Possibly the only thing more surprising than the existence of a $100,000-plus, 638-horsepower factory-built Corvette is that the car is a total pussycat.
Don't get us wrong, this 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 can kill you quite completely dead. We mean like augured-in, test-pilot kind of beyond-recognition dead. It is capable of such stunning velocity in such a short distance that if things go wrong at even a fraction of its ultimate speed, it'll tear a ragged hole in just about whatever it encounters.
This ZR1 produces 638 hp — the equivalent of the power produced by the 405-hp 1995 Corvette ZR-1 (the "King of the Hill Corvette") plus a 1984 Corvette plus a 1968 Citroën 2CV.
Or think of it this way. If you bolted three 1980s-era Corvette L83 small blocks end to end to end to produce a single V24 engine, it would still produce 23 hp fewer than the ZR1's supercharged LS9 V8. For perspective, the total power received by the earth from the sun is considerably higher at 174.0 petawatts (1015 watts) or 233,334,000,000,000 hp*.
But for all its badass credentials, its power output of a hydroelectric dam and its stunning production-car lap record at the Nürburgring Nordschleife, the ZR1 doesn't really seem to want to kill you all that bad.
What do you think this is, a freakin' Dodge Viper or something? That widowmaker is right now sitting in a nearby parking lot plotting ways to turn you into freshly chopped liver — liver that it will then fry to a savory firmness right there on its exhaust-heated rocker panels.
A Friend to Widows and Orphans Everywhere Unlike the small-scale, population-reduction experiment that is the 600-hp 2008 Dodge Viper, the ZR1 has stuff like traction control and stability control. The Viper only got antilock brakes in 2001, almost a decade after the model's introduction, for goodness' sakes.
But this is about more than traction and stability control systems. The 505-hp Corvette Z06 also has these same well-tuned systems, yet we have it on good authority that the Z06 still wants us dead. Corvette Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter euphemistically refers to this particular Z06 trait as "itching for a fight all the time." We note that "fight" is at a different location, yet on the same continuum of violence as "homicide."
Around the 'Ring Is Cozy Most of our experience driving the Master of all Corvettes came at GM's proving grounds in Milford, Michigan. Specifically, we spent nearly the entire day perspiring as we drove around the Milford Road Course (MRC), a wicked little road course designed to trip up car and driver. It's also called the Lutzring, because "ring" sounds cool and German and because it's shaped exactly like Bob Lutz's pancreas.
Now we do not claim to have set a new lap record around the MRC, nor do we claim to have extracted in our 20 or so laps all that the ZR1 has to give, but we can say this: We did stuff both intentionally and accidentally in the supposedly fearsome ZR1 that a twitchy Z06 would have made us badly regret. The ZR1 is more forgiving than Eliot Spitzer's wife, or Kwame Kilpatrick's wife, or Bill...possibly you get the point.
Badly misjudge your entry speed to a corner — which you will do often despite the ZR1's gigantic Brembo-supplied carbon ceramic brakes — and the ZR1 can be coaxed through a corner without a requisite trip through the grass/sand trap/7-Eleven store. The ZR1's rear end slips wide (another thing you will do frequently in the ZR1) under the oppressive force of 604 pound-feet of torque, but you'd have to be driving in Herman Munster's boots to really screw up too badly. Or at least, the ZR1 will give you the opportunity to reconsider your dunderheaded ways before punishing you for them. Everything happens fast in the ZR1 but progressively and predictably so. That includes the rate at which the driver's confidence builds.
What?! I'm Going How Fast?! "You should take a peek at the speedometer once and see just how fast you're going," we say to ourselves, possibly out loud, knowing full well that we would ignore any sign of conscience as usual. But we never could bring ourselves to tear our dilated peepers away from the straight-ahead.
The answer to the question would be some essentially meaningless variation of "fast" anyway. We never even swung our gaze low enough or focused closely enough to get a look at the ZR1's signature peephole in the hood, much less the gauges. If ever there was a car where a head-up display makes sense, the ZR1 might be it. Good thing it's standard.
We are aware of ourselves conducting the act of breathing. Goodness, just feel that. Innnn...outttt. Innnn...outt. We're aware of a certain, er, clarity in the general region of our head. Speed will do that.
After track exercises we take the ZR1 on some public roads around the proving ground sans racing helmet and notice that the big ol' Eaton supercharger makes a noticeable whine. It might not be cranked quite to the toddler-level whine of the Shelby GT500's blower, but it is unmistakably there. We didn't notice this on the track, perhaps because the helmet blocked it out. But it might also be that our eyes were open so wide that they partially blocked our ear canals.
Under any set of circumstances we sure as hell could hear the ZR1's exhaust note, which is deeper, thicker and more authoritative than the Z06's high-rpm rip. Once the butterfly valves open thanks to the two servos mounted on the business end of the exhaust, the thing just bellows. If water were sound, a Ferrari F430's exhaust would be the high-pressure stream shot from a water cannon. The ZR1 would be the bowel-rumbling gathering gloom of a tidal wave. It's a sound forceful enough that it might be able to motivate a small car all on its own.
Brakes, Tires, Suspension and Other Good Stuff We've polled the entire car-liking population of the U.S. (our office) and exactly no one is surprised that the supercharged 6.2-liter LS9 V8 feels strong in an epic kind of way. Neither should anyone be surprised that the presence of so much aluminum and carbon fiber makes the ZR1 shockingly light at 3,324 pounds. So it stands to reason that the ZR1 should be able to blast to 60 mph from a standstill in 3.4 seconds and crank out quarter-mile times of 11.3 seconds at 131 mph, plus that it will power up to a top speed of 205 mph.
It is something of a surprise that (unlike basically all recent Corvettes) the tires don't let the car down. Typically, Corvettes run Goodyear tires. Last we tested a Z06 against a Viper, we noted that the Vette's Goodyear Eagle F1 tires perform like all-season rubber compared to the Viper's larger Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 rubber. And as it turns out, the ZR1 rolls on monstrous Michelins. "We had a shoot-out with prospective tire suppliers and Michelin just blew us away," says Juechter.
The ZR1's ridiculously wide 335/25ZR20 rear tires and tall 20-inch wheels look exactly like one of those crazy drawings that car designers make where a car appears to be riding on water mill-sized wheels with one black line drawn around the edge to suggest a tire. The front tires measure 285/30ZR19. And these Michelins are, so far as we could figure in our short time with the car, spectacular. They provide for better than 1.0g of grip on the skid pad according to Chevy's tests, and break traction so smoothly and progressively that they alone take 60 percent of the fear out of driving fast in this car.
Still, the ridiculously narrow sidewalls of 25- and 30-series tires should make the ZR1 a tailbone-shattering torture device on public roads. Credit for the ride comfort goes to the Magnetic Ride Control dampers. This second-generation, magnetically controlled electrically adjustable suspension will withstand significant track time without wilting with the heat, while they react so swiftly that they also ride well. True, they add weight. But with 638 horses, the system's additional 20 pounds are negligible.
Yes, the steering system for the 2008 Corvette has already been upgraded to improve feedback and the ZR1 incorporates the appropriate hardware, but if you're expecting Porsche GT3 steering you will be disappointed. The ZR1's steering works fine, though. Did we mention 638 hp? The clutch (an agreeable new dual-plate design) and shift lever (connected to a Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual) work fine, too. That 638 hp, it's a lot, don't you think?
Not a Peep It is surprisingly easy to overlook the Brembo-supplied brakes with their carbon-ceramic rotors and monstrous blue calipers. Chevrolet says that 15.5-inch front and 15-inch rear rotors are the biggest fitted to any production car. Technically, the 4,300-pound, $1.5 million Bugatti Veyron 16.4 has front rotors two-tenths of an inch larger — so you know the ZR1's brakes obviously are garbage in comparison.
Unlike many carbon-ceramic systems, the ZR1's brakes don't embarrass you with incessant squealing when they're cold. They're not in the least bit touchy. And according to Tom Wallace, vehicle line executive for Corvette, the rotors will last almost an entire 24-hour track test at full race speed before needing to be replaced.
Certainly we noticed only that the brakes, with six-piston front calipers and four-piston rears, lop off big hunks of speed without really making us even notice. Incidentally, the ZR1 will do 0-100-0 mph in less than 11 seconds.
Of Carbon and Plastic Will any of the ZR1's buyers care that the interior is not exactly up to snuff for a car costing more than $100,000? They should. Chevrolet tries to class up the joint with a standard fitment of the Corvette's recently introduced leather-upholstered interior. And, should one want it, basically every option available on any Corvette is available on the ZR1 in one big luxury package for about $10,000.
But it's still a Corvette. And it uses the same switchgear and plastic that we have complained about in Corvettes only half as expensive. Only the seats are functionally bad, of course. They're simply not up to the task of keeping passengers in place under the extraordinary acceleration, braking and cornering forces. Bruises on the outsides of both of our knees attest to the need for better side bolstering. If you're going to track your ZR1, go ahead and get a proper racing seat and five-point harness.
While you're at it, get yourself some stock in a company called Plasan. That's the outfit that produces the carbon-fiber pieces for the ZR1, including the front aero splitter that juts out 4 inches from the face of the ZR1. It's especially prone to whacks, and the one on the car we drove was cracked in a couple of places.
What Price Greatness? The 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 lists for $105,000, including destination and a $1,700 gas-guzzler charge. The luxury package adds another $10,000 and the showy chrome wheels are $2,000. Other than some additional costs for various paint colors, that's as much as a ZR1 is going to cost you. But that doesn't really matter, because it will cost you oh-so-much-more with requisite dealer markup.
Also the purchase of any ZR1 entitles the owner to a "free" driver training course at a well-known but as-yet-to-be-determined school. Perhaps this momentarily quells the heart palpitations GM's lawyers must surely be experiencing over this car.
Maybe they should drive the ZR1. It's not really diabolical. Also its limits are so high that when things do go terribly wrong, then...oh wait, forget it.
* Not an SAE-certified figure
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.
2009 Chevrolet Corvette Overview
The 2009 Chevrolet Corvette is offered in the following submodels: Z06 GT1 Championship Spec Ed, Convertible, ZR1, Z06, Coupe, Z06 Competition Sport Spec Ed. Available styles include 2dr Coupe (6.2L 8cyl 6M), Z06 2dr Coupe (7.0L 8cyl 6M), and 2dr Convertible (6.2L 8cyl 6M). Corvette models are available with a 6.2 l-liter gas engine or a 7.0 l-liter gas engine, with output up to 505 hp, depending on engine type. The 2009 Corvette comes with rear wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed manual. The 2009 Corvette comes with a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. basic warranty, a 5 yr./ 100000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 5 yr./ 100000 mi. powertrain warranty.
What's a good price on a used 2009 Chevrolet Corvette?
Save up to $300 on one of 12 used 2009 Chevrolet Corvettes for sale at dealerships within 25 miles of Ashburn, Virginia with prices as low as $23989 as of Dec 18, 2017, based on data from 11 dealers and 18 consumer-driven dealer ratings ranging from 2.5 to 4 out of 5 stars.
Price comparisons for used 2009 Chevrolet Corvette trim styles:
The 2009 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 is priced around $39645 with average odometer reading of 27085 miles.
The 2009 Chevrolet Corvette Base is priced around $28064 with average odometer reading of 38399 miles.
The 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 is priced around $56452 with average odometer reading of 32074 miles.
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Is the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette a good car? Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2009 Corvette featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
Our Review Process All of our reviews are written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.
How do people like the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette? Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2009 Corvette 4.9 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2009 Corvette.
Review I'm 38 and this is my first Vette. I've loved Vettes since I saw the old C3's back in the 70s, and finally bought an 09 Coupe last year, I've had it for almost a year now, with no problems whatsoever. I'm worried about when its time to buy new tires! Yikes! $1-2K, but I love the fact that I can take this car anywhere (ritzy neighborhood, fancy restaurant, meeting new people, clients, friends) and it is immediately accepted and welcomed, usually they are impressed and jealous! And of course you always get a few looks wherever you go. I bought the LT1 because I just wanted to have a Vette, didn't need all the cool features, although it would be nice. I get about 20 mpg, not bad.
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2009 chevrolet corvette 2dr Coupe (6.2L 8cyl 6M), 6-speed manual, premium unleaded (recommended) 19 combined MPG 16 city MPG/26 highway MPG
2009 chevrolet corvette Z06 2dr Coupe (7.0L 8cyl 6M), 6-speed manual, premium unleaded (required) 18 combined MPG 15 city MPG/24 highway MPG
What options are available on the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette?
Available Chevrolet Corvette 2009 Submodel Types: Z06 w/2LZ, Z06 w/3LZ, Z06 w/1LZ, Coupe, Z06, 427, Hatchback, ZR1, Convertible
Available Trims: Stingray w/1LT, Stingray w/2LT, Z06 w/2LZ, GS, Z06 w/3LZ, Grand Sport w/2LT, Stingray Z51 w/2LT, Z06 w/1LZ, Grand Sport, Stingray Z51, Stingray, Stingray Z51 w/1LT, Grand Sport w/3LT, Stingray Z51 w/3LT, Grand Sport w/1LT, Hardtop, Stingray w/3LT, Base, Z06, 427, ZR1
Exterior Colors: Arctic White, Torch Red, Watkins Glen Gray Metallic, Admiral Blue, Machine Silver Metallic, Long Beach Red Metallic Tintcoat, Corvette Racing Yellow Tintcoat, Shark Gray Metallic, Light Pewter Metallic, Black Rose Metallic, Crystal Red Tintcoat, Millennium Yellow, Quicksilver Metallic, Ceramic Matrix Gray Metallic, LeMans Blue Metallic, Monterey Red Metallic Tintcoat, Night Race Blue Metallic, Sebring Silver Metallic, Navy Blue Metallic, Laguna Blue Tintcoat, Machine Silver, Magnetic Red Metallic, Sterling Blue Metallic, Carlisle Blue Metallic, Medium Spiral Gray Metallic, Speedway White, Supersonic Blue Metallic, Blade Silver Metallic, Carbon Flash Metallic, Cyber Gray Metallic, Daytona Sunrise Orange Metallic, Daytona Sunset Orange Metallic, LeMans Blue, Magnetic Red Metallic II, Precision Red, Velocity Yellow Tintcoat, Victory Red, 50th Anniversary Red, Atomic Orange Metallic, Atomic Orange Metallic Tintcoat , Black, Brilliant Red Metallic, Crystal Red Metallic Tintcoat, Dark Bowling Green Metallic, Jetstream Blue Metallic Tintcoat, Laguna Blue Metallic Tintcoat, Magnetic Red II Metallic, Nassau Blue Metallic, White
Interior Colors: Jet Black premium leather, Black, Jet Black premium leather/sueded microfiber, Adrenaline Red premium leather, Kalahari premium leather, Ebony leather, Gray premium leather, Ebony, Light Oak, Dark Gray premium leather, Titanium Gray leather, Cashmere premium leather, Red premium leather, Adrenaline Red premium leather/sueded microfiber, Steel Gray, Cashmere, Cashmere leather, Ebony premium leather, Gray premium leather/sueded microfiber, Jet Black leather/suede, Ebony premium leather, Tension Blue premium leather/sueded microfiber, Titanium Gray premium leather, Torch Red, Blue premium leather, Red leather, Shale, Dark Gray leather/sueded microfiber, Dark Gray premium leather/sueded microfiber, Dark Titanium premium leather, Ebony w/Red Accents leather, Ebony w/Red Accents premium leather, Ebony w/Titanium Accents premium leather, Kalahari leather/suede, Kalahari premium leather/sueded microfiber, Light Gray, Red, Spice Red premium leather
Popular Features: USB Inputs, Back-up camera, Keyless Entry/Start, Mobile Internet, Apple Carplay/Android Auto, Cooled Seats, Remote Start, Upgraded Engine, Alarm, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Auto Climate Control, Aux Audio Inputs, Leather Seats, Multi-Zone Climate Control, Post-collision safety system, Power Driver Seat, Stability Control, Tire Pressure Warning, Trip Computer, Upgraded Headlights, Bluetooth, Power Liftgate/Trunk, Heads up display, Heated seats, Upgraded Stereo, Navigation, Hardtop, Soft Top