- Awesome V8 power
- Racetrack-ready braking
- Exceptional handling in Z51 or Z06 trim
- Comfortable highway cruiser
- High-tech and well-built interior
- Coupe's roomy cargo area
- Remarkable value
- Touchscreen is occasionally unresponsive to inputs and prone to glitches
- Automatic transmission's relatively slow reaction to manual-shifting inputs
Want to know if a car is genuinely cool? You've got to come to Los Angeles. If it makes the cut out here, you'll see numerous specimens on the style-obsessed streets of Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and Hollywood. Previous generations of the Chevrolet Corvette, for better or for worse, never really made the cut. It's especially notable, then, that the current-generation Corvette (introduced for 2014) has quickly become a common sight in the car-snob capital of the country.
The 2016 Corvette's bold looks make it a conversation piece from coast to coast.
The 2016 Chevrolet Corvette doesn't really move the needle relative to last year's lineup, which saw the introduction of the eight-speed automatic transmission and the gonzo 650-horsepower Z06. But frankly, it's hard to imagine this car getting much better. Beyond the L.A.-approved styling, the Corvette boasts supercar-grade performance, cutting-edge features and a sleek, sumptuous cabin that's finally up to snuff. You can get it as a removable-roof coupe or a soft-top convertible, with a proper seven-speed manual offered alongside the aforementioned automatic in every model. Unlike its predecessors, this 'Vette has virtually no weaknesses. Calling it a world-class bargain is no longer faint praise; it's genuinely hard to believe that you can get this much car for what Chevy's charging.
In terms of rivals, the Corvette competes well against practically every high-end sports car on the planet.For some enthusiasts, the Porsche 911's magical car-driver connection can't be matched, but the fact is that Porsche charges a lot more for less speed. You'll spend less for the razor-sharp Porsche Cayman and Boxster siblings, but their power deficit is even more pronounced. The BMW M4 might strike your fancy with its practical four-seat interior and impressive performance numbers, but its styling is relatively plain, and its inline-6 engine lacks the visceral clout of a 'Vette V8. Higher up the food chain, the Dodge Viper and Nissan GT-R, as amazing as they are, can't touch the Chevy's impressive refinement and feature set. We could go on, but you get the point. The car snobs of Los Angeles got this one exactly right -- sports cars don't get much cooler than the 2016 Chevrolet Corvette.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2016
For 2016, the Corvette gets a leather-wrapped flat-bottom steering wheel, a power-closing trunk (both coupe and convertible) and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration as standard, while higher trims also get front-view parking cameras. Numerous minor trim changes include available two-tone seats and the deletion of the Atlantic and Pacific packages. Additionally, the optional adaptive suspension dampers can now be specified without the Z51 performance package, and a Z06 C7.R Edition joins the fold with race-inspired styling and features.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2016 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, a power-closing trunk, 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 a 4G LTE data connection and 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, Apple CarPlay 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 for snappier responses (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 front-view parking cameras, auto-dimming driver-side and rearview mirrors, a head-up display, a cargo shade (coupe only), interior-color console and armrest trim, heated and ventilated seats with power lumbar and side bolster adjustments, driver memory settings and a 10-speaker Bose sound system with dual subwoofers.
The 3LT models add premium leather upholstery with extended surface coverage, synthetic-suede upper interior trim, an interior-color instrument panel and a navigation system (optional on 1LT and 2LT) that includes the Corvette's unique Performance Data Recorder.
Neglected for so long, the Corvette's interior is now chock full of quality materials, cool tech and eye-catching flourishes.
Both the standard and Z51 trims can optionally be equipped with adaptive suspension dampers. On non-Z51 Corvettes, the dampers come bundled with a Z51-style rear spoiler and summer performance tires. On Z51 models, the dampers come with an upgraded traction management system.
The Z06 shares the regular Corvette's removable roof panel (coupe) and power soft top (convertible). The Z06 1LZ starts with the Stingray Z51 1LT's standard equipment and adds the supercharged engine, 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) and the head-up display.
The Z06 2LZ gets the 2LT's upgrades minus the head-up display (already standard), while the Z06 3LZ gets the 3LT's upgrades.
Z06 options include the Carbon-Flash Painted Ground Effects package and the Visible Carbon-Fiber Ground Effects package, both of which add an enhanced front splitter and rocker panels along with a larger rear spoiler with a fixed "wickerbill" vertical extension at the back. The upgraded 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, even larger carbon-ceramic brake rotors and the adaptive dampers.
The Z06 C7.R Edition features the Z07 Performance package, yellow calipers, race-inspired exterior graphics, carbon-fiber exterior and interior trim, sport seats and yellow accent stitching.
Sport seats are optional on all other Corvettes, while all coupes can be had with a transparent roof panel. Among numerous other aesthetic upgrades, the coupe's removable roof panel can be decked out in carbon fiber, while higher trims can be outfitted with two-tone upholstery.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
Cabin design and quality have been Corvette foibles for decades, but the latest-generation Corvette flips the script. The cockpit is more driver-centric than ever, with a sharply canted center stack and wraparound door panels that create a jetfighter-like vibe. Materials quality is downright revelatory compared to previous Corvettes, although little things like the flimsy-feeling engine starter button allow Porsche to retain the lead in interior craftsmanship. 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 2016 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 MyLink touchscreen infotainment system now includes Apple CarPlay, which allows iPhone users to access their favorite apps through the touchscreen rather than fumbling with their phones. The touchscreen can occasionally be slow to respond and/or prone to glitches, but its impressive feature set helps compensate, particularly the available Performance Data Recorder with its built-in track camera and various acceleration and handling metrics. There's also a cool 8-inch customizable display in the gauge cluster that has a different layout for each drive mode you select.
The Corvette coupe's 15-cubic-foot cargo area 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. Note that both models get power-closing trunk lids, an unusual feature for this type of car.
Standard safety features on the 2016 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 Z06 coupe with the high-performance Z07 package (carbon-ceramic brakes and large, sticky tires) needed just 90 feet to stop from 60 mph, the shortest distance we've ever recorded. A Z51 coupe with its upgraded brakes required just 93 feet, and a Z06 convertible stopped in only 94 feet.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The Corvette Stingray and Stingray Z51 are powered by a 6.2-liter V8 that drives the rear wheels. Output measures 455 hp and 460 pound-feet of torque, while the available performance exhaust bumps output to 460 hp. A seven-speed manual (with automatic rev-matching) is the default transmission, with an eight-speed automatic also offered. 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).
Whichever engine you choose, the 2016 Corvette's got more than enough juice to make its expensive rear tires go up in smoke.
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. 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/23 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 seconds flat. Our quickest time in a Z06 was 3.5 seconds in a manual-transmission coupe, but we weren't able to open the throttle fully until 2nd gear due to traction limitations. In the real world, the quickness gap feels considerably wider.
The 2016 Corvette's standard V8 is impressively powerful and flexible. Mash the gas and you'll be at redline before you know it, accompanied by a glorious symphony trumpeting from the center-mounted quad tailpipes. The eight-speed automatic actually seems to amplify the car's performance, upshifting so quickly that accelerating through the gears feels like a single seamless surge.
Oddly, though, the automatic isn't quite as sharp when shifted manually; for example, there can be a noticeable lag after you flick the shift paddle and before the downshift occurs. As for the seven-speed manual, it's just about perfect, providing a user-friendly clutch, wonderfully laid-out pedals and crisp, fluid action through the gates.
The 2016 Corvette is a blast to drive on rural roads and racetracks alike.
When you add the "Z06" moniker to the mix, things get downright crazy. Acceleration with the supercharged V8 is explosive, while handling is "point-and-shoot" precise. The one potential demerit involves the Z06's standard brakes, as our track-day testing revealed brake fade during the first hot lap. If you plan to track your Z06, an upgrade to the Z07 Performance package with its carbon-ceramic rotors may be in order.
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.
With its epic performance, advanced features and easy-to-drive nature, the 2016 Chevrolet Corvette just might be the world's best sports-car bargain.