Full 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Review
What's New for 2014
The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette has been fully redesigned. Highlights include a new name (officially, it's the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray), more angular-looking styling, improved interior quality, more power and new technology features. For now, only a base coupe is available, with the previous Z06 and ZR1 models on hiatus. A convertible will debut later in the model year.
Recently, we were making small talk with a top engineer from an import luxury automaker and asked him what his personal car was. We expected him to have some sort of flawlessly crafted über-machine parked in his garage. C63. M3. 911. That kind of thing. Instead, he said he had a Corvette. He paused, perhaps noting our perplexed look. "I love all that torque," he added in his thickly accented English, using his hand to imitate his foot pressing down on a gas pedal.
Corvette: who knew it was America's biggest automotive export for guilty pleasure entertainment?
But with the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray ("Stingray" is once again part of the Corvette name), there might not be much guilt associated with the pleasure anymore. Oh sure, this redesigned Corvette still has the bonkers V8 power, massive tires, outlandish grip and the "look at me!" styling that makes a Vette a Vette. But Chevrolet has addressed many of the car's less appealing qualities, at least in the context of other world-class sports cars.
Action item number one: interior quality. This was the previous Corvette's biggest letdown, and we're pleased to report it's gotten the most attention from Chevy's designers. The materials used are of higher quality, and prominent leather stitching lends a premium vibe. Also improved are the seats, which are more supportive for aggressive driving. Chevy is even offering optional performance seats this time around, which offer even more bolstering. Finally, the overall design is more driver-focused and highlighted by a bigger main touchscreen that supports the brand's latest MyLink electronics interface.
Further refinement is found in regards to the Corvette Stingray's mechanical bits. There's a more rigid body structure now made from aluminum (said to improve crash-worthiness and help with suspension tuning), a carbon-fiber roof and hood, and a revised 6.2-liter V8 engine. That new V8 develops 455 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque, a bit more than before. But new direct fuel-injection technology broadens power throughout the rev range, while cylinder deactivation helps boost fuel economy. A seven-speed manual transmission with automatic rev-matching is new, too.
Add this all up and you're looking at the most complete and refined Corvette yet. Comparison shopped against the likes of the upcoming BMW M4, Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG or Porsche Boxster or Cayman, the Corvette Stingray promises dominating performance and competitive levels of refinement. It's also an intriguing alternative to more expensive sports cars like the Nissan GT-R and SRT Viper.
What we have here is finally a Corvette without the apologies. And we're pretty sure that translates quite easily into any language.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is currently available as a hatchback coupe only. The convertible, with its power-operated soft-top roof, is expected to arrive in the spring of 2014.
There are two main trim levels, base and Z51. Within each, however, there are three sub-trims: 1LT, 2LT and 3LT. The base Corvette 1LT comes standard with 18-inch front wheels and 19-inch rear wheels, xenon headlights, heated mirrors, a removable roof panel, dual-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, keyless ignition and entry, leather upholstery, eight-way power front seats and a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. Electronic features include OnStar, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, an 8-inch touchscreen display, Chevy's MyLink electronics interface, a rearview camera and a nine-speaker Bose sound system with two USB ports, an auxiliary audio jack, an SD card reader and satellite radio.
The Corvette Stingray Z51 1LT further adds 19-inch front/20-inch rear wheels, exterior aero trim, performance brakes and suspension tuning, revised transmission gear ratios (manual transmission only), a limited-slip electronic rear differential, a rear differential cooler and dry-sump oiling for the V8 engine.
All Corvette Stingray 2LT models come with auto-dimming driver-side and rearview mirrors, a 10-speaker sound system with HD radio, a head-up display, a cargo shade, driver memory settings, heated and ventilated seats and power lumbar seat adjustments. The 3LT is the same but with upgraded leather upholstery and a navigation system.
For the Corvette Z51, adaptive suspension dampers are optional and come bundled with an upgraded traction management system. Other options for the whole Corvette Stingray line include a dual-mode exhaust system and competition-style seats (late availability). All coupes come with a painted and removable carbon-fiber roof panel, and if you choose, you can order your roof panel either with exposed carbon fiber or transparent.
Powertrains and Performance
Under the Corvette's hood is a 6.2-liter V8 driving the rear wheels. Maximum power is 455 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque -- up from 436 and 428 last year, respectively. Don't be unimpressed by what appear to be modest power gains, though; the new engine adds roughly 50 lb-ft of torque below 4,000 rpm over the outgoing model. The optional dual-mode exhaust further provides a slight power boost to 460 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque. Putting this to the ground is a seven-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic.
The new V8 now features direct fuel injection, variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation. EPA-estimated fuel economy is impressive at 21 mpg combined (17 mpg city/29 mpg highway) with the manual transmission. The automatic is rated at 20 combined (16/28).
The new manual transmission uses the same gear ratios as the previous car, with the 7th gear acting as a tall cruising gear to incrementally improve fuel economy. The manual also comes with automatic rev-matching for upshifts and downshifts, which greatly simplifies and smoothes out shifting during enthusiastic driving. The automatic transmission, meanwhile, represents a modest revision of the previous Corvette's automatic.
In Edmunds testing, a Corvette Z51 with the manual transmission accelerated from zero to 60 mph in an impressively quick 4.1 seconds. Both transmissions feature a launch control mode. It works well enough, but it's more of a novelty than a true performance aid, as we found that it allowed too much wheelspin in our manual-shift Z51 test car.
Standard safety features on the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, side-impact airbags and a rearview camera. Also standard is OnStar, which includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking and stolen vehicle assistance.
In Edmunds brake testing, a Corvette Z51 took just 93 feet to stop from 60 mph: the shortest distance we've ever recorded.
Interior Design and Special Features
Chevrolet put in a lot of effort to improve this year's Corvette interior. The overall design is more driver-centric now, and the more prominent and canted center stack helps promote a jetfighter-like cockpit vibe. In that center control stack is a new 8-inch touchscreen display that uses Chevrolet's latest MyLink electronics interface, which includes smartphone integration for audio apps like Pandora and Stitcher. There's also a new customizable display in the gauge cluster.
The quality of the materials is higher now, with a greater use of soft-touch materials and more prominent display of leather stitching. Even more important are the new seats; they're more rigid and supportive this time around, and the newly optional competition-style seats should appease drivers who felt the previous seats didn't provide enough lateral support during hard cornering.
Another bonus is the 15-cubic-foot cargo area that offers enough space for luggage, groceries or golf clubs, although it's not as easy to hide or secure those items as it is in rival sports cars with true trunks.
The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is outlandishly quick and capable of generating such fierce acceleration that you'll be forgiven if you erroneously think that Chevy secretly strapped a rocket motor underneath the car. The V8, especially with the optional dual-mode exhaust, sounds so glorious under full throttle that you'll want to uncork at every tunnel or highway underpass opportunity.
The new manual transmission shifts easily, and quickly downshifting with the rev-matching feature will make you feel like you're Corvette racecar driver Ron Fellows at Le Mans. Less impressive is the automatic. It's not that much different from the way it was before, and it's a viable option if you don't want to deal with a clutch pedal. But given how much the rest of the car has improved, it seems like a liability given that it can't match the rapid-fire gearchanges of the automated manual transmissions offered by competitors.
Chevy promised that the car's stiffer frame, revised suspension tuning and new tires would improve the Corvette's handling and steering feel. Mission accomplished. The 2014 Corvette's steering provides excellent feel and response and the grip is extraordinary. In fact, we recorded Corvette-all-time-best limit-handling figures at our test track with a Z51-equipped Stingray. The adjustable traction and stability control systems also allow drivers to approach the car's handling limits safely. And just like previous Corvettes, the Stingray excels as a long-distance grand touring car thanks to its comfortable seating and compliant suspension tuning.