2012 Chevrolet Corvette Review

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Nelson Ireson Nelson Ireson Senior Editor
January 14, 2012

From fast to insanely fast, yet still practical and affordable, the 2012 Chevrolet Corvette is a great balance and a strong value.

The Chevrolet Corvette has long been a top performance bargain, but with improvements over the past three years, plus upgrades for 2012, the lineup just keeps getting better.

Available in both coupe and convertible forms in base and Grand Sport trims, or coupe-only in Z06 and ZR1 trims, the Corvette is an edgy and instantly recognizable silhouette no matter which you choose. The shovel-nosed, stub-tail look has held up well in the current generation, but the interior is looking dated--and with a new 'Vette on the way for 2014, it's not likely to change much next year, either.

Three different V-8 engines are available depending on the model chosen: the base Corvette and Grand Sport get a 6.2-liter LS3 V-8 engine rated at up to 436 horsepower; the Z06 gets its 505 horsepower from a 7.0-liter LS7; and the ZR1 uses a supercharged 6.2-liter supercharged LS9 to put out 638 horsepower. Whichever you choose, performance is electricifying with either automatic or manual transmissions.

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The manual-transmission models come with standard launch control, helping them reach 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, with the Z06 shaving that to 3.9 seconds and the ZR1 a scant 3.4 seconds. Despite the obvious speed, the Corvette range handles well, too, with crisp, communicative steering. Excellent brakes are also par for the Corvette course.

Despite being low-slung and relatively compact, the Corvette is quite comfortable. Ample shoulder and hip room are offset somewhat by less than ideal headroom for taller drivers. Materials and design of the interior are much improved over previous version of the Corvette, but still fall short of the exterior's promise, however.

Although the Corvette, like most high-end sports cars, hasn't been crash-tested, it is packed with ample safety equipment including standard front and side driver and passenger airbags, anti-lock brakes, and stability and traction control. The only complaint in this department might be compromised visibility due to the low seating position and smallish windows.

Standard features include XM Satellite Radio, auxiliary audio input, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, push-button start, steering wheel audio controls, power driver's seat, and more. Upgrade options include a heads-up display, Bluetooth, satellite navigation, and a wide range of performance enhancements and interior and exterior appearance packages.

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2012 Chevrolet Corvette

Styling

While the exterior of the 2012 Chevrolet Corvette cuts as iconic an image as ever, the interior's style feels a bit dated.

With three different body types and a total of five variants, the 2012 Chevrolet Corvette offers a strong sports car proposition to a wide range of buyers.

Whether you choose the convertible or the base model (which is really a targa-type convertible coupe), the same basic styling is found inside and outside. Strong, flared fenders, a low-slung, sporty stance, and long hood dominate the iconic Corvette profile.

Inside, simple surfaces and muted colors contrast with the much bolder exterior, with function ahead of form in almost every area. Opting for the leather interior is a must-have upgrade, massively improving the look and feel of the cabin.

The Z06 model offers wider fender flares, a front spoiler, optional vinyl graphics, and larger wheels. The Grand Sport borrows many of these styling traits, but with the standard Corvette's engine and transmission.

At the top of the range sits the ZR1, which is also the most aggressively styled, with a see-through panel on the hood, larger air intakes, and even wider flared fenders.

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2012 Chevrolet Corvette

Performance

The 2012 Chevrolet Corvette offers incredible performance value, from the sports car base models to the supercar Z06 and ZR1.

From base to ZR1, it's hard to fault the performance of any Corvette, especially when you factor in their relatively low cost.

Three engines are available in the Corvette range: the Grand Sport, base coupe and convertible use a 6.2-liter LS3 V-8 engine rated at 430 horsepower (or 436 with the optional dual-mode exhaust); the Z06 gets a 7.0-liter LS7 V-8 rated at 505 horsepower; and the ZR1 gets a supercharged 6.2-liter LS9 V-8 good for a massive 638 horsepower.

The Grand Sport, coupe, and convertible are all available with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. The ZR1 and Z06 are manual-only. Both transmissions are well-suited to the task, though true enthusiasts will opt for the manual, despite the automatic's slick shifts and generally capable sport programming.

As for outright performance, the Grand Sport and base coupe check in at 4.5 seconds to 60 mph, while the Z06 gets there in a scant 3.9 and the ZR1 does it in 3.4. Those last two are supercar figures, and their handling and braking performance fit the supercar bill as well. The Z06 and ZR1 make extensive use of aluminum, carbon fiber, and other composites to reduce weight while maintaining rigidity, while the base and Grand Sport models are primarily made of steel.

Top speeds of all Corvettes are in the upper-100 mph or lower 200-mph range, and the steering, balance, and confidence of control also match this capability. The Corvette is America's sports (or super) car, and the 2012 models only enhance this reputation.

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2012 Chevrolet Corvette

Comfort & Quality

The 2012 Chevrolet Corvette's weak point is its interior, which may show how Chevy packs so much car into so few dollars; the leather interior upgrade package goes a long way toward mitigating the problem, however.

Even though it's a two-seat-only coupe or convertible, the 2012 Corvette is very comfortable once you're in it. The low ride height and low roof on hardtop models may make entry and exit tough for some, however.

The seats, in particular, are highlights of the cabin, with comfortable support and bolstering that trades well between high-performance adhesion and long-journey ease. Despite the compact configuration, the Corvette also holds more cargo than you might expect, with a large flat area under the rear hatch in coupe models and cubbies behind the seats in the convertible.

Sound from tires and wind are well within expected limits for this class of performance car, but will be noticeable to those more familiar with luxury sedans. The roar of the big V-8 under the hood is likewise sedate and subtle at cruising speeds, but readily comes to life under heavy throttle.

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2012 Chevrolet Corvette

Safety

Excellent handling, standard stability and traction control, ABS, and other core safety features lend confidence and security to drivers of the 2012 Chevrolet Corvette.

Like most high-end sports cars, the 2012 Chevrolet Corvette hasn't been rated by the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) or the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety).

Standard safety equipment includes anti-lock brakes, Active Handling stability control, traction control, dual front and side airbags, and supremely capable brakes, however, and the Corvette's agile handling also contributes to its ability to avoid, rather than survive, an accident.

Visibility, however, may be an area of concern for some. Both rearward visibility through the hatch and forward over the long hood and around thick roof pillars make it tough to see obstacles close to the car, a situation only exacerbated by the low-slung seating position. Another potential safety drawback is the lack of side curtain airbags, a feature some of the competitive sports coupes offer.

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2012 Chevrolet Corvette

Features

An abundance of packages and individual options lets owners customize the 2012 Corvette, but some of the competitions' high-end electronic gadgets are missing from the list.

Thanks to a wide range of available options and packages, the 2012 Chevrolet Corvette can be configured to suit most sports car buyers' tastes and budgets.

Starting from a base price of $49,600 and ranging up to $111,600 for the ZR1's starting price, the Corvette range spans a wide range of prices and equipment configurations. Standard items in all Corvettes include a six-month OnStar subscription, an MP3/CD stereo, SiriusXM satellite radio, auxiliary audio input, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry, push-button start, leather seats, steering wheel audio controls, and a six-way power driver's seat.

Available options include a heads-up instrument display, power passenger seat, navigation, Bluetooth, heated seats, leather upgrade package, and a wide range of interior and exterior appearance options. A range of trim levels, or "Preferred Equipment Groups," as Chevrolet terms them, combine a number of commonly-ordered features into bundles. Turn-by-turn DVD-based navigation is also available, but the small console screen and low-resolution display make it difficult to use.

The heads-up display in particular merits some special attention, as it has long been available on the Corvette, when even high-end luxury rivals didn't offer the option and are now only beginning to. It's included as standard equipment on Z06 and ZR1 models.

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2012 Chevrolet Corvette

Fuel Economy

You'd be amazed at the highway fuel economy you can eke out of the standard 2012 Chevrolet Corvette.

While it's no fuel-sipper, the 2012 Chevrolet Corvette does relatively well with its massive power output thanks to tall gearing and aerodynamic profile.

The base, convertible, and Grand Sport Corvettes rate 16 mpg city and 26 mpg highway with the manual transmission, knocking 1 mpg off each score when equipped with the automatic. The Z06 does only marginally worse at 15 mpg city and 24 mpg highway, while the ZR1, with the most power in the bunch, also offers to worse fuel economy at 14 mpg city and 21 mpg highway.

While the EPA's figures are the baseline for considering the Corvette's gas mileage, it's worth noting that users, including our own testing, have seen much better highway mileage in real-world use.

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March 3, 2016
2012 Chevrolet Corvette 2-Door Coupe w/1LT

Great second car, just took 60 years to get one

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Comfortable ride, great stopping power, easy care, low maintenance. Beautiful car
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October 22, 2015
2012 Chevrolet Corvette 2-Door Convertible Z16 Grand Sport w/4LT

Awsome performance for the money!!

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This is my second C6 Corvette. The performance, ride and looks are incredible for this Grand Sport. I would recommend this car to any performance enthusiast.
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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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