American icon. Along with the Ford Mustang and Jeep Wrangler, the Chevrolet Corvette is one of the three universally-recognized American automotive icons. This isn't without reason: big power and a competitive price have made this sports coupe a giant-beater almost since day one. While the 2019 Chevy Corvette marks the fifth year of production for this generation, America's sports car still remains a force to be reckoned with.
Performance bargain. It's simple really, no other machine brings such lofty ability to a relatively affordable price point quite as successfully as the Corvette. Sure, there are other performance-per-dollar deals like the Hellcat Dodges and even Chevy's own Camaro ZL1. But the Corvette plays in a different strata than those hot-rodded muscle cars whose roots lie in $25,000 base models. By being a bespoke, dedicated sports car that doesn't enjoy the same economies of scale as the muscle-car set, the Corvette's astonishing abilities at its given price point is all the more impressive.
The numbers tell the truth of it: the entry-level Corvette gets a 455-horsepower V8 good enough for a 3.7-second zero-to-60 mph run. The chassis is competent enough to pull a full 1.00 g on the skidpad, translating to endless grip through twisty turns. A slick-shifting seven-speed manual transmission is standard. All this also costs just $56,995.
Other dedicated sports cars with these kinds of performance stats will demand far more money. Porsche's equally-iconic 911 doesn't have a single variant priced under $90,000. Likewise with the Mercedes-Benz AMG GT. Even Jaguar's six-cylinder F-Type is about $15,000 pricier than the standard 'Vette.
It's the same story further up the model hierarchy, with the Grand Sport, Z06, and monster ZR1 all delivering an experience far transcending their respective prices. In the case of the $124,095, 755-horsepower ZR1, supercars from the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini will need to be concerned, as the zero-to-60 time comes in less than 2.9 seconds and top speed is 212 mph.
Exotic looks. There's a reason so many starry-eyed onlookers crane their necks when the current generation Corvette goes by. With all those flares and chutes and scoops grafted onto its lewd two-door sheetmetal, the Corvette does a good job of convincing a casual passerby that they're looking at something much more exotic than a Chevy.
Those who recall the Corvettes of the 1960s might not be so fond of the current look. We won't blame them – there's a lot that meets the eye with this generation 'Vette, and when it comes to timeless design that isn't necessarily a good thing. But the styling, as subjective a topic as it is, is fitting for the era we live in. It has enough of the traditional Corvette look to pacify the purists, while the details all clearly establish this version as the latest yet.
Respectable interior. It seems it's always the interior where cars like these – sports cars with big performance and relatively low price tags – cut corners in the pursuit of value. This generation has thankfully tried to curb that recurring demerit, and it has largely succeeded.
The cabin, once a cave of cheap plastics and shoddy quality, is now far more refined than those bad old days. Materials are soft-touch throughout, and the switchgear has a quality that matches the price point. It's a nice place to be, even if it's still not in the league of the bona fide European sports cars it competes against. Importantly, this generation marks the first time in decades you no longer buy a Corvette despite the interior.
The seats are a particular improvement. They're comfortable, well bolstered, and provide good support for both interstate cruising and backroad shenanigans. Paired with the standard tilt-and-telescope steering wheel, folks of near any size or shape should be able to make themselves at home in the snug-but-not-cramped cabin.
One of our favorite interior features is the available Performance Data Recorder. This little bit of tech records videos of your hot laps via a 720p camera mounted on the rearview mirror. It also collects all manner of track data, including minutiae such as steering yaw angle, percentage of throttle application and braking force, and cornering grip. If you just want to replay footage from a particularly scenic drive, there's a mode that offers video playback without any data crowding the screen. Whether you use your Corvette for relaxed cruising or plan on giving it regular track-day beatings, the PDR is a must-have option.
Final thoughts. There's no question that the 2019 Chevrolet Corvette is one of the best yet in the nameplate's history. Performance is stellar, interiors are far improved, and the (relative) bargain prices remain. More than that, the Corvette's all-around excellence proves that America can still build a proper sports car ready to go toe-to-toe with the best from the Continent.
It's fitting that this is the sports car which has become so representative of Old Glory, because the Corvette is performance democratized. Neither redneck nor pretentious, the Corvette throws aside class divides in its pursuit to simply be the best sports car that the Chevy guys can build. If that's not indicative of the American spirit, we don't know what is.