Long prized for its high performance at an attainable price, the Chevrolet Corvette continues to be an object of desire for red-blooded Americans. The Corvette continues to give drivers the best bang for the buck thanks to its supercar performance, relative driving comfort and reasonable maintenance costs.
The current-generation Corvette was launched as a 2005 model and is the sixth generation or C6. The Z06 joined the lineup for 2006. The 2007 model year brought a new engine, the LS3 6.2-liter V8. Every year has brought more refinement. For 2012, there are no major changes but some important minor ones. Among them:
The 2012 Chevrolet Corvette gets a new steering wheel, redesigned seats with larger side bolsters and extra padding in the armrests. New options on all 2012 Corvette models include a nine-speaker Bose sound system. The Performance Traction Management system is now available on the 2012 Corvette Z06. Centennial Special Edition trim, in commemoration of Chevrolet's 100th anniversary, is available on both the Z06 and ZR1 with race-ready accessories, special graphics and other track-ready goodies.
The Chevrolet Corvette continues to offer one of the best power-to-dollar ratios around. The Corvette Coupe, which starts at about the same price as a midsize luxury coupe, is blazingly fast thanks to its 430-horsepower V8. The 6-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters is geared for performance and responds quickly, but true enthusiasts with prefer to stick with the standard 6-speed manual.
The Corvette Convertible, which, like the Coupe, can blast from 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds, will satiate drivers who crave an open-air roadster experience.
For performance junkies, the 505-hp Corvette Z06 will exhilarate on the track as well as the street. And for the ultimate expression of gratuitous grunt, there's the insanely fast ZR1, a limited-production iteration that boasts a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 that cranks out 638 horsepower and 604 pound-feet of torque.
When it comes to specs alone, most versions of the Corvette don't have any apples-to-apples competitors. Drivers who want high performance in a more practical package might consider the new 580-hp Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 (with the same engine as the Corvette ZR1). Or perhaps the Dodge Challenger SRT8 or Ford Shelby GT500. Those seeking performance with refinement and luxury should consider the Porsche Cayman or BMW M3. Those who want to put the top down might want to look at the BMW Z4 or Ford Shelby GT 500 convertible. A well-appointed Z06 finds a tough competitor in the Porsche 911, Nissan GT-R or Lotus Evora. And at more than $100,000, those dropping the dough for the ZR1 should also take a look at the new Mercedes-Benz SL-Class, the Audi R8, as well as the refined and well-appointed Jaguar XKR.
The 2012 Chevrolet Corvette is available in two body styles, Coupe or Convertible, with either a manual or automatic transmission. The Z06 and ZR1 models are available only as fixed-roof Coupes.
The Corvette Coupe ($49,600) and Convertible ($54,600) are powered by a 6.2-liter V8 with 430 horsepower. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard; a 6-speed Paddle Shift automatic ($1,250) is optional. An optional dual-mode exhaust system ($1,195) raises horsepower to 436 hp. There are four trim levels; 1LT, 2LT, 3LT and 4LT, with increasing levels of features.
The Coupe features a one-piece removable roof panel in body color or transparent plastic ($750); the dual-roof option ($1,400) includes both. The Convertible comes standard with a manually operated soft top; a power soft top, with a heated glass rear window, is standard on 2LT trim levels and above.
Standard features for the Corvette include leather seating surfaces, dual-zone automatic climate control with a pollen filter, power everything including seats, cruise control, tilt leather-wrapped steering wheel with redundant audio controls, remote keyless entry and starting, AM/FM/CD stereo with auxiliary input jack, XM Satellite Radio, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass, automatic headlights, alarm, fog lights, xenon headlights, OnStar telematics, and P245/40ZR18 front and P285/35ZR19 rear run-flat tires on alloy wheels. The 2LT and above models add sport seats with adjustable lumbar support and side bolsters, plus Bluetooth connectivity.
Magnetic Selective Ride Control ($1,995) automatically switches from extra-firm to more comfortable touring settings with electronically controlled variable damping. The package now includes cross-drilled brake rotors that are also available as a stand-alone option ($500). These rotors are larger than standard (13.4 vs. 12.8 inches up front, and 13.0 vs. 12.0 inches in the rear), but not quite as large as the 14.0/13.4 front/rear rotors on the Z06.
Options include DVD navigation ($1,795), which comes with a USB port as well as the Bose audio and voice recognition. There are a variety of wheel options in a wide range of styles and finishes. The 3LT package for the coupe ($4,205) and convertible ($6,200) includes a head-up display, heated seats with position memory, a premium Bose stereo, a power telescoping steering column, and a universal garage door opener. The 4LT package includes the 3LT and adds custom leather upholstery on the top of the instrument panel, upper door panels, and console cover, as well as extra armrest padding, crossed flags seat embroidery and a special console trim plate.
The Centennial Edition package will get you a Carbon Flash metallic exterior, satin black wheels with red calipers, Magnetic Selective Ride Control, red accent stitching on seats and steering wheel and special graphics on the interior and exterior.
Corvette Grand Sport Coupe ($56,000) and Convertible ($59,600) are equipped the same as the base models but with wider-body styling to cover their wider track, racing-tuned suspension, and Z06-sized tires and brakes.
Corvette Z06 ($75,600) comes with a 7.0-liter V8 producing 505 horsepower, with dry-sump lubrication and coolers for the power steering pump, gearbox and rear differential. Beyond the engine, the Z06 package includes a host of high-performance components. The Z06 hardtop is fixed in place. Its brakes are upgraded, its tires are huge and it's offered only with the 6-speed manual transmission. Options include the Z06 Ultimate Performance package with ceramic brakes, painted calipers, Magnetic Selective Ride Control and enhanced cooling. The CFZ Carbon Fiber package ($3,995) features a black-painted carbon fiber roof, rocker panels, and splitter, plus a body-color ZR1-style spoiler. The 2LZ package ($2,665) includes a power telescoping steering column, heated seats, memory for the seats, mirrors and steering wheel, Bose audio, universal garage door opener, cargo net, and cargo cover. The 3LZ package ($7,170) has the 2LZ equipment plus power sport seats and a premium leather package similar to the 4LT. There is a variety of wheel choices, including painted aluminum and chrome finishes.
The Corvette ZR1 ($111,600) has a supercharged 6.2-liter version of the Z06 V8, utilizing an Eaton four-lobe supercharger. To deal with the additional stresses and loads, every appropriate piece of the engine has been upgraded. The ZR1 is available only as a coupe, and only with a heavy-duty 6-speed manual transmission. The ZR1 gets huge Brembo brakes, 15.5 inches in front and 15.0 inches in the rear, and made of special heat-resistant carbon-ceramic material. The tires are Michelin Pilot Sport 2 ZP run-flats, sized 285/30ZR19 in front and 335/25ZR20 in the rear; the rims are 10 inches wide in front and 12 inches in the rear. The ZR1 also has the lighter-weight aluminum chassis components of the Z06, and carbon fiber for the roof, hood and front fenders. In addition, the ZR1 hood has a transparent panel. A Centennial Edition ($4,950) is available on this model as well, and includes the same features as on the Z06 package.
Safety features that come standard on all models include dual-stage front airbags, side airbags, ABS, tire-pressure monitor, traction control and electronic stability control.