2011 Chevrolet Corvette Review

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Nelson Ireson Nelson Ireson Senior Editor
July 31, 2010

Ridiculously fast and still daily-driver practical, the 2011 Chevrolet Corvette is an everyday supercar.

The Chevrolet Corvette has long been a top performance bargain, but with improvements over the past two years, plus upgrades for 2011, the lineup just keeps getting better.

The 2011 Chevrolet Corvette is a two-door coupe or convertible available in a range of performance trims, including base, Grand Sport, Z06, and ZR1. It competes against the world's best sports cars and supercars, including the Nissan 370Z and GT-R, Porsche Boxster and 911, Dodge Viper, and even Italian exotics—depending on the trim chosen.

The base Corvette coupe and convertible offer sport and style, the Grand Sport kicks it up a notch with track-worthy upgrades, the Z06 is a pure-bred supercar, and the ZR1 goes over the top with speed, power, and raw ability.

Review continues below
9

2011 Chevrolet Corvette

Styling

From the outside, every 2011 Corvette model is a stunner, but the interior doesn't live up to as high a standard.

The 2011 Chevrolet Corvette range spans three different body types with five total variants: three coupes and two convertibles, available in varying degrees of edgy styling.

Although called a coupe, the base model is really a targa with a removable roof panel, as is the Grand Sport Coupe. The Z06 and ZR1 have traditional fixed roofs, but all of the targas/coupes present the iconic Corvette profile. The convertibles (base and Grand Sport) offer the same basic look, with the ability to let the soft top down.

The Grand Sport builds on the low-slung, purposeful look of the base model with the Z06's wider fender flares, upgraded alloy wheels, front spoiler, and optional vinyl graphics. The Z06 looks much the same, though it is available in a few exclusive colors. The ZR1 is the most attention-grabbing of the lot, with the widest flared fenders, larger air intakes, and a clear panel on the hood to show off the supercharged engine.

The interior is essentially the same across the range, with the Grand Sport, Z06, and ZR1 adding unique badging. The leather upgrade package is nearly a must-have, dramatically improving the look and feel of the entire cabin. The design and layout of the interior is generally regarded as clean and uncluttered, however, with functionality and ease-of-use at the forefront.

10

2011 Chevrolet Corvette

Performance

The 2011 Chevrolet Corvette is a true sports car (or supercar in the case of the Z06 and ZR1) that handles the daily commute as well as the curves, without breaking the bank.

Three different engines are available in the 2011 Corvette: a 6.3-liter LS3 V-8 rated at 430 horsepower (or 436 hp with the optional dual-mode exhaust) found in the base model and Grand Sport; a 505-horsepower 7.0-liter LS7 V-8 in the Z06; and a 638-horsepower 6.2-liter LS9 V-8. All of them have throaty exhaust notes, abundant low-end torque, and strong top-end power. The question is only whether too much is really enough. Despite the massive power outputs, the Corvette's V-8 range is surprisingly refined on the road, thanks to the ability to run quietly at low RPMs in higher gears—which also helps fuel economy.

Both slick-shifting six-speed manual and manual-mode six-speed automatic transmission options are available on the base and Grand Sport models, but the Z06 and ZR1 are only available with robust six-speed manuals. The manual-transmission models come with standard launch control in addition to the Corvette's competition-tuned traction and stability programming.

Acceleration times are excellent, with the base coupe and Grand Sport darting to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, the Z06 doing it in 3.9 seconds, and the ZR1 hitting the mark in a scant 3.4 seconds. It's not all about straight-line speed, though, as the relatively light weight and well-tuned chassis of the various models provide responsive, capable handling. Crisp, communicative steering and excellent brakes are also par for the Corvette course.

The EPA estimates that base Chevrolet Corvettes will get 16 mpg city and 26 mpg highway with the manual transmission, while the automatic drops each of those numbers by 1 mpg. The Chevrolet Corvette Z06 manages 15 mpg city and 24 mpg on the highway, while the 2011 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 scores 14 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway.  

8

2011 Chevrolet Corvette

Comfort & Quality

The 2011 Chevrolet Corvette's interior is clearly an area of compromise, where cost savings help translate into more performance per dollar, but the optional leather upgrade package helps solve some of those ills.

Comfort is one of the 2011 Corvette's strong suits in its class, with well-shaped and supportive seats, plenty of headroom and legroom—once you lower yourself down into the car—and more storage space than you'd expect, thanks to the hatchback-like rear access in the coupe models. The convertible lacks this storage space, but adds cubbies behind the seats to help stow your gear.

It's a two-seater, of course, but both driver and passenger get more shoulder and hip room than in a typical sports car due to the Corvette's wide stance. The materials in the cabin are much improved over previous C5-generation Corvettes, though those seeking the best in comfort will still want to opt for the optional leather package.

The sound of the big V-8 engine isn't intrusive at all within the cockpit until you really open the throttle, making it a solid bet for long road trips. Wind and road noise are present, but well within the expected range for the sports car class.

8

2011 Chevrolet Corvette

Safety

Excellent stability control, a solid standard airbag package, and some of the best chassis design in the industry combine to make the 2011 Corvette a safe vehicle, though it could still stand some improvement.

Like most high-end sports cars, the 2011 Chevrolet Corvette hasn't been crash tested by NHTSA or the IIHS. But between the advanced engineering in the chassis itself and the array of standard safety equipment, buyers should feel safe behind the wheel of the Corvette.

Standard anti-lock disc brakes, Active Handling stability control, traction control, dual front and side airbags, and very capable brakes all help to either reduce the likelihood of an accident or mitigate injuries when unavoidable.

One area where the car may merit concern, however, is the visibility from the driver's seat. Thick roof pillars in the coupes and the low-slung driving position make it tough to see out of the car and around traffic in some situations. There are also no curtain airbags on the Corvette, a feature offered by some of the higher-end competition in this category.

9

2011 Chevrolet Corvette

Features

When traffic forces you to slow the pace in the 2011 Chevrolet Corvette, there's still plenty of cool toys to keep you entertained.

The 2011 Corvette packs a solid standard features list and, thanks to a wide range of models and styles, offers a configuration for most budgets.

The standard Corvette coupe starts from $48,930, the convertible from $53,580, the Grand Sport from $54,770, and its convertible variant from $58,850. Moving up to the Z06 kicks the entry price to $74,285, and the powerhouse ZR1 starts from $106,880. The base and Grand Sport models are available in four trims each: 1LT, 2LT, 3LT, and 4LT, each upgrading standard features and luxury items. The Z06 is available in three trims: 1LZ, 2LZ, and 3LZ, mirroring the base model trims. The ZR1 features two trims, the 1ZR and 3ZR, offering a choice between performance-focused and luxurious.

Across the entire range, standard features include an MP3/CD stereo system, XM Satellite Radio, auxiliary audio input, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, push-button start, leather seats, steering wheel audio controls, and a six-way power driver's seat.

Optional upgrades include a heads-up instrument display, power passenger seat,
heated seats, leather upgrade package, Bluetooth connectivity, navigation, and a range of interior and exterior appearance packages. These features can be added through the various trim levels, or “Preferred Equipment Groups,” as Chevrolet refers to them.

The heads-up display deserves special mention, as it's a feature found most often only in high-end luxury cars. It's available in the base and Grand Sport coupes and convertibles in the 3LT and 4LT trims, and as standard equipment on the Z06 and ZR1. Turn-by-turn DVD navigation is also available, but the small screen and low-resolution display keep it from reaching must-have status. An aftermarket solution may be a better option.

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8.8
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Styling 9.0
Performance 10.0
Comfort & Quality 8.0
Safety 8.0
Features 9.0
Fuel Economy 7.0
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