2013 Chevrolet Corvette

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2005 Chevrolet Corvette

This 2005 review is representative of model years 2005 to 2013.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Rating: 10

Bottom Line:

The best performing and most comfortable sports car for the money, despite gimmicky high-tech gadgetry.
Pros:
  • Deftly redesigned
  • Explosive acceleration
  • Docile
Cons:
  • Difficult entry and exit
  • Gimmicky automatic entry and keyless start systems
  • High trunk opening

The long-awaited redesigned 2005 sixth-generation Corvette is simply the best, most comfortable high-performance sports car for the money.

You'll pay tens of thousands of dollars more to get a car with the 186-mph Corvette's performance and refinement—and then will lack the advantage of having your car fixed at your neighborhood Chevy dealer.

This sixth-generation ("C6") Corvette—the first significantly new 'Vette since 1997—earns a 10 rating on a 1 to 10 scale because of such things as sleeker, more efficient styling, a major horsepower increase and an improved interior.

The new Corvette looks more purposeful, although it strongly resembles the 2004 version. It's 5.1 inches shorter and 1.1 inches narrower, although its wheelbase is up 1.1 inches to 105.7 inches. The new car's dimensions are somewhat similar to those of one of its prime rivals, the iconic Porsche 911.

Remains Roomy
Although narrower and shorter overall, the Corvette's longer wheelbase and efficient packaging allow plenty of room for occupants and two golf bags, although the low-slung (49.1-inch-high) car calls for awkward "drop-in" entry and "climb-out" exit. Long, heavy doors complicate getting in and out in tight spots.

Chevy got carried away with gadgetry with its new 2-seater. The Corvette lets its doors and cargo hatch operate electronically without exposed traditional handles and key cylinders. That seems like a good idea, but we all should know about possible electronic glitches with cars.

Excessive Gadgetry
So no thanks to that Keyless Access system. The car detects a key fob in a driver's pocket or purse to unlock a door and then lets the driver just press a starter button to fire up the engine. Pressing the button also stops the engine, and the car locks itself when a driver walks away from it.

But what if something like a charging cell phone causes interference and refuses to, say, let the car start? Also, interior door handles are replaced by small buttons, which can be awkward to use.

Tops for the Money
But, overall, nothing can touch the new 'Vette for the money, and it costs a bit less than the 2004 version despite major improvements. The hatchback version with a lift-off roof panel stickers at $43,445, and the convertible costs $51,445. (The specialized high-performance Z06 coupe has been temporarily dropped, but is scheduled to make a comeback next year.)

Like all Corvettes ever made, the new one has a fiberglass body, but it doesn't have the squeaks and rattles that plagued Corvette bodies for decades.

The first Corvette was a 1953 fiberglass body model that flopped. The car didn't begin taking off until 1956, with new styling, manual gearbox, hot V8 and other improvements—not to mention race victories. Chevy finally was making money with the 'Vette by the late 1950s and never looked back.

Exposed Headlights and Power Top
The sixth generation Corvette has come a long way from the 1953 model, but is the first without retractable headlights since 1962 for lighter weight, less complexity and better lighting. It also is the first 'Vette convertible since 1962 to have a power top, which costs $1,995. That top really isn't needed and adds weight, besides expense, but probably will contribute to resale value.

The new car has only one V8, compared with two for its predecessor. Engine size is up from 5.7 to 6.0 liters—first increase in a long time—and horsepower has climbed from 350 to a thundering 400. It generates an impressive 400 pound-feet of torque and makes great tailpipe music, with a classic American V8 rumble.

Explosive Acceleration
Acceleration is explosive when you put your foot down hard; the car does 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds and reaches 100 in a few more eyeblinks (9.9 seconds) with the standard 6-speed manual transmission, which has improved gear linkage for slicker, shorter shifts. It works with a long-throw, but lighter, clutch.

A crisp-shifting 4-speed automatic transmission can be had at no extra cost, although it would have been nicer if the car offered at least a 5-speed automatic.

The Corvette thus has exotic sports car acceleration, similar to that provided by $150,000-plus autos such as the Ferrari and Lamborghini.

Docile
Yet, the 'Vette is so docile that you can loaf around town in fourth or fifth gear. The engine has so much torque that lazy drivers can start out in second gear and immediately shift to fourth with no engine protest. As it is, the shifter automatically moves from first to fourth gear if a driver accelerates moderately. That's a holdover fuel-saving feature that can be irritating. However, it helps the car escape a federal gas-guzzler tax.

Estimated fuel economy is high for such a potent auto, although it's relatively light at about 3,200 pounds. The Corvette delivers 19 mpg in the city and 28 on the highway with the manual transmission and 18 and 25 with the automatic.

More Aggressive Styling
The new car's leaner, more aggressive styling was partly inspired by the 1963-67 Sting Ray, which is the most rakish classic Corvette. While the Sting Ray body tended to lift above 100 mph, that's not the case with the 2005 Corvette, which has advanced aerodynamics. The 186-mph top speed is insane for public roads, but an auto that's stable at that speed is ultrastable at legal speeds—or while zooming down deserted highways in low-population states at 100 mph.

Shorter front-rear body overhangs, sharper fender edges and a small grille opening give the Corvette a European flavor and make it look more expensive than it is.

Improved window sealing no longer lets the 'Vette's windows bow out and create a roar at high speeds, and windshield wipers no longer lift off the glass above 100 mph.

The rear-wheel-drive Corvette has nearly 50-50 weight distribution for good balance. While quick, the steering seems a bit slow at normal speeds, but that's because super-quick steering above 100 mph could lead to stability problems.

New Run-Flat Tires
The improved suspension provides a smoother ride. It works with wheels that have grown an inch to 18 inches front and 19 inches rear. New run-flat tires eliminate the need for a spare and enhance ride comfort, compared to the old run-flats, besides reducing road noise.

Powerful anti-lock brakes bring the car down from high speeds in short distances without dramatics.

Superb Handling
As expected, handling is superb, and traction control and anti-skid systems are standard. Handling can be enhanced by the worthwhile $1,495 Z51 Performance Handling option, which contains such items as larger brakes and a firmer suspension, which doesn't hurt the car's good ride quality.

There's also a $1,695 Magnetic Selective Ride Control suspension (not offered with the Z51 option) which has Touring and Sport modes. It does a remarkable job eliminating road imperfections.

Other options include a $1,405 package for the hatchback, with front-seat side airbags and power front passenger seat (both standard for the convertible). There also are available heated seats, navigation and OnStar assistance systems, satellite radio, dual roof panels for the hatchback and polished alloy wheels.

Well Equipped
Even without those options, the 2005 Corvette has plenty of comfort and convenience items. They range from leather upholstery to air conditioning with dual-zone automatic climate controls to cruise control and an AM/FM/CD/MP3 player.

The interior of the last-generation Corvette fell short of the competition, but the 2005 cockpit is considerably upgraded. Seats are better designed, material quality is improved and there is superior fit and finish. Gauges in the redesigned dashboard can be quickly read, and most controls are easy to reach and use. The convertible top provides almost coupe-like interior quiet on most roads.

High Cargo Opening
Cargo space is good for a sports car, although the cargo opening is high.

The new Corvette continues as a muscular, purely American sports car that feels significantly different than costlier foreign competitors. Corvette fans wouldn't have it any other way.

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BB04 - 9/17/2014 5:06:57 AM