2013 Chevrolet Corvette

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Tech Review: 2007 Chevrolet Corvette

This 2007 review is representative of model years 2005 to 2013.
By Doug Newcomb of MSN Autos
Rating: 8

Bottom Line:

'America's Sports Car' keeps raising the bar via continual improvements.
Pros:
  • Informative and flexible head-up display
  • Effortless convertible top operation
  • Easy-to-use and effective navigation system
Cons:
  • In-dash display washes out in bright sunlight
  • No aux-in jack for MP3 players
  • No Bluetooth hands-free mobile phone link

Corvette lovers rejoiced when the C5 first hit the road 10 years ago. The old tagline "America's Sports Car" could not only be taken seriously again, but the fifth-generation of the venerable Vette could seriously take on some of the world's best performance marques.

About the time the C5's "best sports car for the money" description started to turn into a cliché, the beleaguered General followed that tough act of building yet another affordable super sports car—and making it even better—with the introduction of the C6 in 2004.

In fact, the same week we took delivery on an Atomic Orange Metallic 2007 Corvette Convertible stickered at $67,860; GM unveiled details of the 2008 Corvette's mid-cycle upgrade, with even more power, more cool exterior colors and higher-end interior touches—all at a price that, while not cheap, is at least within reach.

Vette Tech
The Vette's tech has also kept pace with the car's world-class performance, and on the 2007 convertible it enhances the experience behind the wheel without ever feeling intrusive or excessive. Take, for example, the head-up display (HUD) that's part of the steeply priced ($5,540) 3LT Preferred Equipment Group, which also includes heated seats, a power telescoping steering wheel, steering-wheel-mounted radio controls and, most significantly, the power convertible top.

While I've used HUDs in other vehicles, it's particularly apt in the Corvette Convertible since it allowed me to keep my eyes closer to the road while maintaining tight tabs on the speedometer, tachometer and gear shifts. And that's just in the Street Mode. In the two Track Modes I could quickly scope everything from G-force to the engine temperature to oil pressure and customize the display in 10 different ways.

I also found the HUD vital when using the Vette's DVD navigation system since it displayed directions such as the next turn and the distance to it right before my eyes. This was particularly important since the Corvette's in-dash touch-screen display was hard to read in bright sunlight, even with the convertible top up. And with the top down, the display was completely indiscernible.

Top Down Sounds
That's where the steering-wheel audio controls—including volume and track/station up/down and disc up/down—came in handy. And at high speeds I really appreciated that the steering wheel controls were within thumb's-reach of the Corvette's paddle shifters.

The Bose audio system itself is muscular enough to compete with the Vette's roar and has good if bass-heavy response with the top up. But with the top down at speed the sound system has a hard time keeping up with the wind and road noise despite incorporating Bose AudioPilot noise compensation as well as Bose "adaptive digital equalization" that's supposed to adjust the sound to compensate for top-down driving.

The CD-based audio system will also play MP3-encoded discs and it has a clever feature called Song List Mode that essentially lets you make playlists of up to 20 tracks from a CD. But there wasn't an aux-in jack for adding an iPod or MP3 player, which is almost a requirement in any vehicles these days, especially any one over $50K.

The audio system did have XM Satellite Radio, but to access information on artists and song title, it required pressing an INFO button on the in-dash display screen. And even then the artist and song title info is displayed consecutively, instead of concurrently, along with the channel name. More than once I had to take my eyes off the road to get info on a song I liked.

Great Gadgets
The DVD navigation system (a $1,750 option) was excellent and intuitive to use, thanks in large part to simple touch-screen operation. The nav also works via voice recognition, but like most such systems I used, this one had about a 50 percent success rate.

The onboard nav makes OnStar's available Turn-by-Turn service redundant. If the Vette had Bluetooth, the OnStar Hands-Free Calling feature would also be superfluous, but I was very grateful of the feature when my mobile phone suddenly died during an out-of-town trip. But I'd still prefer to drive with my own phone—and my own wireless plan—and be able to use it hands-free in the car.

Of course, all of this has little to do with performance, which is the main reason for buying a Vette. Nitpicking aside, it certainly makes driving the car more comfortable and convenient. In fact, with all the great gadgets on the 2007 Corvette Convertible, it could also be called "America's High-Tech Sports Car."

Doug Newcomb has been writing about car electronics since 1988, as editor of Car Audio and Electronics, Car Stereo Review, Mobile Entertainment, Road & Track Road Gear and as a freelance writer. His new book, Car Audio for Dummies, is available from Wiley Publications. He lives in Hood River, Oregon.

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BB04 - 4/24/2014 11:53:05 PM