- Very strong value for performance
- Instant recognition
- Powerful 430-hp base model
- Interior design and materials could be better
- No side curtain airbags
- Around-town gas mileage barely average
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.
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.