Z51, the Buyer's Dilemma - 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Long-Term Road Test

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Long-Term Road Test

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray: Z51, the Buyer's Dilemma

March 14, 2014

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

My friend Scott was interested in buying a 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. He contemplated getting the Z51 performance package, since it has made all the headlines and helped the Corvette put up some big numbers on the track.

But it seems as though everyone in the market for a Corvette has the same idea and consequently, supply is low on Z51-equipped cars. Scott was told that going for a Z51 would add an additional five weeks to his delivery time. Plus, it added $4,000 to the price of the car. This raised the question: Do you really need the Z51 package?

First let's take a look at what exactly comes in the Z51 package. From the Chevrolet Web site:

• Larger 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels
• Dry sump oil system
• Electronic Limited Slip Differential
• Larger front brakes (13.6 inch vs. 12.6 inch) with black calipers
• Specific shocks, springs and stabilizer bars
• Differential and transmission cooling
• Unique Aero Package that reduces lift for high-speed stability
• Michelin Pilot Super Sport ZP summer-only tires that are aggressively tuned to provide outstanding handling, grip and road-holding capability
• Available Magnetic Selective Ride Control and Performance Traction Management
• HD Cooling
• Slotted Brake Rotors
• Performance Gear Ratios

There's plenty of content in the package, and if you ask enthusiasts, I'm sure they'd say these are all "must have" items. But Scott has no plans to take the car to the track. He's just a regular guy who wants a good-looking sports car with a "big American V8," (He's British, BTW). By passing on the Z51, he could get the car sooner and save $4,000.

We haven't had the chance to test a non-Z51 Corvette, but I'm going to assume it has a softer ride since it is more tuned for the road than all-out performance. Our Corvette has Magnetic Selective Ride Control (MSRC), a $1,795 option only available on the Z51. A Corvette forum poster (so take this with a grain of salt) has likened the ride in a base to that of a Z51 with MSRC set to Touring. If that's the case, it's a good thing. Touring is the mode that a number of the Edmunds editors use, myself included.

I also wondered if the car would have better resale value with the Z51 package. After a brief talk with our pricing analysts, I learned it isn't much of a factor. Z51-equipped cars would have greater value in years to come, but only if the package were rare. It's not, at least not for the 2014 model year.

What would you do, wait the five weeks for the Z51 or go without it?

Ronald Montoya, Consumer Advice Editor @ 15,355 miles


  • Despite the wait and $4K I would go for it. If I didn't get it, I'd always wish I had, so therefore its totally worth it for me. It all depends on his preference. Personally, I love fully loaded vehicles. I'm not one of those guys who would ever have a M3 with halogen headlights... LOL

  • bankerdanny bankerdanny Posts:

    "He's just a regular guy who wants a good-looking sports car with a "big American V8..." " I would bet this describes 98% of Corvette buyers, including me (if I had the income to afford a $50k car). So no, he should not wait the 5 weeks and spend the extra $4k.

  • bankerdanny bankerdanny Posts:

    yogapants: I don't get your logic. I mean I understand getting tech stuff, but I don't understand spending big money for performance updates that you will never use. Those bigger brakes, pointless, you will never exceed the capacity of the stock brakes. Same thing with the cooling upgrade and the dry sump. You will never spend hours with the engine running near peak RPM's or pulling heavy G's that cause the oil to shift in the pan. The only thing that the performance package offers that I would actually want on my car are the adjustable shocks. It's really stupid that GM forces you to get the performance package to get those, they should be a stand-alone option.

  • nuieve nuieve Posts:

    I don't go to tracks, nor do I drive on the streets like I'm on a trackj, so I see zero value in any of the items included in the package. I'm sure the car will be 100% as fast and enjoyable stock the way most of us would drive it.

  • This is an interesting posting. How many ppl end up buying these weekend-racer options that will never, ever be utilized or even close to it, just to say they have it when they go to the local cruise or tell their buddies about it? Many, I suspect.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    It's a high-performance sports car. I would get it with the package. I would not buy a luxury car without the main luxury package, at least; I would not buy a pickup truck without a towing package, I would not get a minivan without the rear entertainment and HVAC package, etc.

  • metalmania metalmania Posts:

    When I was a kid with pictures of Corvettes (among other sports cars) all over my bedroom walls, I always thought every bit of performance enhancing kit would be the way I'd want my car. If I were going to autocross it or take it to track days, I would still feel that way. All the stuff you get with the package is a good deal, but for me would be useless. Call it maturity, but if I take an honest look at how I would drive the car in the real world I would get the base suspension. I haven't driven one, so I can't say for sure, but the base car's handling capabilities still probably exceed 95% of the cars on the road today - as well as the bravery threshold of those who buy them. If the base suspension made the car drive like a marshmallow, I would say avoid it. But I have a feeling it's probably still really good, and certainly much faster than most will be willing and able to take it.

  • cjasis cjasis Posts:

    I would autoX and/or track this car so there's no way I'd get it without the Z51. Even if I never intended to take it on a track; however, I'd still get it optioned exactly the way I wanted. No point in spending all that $ and not getting what you want.

  • noburgers noburgers Posts:

    I had pondered that question before, when I heard they raised the price due to the demand. It seems like a lot for the money, so yes, I would wait. I feel there is also potential added longevity benefits from all the extra cooling, and potential for accident prevention with better stopping.

  • nbrennan777 nbrennan777 Posts:

    Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

  • ahightower ahightower Posts:

    Time is not so much a factor - 5 weeks to wait for a car ain't the end of the world. But it seems Z51 is track-oriented, and at that point MRC is a must. That's $6K worth saving, IMO. I'd go "base".

  • @ Bankerdanny Opinions/preferences are a personal thing (just like logic). If I spent that much money on this type of car, I'd certainly pay and wait for the package. Even though I'd probably track the car, The $4K of enhancements would be worth it to

  • @ Bankerdanny Opinions/preferences are a personal thing (just like logic). If I spent that much money on this type of car, I'd certainly pay and wait for the package. Even though I'd probably track the car, The $4K of enhancements would be worth it to

  • kirkhilles_ kirkhilles_ Posts:

    Tough decision. A lot may have to be how long he plans on keeping it as resale value could be a consideration. Of course, once the Z06 comes out, high performance users could gravitate to that, so depending on the ride its possible that the Z51 could be less valuable. I don't think its a $4,000 question, I think its a $5,800 question as if you go with the Z51, you need to get the MSRC. Could having it (or not) affect reliability? Do the coolers help with everyday driving? What about tires? How long will you get out of those SS ZP tires versus the stock ones? What about replacement cost? I think the end result is about your personality. If you're the type who will regret it if there isn't a feature you have, then there's no choice - you MUST get it. If you're looking for the best value possible - avoid it.

  • bankerdanny bankerdanny Posts:

    Yoga: I get that. Personally I just don't see the point of spending money on options that won't make the car more enjoyable to use, even if the additional cost is of no consequence to you. @Fordson: The Corvette is a high performance sports car in base form with capabilities far in excess of the average driver (and average Corvette buyer I would bet) to use, particularly on the street.

  • I'm not so sure most of the staff is driving the car in Touring mode. I think even Sport mode is perfectly fine for LA streets. :)

  • sounds like he should get the base car, auto transmission and an ipod full of REO Speedwagon songs.

  • bassrockerx bassrockerx Posts:

    GM just released two weeks ago that the Z51 package is doubleing in price starting april of this year. if your friend seriously wants the z51 he needs to be quick about ordering

  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    I'd buy this car for track days so I'd go for the Z51, but if you're not taking it to the track I definitely wouldn't get the Z51. Save money, enjoy it sooner, and enjoy a more comfortable ride and possibly better fuel economy.

  • banhugh banhugh Posts:

    The problem I see is that the Z51 package is very reasonably priced for all the upgrade it offers.

  • ed341 ed341 Posts:

    This isn't really like deciding to stretch for the EX Accord instead of the LX. This a car people buy because they can afford it, it's fast and they because they like nice things. If I were about to spend this kind of money on a passion/ hobby, I'd want the nicest one I can get. $4000 and 5 weeks is not that bad for all of the extras, even if you never need any of them. If not, you're not a real car guy and you're doing it wrong.

Leave a Comment

More on the 2014 Corvette Stingray

More on 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray


Past Long-Term Road Tests

Have a question? We're here to help!
Chat online with us
Email us at help@edmunds.com
*Available daily 8AM-5PM Pacific
Call us at 855-782-4711
Text us at ED411