Full Edmunds Expert Review: 2013 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible
What's New for 2013
A new 427 Convertible Collector Edition debuts, adding the Z06's engine and other components to the convertible body style. A 60th Anniversary Design Package adds special styling elements to any of the models. Black-painted wheels and a ZR1-style rear spoiler are now available on the base 'Vette and Grand Sport.
Sixty years ago, a little two-seat convertible called the Chevrolet Corvette was unveiled at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York. It was the first American attempt at creating the sort of European-style sports cars GIs had fallen in love with while stationed overseas. Sales projections were humble and so was the six-cylinder power plant, but that little car ignited a love affair with Americans that has lasted to this very day.
From a refinement standpoint, the 2013 Chevrolet Corvette most definitely is not a European-style sports car. But with its lineup of mighty V8 engines, fat rear rubber and years of engineering fine-tuning, the modern Vette can still keep up with (or blow by) just about anything Europe has to offer -- be it in a straight line or on a winding road. Plus, the Corvette hits the register at a price substantially lower than cars that must first cross the ocean before finding their way into your garage.
Although it remains relevant in the sports car landscape, the 2013 edition is nevertheless well into the Corvette's twilight years as GM's engineers ready an all-new model. There are no changes this year, though a new 427 Convertible Collector Edition debuts. Its 505-horsepower V8 from the Z06 makes the 427 the most powerful drop-top Corvette ever. The regular Corvette also can be had with a 60th Anniversary Design package that adds some special badges and a white-on-blue color combination.
Otherwise, from the most basic 1LT coupe all the way up to the mighty supercharged ZR1, the 2013 Chevrolet Corvette provides the sort of thrills it has since Chevy started dropping in V8s. Indeed, the Vette still gives you more bang for your buck in terms of power than anything else on the road. Still, its lack of sophistication means cars like the Nissan GT-R and Porsche's Boxster, Cayman and 911 will continue to hold appeal. Chrysler's all-new 2013 SRT Viper is also set to be hugely impressive, while the Ford Shelby GT500 now boasts 662 hp for roughly the same price as the Corvette. So be it from America or abroad, the Corvette faces some seriously stiff competition in its 60th anniversary year.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Chevrolet Corvette is available in hatchback coupe and convertible roadster body styles. The base Corvette and Grand Sport (GS) are available in both body styles, and each is broken into 1LT, 2LT, 3LT and 4LT sub-trims. The higher-performance Z06 and ZR1 come as coupes only, while the 427 is convertible only. Each is broken down into its own sub-trims.
The Corvette 1LT comes standard with 18-inch wheels, run-flat performance tires, automatic xenon headlights, foglamps, heated and driver-side auto-dimming mirrors, a removable roof panel (coupe), a manually operated soft top (convertible), keyless ignition/entry, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, six-way power seats, leather upholstery, a tilt-only steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, the OnStar emergency communications system and a seven-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack.
The 2LT gains a head-up display, a cargo net and cover, Bluetooth phone connectivity, a touchscreen interface, a navigation system and a nine-speaker Bose sound system with an iPod/USB audio interface. Stepping up to the 3LT adds driver memory functions, heated sport seats with power-adjustable lumbar and seat bolsters, and a power telescoping steering wheel (manual tilt). The Corvette convertible gets a power-folding roof. Finally, the 4LT gets leather-trimmed interior surfaces and leather/faux suede upholstery.
The Grand Sport is also available in the above trims, but adds to each stiffer suspension tuning, larger cross-drilled brake rotors, special wheels and Grand Sport styling elements. When equipped with the standard manual transmission, it also features a dry-sump oil system and a differential cooler.
Options on the base Vette and GS include adaptive suspension dampers, a transparent removable roof panel, dual-mode exhaust (adds 6 extra horsepower) and a convertible wind deflector.
The Z06 is available in 1LZ, 2LZ and 3LZ sub-trims. Each one gets a bigger V8, essentially the same suspension and brake setup as the Grand Sport, axle and transmission coolers, unique wheels, carbon-fiber front fenders and floor panels, a fixed roof and a head-up display. In terms of comfort and convenience equipment, the Z06's sub-trims are pretty much identical to their "LT" counterparts except that the 3LZ gets the 4LT's extra leather interior trim. The Carbon Fiber package adds most of the ZR1's carbon-fiber body pieces for reduced weight along with a ZR1-style spoiler. The Z06 Ultimate Performance package adds carbon-ceramic brakes, lightweight black wheels (19 inches front and 20 inches rear), Michelin Pilot Sport Cup run-flat tires, adaptive suspension dampers, Performance Traction Management and a larger spoiler.
The 427 Convertible is available in 1SA, 1SB and 1SC sub-trims. Each gets the Z06 engine, carbon-fiber body panels and hood, a ZR1 spoiler, the adaptive suspension and special 19-inch wheels. They are equipped similarly to their Z06 counterparts, though all come standard with the navigation system and Bluetooth.
The ZR1 gets a supercharged V8, unique wheels (19-inch front, 20-inch rear), carbon-ceramic disc brakes, the adaptive suspension dampers, Performance Traction Management, additional carbon-fiber body panels (roof, front fascia, hood) and a clear panel in the hood that shows off the supercharger. The 1ZR trim is similar to the 1LZ in equipment, while the 2ZR is similar to the 3LZ. The ZR1 High Performance package gets those items from the Z06 Performance package not already included on the ZR1 as standard.
The 60th Anniversary Design package is available when opting for the uppermost trims of each model. It adds special white paint, "Diamond Blue" interior trim, special badges and stitched seat emblems, a suede steering wheel and a ZR1-style spoiler.
Like many exotic sports cars and high-end luxury vehicles, the Corvette can be personalized in a number of different ways, including contrasting stitching, different headlight surround colors, brake caliper colors and personalized exterior/interior color combinations. One interesting option is Corvette Museum Delivery, which allows you to pick up your car at Corvette's historic museum and factory facility in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Powertrains and Performance
Both the base 'Vette and Grand Sport feature a 6.2-liter V8 that cranks out 430 hp and 424 pound-feet of torque. All Corvettes come standard with a six-speed manual transmission and launch control. A six-speed automatic is optional. In Edmunds performance testing, a base Coupe went from zero to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. With the optional dual-mode exhaust that adds another 6 hp and 4 lb-ft, a Grand Sport shaved 0.1 second off that time and sounded even cooler doing it. Despite this strong performance, the Corvette actually gets pretty good fuel economy at 16 mpg city/26 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined. Opting for the automatic drops fuel economy by 1 mpg.
All of the higher-performance Corvettes come only with a six-speed manual transmission. The Z06 and 427 are powered by a 7.0-liter V8 that produces 505 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. We found that the Z06 hits 60 mph in 3.9 seconds. Fuel economy is again pretty good at 15/24/18.
The ZR1 gets a supercharged version of the 6.2-liter V8 that churns out 638 hp and 604 lb-ft. This is a massive amount of power, so much that no amount of rubber can appropriately cope. As such, its 0-60 time is only 0.1 second less than the Z06 even if it actually feels much quicker. Its fuel economy is 14/21/17.
Every 2013 Chevrolet Corvette gets standard antilock brakes, stability and traction control and side airbags. Side curtain airbags are not available. Also standard is OnStar, which includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking, stolen vehicle assistance and turn-by-turn navigation.
In Edmunds brake testing, a base Corvette came to a stop from 60 mph in 118 feet, which is a bit longer than average for a sports car. We found that the Grand Sport and ZR1 came to a stop from 60 mph in between 100 and 104 feet, which is excellent performance. However, a Z06 Ultimate Performance package did it in an astonishing 96 feet, one of the best distances we've ever recorded.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Corvette's interior is certainly functional, and Chevrolet has been offering upgraded interior appointments for a few years now, yet the overall interior quality still leaves a lot to be desired. Step out of a Mercedes C63 AMG coupe or a Nissan GT-R and into a 'Vette and you'll likely find the Chevy's trim pieces, controls and overall ambience disappointing. While the affordable price of a base Corvette seems to excuse such things, the costlier Z06 and ZR1 play in a more demanding market.
The front seats and their bolsters were enhanced last year, so they may finally lose their standing as the worst seats found in a sports car. On the bright side, the Vette's large gauges and remarkable cargo capacity (22 cubic feet in coupes and 11 cubes in the convertible) make it a sports car that's easy to live with on a day-to-day basis.
No question here: The 2013 Chevrolet Corvette can bring the heat. The base car is extremely fast: the Z06, terrifyingly so. As for the ZR1, any car whose speed at the end of the quarter-mile approaches 130 mph is just in a different league. Top to bottom, the Corvette stable has enough broad-shouldered, eight-cylinder force to satisfy even the most depraved speed fiend. Nor does this hamper drivability, as all Corvette models are agreeable and comfortable to drive around town.
Compared to a car like the Porsche 911, the Corvette's steering can indeed seem a bit deficient in terms of communication. Thanks to upgraded suspensions and tires, though, the ZR1 and Z06 (with the Ultimate Performance package) are noticeably better in this regard. The Vette's brakes are strong and fade-free, especially the available carbon-ceramic binders, and grip from the enormous tires is, well, enormous. However, the Chevy Corvette still feels less nimble than it should when driven on tight, curvy roads.