The 2018 Chevrolet Corvette delivers unmatched performance for the dollar and the features to go with it; the looks are arresting but perhaps too aggressive for some tastes.
The Chevrolet Corvette returns mostly unchanged for 2018. The lineup includes the Corvette Stingray, Corvette Grand Sport, and Corvette Z06, each as coupe or convertible. Each raises hell, takes names, and does it at a low price, considering its capability.
On our scale, admittedly biased toward the 2018 Corvette's thunderous performance and lavish features, we give it a 7.8 out of 10. What we don't like? Well, gas mileage isn't wonderful, and interior space isn't overly generous. Both are nitpicks we'd skip over to drive one.
The C7 Corvette sits wide and low, and it wears lots of scoops and ducts. The supercar air is there, but we get a little eye-tired of the shape's busy touches. The cockpit isn't as flashy as the body, but can be trimmed out very nicely.
All Corvettes drop hardcore performance. The base Stingray and mid-line Grand Sport sport a 455-hp (460 hp with the optional performance exhaust) 6.2-liter V-8. The Stingray can have a Z51 package that adds stiffer suspension, upgraded brakes, an electronic limited-slip differential, and aerodynamic tweaks. The Grand Sport has a wider rear end that accepts bigger high-performance tires. It also gets some of the Z06’s handling bits and an aerodynamics package.
The Z06 towers over other Corvettes with its supercharged 6.2-liter V-8, 650 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque. A 7-speed manual matches revs automatically on downshifts. The optional, quick-shifting 8-speed automatic has steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. A Z07 package on the Grand Sport and Z06 turns those cars into beastly, controllable track specialists.
The Corvette has room for a pair of large adults, and space for their bags under the hatch glass. Supportive base seats get an upgrade to sport buckets for track-ready models. Convertibles have an automatic roof that opens or closes under 30 mph.
What it does offer is minimal distraction from its incredible prowess. All cars have leather, keyless ignition, an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, nine-speaker Bose audio, and a rearview camera. The killer app: its Performance Data Recorder, which records video and lap times for post-track bragging and dragging.
The 2018 Chevrolet Corvette's exterior is highly stylized, maybe too much, though the interior doesn't have quite as much character.
Over its seven generations, the Chevrolet Corvette has only had spurts of styling continuity. The C5 and C6 generations flowed naturally from one to the next.
The C7 doesn't stray far from the basic shape, but it's far more extroverted. It has a real scoop addiction. At the same time, hallmark details like round taillights have been axed. It's an attention-getting machine, and it's drawn that way.
We give the Corvette an 8 for styling. The arresting body isn't to everyone's taste, while the interior as a tick above average.
The Corvette needs time to gel from first glance. It has a long, low hood, a steeply swept windshield, and a bluff rear end, all carried over since the C4 generation. The C7 has lots of sharp creases and smooth curves, planes that intersect and warp. It has a nearly exotic look, but it's also busy with details in any color other than black. Will it wear well decades from now? In the $60,000-$100,000 price range, timelessness is a virtue.
The C7’s interior steps up the Corvette's game. The design isn’t as bold as the exterior’s. The cockpit is wrapped in soft-touch materials, and higher trims can provide true luxury accommodations.
From a design standpoint, the cabin is driver focused and simple. The center stack angles toward the driver with a large handle from the dash to the center console for passengers to grab during aggressive driving. Both the center stack and instrument cluster have a high-tech feel that makes it clear the Corvette is all about performance. A carbon-fiber instrument panel surround looks like supercar trim, and suede and rich leather trim and upholstery are available to spruce up the cabin with a designer’s influence. The Porsche 718’s cabin may still be a cut above, but not by that much.
Any Corvette is an outright performance bargain, but the Grand Sport stands out as the best value and the Z06 puts up supercar numbers.
The Chevrolet Corvette has earned a reputation as a performance bargain and the C7 generation is even better. With the addition of the Grand Sport for 2017, Chevrolet added another level of value to its performance portfolio. Buyers can opt for three price points to get unmatched performance for the dollar.
The most affordable is the Stingray with the Z51 handling package, in the middle is the Z07-equipped Grand Sport, and at the top is the Z06 with the Z07 upgrades. All three are amazing combinations of power and grip, and they justify our performance rating of a perfect 10.
The Corvette’s base engine—GM's LT1 6.2-liter V-8—produces a healthy 455 hp (or 460 hp with available performance exhaust) and makes great sounds along the way. The V-8 provides plenty of grunt, pushing the car from 0-60 mph in just 3.8 seconds with the 7-speed manual or 3.7 seconds with the available 8-speed automatic. It runs the quarter mile in a mere 11.9 seconds with the automatic or 12.0 seconds with the manual.
The Grand Sport turns the Corvette into a track-ready street car. It combines the Stingray’s drivetrain with a wider rear end that can accommodate high-performance tires, and adds an aerodynamics package. The added traction drops the 0-60 mph time to as low as 3.6 seconds and the quarter-mile time to 11.8 seconds at 118 mph. (Read more about the Corvette Grand Sport in our first drive.) Add in the Z07 package for about $8,000, and the Grand Sport gains Magnetic Selective Ride Control dampers, carbon-ceramic brakes, Michelin Pilot Super Sport Cup 2 tires, and a more aggressive aero package.
At the top of the heap is the Z06 with its supercharged 6.2-liter LT4 V-8 that spins out 650 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque. With the manual, it can click off 3.2-second 0-60 mph runs, while the automatic cuts that time to an astounding 2.95 seconds.
GM says its 8-speed automatic shifts quickly enough to beat Porsche’s PDK by 80 milliseconds. It's remarkably quick, whether you click its paddles or let the computer determine the gear. It doesn’t feel any slower than the slick-shifting manual, which gives Corvette buyers something to think about when outfitting their cars.
The Corvette puts the power to the pavement well, especially in Z51 cars and the Z06, which get an electronically actuated rear differential. Add to that Chevy's Performance Traction Management system, which adjusts stability control in various modes to reign the car in or let it kick the tail out, all with the aim of improving traction and cornering speeds.
With its aluminum-intensive structure, the Corvette is bred for performance. It’s capable of more over 1g of lateral grip, it corners flat, and the electric assist power steering is accurate with surprising levels of feedback. It makes for an addictive driving experience for the enthusiast driver, who can boast that the C7 Corvette runs with cars that cost twice its price or more.
The Corvette convertible suffers little compromise in performance. In fact, even the Z51, Grand Sport, and Z06 work well as droptops. That’s because Chevrolet engineered the C7 Corvette as a roadster from the start, so it doesn’t sacrifice any structural integrity.
Comfort & Quality
Two fit comfortably in the cabin, though the interior has room for improvement to match the Corvette's best rivals.
With the C7, the Corvette interior takes a big step up in quality, especially in the Z06. That brings it just even with some of its rivals.
The interior is sharp and modern without relying on styling gimmicks. Touches like the carbon fiber center stack surround and the passenger climate controls integrated into the outboard vent elevate it above workaday sports car. High-quality materials abound, even in some out of the way places and soft-touch surfaces are found at all touchpoints, but you will have to go to the options list of the best materials.
Many rivals, like the Porsche 911 and Mercedes-AMG GT have higher grade cockpits, but the prices are much higher. Still, the Porsche 718 models are similarly priced with tight-fitting, low-key interiors that the Corvette would do well to emulate.
The Stingray’s base seats are highly adjustable and the standard power tilt/telescoping steering wheel makes it easy to tailor a natural driving position for just about any body type. The reach to the shifter and clutch on manual transmission models are easy. For those who plan to do more track driving or canyon blasts, the upgraded Competition Sport seats have a race-inspired form to keep backsides firmly planted in place when the g forces want to send you to sliding about the cabin, though the base seats are quite secure as well.
As for cabin space, the Corvette has enough head, hip, and leg room to accommodate riders a bit over 6 feet tall and topping the 200-pound mark. The flat-bottomed steering wheel has a sporty feel, thanks to a small diameter that also aids space, lending to the Corvette's snug-but-not-tight cockpit.
Small items and cargo space are also useful. Chevrolet provides cubbies for your things, including a James Bond-esque hidden compartment behind the center screen with a plug-in jack for your phone. The hatchback body style gives the Corvette a large, flat cargo area that can handle a surprising amount of luggage or other cargo. Among sports cars, the Corvette is a rather practical option. Convertible models have a smaller but still adequate trunk.
The convertible features a form-fitting automatic top that has no need for an additional lock at the top of the windshield. This makes it possible to raise or lower the top at speeds of up to 30 mph. We’ve experienced a bit more wind buffeting than we have in some other touring convertibles. While it’s not a big issue, a dealer-installed windblocker can make a meaningful difference here.
The Corvette has just a few safety extras, and it has not been crash tested.
Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS have crash-tested the Corvette. We don't expect them to, given the car's low sales volume. We can’t give the Corvette a safety rating.
The 2018 Corvette gets a rearview camera and OnStar telematics standard. A curb-view camera and a head-up display are optional, but many of today’s latest safety features are not. These include blind-spot monitors and forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking.
Vision to the rear from the Corvette's driver seat is miserable.
The base Corvette comes with a generous set of features and Chevrolet offers options to let you customize it to your desire.
The 2018 Chevrolet Corvette is offered in three basic models—Stingray, Grand Sport, and Z06—and each comes in three trim levels: 1LT, 2LT, and 3LT for the Stingray and Grand Sport, and 1LZ, 2LZ, and 3LZ for the Z06. All are available in the coupe or convertible body styles.
Changes for 2018 are minor. All models get 19- and 20-inch wheels. The Performance Data Recorder can report more information. HD Radio is now standard. For its 65th anniversary, 650 Carbon 65 Edition Z06s and Grand Sports will come with carbon fiber trim, for $15,000 extra.
In addition to the wide variety of models, the Corvette comes with a great selection of features, many of which are well-conceived, plus a functional infotainment system, and a killer app in the form of the Performance Data Recorder that can record video and timing of on-track laps. For these reasons, we give the Corvette a 10 out of 10 for features.
Corvette 1LT and 1LZ models have standard leather; power features; dual-zone automatic climate control; a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel; keyless ignition; an infotainment system with an 8.0-inch color touchscreen; Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; a nine-speaker Bose audio system; satellite radio; Bluetooth with audio streaming; USB and power ports; a rearview camera; Brembo brakes; and HID headlights. For 2018, it adds standard HD radio and 19- and 20-inch wheels instead of 18s and 19s. The Grand Sport and Z06 1LZ model have a few more features, including Magnetic Selective Ride Control, Performance Traction Management, and Michelin Pilot Super Sport summer-only tires.
The 2LT and 2LZ models add lumbar and wing adjustments for the seats; heated and cooled seats; a 10-speaker Bose premium audio system; a universal garage door opener; memory for the seats, mirrors, and steering column; a color head-up display; auto dimming mirrors; and a curb-view front camera.
The top-line 3LT and 3LZ models have a leather-wrapped interior with microfiber trim, the Performance Data Recorder, nappa leather, and navigation.
The Stingray can be made sportier with the Z51 package, adding roughly $2,800 for any trim. It adds stiffer springs and anti-roll bars, upgraded brakes and dampers, an electronic limited-slip differential, a dry-sump oil system, upgraded cooling for the differential and transmission, and several aerodynamic upgrades. Additional options include Competition Sport seats and custom luggage. This year the Magnetic Selective Ride Control suspension is also offered as a standalone option.
The Z06 and Grand Sport are already track-focused vehicles, but both offer the Z07 package to make them true track stars. This package comes with adjustable front and rear aero components, Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes, and Michelin Pilot Super Sport Cup 2 tires to crank these beasts to 11.
For 2018, the Performance Data Recorder can report individual wheel speeds, individual suspension displacements, yaw rate, and intake and ambient air temperatures. Those changes make it even more useful.
Any Corvette buyer can opt for delivery at the National Corvette Museum located across from the Corvette plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Z06 buyers can also opt to help build their car’s LT4 engine at the Bowling Green engine facility. A personalized dash plaque is also available to put an individualized stamp on your car.
With V-8 power, fuel economy is not a priority, though the 2018 Corvette can get decent highway gas mileage.
If fuel economy is a main consideration when buying a Corvette, you are missing the boat. It's generally subpar, despite standard cylinder deactivation in all models. However, the Corvette can get pretty good highway fuel economy thanks to tall top gears.
The 2018 Chevrolet Corvette is offered with a pair of small-block V-8 engines. The Stingray and Grand Sport feature the naturally aspirated LT1 version, while the Z06 gets the supercharged LT4. Naturally, the LT4 drinks more fuel.
The Z06 is EPA rated at 13 mpg city, 23 highway, 16 combined with the 8-speed automatic transmission. The 7-speed manual in the Z06 ups the mileage to 15/22/18 mpg.
The LT1-powered manual Stingray is rated at 16/25/19 mpg. The automatic scores 15/22/18 mpg. Those numbers are better than you'll get in the Z06, but not significantly.
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