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.