2020 Chevrolet Corvette — Sixty grand will buy the best Vette ever

By Russ Heaps
Clanging Bell

(November 30, 2020) For decades, the magic of the Chevrolet Corvette is its huge performance bang for the buck. The newest C8-generation Chevrolet Corvette carries on that tradition. This mid-engine Corvette finally spread the curtains, stepping on stage as a 2020 model. Not much, including the price, changes for 2021. What best characterizes the newest Corvette is its beefy big-performance V8, placed amidships, civilized driving manners and Christmas-come-early affordable base price. It may now look and act like a high-performance supercar, but its price certainly doesn't reflect that status.

Passing on the 2020 version for the 2021 model, didn't gain you much. Yes, the base price is still a tempting $59,995, including the $1,095 factory delivery charge, but other than available new cosmetic touches, not much has changed. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability are now standard. For 2021, Magnetic Ride Control is optional without the pricey Z51 package.

A month or so ago, a Rapid Blue 2020 Corvette Stingray Coupe landed in my driveway. Arriving during a flurry of performance iron like showroom stablemate Camaro 2SS Coupe,  Cadillac CT4-V and Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat (Sometimes I love being me.), the Corvette still stood out.

For decades an iconic example of American performance, this mid-engine Corvette aims to expand the core owner base beyond the aloha-shirt-clad, mid-life male finally able to afford the object of his boyhood dreams. It targets a much broader audience in search of a supercar with everyday road manners and a price that simply embarrasses those exotic competitors.

Chevrolet offers Corvette as a coupe or a convertible. Because the coupe comes with a removable top, the convertible, with its folding hardtop, is somewhat redundant. What does distance the convertible from the coupe is, it's heavier and costs roughly $7,500 more. If keeping within a budget is important, I'd pick the coupe every time.

Chevy offers the Corvette in three trims: 1LT ($59,995), 2LT ($67,295) and 3LT ($71,945). Each qualifies for the $5,995 Z51 Performance Package. A track-ready package, Z51 includes upgraded Brembo performance brakes, performance suspension, performance exhaust, upgraded rear-axle ratio, electronic limited-slip differential, heavy-duty cooling system and Michelin Pilot high-performance run-flat summer rubber. My test Chevrolet Corvette was a 1LT coupe with $2,865 in options for a bottom-line total of $62,680. A bargain? I'd say.

No matter the grade, the Corvette Stingray comes with a 490-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 loaded behind the seats. It generates 465 lb-ft of peak torque. Adding the performance exhaust boosts the pony count to 495 and increases twist to 470 lb-ft. A Corvette first: switching the cogs falls to an 8-speed double-clutch automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. A manual tranny is no longer available. Government-estimated fuel economy is 15 miles per gallon in the city, 27 mpg on the highway and 19 mpg in combined driving.

Chevy claims a 0-to-60 miles-per-hour time of less than 3.0 seconds with the Z51 package. I can't attest to that one way or another. What I can tell you is, it's quick. However, the Corvette isn't simply about blazing acceleration, it handles brilliantly. This is helped by the mid-engine physics, as well as the wonderfully tuned suspension. One of the few options on my test car, the performance exhaust ($1,195) sounded positively sinister under hard acceleration.

If you haven't gathered the Corvette Stingray is something out of the ordinary while admiring the contoured, sweeping lines of its profile, sliding in behind its squarish, leather-wrapped steering wheel should snap you awake. Yes, climbing down into the cockpit isn't recommended for anyone in a short skirt who isn't Brittany Spears, but arriving in those wide, sculpted seats is well worth the effort.

Chevy designers did a masterful job creating a true cockpit feel. The center console, which supports an 8-inch touchscreen angled toward the driver, establishes a clear definition between driver and passenger space. The console itself is slightly tilted toward the driver with some additional height created by a long series of elevated buttons running down its right side. Every knob, switch and button lays at the driver's fingertips.

Every compromise comes with a downside or two. Moving the engine behind the seats has left precious little space for storage, at least in terms of usable space. This is even more so, in the case of the coupe, when stowing the removable top panel in its allotted niche in the trunk. Without the coupe's top panel cluttering things up, there is room for a couple of larger, soft-sided bags or even a set of golf clubs or two in the trunk. Up front, under the hood, Chevy designers carved out a place for a bag about the size of those stowed in a plane's overhead bin. Adding it all together, cargo storage is a modest 12.6 cu.ft., or about 3 cu.ft. shy of a Chevy Malibu.

Although the list of connectivity/infotainment technology is well rounded in the base Stingray, it is sorely lacking in the more popular driver-assist features. Not an unexpected compromise of the low price. You do get rear-parking assist and an HD backup camera, but you can't even claim features like blind-spot monitoring or rear cross-traffic alert on the 1LT's options list. These, though, are standard on the 2LT.

Also standard on the base Stingray are Bluetooth connectivity, voice recognition, wireless Apple CarPlay, wireless Android Auto, 8-in color touchscreen, Chevrolet Infotainment 3 system, 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot capability, and a 10-speaker Bose audio system with HD radio, satellite-radio capability, and OnStar capability.

Other equipment included in the base price of the 1LT are LED headlights, aluminum wheels (19-in front and 20-in rear), Brembo brakes, black-painted brake calipers, full power accessories, 8-way power leather seats with perforated inserts, power tilt-telescopic leather-wrapped steering wheel, keyless open/start, cruise control and dual-zone automatic climate control. There are all manner of performance systems and features available as options.

No question, the newest Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is still a terrific value, particularly in its base grade. And, if your wallet can bear it, there are plenty of upgrades in the form of higher trim levels and available options. But, less than 60 large provides entry to the best Corvette ever.