Used 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Review
Edmunds expert review
With its improved automatic transmission and reinvented, ridiculously fast Z06 variant, the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette bolsters its credentials as the world's best performance-car bargain.
What's new for 2015
The current-generation Chevrolet Corvette isn't exactly a car that was crying out for major improvements. When the latest, redesigned model (the "C7") debuted last year, we heralded it as "the most complete and refined Corvette yet," with so much power that it's as if "Chevy secretly strapped a rocket engine underneath the car." But the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette lineup sees the new-generation Z06's debut -- in both removable-roof coupe and soft-top convertible forms -- and we fear we're running out of analogies. If the base 455-hp V8 is a rocket engine, the Z06's supercharged 650-hp V8 is akin to the solid rocket boosters that gave liftoff to the Space Shuttle. For thousands less than a base Porsche 911 with no options, the 2015 Corvette Z06 will outrun almost any car in the world.
Naturally, the Z06 also provides suspension and braking upgrades that take the C7's already astounding dynamics to new heights. But the improvements for 2015 aren't limited to this low-volume supercar variant. More relevant to most shoppers is the introduction of an optional eight-speed automatic transmission across the lineup (including the previously manual-only Z06), replacing the lackluster six-speed automatic that carried over last year from the previous C6 generation. There are a couple gotta-have-it tech upgrades for 2015 as well, namely a 4G data connection with WiFi hotspot capability and a Performance Data Recorder that produces data-rich driving videos via a front-facing 720p camera in the rearview mirror housing.
But the new Corvette's fundamental excellence continues to be the real story, from its vastly improved interior to its unprecedentedly capable -- and approachable -- handling. You can even squeeze 30 mpg out of the base engine on a highway cruise if you try hard enough. The newest generation, which we learned during a 27,000-mile long-term test of a 2014 Corvette, also doesn't feel like it was built to a price; it just feels world-class in practically every respect.
Sizing up the Corvette's competition, it's hard to think of a premium sporting car that's not fair game. The 2015 Porsche 911 can claim greater versatility (thanks to its tiny rear seats) and a heightened sense of overall design harmony, but you'll be paying a lot more for less performance. You could probably say the same about the new 2015 BMW M4, but it's not as engaging to drive and its pricing with desirable options has crept up into Z06 territory. The 2015 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG coupe is on a farewell tour with its epic 6.2-liter V8, yet it lacks the visual impact of the 'Vette. As for the 2015 Dodge Viper and 2015 Nissan GT-R, they cost more and deliver less than the Z06. The 2015 Corvette is a juggernaut that's not to be missed if you're fortunate enough to be shopping for this kind of car.
Trim levels & features
The 2015 Chevrolet Corvette is offered as a coupe or convertible in base Stingray, Stingray Z51 or Z06 trim. The coupe features a removable roof panel that stows in the trunk, while the convertible has a power soft top that can be operated while the car is moving at speeds up to 30 mph. The Stingray and Stingray Z51 are split into 1LT, 2LT and 3LT sub-trims; the Z06 comes in 1LZ, 2LZ and 3LZ sub-trims.
The Corvette Stingray 1LT starts with 18-inch front and 19-inch rear wheels, Brembo brakes, xenon headlights, heated mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, leather upholstery, eight-way power front seats and a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. Cabin technology highlights include OnStar (with this year's 4G LTE data connection with WiFi hotspot capability), Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, an 8-inch color driver information display, an 8-inch central touchscreen with Chevy's MyLink infotainment 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 Stingray Z51 1LT adds 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels, exterior aero trim, larger front brakes, slotted brake rotors, sportier suspension tuning, revised transmission gear ratios (manual only), an electronic limited-slip differential, a differential cooler, dry-sump oiling for the V8 engine and a dual-mode performance exhaust (optional on non-Z51 Stingrays).
All Stingray 2LT models come with auto-dimming driver-side and rearview mirrors, a head-up display, a cargo shade, interior-color console and armrest trim, heated and ventilated seats with power lumbar and side bolster adjustments, driver memory settings and an upgraded Bose sound system with a subwoofer.
The 3LT models add premium leather upholstery with extended surface coverage, an interior-color instrument panel and a navigation system (optional on 1LT and 2LT) that includes the Performance Data Recorder feature.
Stingray Z51 models in the 2LT or 3LT sub-trim are eligible for a pair of new-for-2015 appearance packages. The Pacific Design package (for the coupe) includes black racing stripes, black wheels, red brake calipers, carbon-fiber exterior and interior trim and sport seats. The Atlantic Design package (for the convertible), which Chevy evocatively describes as "inspired by the luxury and performance of private jets seen at European vacation destinations," includes a Z06-style front splitter, "stinger" graphics on the hood and tonneau cover, gray exterior vents, a Stingray-themed underhood liner and custom luggage. (Maybe the luggage is the European part.)
Note that all Z51 models can be equipped with adaptive suspension dampers that come bundled with an upgraded traction management system.
The Z06 departs from its fixed-roof, coupe-only tradition, sharing the regular Corvette's removable roof panel (coupe) and power soft top (convertible) for the first time. The Z06 1LZ starts with the Stingray Z51 1LT's standard equipment and adds the supercharged engine, the Z51's optional adaptive dampers, a Z06-specific sport-tuned suspension, larger brakes all around, wider tires, a carbon-fiber hood, a more aggressive aero package (including wider front and rear fenders, expanded cooling vents and a unique front grille and rear fascia), the head-up display and a flat-bottomed steering wheel with carbon-fiber spokes.
The Z06 2LZ gets the 2LT's upgrades minus the head-up display (already standard), while the Z06 3LZ gets the 3LT's upgrades plus synthetic-suede upper interior trim.
Z06 options include the Carbon-Fiber Aero package, which adds an enhanced carbon-fiber front splitter, carbon-fiber rocker panels and a larger rear spoiler with a fixed "wickerbill" vertical extension at the back. The carbon-fiber front splitter and rocker panels are also included in the Z07 Performance package (albeit with larger end plates for the splitter), which adds an adjustable see-through center section to the rear spoiler (for fine-tuned track performance), special tires and even larger carbon-ceramic brake rotors.
Sport seats (included in the Stingray Z51 coupe's Pacific package) are optional on all Corvettes, while all coupes can be had with a transparent roof panel. Among other aesthetic upgrades, the base Stingray models are eligible for a ZF1 Appearance package that throws in the Z51's wheels and rear spoiler.
Performance & mpg
The Corvette Stingray and Stingray Z51 are powered by a 6.2-liter V8 that drives the rear wheels. Maximum standard output is 455 hp and 460 pound-feet of torque, while the optional performance exhaust bumps those numbers to 460 and 465, respectively. A seven-speed manual (with automatic rev-matching) is the default transmission, with an eight-speed automatic also available. Both transmissions feature a launch control mode.
EPA-estimated Corvette fuel economy is a remarkable 21 mpg combined (17 city/29 highway) with the manual transmission. The automatic returns a virtually identical 20 mpg combined (16 city/29 highway).
The Corvette Z06 steps up to a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 that cranks out 650 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque. The same two transmissions are offered, marking the first time an automatic has been available on a Z06. Equipped with the manual, the Z06 rates an EPA-estimated 18 mpg combined (15 city/22 highway), whereas the automatic earns figures of 16 mpg combined (13 city/21 highway).
In Edmunds performance testing, a Stingray Z51 coupe with the manual transmission accelerated from zero to 60 mph in just 4.1 seconds. The automatic was even quicker, at 4.0 seconds. Chevy says that early Z06 tests indicate that 60 mph arrives in about 3 seconds flat, with the quarter-mile passing in an astonishing 11 seconds.
Standard safety features on the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette 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 Stingray Z51 coupe with its upgraded brakes needed just 93 feet to stop from 60 mph, the shortest distance we've ever recorded.
The naturally aspirated V8 in the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is so powerful and flexible that it's a dream engine in its own right. Midrange torque is prodigious and, should you put the hammer down, you'll be at redline before you know it. That spirited performance is accompanied by a glorious symphony trumpeting from the exhaust's quad tailpipes, should you opt for the dual-mode exhaust.
There just aren't any weaknesses in this motor, and the new eight-speed automatic actually amplifies its performance, upshifting so quickly that accelerating through the gears feels like a single seamless surge. Downshifts are swift and perfectly rev-matched as well. Oddly, it's not quite as razor-sharp when shifted manually, as there can be a noticeable lag after the paddle flick before the downshift occurs. Overall, however, any Corvette Stingray is a bona fide thrill machine.
When you replace "Stingray" with "Z06," things just get crazy, as in crazy-fast. We've yet to fully test it, but it's fair to assume that acceleration will be utterly explosive at all times. Only a handful of exotics can match the Z06's performance.
Either way, the 2015 Corvette's steering provides excellent feel and response, while grip is extraordinary from the base tires and just gets better from there. The adjustable traction and stability control systems also allow drivers to approach the car's handling limits safely. At the same time, even track-ready Corvette models are eminently comfortable long-distance tourers or golf course shuttles, and they can even serve as grocery carts in a pinch. If you're after a sports car for all occasions, it's hard to do better than a 'Vette no matter how much money you have to spend.
Cabin design and quality have been Corvette foibles for decades, but not anymore. With the C7, Chevrolet made a concerted effort to bring the 'Vette's interior up to snuff. The cockpit is more driver-centric now, with a sharply canted center stack that creates a jetfighter-like vibe. Materials quality is, for the most part, very good, although little things like the flimsy-feeling engine starter button allow Porsche's 911 and Boxster/Cayman to keep the lead for interior refinement. We do like the seats, which provide firm, well-shaped support in all driving scenarios -- particularly with the optional power side bolsters. The available sport seats add even more lateral snugness.
A dial on the center console of every 2015 Corvette lets you choose from five different drive modes (Weather, Eco, Tour, Sport and Track) that tweak steering, throttle, transmission and stability-control calibrations, depending on trim and equipment. The standard 8-inch touchscreen display utilizes Chevrolet's latest MyLink electronics interface, which includes smartphone integration for useful apps like Pandora and Stitcher. There's also a cool 8-inch customizable display in the gauge cluster that has a different layout for each drive mode you select. Both are valuable additions that make the 'Vette feel thoroughly up to date, although the center touchscreen can occasionally be slow to respond and/or prone to glitches.
Corvette owners have long enjoyed the coupe's generous hatchback storage, and that tradition continues with the coupe's 15-cubic-foot cargo area, which offers plenty of room for luggage, groceries, golf bags and what have you. As for the convertible's conventional trunk, it's pretty generous by drop-top standards, checking in at 10 cubic feet.
Edmunds expert review process
This review was 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.