The Chevrolet Corvette is America’s David in a segment full of Goliaths. What do you need to know before you buy a Chevrolet Corvette? Don’t worry, we’ll tell you everything right here in the Ultimate Buyer’s Guide.
The Corvette has a bit of a reputation for being a mid-life-crisis-mobile here in the U.S. And, fair enough, there are probably quite a few ‘vette owners out there trying to avoid thinking about their own mortality in a sports car. But to say the Corvette was designed for geriatrics would be an absurd statement unless we’re talking about the likes of Valentino Balboni, Stirling Moss or Jackie Stewart.
You see, the Chevrolet Corvette is legit. It manages to out-handle, out accelerate and out-class vehicles five times its price. How does the Corvette go about defeating Goliaths from Germany and Italy? It uses a little good ol’ fashioned American automotive engineering.
Yes, the Corvette is a bona fide exotic sports car... that just happens to be owned by more than a few gentlemen.
What It’s Like To Drive
This car has the goods. It floats like Ali and sounds like Foreman and will bite your ear off like Tyson if you forget that this is a car with a bigass engine wedged into a chassis designed to propel you down the road faster than your brain can often register.
People seem to think of the latest car as “refined.” That’s not quite right. While past Corvettes have tried to engineer around their brutish nature with fancy suspension tech and loads of grip, the current car embraces the fact that there’s a 460 horsepower engine wedged in the front of the car and it just wants to help you use all of it.
This starts with either the seven-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission, both of which are geared appropriately for the engine’s prodigious power. You shouldn’t be ashamed to buy an automatic version of this car, but the manual is our favorite for its vaseline throws and rev-matching goodness.
Get the car on the freeway and its impressive how comfortable the car is, which is as much a result of the better construction and noise/vibration/harshness reduction than it is any attempt to make the big bad Corvette more docile. Turn off the freeway onto any road with any degree of turn that is not 90 and you’ll be shocked at how hard the car sticks.
Like an action movie trailer from 2010, there’s POWER available in just about every gear in every situation. Precise turn-in gives way to an immediate rush of juice as soon as you get on the throttle and, if you’re not dumb about it, you’ll find yourself propelled forward like Wile E. Coyote when he straps on his ACME rocket skates.
However, if you are dumb, this is still a car that’s faster than it is expensive and it’ll turn you around if you’re not careful.
What’s New About The 2015 Chevy Corvette
The seventh generation 2014 Chevrolet Corvette, the C7, was launched at the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit as the “Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.” It featured a new, sharper exterior design, a much-needed interior update, new engine and transmission options and new available tech.
In 2015, Chevy launched an 8-speed automatic transmission and the Z06 model, a high performance version of the C7 which comes with an LT4 engine and Eaton Supercharger, more aggressive aero enablers, bigger brakes, track-tuned suspension, stickier tires and lots more performance tech.
The 2016 Corvette is largely the same as the ‘15 model, with a few new interior and exterior design packages and some shuffling in standard and optional content. 2016 brings a new C7.R special edition–essentially a 3LZ trim Corvette Z06 with the Z06 performance package, a special paint scheme and some other special appearance add-ons. Only 500 of these cars will be produced.
No surprise here: the Corvette gets a pair of small block V8s. And while these engines still have pushrods that activate a set of overhead valves, they’re not the same as what was in your IROC Camaro back in your rock ‘n roll mullet-wearing days.
No, the base Corvette gets a 6.2-liter LT1 V8, which is similar to the aluminum LS engines found in the last gen Corvette and many other Chevys (Z28 Camaro, Cadillac CTS-V, etc.) except that it gets updates like a revised block casting, a fresh cylinder head, a new oiling system, variable valve timing, direct injection, and cylinder deactivation.
The 6.2-liter supercharged LT4 V8 found in the Z06 trim is based on the naturally aspirated LT1, except that it gets new hardware to handle the higher power output and higher cylinder pressures from that blower.
The LT4 gets a higher flow fuel system, a stronger cylinder that handles heat better than the LT1s, solid titanium intake valves, a camshaft with longer exhaust duration, stainless steel exhaust manifolds, a lightweight forged aluminum damper, stronger connecting rods, and more.
This new technology means the ‘vette can crank out quite a few more ponies than your IROC could. 455 for the LT1 and 650 for the LT4. Both engines come with either a 7-speed manual or an 8-speed automatic.
2016 Chevrolet Corvette Engine Options
Engine Max Horsepower (hp) Max Torque (lb-ft) 6.2L V8 455 @ 6000 rpm
460 @ 6000 rpm (with performance exhaust)
460 @ 4600
465 @ 4600
6.2L Supercharged V8 650 @ 6400 rpm 650 @ 3600 rpm
Fuel Economy Breakdown
Talking about supercars’ fuel economy numbers is a little weird. The cars are meant to accelerate and handle quickly, and since they’re so expensive, nobody really cares about fuel economy in the grand scheme of things.
But we always have to do a doubletake on the fuel economy figures for the Corvette, because they’re incredibly impressive for a car with over 450 horsepower. The Corvette manages over 20 MPG combined and 29 MPG on the highway. Those are awesome numbers for a car that will rip a 0-60 pull in 3.7 seconds.
The supercharged Z06 doesn’t do too bad for itself either, managing over 22 MPG on the freeway. You can thank a small frontal area and a slippery aerodynamic profile for these figures.
2016 Chevy Corvette Fuel Economy Ratings (City/Highway/Combined)
_ 6.2L V8 6.2L Supercharged V8 Fuel Economy- Manual 17/29/21 15/22/18 Fuel Economy- Auto 16/29/20 13/23/16
Trim Level Breakdown
The Corvette Stingray gets 12.6 or 13.6-inch vented and slotted rotors up front and 13.3-inchers in the rear. Four-piston calipers do the clamping all the way around.
The supercharged Z06 comes with 14.6-inch steel two-piece vented and slotted stoppers in the front and 14.4-inch discs out back. The Z07 package will get you carbon ceramic rotors – 15.5-inch pizzas under the nose and 15.3-inch discs at the caboose. Six-piston calipers clamp the front discs while four-pistons squeeze the rears.
Steering is electric, and front and rear suspension are short/long arm double wishbone with transverse-mounted composite springs.
The 2016 Corvette can be had as a Stingray Coupe, Stingray Convertible or Z06. The Stingrays come in six trims: 1LT, 1LT with Z51 Performance Package, 2LT, 2LT with Z51 Performance Package, 3LT, and 3LT with Z51 Performance Package. The Z06 also comes as a coupe or convertible with each having 1LZ, 2LZ and 3LZ trims available. So, in total, you’ve got 18 Corvette trims to choose from.
- Stingray 1LT Coupe and Convertible: Base model. Starts at $56,395 & $60,395. Notable standard features: 6.2-liter V8, 7-speed manual transmission with rev matching and launch control, 18” aluminum wheels up front with 19” wheels in the back, 245mm front and 285mm rear summer performance tires, carbon fiber hood, HID headlamps, power adjustable leather seats, power tilt and telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system with 8” touchscreen, 8” LCD instrument cluster, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bose 9-speaker audio system, rearview camera, front and side airbags, power windows, keyless access, push-button start, Apple Carplay. Notable options: 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters ($1,725); Magnetic Selective Ride Control+19” front and 20” rear wheels+spoiler($3,495); Performance exhaust ($1,195);
- Stingray 1LT Coupe and Convertible with Z51 Performance Package: Starts at $61,395 & $65,395. Notable standard features over 1LT: 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels, dry sump oil system, performance exhaust, electronic limited-slip differential, 13.6-inch front brakes instead of 12.6-inches, unique shocks, rear diff cooler, unique sway bars, unique cooling package, unique axle ratio, unique aero package, Michelin Pilot Super Sport ZP tires. Notable options: 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters ($1,725); Magnetic Selective Ride Control with Performance Traction Management($1,795).
- Stingray 2LT Coupe and Convertible: Starts $60,850 & $64,850. Notable standard features over 1LT: Unique interior trim, heated and vented seats with lumbar adjustment, curb view front camera, Bose 10-speaker premium audio, auto-dimming mirrors, memory seats, memory steering column, memory mirrors, head-up display, LED turn signals, satellite radio. Notable options: 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters ($1,725); Magnetic Selective Ride Control+19” front and 20” rear wheels+spoiler($3,495); Performance exhaust ($1,195).
- Stingray 2LT Coupe and Convertible with Z51 Performance Package: Starts at $65,850 & $69,850. Adds same features to 2LT as 1LT w/Z51 Package adds to 1LT. Same options as 1LT w/Z51 Package.
- Stingray 3LT Coupe and Convertible: Starts at $66,140 & $70,140. Notable standard features over 2LT: Unique leather-wrapped interior, navigation, unique suede interior surfaces, Napa leather seats, performance data recorder, color-matched instrument panel. Notable options: 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters ($1,725); Magnetic Selective Ride Control+19” front and 20” rear wheels+spoiler($3,495); Performance exhaust ($1,195), various interior and exterior design packages.
- Stingray 3LT Coupe and Convertible with Z51 Performance Package: Starts at $71,140 & $75,140. Adds same features to 3LT as 1LT w/Z51 Package adds to 1LT. Same options as 1LT w/Z51 Package plus various interior and exterior design packages.
- Z06 1LZ Coupe and Convertible: Starts at $80,395 & $84,395. Notable standard features over 1LT w/Z51 Performance Package: 650 hp supercharged V8, bigger brakes, unique aero package, P285/30ZR19 front and P335/25ZR20 rear Michelin Pilot Super Sport summer run-flat tires. Notable options: 8-speed automatic ($1,725); Z07 Performance Package: Unique suspension with Selective Ride Control, larger carbon-ceramic Brembo rotors, P285/30ZR19 front and P335/25ZR20 rear Michelin Pilot Super Sport Cup 2 summer run-flat tires ($7,995).
- Z06 2LZ Coupe and Convertible: Starts at $83,960 & $87,960. Notable standard features over 2LT w/Z51 Performance Package: 650 hp supercharged V8, bigger brakes, unique aero package, P285/30ZR19 front and P335/25ZR20 rear Michelin Pilot Super Sport summer run-flat tires. Notable options: 8-speed automatic ($1,725); Z07 Performance Package ($7,995)
- Z06 3LZ Coupe and Convertible: Starts at $89,340 & $93,340. Notable standard features over 3LT w/Z51 Performance Package: 650 hp supercharged V8, bigger brakes, unique aero package, P285/30ZR19 front and P335/25ZR20 rear Michelin Pilot Super Sport summer run-flat tires. Notable options: 8-speed automatic ($1,725); Z07 Performance Package ($7,995); C7.R Special Edition: unique exterior appearance items, unique exterior body kit and graphics, unique sport seats and interior trim, Z07 performance package ($23,055); various appearance packages.
Which One We’d Buy
Like ordering at In-N-Out, you’ve got a few variations on the same theme and there are no bad orders. You can go extreme double-double animal style Z07 Z06 or you can go plain jane cheeseburger 8-Speed Stingray.
Us? We’d go somewhere in the middle with the Corvette Z51 2LT, which is the 2LT’s nicer interior trim and the curb view camera as well as all the performance goodies, including a more aggressive suspension, better brakes, louder exhaust, more tire, better aero, and better cooling.
At $68,855 we’re still well under a similarly equipped car from another automaker. If you’re hoping to stay lower just get the 1LT with the Z51 package.
Important Facts At A Glance:
MSRP: $55,400-$93,340 Top Speed: ~200MPH (estimated)
Acceleration: 2.95s to 60 [Z06 w/Z07 package]
MPG: 17 city / 29 hwy / 21 combined
Engines: 6.2L V8, 6.2L Supercharged V8
Max Horsepower/Torque: 650 hp/650 lb-ft
Curb Weight: ~3,298-3,582 IIHS Safety Rating: NA
Transmissions: 7-speed manual, 8-speed automatic
Drivetrain Layout: Front Engine, RWD
Photo credit: Chevrolet