2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Review - Affordable Supercar

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey
Fast Facts

2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Fast Facts

6.2-liter V8 (495 horsepower @ 6,450 rpm; 470 lb-ft @ 5,150 rpm)
Eight-speed, dual-clutch automatic; rear-wheel drive
15 city / 27 highway / 19 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
15.4 city, 8.7 highway, 12.4 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)
Base Price
$58,900 (U.S) / $67,898 (Canada)
As Tested
$79,315 (U.S.) / $92,953 (Canada)
Prices include $1,095 destination charge in the United States and $2,200 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can't be directly compared.
2020 chevrolet corvette stingray review affordable supercar

I was cruising along Interstate 55 somewhere southwest of Chicago when I came upon a Mercedes SUV that was continually adjusting speed. Annoyed by someone who couldn’t maintain a constant speed in the passing lane, I dipped the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette I was driving into the right lane and tried to carefully weave my way through scattered traffic and work my way past the schlub.

It was only as I leisurely passed by that I saw the raised smartphone camera. Even in the dark of night, the C8 Corvette stands out, and I was now a temporary celebrity, about to be put into someone’s camera roll – or posted to their social-media accounts – whether I liked it or not.

That’s not unusual when one drives a supercar. I got that kind of attention when piloting an Acura NSX some time back – I was even asked if I was an actor, thanks to that tester’s California plates, despite the fact that my looks are more Buscemi than Clooney.

But I didn’t expect that in the ‘Vette. Because I forgot, at least at first, to take into account how different this one is from its predecessors. I was still in the “Corvettes are a dime a dozen!” mindset.

I should’ve known the wedge-shaped, mid-engined Corvette would turn all eyes on me. Not just because it’s so different from the C7. But because the styling all but screams “supercar”.

So does the performance, as you’ll see shortly. But the price says something different. It says “relatively affordable, if you’re relatively well off.” Indeed, the C8 shown here actually cost just a bit less than either the Dodge Charger Hellcat or Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 I wrote about recently.

Honestly, it’s a bargain.

You will likely not be shocked when I tell you that the car offers acceleration that seems to warp space and time, thanks to the 6.2-liter V8 (495 hp/470 lb-ft) that sits just inches behind your head. The lack of an available manual transmission – your only choice is an eight-speed, dual-clutch automatic – does suck some of the fun out of the proceedings (paddles just aren’t the same), but only a little bit.

Indeed, it’s a miracle I got through my loan without talking to an officer of the law. The temptation to drop the hammer is always there, and rarely resisted.

Corvettes have always been about more than just straight-line speed, though. They’re also supposed to be prolific handlers. Yes, previous-generation cars – especially before the C7 – had a reputation for sending drivers into the weeds after ham-fisted maneuvers, but there was also high reward for the risk.

Not so with this car – it’s a sharp, focused cornering tool that nonetheless feels somewhat more forgiving. Yes, I could still sense, at times, that pushing too hard would lead to expensive consequences. But I felt like the leash was a bit longer than with past Corvettes I’ve wheeled, and more importantly, the car was better at letting me know that doom was, if not impending, at least visible.

The car’s reflexes don’t just come in handy when attacking some curvy country road. During a gentle cruise down a suburban two-lane, I came upon the remains of an unfortunate raccoon that had met its maker via vehicular impact. If I’d been driving almost anything else, I’d have cleared the corpse with ease. But at the last second I remember that the Corvette’s ground clearance is so low that Chevy has made available a system that can temporarily raise the car when the driver encounters driveways or speedbumps.

I had space on either side, so a couple of quick flicks of the wheel later, I was back on the straight and narrow and the mortal remains of this particular Procyon lotor remained free from desecration, at least for the moment.

Perhaps more importantly, the Corvettes Eightus remained unblemished. Which, save for a small scratch on the removable roof due to clumsiness on the part of yours truly (see below), is how it was returned to its rightful owners.

A lot of credit for the car’s dynamics go to the optional Z51 Package ($5,000), which is pretty much required if you plan on track driving and gives the short/long arm double-wishbone (front and rear) suspension even more of a performance tune and also adds Brembo brakes with larger rotors, Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires (19s in front, 20s in the rear) instead of all-seasons, performance exhaust, better cooling, front-brake cooling inlets, electronic limited-slip differential, different axle ratio that makes the final-drive ration 5.2:1, and a rear spoiler.

You can get a magnetic ride-control system with the Z51 Package, but my test vehicle did not have it. Based on what I’ve read elsewhere, I’d opt for it. I would definitely opt for the Z51 Package even if I never tracked this car.

So, the Corvette is fast and handles well. Big whoop, you say. It’s supposed to do that.

Well, yes. But the genius of this ca r is how well-behaved it is when you aren’t pushing it. While the C7 was mostly smooth during freeway jaunts, the C8 is so relaxed you almost forget what it can do. It reminded me of the NSX, when that car was put into Quiet mode.

Speaking of modes, the Corvette carries over the Weather, Tour, Sport, and Track drive modes from before and adds a configurable MyMode (which the car will remember) and a Z Mode, which adds engine and transmission adjustments to MyMode. As you might expect, the car’s responses improve in Sport and Track mode, and whoever set up the Z Mode in my car got it so right that I left it alone.

Get a wild hair, and it’s easy to adjust all the modes, but the Z Mode can be activated with just the press of a steering-wheel button.

No car is perfect, and while this car is a delight to drive, it also has its flaws. For example, while the ride isn’t as stiff as you might expect from a low-slung sports car, it’s not soft, either. You will occasionally get punished by a pock-marked road.

Entry and exit aren’t great if you’re like me – tall, overweight, and past the party years of adulthood. At least the seats – once the bane of any Corvette driver’s existence – are acceptable in terms of comfort, though perhaps not for hauls longer than an hour. This car was fitted with the optional GT2 buckets.

Aside from the exterior styling – which grew on me and looks better in person than in pictures – and the placement of the engine and the lack of a clutch pedal, the most controversial aspect of the newest ‘Vette is in the interior layout. Specifically, the line of buttons that lays atop the divider between driver and passenger. It seems like GM designers came up with a sleek, sexy cockpit and then forgot they needed to put in buttons for basic functions.

And yes, it looks awkward. Just as awkward in person as in pictures. But it’s not that hard to get used to, in terms of actually operating the various functions.

Then there’s the operation of the removable roof panel. You can do it by yourself, but it would be easier with two people, and somehow I managed to cause a small scratch along the edge in the process of removing it for photos.

Storage is limited, especially with the top stowed.

Other key standard or available features on a 2LT trim ($7,300) Corvette like this test unit include run-flat tires, dual-zone climate control, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, satellite radio, Bose audio, remote start, keyless entry and starting, navigation, head-up display, curb-view camera, rear-camera mirror, heated and cooled seats, performance data recorder, heated steering wheel, wireless charger, and front-lift adjustable height.

A car that two of us named “ best of” last year. All for a hair under $80K.

There are other cars that are this fast, handle this well, and draw as much attention. But almost all of them cost significantly more – the NSX bases at nearly twice the price for a similar experience, though its complex hybrid system likely costs more to engineer and build, to be fair.

Yes, you could have a hoot of a performance car that has four doors and can haul four humans in comfort if you buy a Charger Hellcat. You could have a rear seat, in theory, and a regular-sized trunk in a Shelby Mustang. And those cars are also fast and fun to drive and similarly priced. But they aren’t super.

Yet the C8, especially with the Z51 Package, handles better than either. It’s faster – or at least has a slightly better 0-60 time – than either. Driving it is an event.

If you don’t need rear seats or much luggage/cargo space, and if you can stand the attention, the Corvette C8 is an excellent supercar at a bargain price.

Ed. note: We are trying a tweak to our review format, starting with this one. See below. We welcome any feedback you may have.

What’s New for 2020

The Corvette is completely redesigned and is now mid-engined. A manual transmission is no longer available.

Who Should Buy This Car

Those who can accept that changing an icon is sometimes for the better.

[Images © 2021 Tim Healey/TTAC]

Comments
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  • Dantes_inferno Dantes_inferno on May 10, 2021

    There's only two words that will stop that Vette (and other vehicles - ICE, hybrid and EV's alike) dead in it's tracks: Chip Shortage.

  • Lightspeed Lightspeed on May 11, 2021

    A truly brilliant car with standout performance and value, now just clean up that rear facia. In fact, just use Chip Foose' interpretation when you refresh it in a couple years.

  • Nrd515 I bought an '88 S10 Blazer with the 4.3. We had it 4 years and put just about 48K on it with a bunch of trips to Nebraska and S. Dakota to see relatives. It had a couple of minor issues when new, a piece of trim fell off the first day, and it had a seriously big oil leak soon after we got it. The amazinly tiny starter failed at about 40K, it was fixed under some sort of secret warranty and we got a new Silverado as a loaner. Other than that, and a couple of tires that blew when I ran over some junk on the road, it was a rock. I hated the dash instrumentation, and being built like a gorilla, it was about an inch and a half too narrow for my giant shoulders, but it drove fine, and was my second most trouble free vehicle ever, only beaten by my '82 K5 Blazer, which had zero issues for nearly 50K miles. We sold the S10 to a friend, who had it over 20 years and over 400,000 miles on the original short block! It had a couple of transmissions, a couple of valve jobs, a rear end rebuild at 300K, was stolen and vandalized twice, cut open like a tin can when a diabetic truck driver passed out(We were all impressed at the lack of rust inside the rear quarters at almost 10 years old, and it just went on and on. Ziebart did a good job on that Blazer. All three of his sons learned to drive in it, and it was only sent to the boneyard when the area above the windshield had rusted to the point it was like taking a shower when it rained. He now has a Jeep that he's put a ton of money into. He says he misses the S10's reliablity a lot these days, the Jeep is in the shop a lot.
  • Jeff S Most densely populated areas have emission testing and removing catalytic converters and altering pollution devices will cause your vehicle to fail emission testing which could effect renewing license plates. In less populated areas where emission testing is not done there would probably not be any legal consequences and the converter could either be removed or gutted both without having to buy specific parts for bypassing emissions. Tampering with emission systems would make it harder to resell a vehicle but if you plan on keeping the vehicle and literally running it till the wheels fall off there is not much that can be done if there is no emission testing. I did have a cat removed on a car long before mandatory emission testing and it did get better mpgs and it ran better. Also had a cat gutted on my S-10 which was close to 20 years old which increased performance and efficiency but that was in a state that did not require emission testing just that reformulated gas be sold during the Summer months. I would probably not do it again because after market converters are not that expensive on older S-10s compared to many of the newer vehicles. On newer vehicles it can effect other systems that are related to the operating and the running of the vehicle. A little harder to defeat pollution devices on newer vehicles with all the systems run by microprocessors but if someone wants to do it they can. This law could be addressing the modified diesels that are made into coal rollers just as much as the gasoline powered vehicles with cats. You probably will still be able to buy equipment that would modify the performance of a vehicles as long as the emission equipment is not altered.
  • ToolGuy I wonder if Vin Diesel requires DEF.(Does he have issues with Sulfur in concentrations above 15ppm?)
  • ToolGuy Presented for discussion: https://xroads.virginia.edu/~Hyper2/thoreau/civil.html
  • Kevin Ford can do what it's always done. Offer buyouts to retirement age employees, and transfers to operating facilities to those who aren't retirement age. Plus, the transition to electric isn't going to be a finger snap one time event. It's going to occur over a few model years. What's a more interesting question is: Where will today's youth find jobs in the auto industry given the lower employment levels?
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