds even calls the interior "quite plain," but ConsumerGuide gives the Chevrolet Corvette high marks for its "clear gauges with mostly logical controls." The only major criticism of the interior concerns the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, which has a base interior that's "cheap and nasty," according to Jalopnik. One styling touch that carries over from the fifth-generation Corvette is an optional heads-up display, which ConsumerGuide says "is quite useful" and "shows vehicle and engine speeds" without requiring drivers to take their eyes off the road.

10

2009 Chevrolet Corvette

Performance

No other sportscar on the planet offers the daily drivability and sheer performance potential of the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette.

For 2009, the Chevrolet Corvette enters the rarefied world of hyperexotic automobiles thanks to the debut of the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. Even without this homegrown supercar, the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette is quite possibly one of the most engaging and exciting cars on the road.

Throughout the lineup, the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette has very high power ratings for the price. Edmunds reviewers say that even the base Chevrolet Corvette coupe and convertible "feature a 6.2-liter V8 that makes an impressive 430 hp and 424 lb-ft of torque," while "the optional dual-mode exhaust adds another 6 hp and 4 lb-ft." Moving up to the even more potent Chevrolet Corvette Z06, Cars.com reports that an "LS7 V8 engine that generates 505 hp at 6,300 rpm and 470 pounds-feet of torque at 4,800 rpm" rests under the hood. New for this model year is the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, which boasts "an otherworldly 638 hp and 604 lb-ft of torque" courtesy of its 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 engine, states Edmunds. Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that all the available engines are incredibly potent, and ConsumerGuide rates even the base Chevrolet Corvette a 10 out of 10 for acceleration. ConsumerGuide proclaims that those "base Corvettes are plenty quick by any measure, with strong power from a stop and during highway passing and merging." Kelley Blue Book observes that the base "6.2-liter V8 delivers abundant power throughout its speed range," and impressions of the Z06 and 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1's engines are even better. Edmunds contends that while the "base coupe [goes] from zero to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds," a Chevrolet Corvette "Z06 will knock that down to 3.9 seconds." ConsumerGuide reviewers are stunned to find that the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 "will do 0-60 in a scorching 3.4 seconds," which ranks it among the quickest cars in the world. Not only is the big supercharged engine powerful, but it's quite refined as well. Jalopnik attests that "it feels like something that belongs in a big German luxury car," since "it makes driving effortless."

The 2009 Chevrolet Corvette lineup features two transmissions to harness the power of the V-8s that sit up front. Edmunds reviewers report that "all 2009 Chevrolet Corvettes have a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, while a six-speed paddle-shifted automatic is a no-cost option for the base coupe and convertible." Reviews of the manual transmission are glowing, with Jalopnik claiming that "a twin-disc clutch leads to easy pedal throw" on manual-transmission versions, "while a precise gate makes finding gears simple." Comments regarding the automatic transmission aren’t quite as positive. ConsumerGuide says it "shifts smoothly, but downshifts often require a deep stab of the throttle"; however, "manual shifting via the steering-wheel paddles helps."

Despite the abundant power that the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette delivers, fuel economy is surprisingly high. The EPA estimates that base Chevrolet Corvettes will get 15 mpg city and 25 mpg highway with the automatic transmission, while the manual bumps each of those numbers up by 1 mpg. The Chevrolet Corvette Z06 also gets 15 mpg city and 24 mpg on the highway, while the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 boasts 14 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway. ConsumerGuide finds that "these figures are impressive given Corvette's power."

Chevrolet Corvettes have always been able to go fast in a straight line, but the latest generation also boasts very capable handlers. Motor Trend states that "three suspension choices allow drivers to choose the setup that best suits their driving style," while "the optional Magnetic Selective Ride Control suspension features magnetic dampers able to detect road surfaces and adjust the damping rates to those surfaces almost instantly for optimal ride control." The result, says Edmunds, is that "on a deserted twisty road, the driver will likely run out of talent before the Corvette runs out of capability." When reporting on the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, Jalopnik claims that "despite all the headline numbers, this car isn't about power, it's about handling." The ride is also commendable for such a capable vehicle, with ConsumerGuide finding that "base models with the standard suspension ride surprisingly well" and "convertibles have impressively little structural shake and body quiver." If you put the suspension "in the touring mode [Corvette] soaks up road harshness like a large luxury sedan," according to Kelley Blue Book. All the power available in the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette can get drivers into trouble in a hurry if there's no easy way to harness it, though fortunately, Edmunds reviewers claim "the brakes are strong and fade-free and there's massive grip from the tires."

8

2009 Chevrolet Corvette

Comfort & Quality

The interior of the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette is improved, but not perfect; though in reality, Corvette drivers should keep their eyes on the road and out of the cockpit.

The 2009 Chevrolet Corvette is comfortable enough for daily use, but some reviewers feel that the interior quality doesn't quite live up to the expectations one has when shelling out between $45,000 and, in the case of the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, $100,000.

Cars.com reports that the Chevrolet Corvette is a "two-seater" sportscar offering decent levels of driver and passenger comfort. ConsumerGuide says "headroom and legroom are adequate, and the seats are comfortable," while the larger-than-average dimensions of the Chevrolet Corvette mean "the cockpit is wider than in most sports cars." Kelley Blue Book adds that "the Corvette's seats are surprisingly supportive yet not so snug as to cinch the driver in place," and other reviews read by TheCarConnection.com support the opinion.

Sportscars aren't typically known for their voluminous cargo capacity, but TheCarConnection.com's experts are pleased to find functional storage in the rear. ConsumerGuide reviewers agree, finding that cargo room is "great for a sports car, especially in the coupe," and they mention "the convertible has small storage cubbies located behind the rear seats." Edmunds also finds that the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette's "remarkable cargo capacity (22 cubic feet in coupes and 11 cubes in the convertible)" helps to "make the Vette a sports car that's easy to live with on a day-to-day basis." Even Chevrolet's $100,000 supercar can fit an impressive amount of stuff in the back thanks to the fact that the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 boasts a very similar body to the base coupe.

Buyers who are upgrading from the last generation of Corvette will be surprised at the vastly improved interior quality found on the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette. Edmunds reports that "Chevrolet has made big strides in terms of interior fit and finish since the debut of the current-generation Corvette," but they qualify the comment, saying if you "poke around a bit...you'll find some flimsy plastic panels." ConsumerGuide, however, claims "the interior is a mix of grained plastic and nicely textured leather." Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com indicate that the materials are acceptable, with the possible exception of the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. On the top-end Chevrolet Corvette, one Jalopnik reviewer finds that the standard interior is "cheap and nasty," while "the 3ZR upgraded interior package" transforms the interior "into luxurious bass boat territory with more embroidered ZR1 and Corvette logos than my fragile mind could comprehend." Edmunds says that "overall, the interior is a step or two behind the class leaders," but on the positive side, the build quality is generally quite good.

Certain loud noises, such as the growl of a V-8 engine, are welcome in a sportscar, and reviews show that the unwelcome noises are kept to a manageable level in the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette. ConsumerGuide reports that the "engines are always heard" and the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1's "produces a distinct roar under hard throttle, with just a touch of supercharger whine thrown in for good measure." As for wind and road noise, Edmunds says both "can occasionally be a bit intrusive, but it's nothing out of the norm for this type of car."

8

2009 Chevrolet Corvette

Safety

An unparalleled stability system keeps 2009 Chevrolet Corvette drivers from getting into too much trouble.

It's no surprise that the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette hasn't been crash-tested by either NHTSA or the IIHS given its $47,000-plus price tag for even the most basic coupe. However, the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette is hardly lacking in safety, as it comes with a couple of critical safety features that should give a boost to driver confidence.

The Chevrolet Corvette lineup comes with standard "antilock disc brakes," according to Edmunds reviewers, along with "a superb stability control system known as 'Active Handling.'" For 2009, Motor Trend notes that "revisions are also incorporated to the hardware and software of the anti-locking braking, traction control, and Magnetic Ride Control systems." In addition to those electronic systems, ConsumerGuide finds that "dual front airbags" come standard on all 2009 Chevrolet Corvettes. Furthermore, ConsumerGuide reports that the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 and Z06 models get "uprated brakes." The 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 also offers optional "side airbags" with the "3ZR Preferred Equipment Group," according to ConsumerGuide.

The 2009 Chevrolet Corvette boasts all the safety features you could expect to find on a high-end sportscar, but reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that one major safety flaw manifests itself from the driver's seat. ConsumerGuide reviewers are disappointed to discover that "thick roof pillars hamper visibility to all corners" on 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, Z06, and base models, though that problem is understandably minimized on the Chevrolet Corvette convertible with the top down.

9

2009 Chevrolet Corvette

Features

The 2009 Chevrolet Corvette isn't just about performance, as it also offers the latest in high-tech features to play with (but hopefully not at 170 mph).

The 2009 Chevrolet Corvette lineup boasts some top-end features, both standard and optional, that help make the Chevrolet Corvette a practical and enjoyable daily driver.

The standard features list on the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette lineup is quite lengthy, and according to Cars.com, it includes "a CD player with MP3 capability...XM Satellite Radio," and "an audio input jack." Kelley Blue Book reports that the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette boasts "an interior filled with more creature comforts than some luxury cars" and that some of the other standard features are "xenon headlamps" and a "Driver Information Center," along with "keyless access with push-button starter, leather seats, [and] six-way power driver's seat." For those who prefer to keep two hands on the wheel of their 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1—or any model, for that matter—Motor Trend states that "steering-wheel audio controls are standard across the board." The base 2009 Chevrolet Corvette comes with just about every one of the standard features on the higher-end models, but ConsumerGuide does point out that 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 and Z06 variants offer a standard "head-up instrument display."

The Chevrolet Corvette has made a name for itself as the best-value sportscar in America, but for those who don't mind paying a bit extra, Chevrolet offers a wide range of options packages. ConsumerGuide reviewers find that the base vehicle offers 2LT, 3LT, and 4LT "Preferred Equipment Group" options, while the Z06 is available with 2LZ and 3LZ options, and the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 gets a 3ZR package. Those packages include a whole host of interior upgrades; Edmunds says "the 2LT Package adds Bluetooth and upgraded leather seating," along with "a power-operated top" for the convertible. Moving up to the 3LT package brings "a head-up display, a power telescoping steering column with manual tilting, [and] heated front seats," while the Chevrolet Corvette "4LT is very similar to the 3LT but includes an exclusive two-tone leather trim," according to Edmunds. The options packages on the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 are quite similar to those found on the base model. For the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, Jalopnik says that the 3ZR "upgraded interior package" does a good job "in moving the interior from cheap and nasty into luxurious bass boat territory."

If options packages aren't your thing, TheCarConnection.com has discovered that the Chevrolet Corvette also has a number of stand-alone options that should prove quite popular. Kelley Blue Book says the most noteworthy of these options are "Turn-by-Turn and DVD navigation" and a "transparent roof panel and polished alloy wheels."

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