The Car Connection Chevrolet Corvette Overview
The Chevrolet Corvette is a high-performance coupe and convertible that's as much a part of America as suburban sprawl, Fourth of July fireworks, and homecoming games. The newest Corvette, dubbed C7, is a tribute to the cars that helped put Chevrolet on the map.
Even in base form, the new Corvette can brag of 0-60 mph runs in less than four seconds and 25 mpg on the highway. In Z06 or the new ZR1 trims, Chevrolet says the Corvette can run to 60 mph even quicker—less than three seconds. That's supercar territory for as little as $83,000.
MORE: Read our 2019 Chevy Corvette review
That's a remarkable evolution from the Corvette's comparatively tame history. When it arrived in 1953, the first Corvettes were powered by an anemic 3.8-liter inline-6 and featured paleolithic solid axles. The new version? Up to 755 horsepower with advanced suspension magic via Magnetic Ride Control.
The new Chevy Corvette
The seventh-generation Corvette, introduced in 2013 as a 2014 model, draws on GM's global resources for its design—the first time the Corvette team has looked outside the U.S. for help shaping the iconic 'Vette. The 2014 Chevy Corvette Stingray received a new LT1 V-8 engine, designed specifically for the sports car. The engine makes 455 hp and 460 pound-feet of torque, with more than 400 lb-ft of torque available between 2,000 and 4,000 rpm.
The base Corvette Stingray can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds when equipped with the 8-speed automatic transmission—a figure that ties the 2012 Z06 Corvette’s time. The 8-speed was introduced for 2015; for 2014, the automatic was a 6-speed unit. Direct injection, cylinder deactivation, and tall gearing allow the V-8 to deliver decent highway fuel economy as high as 25 mpg.
Other improvements of the seventh-generation car over the previous iteration include a partially aluminum chassis even in base model vehicles, which helps torsional rigidity and sharpens handling even further. The standard manual-transmission car features a 7-speed gearbox with an automatic rev-matching function and can accelerate to 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds.
A Stingray convertible is also part of the seventh-generation fold, offering nearly identical performance thanks to a chassis design that included its eventual topless configuration from the start. For the first time ever, the Z06 is also available as a convertible, and even the standard Z06 and ZR1 coupes get a removable roof panel like the Stingray. Previously, the Z06 and ZR1 were only available as a fixed-roof coupe.
A Z51 performance package is available for the C7 Corvette, adding an electronic limited-slip differential and dry-sump oiling for the engine, plus upgraded brakes among other upgrades.
The 2019 model year marks the introduction of the ultimate Corvette, the ZR1. With 755-hp from its LT5 supercharged 6.2-liter V-8, it is the highest-output Corvette, or GM vehicle, ever produced. The LT5 features direction and port injection, GM's first dual-injection system. All that power rockets the ZR1 to 60 mph in as little as 2.85 seconds and pushes it all the way to 212 mph.
A unique front fascia with larger air intakes feeds more air to four additional radiators. The hood has a large carbon-fiber scoop to clear the supercharger, and buyers can opt for a ZTK Track Performance Package with an adjustable carbon-fiber wing, a unique front splitter with removable carbon-fiber end caps, a performance suspension, and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. Priced around $123,000 to start, the ZR1 meets or beats the performance figures of cars that cost twice as much.
The Z06 was the most-powerful Corvette until the ZR1 arrived. It joined the lineup for 2015 as a real budget supercar that is priced around $83,000. The supercharged 6.2-liter V-8, code-named LT4, puts out 650 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque, and GM claims the Z06 will hit 60 mph in 2.95 seconds. The 'Vette team also paid close attention to the Z06's aerodynamics, with an optional high-downforce package, adjustable wings, lots of carbon-fiber elements, and available carbon-ceramic brakes. The Z06 uses a version of the aluminum structure that debuted on the C7 Stingray coupe and convertible. Like the ZR1, it's sold with a removable roof or convertible top, and with the choice of either a 7-speed manual or an 8-speed automatic.
Because the Corvette team never stops iterating, there were several changes for the 2016 model year. Both the Stingray and Z06 got a passel of new aesthetic options—new interior, stitching, and paint colors; an available carbon hood with a section of visible weave; and several new design packages. A power-cinch feature was added for the hatch/trunk latch, and a front curb view camera became optional on upper trim levels. On the Stingray, Magnetic Ride Control was made available without the Z51 package and with the Z51's wheels and spoiler. The Z06 was offered in a limited-run C7.R Edition package, too.
For the 2017 model year, the Corvette Grand Sport joined the lineup. With the Stingray's naturally aspirated V-8 but most of the Corvette Z06's handling hardware, the Grand Sport became the track-ready 'Vette and, for most drivers, the real base car in the Corvette family. On other models, very few changes were made, mostly to trim and paint.
Changes for 2018 weren't as extensive. All models got 19- and 20-inch wheels instead of 18s and 19s for the base versions, HD radio became standard, Magnetic Ride Control became a standalone option, the available Performance Data Recorder added more information that it could report, and a Spice Red convertible top was made available. To celebrate the Corvette's 65th anniversary, the Grand Sport and Z06 also received Carbon 65 Edition packages. Both came with carbon fiber on the rear spoiler, rear ducts, side skirts, and wheel center caps. Inside, they added sport seats, black suede trim with contrasting blue stitching, and carbon fiber on the steering wheel. A total of 650 were built, all for a $15,000 premium.
A mid-engine C8 Corvette is expected as early as the 2020 model year.
The Chevy Corvette started its legendary run in 1953 and has seen years of nearly continuous production in Flint, Michigan, then St. Louis, Missouri, and now in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Over time it has constantly evolved to lead performance and value, with occasional lows and numerous highs along the way. Though it has little domestic competition, cars as disparate as the Audi R8, Porsche Boxster and 911, and Nissan's GT-R and 370Z can be considered rivals in terms of performance and/or price.
The Corvette wasn't always a spec-slayer. The first 1953 models featured solid rear axles and inline-6s, though in 1955, the V-8 became standard. When the second-generation "Sting Ray" model debuted in 1963, independent rear suspension was added and output was increased to 360 hp. A big-block 6.5-liter model was added in 1965, before the famous 427-cubic-inch (7.0-liter) engine joined in 1966. The third-gen car debuted in 1968, running for 13 years until 1982—the longest stretch for any of the various Corvette generations. The new, fender-flared body style was the biggest change to the line, along with a three-year run for the ZR-1 performance edition, though emissions and fuel regulations conspired to restrict power output and potential of Corvettes throughout the 1970s.
Corvette production somewhat famously skipped the 1983 model year. The fourth-generation car hit the street in 1983 as a 1984 model, bringing with it a complete redesign of the car aside from the engine, with a sleek, modern design and digital instruments, as well as the second ZR-1 performance version. The fifth-gen car, introduced in 1997, saw another major upgrade, with improved build quality, increased performance, and better handling the result. The Z06 model was introduced in 2001, and engines continued to be upgraded, producing up to 405 hp in the Z06.
The sixth Corvette generation began in 2005, bringing with it all-new bodywork and improved suspension. Power climbed to 400 hp for the base Corvette initially, then up to 430 hp for its 6.2-liter LS3 V-8 engine, and 505 hp for the 7.0-liter Z06 in that generation. The ZR1 was added back to the lineup (without the hyphen) in late 2007 as a 2008 model, producing 638 hp from a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 engine. The C6 was available in base Coupe and Convertible, as a Grand Sport version with upgraded brakes and special bodywork, as the track-ready Z06, and as the supercar-rivaling ZR1.
The Coupe and Convertible were the standard Corvettes, with 430 hp output and all the conveniences of a modern car, including available Bluetooth on some models, a choice of 6-speed manual or automatic transmission, and available leather interior. The Grand Sport was also available as both a coupe and convertible, though the coupe received a few performance upgrades over the soft-top, including a dry-sump oil system when equipped with the 6-speed manual transmission, plus the upgraded brakes and flared fenders that both variants get. The Corvette Z06 upped the performance ante with extensive use of carbon-fiber body panels and components, an aluminum frame, and a 505-hp engine. The ZR1 was king of the hill, its massive power output combined with Brembo ceramic carbon brakes, visible carbon fiber weave components, and a 205-mph top speed. Despite huge power and impressive performance figures, the brawny engines and tall gears in the Corvette enable it to achieve up to 26 mpg on the highway.
While 2012 brought no major changes to the Corvette range, an updated interior, some new technology packages, and a selection of new exterior paint colors enhanced the offerings. The Corvette's high-performance Z06 and ZR1 models received updated performance packages as well. For the 2013 model year, a new 427 Convertible Collector Edition was added, pairing the Z06's LS7 V-8 engine with a Corvette Convertible body and unique 60th Anniversary touches. A 60th Anniversary Package was offered on all 2013 model Corvettes, adding a special touch to celebrate six decades of the nameplate. The sixth-generation (C6) Corvette set new benchmarks for the capabilities of a relatively affordable street-legal sports car, while its successor would take performance to even higher levels.