By on September 14, 2020

2020 Chevrolet Corvette front quarter 2

2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray 3LT Z51

6.2-liter V8 (495 hp @ 6450 rpm, 470 lb/ft @ 5150 rpm)

Eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, rear-wheel drive

15 city / 27 highway / 19 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

23.1 (observed mileage, MPG)

15.4 city / 8.7 highway / 12.4 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $59,995 US / $67,898 CAN

As Tested: $86,860 US / $103,808 CAN

Prices include $1095 destination charge in the United States and $2,100 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

Some of the best driving roads on the continent, the Hocking Hills of southeastern Ohio, lie roughly one hour from my front door. Not coincidentally, those roads are also merely four hours from every Detroit-based ride-and-handling engineer, not to mention the buff books. These twisties, shaped by the glaciers, have been worn smooth by generations of gearheads.

The hour of driving to get to the hills, however, is via a mind-numbing highway slog, often well patrolled by the local constabulary and the notorious Ohio Highway Patrol. There’s no shortcut.

This is where the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray shines. Making a sportscar manage sportscar things, while certainly no easy feat, is right in the wheelhouse of the speed-addled engineers. Making that same car not just livable on the highway, but genuinely excellent, takes some serious doing. Chevrolet has done exactly that here with the C8.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette profile top off

Let me list the few things that Chevrolet didn’t quite get right with the car that was sent my way. First, the doors swing rather wide, making ingress a serious challenge when the roof panel is in place and some jackass in a three-row crossover decided to park on the damned white line at Kroger. It’s a coupe, of course, so wide-swinging doors are exactly what you’d expect.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette rear cargo with roof

Next, that removable roof panel? While it’s remarkably easy to remove and install solo – just three latches and the lightweight panel lifts off – it does take up a good bit of room in the rear trunk. Well, really, it takes all of the room in the rear trunk that would theoretically handle a pair of golf bags. If you’re one to enjoy motoring with fresh air tickling the scalp, don’t expect to carry much more than a day’s worth of luggage. There will be little room to stow junk in the frunk.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette interior

My third and final complaint applies to a single option fitted to this test car – the $500 Competition Sport bucket seats. These would be supremely comfortably had I, around the age of twelve, committed myself to a lifetime of physical fitness and taken up running. I did not. After a week of driving the Corvette with these seats – both commuting and during brisk driving in the hills – I found myself with a deep bruise on my left hip. If your waist measures thirty-eight inches or smaller, you should be fine with these competition seats. However, if you (like myself) have more junk in the trunk (or frunk! – Ed.), choose the standard chairs or the GT2 seats that are standard on the Z51 package.

[Get Chevrolet Corvette pricing here!]

You’ll no doubt read others complain about the flying-buttress interior bank of switches neatly segregating the driver from the passenger. Indeed, my wife complained that it made it hard for her to put her elbow on the central armrest. Further, it could be a challenge at times to recall which switch managed temperatures on which side of the cockpit. But within a day or so of driving, we got used to it. It really isn’t that big of a deal once you start driving.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette controls

The rest of the interior works remarkably well. It’s cozy, certainly, but with plenty of room for the job at hand. The squared-off steering wheel looks weird, but it feels great in hand. The shift paddles behind that wheel feel great on the fingertips – though I’ll admit that after half an hour driving aggressively, I stopped playing with the paddles and let the transmission shift for itself. Audio controls on the wheel work intuitively, as does the touchscreen.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette engine

Of course, once you start driving, all else is swept away in a snarl of small-block noises. That is, of course, if you choose the Z51 package – which includes the selectable exhaust. The standard settings allow you to get out of the neighborhood without waking those still sleeping in since their first Zoom meeting doesn’t start until nine. Disengaging the exhaust cutouts remains civilized, just with more fun noises especially on releasing the throttle.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette view to rear

Even if you have absolutely no plans on taking your C8 to the track (I didn’t, sadly) you absolutely need to order the Z51 package. This unlocks the magnetic selective ride control option, where for $1,895 (atop the five grand for the Z51) you have the magical magnetic dampers that make the ride on Ohio’s ruined urban roads more than tolerable.

Separate from the Z51, but not available on the entry-level 1LT package, is the $1,495 Front Lift with Memory option. This, with a touch of a button, raises the nose of the Corvette a couple of inches at low speeds to better negotiate speed bumps and treacherous driveways. The memory option is especially brilliant – you have the option of storing hundreds of nose-lift locations in memory, which will be automatically recalled via GPS location.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette front

Look, I’ve made peace with the fact that the government is always watching me. Might as well let General Motors know about that nasty pothole through which I always crash on the way to the office.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette front quarter 3

As I noted, I stopped shifting for myself after a short time in the twisties. The eight-speed dual-clutch transmission is smarter than I am, I’m ashamed to say – I simply couldn’t manage to snap off full-throttle upshifts at redline nearly as consistently as this transmission could. While I do miss the tactile experience of slotting a shift lever into gear, progress has finally made that option superfluous.

If you’ve driven any mid-engined car, you’ll recognize the steering feel. It’s disconcertingly light at first, and while maneuvering around the neighborhood at slow speeds you’re concerned that it’s vague.

It’s not vague.

The lack of weight on those front wheels gives you the light feel, but the Corvette communicates exactly what the 245-section Michelins are doing at every moment. And it turns in RIGHT NOW. You don’t think about turning – you turn your head toward the apex and the car follows. The 305-section rear tires simply stick, and as you roll on the throttle, hold on. There might be a slight wiggle if you haven’t unwound the steering square fully, but no matter – you weren’t stupid enough to turn off the stability control, right? That slight wiggle quickly becomes a shove in the backside as the beeches and hemlocks blur in your peripheral vision.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette rear quarter

If you enjoy remaining under the radar, this is not your car – especially not in the $500 Accelerate Yellow Metallic. If my photography doesn’t show off this color appropriately, strap on a mask and head to your nearest office supply store. This is the color of a yellow highlighter. Everyone will notice you. Neighbors who you’ve never spoken to in the fifteen years you’ve lived nearby will suddenly decide to walk their dogs in front of your house several times a day. People will stop in crosswalks and talk to you. You will get waves from fellow motorists. At a stoplight, one young man in a modern Mopar sedan revved his Hemi, then looked over and waved me off. To the other side of me, a crossover-driving mother asked if she could photograph the Corvette. I’m probably on someone’s Instagram somewhere.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette profile

Mercifully, I avoided attracting the attention of the entire law enforcement community, as I’m pretty sure this particular paint hue can be seen through walls with your eyes closed. There’s no running from a ticket.

Were I to sell off a kidney and perhaps a child, this would not be the Corvette for me. Certainly not this color, at least. As I mentioned, I’m starting with a 2LT trim so I can spec the front suspension lift. The performance Z51 package, along with the magnetorheological dampers, is a must since there would likely be a track day in my future. The 2LT gives a lovely 14-speaker Bose audio system, versus the 10-speaker system fitted to the base 1LT, along with the optional ($1,495) sporty-but-not-ass-bruising GT2 seats. Importantly, the 2LT adds front cameras to the standard rear camera – so you can see that parking barrier with which you’re about to obliterate your front splitter. Otherwise, I don’t know that I’d go nuts with the options. No changes to interior trim, no stripes. Elkhart Lake Blue Metallic is a no-cost paint, though the optional Rapid Blue and Long Beach Red hues ($500) are both magnificent and worthy of consideration for my hard-earned imaginary money.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette screenshot

That configuration works out to $77,180 delivered – it’s roughly the cost of a nicely-equipped Chevy Sonic over the much-lauded base price of $59,995, but it gives you the car with world-beating performance for less than the cost of my first condo. It’s daily-drivable in most conditions save for deep, unplowed snow, and will make you feel like a hero every time you thumb the starter button.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette rear deck detail

The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is a budget supercar, with few of the compromises a supercar typically demands.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette front quarter

[Images: © 2020 Chris Tonn/TTAC, screenshot courtesy]


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45 Comments on “2020 Chevrolet Corvette Review: Highway Star...”

  • avatar

    Chris isn’t the only one doing it, but I kind of think journos should at least drive a more base car before declaring that every vehicle *MUST HAVE* $7,000 worth of options added on.

    If you’re running an amateur IMSA team I expect a ZL1 1LE would be a tick faster (and it is available with a manual) but the driving experience between the two seems different enough that I don’t think they’ll really compete.

    I guess I’m just too poor but $77K still feels like walking around money. Maybe once they start packing on GM discounts it’ll start playing in my price range.

    • 0 avatar

      Point taken, but as you say, it’s common practice. But even at $87,000, this car is still a heck of a deal, and an even better deal the way Chris spec’d it out – the obvious competition is a Porsche Cayman GTS or more basic 911, and either of those will easily run you a hundred large.

      And we might be waiting around for some time for the price on these babies to come down in any meaningful way.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s definitely a major relative bargain. A 1LT with the “must have” Z51, magneride, and my one indulgence of the clear roof would be $68K. Compared to a 911 or F-type that’s pretty awesome. Compared to a $50K car that feels like a decent swallow.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        With several clicks, a Suburban can be run up close to $90k. Apples and oranges, but I’d agree that the Vette is a good deal especially when compared to the cars in its class.

  • avatar

    The mag-ride is hands down the best feature of my C7. A twist of the knob turns the suspension from comfy gran tourer into on-rails track weapon. I tell everyone there are two must have options on modern Corvettes: mag-ride and performance exhaust. The 2LT interior package is the sweet spot for what most people need as well.

    Like many cars these days I believe the whole HVAC system switches are rarely touched since you can just put it in auto and adjust the temperature as needed.

    I think for the C8 the convertible version will be the better car since the top will stow over the engine leaving the rear cargo area free. The top on my C7 is easy to remove and store but kind of cumbersome, thus it rarely comes off. It too limits storage.

    I also believe the C8 looks best with no spoiler. The whole car is a bit busy with lines and creases everywhere so taking some of visual mess off the back end helps.

    • 0 avatar

      Does the Corvette get a fancier version of Mangeride? On the Camaro it really didn’t seem to make $1,700 worth of difference to me. The $990 performance exhaust did seem worth it though.

      • 0 avatar

        Not sure if there is any technical differences, maybe the C7 is just tuned better?

        I got rid of my last car (a Nissan 305Z) due to its bone jarring ride quality thus maybe I am more sensitive to the mag-ride changes? Some on the Corvette forum claim even in Tour mode the car is too stiff but compared to the 350 its downright plush. My Z felt like the C7 set between the Sport and Track settings. It was pretty harsh.

        Thus to me the mag-ride is worth every penny because it gives the best of both worlds – a car that is soft enough to daily drive but can also be tight enough for track work.

        I got my C7 used so the price difference between a base car and the Z51 package was massively reduced. I got an older but fully loaded car. The great thing about the ‘Vette market is the number of garage queens / weekend cars that see so few miles. For example mine was only driven 4,500 miles a year. The ‘Vette has always been considered a bargain but getting one for nearly 50% off makes it even more appealing. Due to the lack of C8s right now C7s are in demand and thus prices are up. Good if selling but bad if your in the market to buy one.

      • 0 avatar

        I have the magnaride on my 2018 Camaro, and while nobody will mistake it for a Rolls Royce in its softest setting, it’s considerably smoother than the standard setup, according to my highly scientific butt-o-meter. But its biggest advantage is the way it handles pretty much anything with a single body movement. No bouncing or skipping or wiggling. So even if you crank it up to track mode, it’s firm and flat, but never busy.

  • avatar

    Grab someone from just ten years ago and show them that photo (minus the logo) of the yellow thing and give them ten guesses and I bet ‘Corvette’ wouldn’t be one of them.

  • avatar

    Any comment about understeer? I’ve seen a few reviews that complain about low speed turn-in plowing.

  • avatar

    Just one comment for those wide-opening doors and people who can’t park straight/park on the line: door edge guards (strip of hard rubber thingy) and *aggressively* opening your own door. Of course, this advice doesn’t apply to test car loaners.

    Bonus points if your door dinging efforts result in the other guy’s car alarm going off. Inconsiderate parkers deserve consequences.

  • avatar

    Don’t worry about the attention – that will pass. I was constantly barraged by people when I bought my C7 in June 2014. It was still a novelty, but over time you get less and less attention. I really didn’t mind – most were polite and complementary. I hopefully helped make a few small kids into gearheads…

    Chevy really did a fantastic job with the C8, especially when you consider some of the “must-haves” from the committee of designers. I do lament the lack of a stick; that pretty much means I will not be buying one. But I’d love the chance to drive it. Hopefully without that awful yellow stitching.

  • avatar

    Daily Driver? If it’s like the Z51 on the C7 you’ll need to spend another $2 thousand on tires and wheels if you want to drive it when it’s cold out. Like 40 degrees or less. Wheels? Well maybe not, but tires for sure. If you don’t mind the additional effort/cost to change the tires on the stock rims. Those gummy, sticky Michelins turn rock hard in chilly/cold weather.

  • avatar

    Well, it’s official – I hate Chris for getting to keep this car for a week.

    (Just kidding…liked the write-up. And congrats on keeping your driver’s license during this car’s stay in your driveway, which would probably be as difficult as a 15-year-old kid with a grand in cash keeping his virginity in a two-day stay at a brothel.)

  • avatar

    I live in the Detroit area and have seen the new C8 in many of the available exterior colors (a notable exception being Zeus Bronze!). Chris is correct, the photos do not relay just how AWFUL this shade of yellow is. Like he said, sort of a yellow-green highlighter color. Yuck. Although not a big fan of black cars, I have found that the C8 looks really good in black as it tends to hide many of the over styled elements of the car. If I had the cash I would go black exterior with a red or tan interior.

  • avatar

    Wait, I think you missed something.

    Aren’t you, as an autojournalist, professionally required to state that the Corvette has a garbage interior and terrible fit & finish?

    I’m confused that you left that out, because I thought it was a mandatory part of every Corvette review.

    Does your editor know about this?

  • avatar

    I’m beginning to wonder if Mary Barra might actually do her company some good, ever. Chevrolet seems to be trying to impress an audience that will never buy a Corvette no matter how much it copycats a European car, and this comic book car is the result. Aside from being neutered of the infamous Corvette oversteer that was so prevalent in the Z06 and ZR1, it takes away the satisfaction of even shifting the gears. It seems to just wanna bludgeon you over the head with how smart and advanced it is instead of being the imperfect-but-lovable Corvette that people have fallen in love with over seven generations. Now it’s like GM lobotomized it and reduced it to yet another boring, low-effort video game car for YouTube racers and spec sheet racers. And coupled with Chevrolet’s lack of experience with MR cars, this doesn’t foretell good things for this car

  • avatar

    Amazing car i must say. All think of is owning the car one day. A fine day I open my eyes and see this car outside my place. That would be the mesmerizing moment for me.

  • avatar

    “I simply couldn’t manage to snap off full-throttle upshifts at redline nearly as consistently as this transmission could.”

    How often can you possibly do this on public roads, anyway?

  • avatar

    High priced cars are a niche market. Sports cars are a niche market. So the C8 is a niche of a niche market. Attractive exterior, botched interior. No one gives a rat f that this mid engine car has a faster lap time than the previous vette. It costs more to produce. GM absorbs losses, or the price will climb. How many people are actually going to get one for 60k, after dealer markups?
    Prediction – GM sells 25000-30000 in the 2021 model year due to novelty, then drops to 8000-10000 per year, then the bean counters cancel the car.

    • 0 avatar

      What about being mid-engine makes it more expensive to produce? More expensive to service? Maybe. The C8 uses the same tech as the C7, they just moved the engine behind the driver so people would stop complaining it wasn’t mid-engine. Dealer mark ups don’t go back to GM so that will be a non factor once all the first year suckers get theirs. GM knew at which price point it be would profitable and thus are selling it for that. My guess is the main profit comes in the various options packages, so ideally they don’t want to sell base models but this is true for any vehicle.

      GM will sell every one of these they make. As the years move on they will up power and handling like they have always done. Grand Sport, Z06, ZR1, Zora, whatever. That is how they profit off the platform. The C7 sold 35k in ’14 and trickled down to 18k by the end in ’19. Given the C8’s slow start due the strike and COVID its sales curve will be different but likely wind up about the same in the end. The novelty wears off for sure, but that happens to every model.

      The Corvette has been nearly canceled many times. Will the switch to mid-engine put off more buyers then it attracts? This is million dollar question. So far its very polarizing – people either love it or hate it. To me the loss in practicality, lack of a manual and ugly rear end are the low points. The high point is the incredible performance and hard top convertible. I can’t comment on the interior because I’ve yet to sit in one but I don’t mind the closed off cockpit setup – I am in a car to drive not interact with the passenger despite how short her skirt might be. I can say the C7’s interior is what got me into a Corvette, the previous generations were such typical GM garbage I wanted nothing to do with it.

      • 0 avatar

        “The Corvette has been nearly canceled many times. Will the switch to mid-engine put off more buyers then it attracts?”

        As you describe, it’ll make some people happy and other unhappy, but I’m sure the line will be fine. The switch to a V8, a manual transmission, and other changes like independent suspension didn’t seem to hurt sales back in the day.

        The rumors of a flat plane V8 in some production models seem to be coming true. I’m sure this change is going to drive a few fanbois just bonkers… mwuahahaha!!

  • avatar

    I’m coming around to the design. I’ve seen a local one in black cherry metallic, and it’s a good look minus a matte black racing stripe.

    I’d skip the Alcantara interior option. I don’t want suede anywhere near where I’m touching all the time. That center console will look like trash in a year.

    • 0 avatar

      The C8’s aesthetics seem very color/option sensitive. Overall it’s okay, which is an improvement from how I felt a few months ago. I don’t like it as much as the C4 or C6, but it’s better than the rubenesque C5. Basically equal to how I feel about the C7 design.

      • 0 avatar

        I have to look up the C6 to remember the difference to the C5, every time. I don’t care for either. The C5 is too blobby, and the clear lamps of the C6 look very dated and cheap.

        I think C7 will be a classic later, as the best and ultimate front-engine Corvette. And I think it’ll age well, if not as well as C4.

        C8 will be a PITA to search used with all the variations and impactful options.

        • 0 avatar

          The rear end of the C7 is a mess. Half of it is a gloss black panel, 4 exhaust tips in a tight single line, crying eyes tail lights, and many of them have some wild contrast-color spoiler.

          The C6 actually looks normal. The headlamps aren’t a strong point but its bodylines are excellent.

          The C5 looks like it belongs in a Sir-Mix-alot song.

  • avatar

    I think this is a pretty sweet car but I still don’t know if I prefer this budget supercar thing vs the excellent C7.

    I know it isn’t a GM thing but I swear I’m seeing paying-for-paint becoming much more common these days. This, Mazda, I think I saw a Lexus that had it. Its annoying.

    I still wish it had a manual option. I know these autos are faster blah blah. Speed isn’t everything in enjoying a weekend drive. Nailing downshifts and that perfect rev match are a big part of the joy.

  • avatar

    At long last I saw my first C8 in the wild. Here in the Green Leafy Burbs around NYC, you see everything….so that it took so long to finally come across the C8…..

    The car is beautiful in real life, almost Ferrari like. The visible engine, the nose, the sides. I even liked the interior.

    (record needle zip sound)

    and then you look at the back of the car. What happened ? Who did the back of the car ? Can we fire them, or put them in the same cubicle with the BMW engineer who killed steering feel ? The back of the vette is a botch job…over designed….and ugly.

    Always park it nose out.

    I can’t wait to try to catch one (I won’t succeed) on track day.

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