Reviews

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Walk Around

In shadowy silhouette, the shape of the C7 still looks very much like a Corvette. Throw the lights on, however, and it's clear the 2014 Stingray is a new breed of beast. While the footprint doesn't differ much from the outgoing C6, the Stingray is slightly longer, lower and narrower.

Designers say they used both the stingray (of the aquatic variety) and fighter jets as inspiration. European styling cues appear borrowed from Ferraris and other uber-expensive performance cars. In fact, from the cabin, a glance of the sharp side crease in the side-view mirrors could make one think for a moment that he or she is riding in a Lamborghini. Lines overall are more aggressive an angular, replacing the softer curves of the previous model.

Up front, a more prominent grille is trimmed with mesh and chromework. Headlamps are longer, reshaped and farther swept back, with a row of L-shaped LED daytime running lamps. Narrow side reflectors now arc alongside the front fender.

The hood is more extensively creased, not only to give the Stingray a more powerful look, but to be more aerodynamic. A power bulge houses a functional vent.

The carbon fiber hood on coupes is lighter, helping the C7 achieve a lower center of gravity. Its light weight also makes it easier to remove. A translucent plastic roof is available as an option, but we found it uncomfortable to be constantly accosted by the glaring midday sun, so we don't recommend this option. Convertibles get a power-operated top.

Side lines are more sharply creased, with the stingray badge sitting just behind the front side vents. Sideview mirrors are more rectangular than before. Standard wheels are 18-inch aluminums in front and 19s in the rear; or 19s and 20s, respectively, with the Z51 performance package.

Although the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette in many ways evokes images of European sportscars, the Stingray hasn't completely abandoned its American heritage. This is most noticeable in the rear, with the squarish, Camaro-esque taillights. Bold, center quad exhaust pipes are shiny trumpet-like bells, making the Corvette look as if it had swallowed, then attempted to expel, a mariachi band.

Interior

The cabin was historically the Corvette's biggest weakness. While previous generations had an interior that was functional, materials, switches and displays had a decidedly parts-bin look. Not so with the Stingray. Chevrolet knows the new Corvette couldn't succeed based on exterior looks and powertrain alone, and interior designers did a fine job raising the bar with soft-touch materials, higher-end controls and better seats. However, the Corvette still uses extensive bonding material throughout the car, and that fresh-glue smell typical of past Corvettes is still undeniably present when one opens the door.

Immediately it's clear the cabin of the 2014 Corvette Stingray is driver-oriented. Instruments are slightly canted to the left, and the optional carbon fiber trim on our test car graced only the driver's side of the instrument panel. A digital display takes the place of traditional gauges, and changes depending on the drive mode selected. Eco, Weather and Tour modes display trip data, audio and navigation; Sport mode shows a classic analog-like gauge setup, and Track mode shows a competition-focused hockey stick design with lap timer based on the Corvette Racing C6.R racecar.

The passenger, meanwhile, gets a handle on each side to hold on to: One on the door, and another on the right side of the center console. Unlike most vehicles that place controls for both sides of the dual-zone automatic climate control in the center, the passenger's temperature control is located in the far right vent. This allows the passenger to easily control his or her ideal temp without encroaching on what is clearly meant to be the driver's territory in the center stack.

Like Corvettes of the past, the 2014 Corvette Stingray cockpit sits low, nestling driver and passenger deep inside and close to the road. The center console and shifter sit high compared to driver and passenger.

All-new seats are made with a magnesium frame, which makes them strong yet light. Two types of seats are available. The standard touring seat is comfortable and bolstered; an optional sport seat with more aggressive bolstering and cutouts for three-point harnesses will be available later in 2013. Seats adjust four ways and offer a reasonable range of adjustment, but this isn't a road trip car. After a few hours on a test drive, we were sore and numb and needed a good stretch. Leather upholstery is standard, and the optional LT3 package upgrades to buttery, premium Nappa leather with a leather-wrapped dash and door trim.

The steering wheel in the 2014 Corvette Stingray is the smallest that Chevrolet has ever made, and we like it. It's easy to grip and turn, and makes the car feel easy to maneuver. All cars, regardless of the transmission, come with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. We found this odd at first in our test car with the manual transmission. When equipped with the seven-speed manual, the paddles allow the driver to turn the rev matching function on and off. Although we like having the ability to control whether the car will match our revs, we're guessing that Chevrolet fitted every car with the same steering wheel for cost efficiency; the rev matching controls on the manual cars were a creative solution for a wheel with what otherwise would have been extraneous parts.

All models come with a display screen in the center stack, although functions are pretty bare bones in the base model. Navigation is much improved from previous versions of the Corvette (which in the past looked like they could have been running Windows 95), although the map display is not as detailed as we would have liked.

Readily available storage space is scarce in the 2014 Corvette Stingray. A tiny tray ahead of the gear shifter is not quite large enough for a phone. One must instead use a cupholder, or tuck in away inside the center console. Door pockets are narrow and relatively shallow; we were able to cram a standard-sized bottled water in sideways, but had great difficulty retrieving it.

There is little space for bags or purses; we had to put our gear in the trunk, where it slid around like mad during our test drive. There is additional storage for cell phones, wallets and other small items behind the center stack's display screen, but it's not good for quick access. On the plus side, the hidden compartment locks via a security code, making for a safe place to keep valuables while the car is parked.

Although other dimensions of the 2014 Corvette have remained the same or slightly increased, cargo space is even more scant. Coupes offer only 15 cubic feet, and the convertible a paltry 10 cubes with the top up. Typical of other corvettes, the trunk area is wide but shallow, limiting the types of luggage one can carry.

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