Holding the title as America’s longest running 2-seat production sports car, the 2018 Chevrolet Corvette continues to deliver world-class style and performance at an unbelievably agreeable price. Over the years, the Corvette has weathered many iterations, some more style than substance, but always true to the original concept. Today’s Corvette lineup consists of three world-class performers (Stingray, Grand Sport and Z06) that offer horsepower and handling that now places them in the same league as some of the world’s greatest supercars. Even the most basic Corvette Stingray features a 460-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 engine capable of propelling the sleek Chevy coupe to 60 miles per hour in just 3.7 seconds. Big deal, you say? There are plenty of exotic cars that can match that time? You’re right, there are. But not a single one carries a price tag under $60,000. Advantage America.
What’s New for 2018?
For 2018, the Corvette family gains some new wheel and tire packages, plus larger wheels for the base Stingray. HD radio is made standard and the Corvette receives some new color options for its paint, convertible top and interior palates. Magnetic Ride Control is now a stand-alone option, while the GS now offers ceramic brakes as a stand-alone feature. To celebrate the Corvette’s 65th birthday, a limited run Carbon 65 Edition is being offered on GS and Z06 Corvettes. Lastly, the optional Performance Data Recorder gets four new data channels: Individual wheel speed, individual suspension displacements, yaw rates and intake and ambient temperatures.
What We Like
Unimpeachable V8 power; world-class handling; marvelous seats and interior quality; impressive fuel economy; amazing value
What We Don’t
Big cam makes for a lumpy idle (but maybe you like that); gaudy graphics on the instrument panel
The Corvette is powered by a 6.2-liter V8 rated at 455 hp (460 hp with the optional performance exhaust) and 460 lb-ft of torque. A 7-speed manual transmission is standard, with an 8-speed automatic available at an additional cost. Fuel economy with the manual stands at 16 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, while the automatic comes in at 15 mpg city/26 mpg hwy.
The high-performance Corvette Z06 uses a supercharged version of the standard model’s 6.2-liter V8 that makes a raucous 650 hp. Also offered with 7-speed manual or 8-speed automatic transmissions, the Z06 boasts 15 mpg city/22 mpg hwy with the manual or 13 mpg city/23 mpg hwy with the automatic.
Standard Features & Options
The Corvette is a 2-seat sports car offered in coupe (with a removable carbon-fiber roof panel) and soft-top convertible body styles. Chevrolet offers Stingray and Grand Sport models in three trim levels, the 1LT, 2LT and 3LT, while the Z06 is offered as the 1LZ, 2LZ and 3LZ.
The 1LT coupe ($56,490) and 1LT convertible ($60,490) come standard with staggered-size alloy wheels (19-inch front, 20-in rear), a carbon-fiber hood, keyless entry with push-button start, leather upholstery, power seats, two 8-in color displays (one in the gauge cluster and one on the dashboard), a rearview camera and a 9-speaker Bose audio system with iPod/Bluetooth integration and satellite radio.
The 2LT coupe ($60,945) and 2LT convertible ($64,900) add color-matched console and door panels, heated and ventilated seats with memory settings and additional power adjustments (lumbar and side bolsters), Corvette seat emblems, a universal garage-door opener, auto-dimming mirrors, a color head-up display, a 10-speaker Bose audio system with dual subwoofers, a cargo net and a luggage shade (coupe only).
The 3LT coupe ($66,235) and 3LT convertible ($70,190) tack on a full-leather interior with Nappa leather seating surfaces, a navigation system (optional on lower trims) and a color-matched instrument panel.
The Grand Sport ($66,490) and Grand Sport Convertible ($70,490) follow the same 1LT, 2LT and 3LT packaging as the Stingray, and add unique front and rear fenders that cover a wider track, a Z06 grille, a unique Grand Sport cup wheel design, a Brembo brake system, magnetic ride control, an electronic limited-slip differential, a dry-sump oil system, 5-position Drive Mode Select and MyLink infotainment with an 8-in touchscreen and a Performance Data Recorder (PDR).
Topping the range is the impressive Z06 ($81,790 for the coupe; $85,790 for the convertible), which adds an impressive array of sporty equipment. There’s the bigger 650-hp engine, as well as improved suspension, upgraded tires, a carbon-fiber roof panel and improved cooling measures for enhanced track capabilities. The 1LZ, 2LZ and 3LZ trims follow the same basic upgrades as LT models.
The popular Z51 package ($5,000 extra) adds bigger wheels (19-in front, 20-in rear) with Michelin Pilot Super Sport ZP summer tires, a dry-sump oil system, an electronic limited-slip differential, more aggressive gearing, bigger front brakes (13.6-in discs versus 12.6-in discs), sport-tuned suspension components and lift-reducing aerodynamic tweaks.
Other notable options include adaptive magnetic ride dampers with a track-oriented stability control system, sport seats, carbon-fiber interior trim, a suede steering wheel and a transparent roof panel (coupe only). Also optional is a front parking camera, which is helpful given the Corvette’s long nose and low ground clearance.
The 2018 Chevrolet Corvette comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, a backup camera, GM’s OnStar system and four airbags (front and side). Due to its low production volume, the Corvette has not yet been crash-tested by the federal government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Behind the Wheel
In our interior evaluation, we loved the cockpit-like feel of this Corvette. The door panel and central controls seem to wrap around the driver, creating an intimate sports-car atmosphere largely missing from the previous car. The snug seats are supportive in all scenarios, and either of the two available Bose stereos will keep the tunes cranking. This is a pretty cool place to spend some time.
Under the hood, the 6.2-liter V8 is all the engine most folks will ever need. Power is massive, with torque equally so, and the sounds are straight out of a drag-strip fantasy. The only part that gives us pause is how the engine shakes the whole car at idle; it’s far from the refinement offered by overseas rivals, though some will appreciate the added character. The novel 7-speed manual transmission’s active rev-matching feature is a neat parlor trick, and if you want to match your own revs, don’t worry — there’s an off button. We have yet to drive the Z06, though we expect it will offer astonishing performance and raucous levels of driving enjoyment rivaled only by high-end exotics.
On the road, the Corvette combines astonishingly athletic handling with genuine long-distance comfort, a combination few cars at any price can match. Road noise is reasonable, and highway pit stops should be infrequent given this near-supercar’s 26-mpg potential. The coupe’s standard removable roof panel means all Corvette drivers can have some fun in the sun, even those who forgo the convertible with its fast-acting power soft-top. The C7’s gaudy performance numbers may get all the headlines, but it’s the remarkable versatility of this car that gives it such broad appeal.
Other Cars to Consider
2018 Ford GT — This 600-plus-hp super coupe looks a bit more European than the Corvette, and while its performance is up to Corvette standards, its $400,000 price tag could buy you four loaded Z06s. Did we mention only 500 lucky souls can buy one?
2018 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 — The 526-hp Shelby GT350 looks to give the Corvette a major run for its money. Although we haven’t driven it, we love the regular Mustang GT, so we have high hopes for the Shelby version.
2018 Dodge Viper — The attention-grabbing Viper is as outlandish as ever, though its high cost and edgy character limit its appeal.
2018 Porsche Cayman — Considerably smaller than the Corvette, the Cayman boasts ultraprecise handling and exceptional engine refinement. It’s not nearly as fast, however, even in its S trim.
Used Porsche 911 — If you like the Corvette but want a little more refinement, consider a 911. Pricing is high, so you may want to look at a used model, and while the 911 won’t be as fast as the ‘Vette, it offers a smoother, slicker package.
The Stingray 2LT is the sweet spot, adding desirable luxuries such as power side bolsters without inflating the price to 3LT levels. As for the Z51, it’s up to you, but we’d have a hard time saying no to all that extra performance for $5,000, or even the Grand Sport for an extra $10,000. As for the Z06, it’s primarily meant for high-performance driving and track use, and that means it’ll be hard to pilot every single day.