2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Road Test & Review: Introduction
Having been in the business of reviewing cars for quite some time, we have a pretty long memory when it comes to hearing automakers deliver the statement, “This is the best version of the (fill in the blank) we’ve ever done. Its list of improvements is both lengthy and extraordinary, and we’re confident you’ll find it surpasses all of the others to come before it.”
Now, given this is a review of the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, and if you’ve paid any attention to reviews of Corvettes over the years, you know the cars routinely get praised for their outstanding acceleration, cornering, and braking potential. The area where the Corvette has consistently suffered has been the interior treatment.
And predictably, with each preceding generation of the car, we’ve been told it was the best one ever, with the most substantial improvements to the interior treatment. Well, this time it’s the absolute truth. Furthermore, in addition to being the best Corvette interior ever, it is now fully competitive with any other sports car on the market, even surpassing quite a few of the more notable ones.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.
Bottom line, this really is the best Corvette ever, on so many levels.
Chevrolet’s supercar can now legitimately claim world-class status.
It really is that good.
2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Road Test & Review: Models & Prices
For 2014. Chevrolet is offering the Corvette Stingray coupe in three states of trim, designated 1LT, 2LT, and 3LT.
Starting at $51,995, the 2014 Corvette 1LT coupe comes standard with a set of 18-inch front wheels and a pair of 19-inch rear wheels—in addition to xenon headlights and heated exterior mirrors. The base price also includes a removable roof panel, a dual-zone automatic climate control system, cruise control, keyless entry and pushbutton start, supple leather upholstery, a pair of eight-way power seats, and a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel.
As luxurious as it is sporting, the Corvette Stingray also numbers OnStar, Bluetooth telephony and audio streaming, along with an eight-inch touchscreen monitor interface, among its basic equipment features. The monitor supports the Chevrolet MyLink electronics suite featuring smartphone integration and support for audio apps like Pandora and Stitcher, as well as a rearview camera and a nine-speaker Bose audio system with dual USB ports, an auxiliary audio input jack, an SD card reader, and of course satellite radio.
To all of the above, the $56,205 2LT trimmed Corvette adds auto-dimming driver-side exterior and interior rearview mirrors, a more robust 10-speaker audio system with HD radio, a multi-configurable head-up display, a shade for the cargo compartment, and memory settings for the driver—in addition to heated and ventilated seats with power lumbar adjustments.
With all of that already on board, the only things left for the $60,000 3LT package to add are upgraded leather upholstery and a voice operated navigation system.
For the go even faster stuff, the Stingray’s $2,800 Z51 performance package can be added to any of the trims. That extra bit of coin sets the 2014 ‘Vette up with 19-inch front wheels and 20-inch rears. It also adds some nicely crafted aerodynamic trim pieces, more aggressive brakes and suspension tuning, along with revised gear ratios for the seven-speed manual transmission. The Z51 package also brings a limited-slip electronic rear differential, a rear differential cooler, and dry-sump oiling for the V8.
If you order the Z51 package, you can also specify a set of adaptive suspension dampers and an upgraded traction management system. Additional gear available separate of the Z51 specification include the Stingray’s dual-mode exhaust system, as well as a competition-seating package.
All told, a nicely kitted 3LT Corvette Stingray with the Z51 package, the additional performance options, and some nice interior upgrades will come in at around $78,880.
2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Road Test & Review: Design
Immediately identifiable as a Corvette, and yet new enough to cause double and triple takes, the design of the Stingray is evolutionary, yet startlingly new. The profile remains unmistakably Corvette with its low and lean stance. And, if you look closely, you’ll note every surface of the car has detail—not a single body panel is flat. Its carefully blended amalgam of curves and angles simultaneously speak of performance and sculpture.
Further, every detail serves a purpose. The indentation in the roof serves to funnel the air passing over the top of the car to the rear spoiler to increase rear downforce. Every grille opening serves to either route cool air to key aspects of the Corvette’s mechanical assemblage, extract hot air once it has served its purpose, or improve aerodynamic performance. For example, the vent in the hood reduces lift to maintain steering feel at high speeds, while the vents in the fenders allow excess air to escape from the engine compartment to let the car go faster.
Even components buried deep within the car get cooling air routed to them; the Z51 transmission and differential take advantage of the intakes on the rear fenders, and once the air has done its job, it exits through the vents located near the taillamps and the lower rear fascia. Literally every surface of the Stingray’s body is crafted with airflow management in mind. The exterior design is just as functional as it is beautiful.
2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Road Test & Review: Comfort and Cargo
The same goes for the interior. As we mentioned in the introduction to this article, the 2014 Corvette Stingray enjoys the most carefully crafted and perfectly executed interior treatment any Corvette has ever offered.
Of course, it really wouldn’t have to be too exceptional to make that statement, given how bad the interior of previous models have been. So let’s take it one step farther, the interior of the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is easily comparable to any car in its price class—and even exceeds a few of them. Every surface of the interior is covered with premium soft-touch materials. Our tester featured Napa leather, aluminum, carbon fiber, and micro-suede.
It’s a sports car, so those of us with mobility issues may find it a bit taxing to get in and out of the low-slung coupe. However, once you settle into the seats you’ll find they’ve been designed with all-day comfort in mind. Supple, with just the right amount of support, they are just as comfortable as they are good looking. The optional sport seats also deliver additional bolstering to help hold you in place when you allow the Corvette to exercise its full capabilities. (In a controlled environment, of course.)
Don’t get it twisted though; this is first and foremost a sports car. So while cupholders are conveniently located, you’ll find yourself tucking a handbag behind the passenger seat when you have a companion riding along. What’s more, while there is a parcel shelf right behind the seats, it really doesn’t offer any arresting capabilities. Anything you place there will slide back and forth as the car negotiates turns.
The cargo compartment does offer a hidden storage bin for smaller items, but its capacity is rather limited. The cargo area itself offers a brad flat plain, and a cargo net is offered to help hold things in place. You’ll find the Stingray coupe will allow you to bring along some 15 cubic feet of cargo beneath its rear hatch.
2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Road Test & Review: Features and Controls
Seated in the driver’s seat with that small diameter steering wheel and the multi-configurable virtual instrument panel in front of you and the head up display’s readouts floating above the pavement, you’ll be forgiven for feeling like you’ve strapped yourself into a personal jet. Or more precisely, an exceptionally sophisticated high-performance automobile.
The arc of the instrument panel gives the impression of driving a single-seat racing car, as it focuses everything directly toward the driver. In fact, the passenger only gets one item aimed at them, a novel temperature adjustment and seat heating and ventilation control mounted beneath the outboard climate system air vent.
Easily one of the most driver-centric interior treatments we’ve ever encountered, it says in no uncertain terms this car is all about the driving experience. Every dial, switch and touch sensitive control is within easy reach of the driver whilst comfortably seated behind the wheel. You don’t have to lean forward to operate anything; every control is well within reach. Because there are so many features, the design is a little on the busy side, but over time, the positioning of everything will become second nature.
A single person can accomplish removing and replacing the roof panel, as its weight is manageable by pretty much anyone in average physical condition. However, it is a bit ungainly, so shorter people may find it somewhat challenging to handle alone. The cargo compartment is configured to stow the roof (it locks into place), but care needs to be taken to avoid scratching the car as you place or remove it.
2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Road Test & Review: Engine/Fuel Economy
Practically unlimited power flows effortlessly from the 455-horsepower, 6.2-liter V8 engine, along with 460 ft-lbs of torque. Direct injection and variable valve timing figure prominently in the engine’s capabilities. If you get the optional variable-mode active exhaust system, the engine breathes even more freely and rewards you with 460 horsepower and 465 ft-lbs of torque—along with the most glorious exhaust note you’ve ever heard from a street car. Running this engine up to redline, in addition to being one of the most thrilling visceral experiences you’ll ever have in a car, is also one of the most sonorous.
Mated to this engine is an all-new seven-speed manual transmission with a rev-match feature designed to duplicate the effect of heel and toe downshifting. It works pretty well for the most part, but for a driver well adept at this; it takes a bit of the satisfaction out of driving the car well. Fortunately, the engineering team configured the feature to be driver activated. In other words, you have to turn it on to use it, rather than turn off if you don’t want to. This definitely speaks to the driver-oriented philosophy of the people behind the 2014 Corvette.
There is an automatic transmission option as well, it’s a carryover six-speed unit with paddle shifters on the steering wheel for those times when the driver might want to take control of the operation of the transmission. However, it won’t make the trip across the ocean when the Corvette is exported to Europe, Continentals will get the seven-speed manual exclusively.
A drive mode selector allows configuring the responsiveness of the engine, transmission, steering, limited-slip differential, traction management system, and suspension system for either wet-weather driving (Wet), optimal fuel-efficiency (Eco), normal day to day ministrations (Touring), performance operation (Sport), or all-out, no holds barred, straight-up, hard-core going for it (Track).
The LT1 small-block V8 also features cylinder deactivation capability. When the drive mode selector is set to the Eco mode, under certain circumstances the engine actually operates on four cylinders rather than eight to conserve fuel. According to the EPA, one can expect to achieve 17 mpg in the city, 29 on the highway, and 21 overall with the manual transmission. Choose the automatic, you’ll be looking at 16 in the city, 28 on the highway, and 20 combined.
2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Road Test & Review: Driving Impressions
In a word? Yeeeehaaaaaah!!!
OK, now that we got that out of our system, we can tell you the 2014 Corvette Stingray features 50/50 weight distribution, which means the car is exceptionally well balanced. It turns in beautifully with no resistance to helm inputs whatsoever. Our Z51-equipped test car’s 19- and 20-inch Michelin Pilot Sport high performance tires stayed perfectly planted in every scenario—thanks to the magnetic suspension system. This meant grip was absolutely otherworldly.
That said, with the Corvette’s drive mode selector set to “Track” we also found we could rotate the car precisely, getting the exact amount of slip from the rear end we wanted to place the car exactly where we desired—over and over and over again.
The Stingray’s electric steering system delivered exceptional road feel and wonderful accuracy, with no slop whatsoever. Move the wheel, the Corvette’s nose moves, but with determination, not dartiness. The brakes hauled the Stingray down from significant speeds repeatedly with outstanding modulation; you can vary braking pressure and the resulting response with ease.
Throttle response is brilliant; the engine winds readily and feels like it will never run out of power. Press the go-pedal, the car just goes faster, and faster, and faster, and yes—faster. Chevrolet’s product people says the new ‘Vette is good for 200 miles per hour. We got no reason to doubt them whatsoever. Further, unlike every other Corvette we’ve driven, when you get well into triple digits, the Stingray remains perfectly planted on the pavement. Those new aero tricks absolutely work.
In a nutshell, this is a car does everything you ask it to, and exactly the way you ask it to. Even with the host of electronic watchdogs on hand making sure you remain securely on the asphalt path, nothing intrudes upon the driving experience. You really feel you’re in sole control—even though the driver aids are waiting just on the other side of “uh-oh” to bring you back if things start to get out of hand.
2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Road Test & Review: Safety Equipment
In addition to the accident avoidance capability the agility of the Corvette Stingray affords the driver, the Chevrolet is also fitted with four antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, a full complement of airbags (including side), and the aforementioned rearview camera. General Motors’ eye in the sky—OnStar—is also standard equipment bringing automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking, and stolen vehicle assistance to the 2014 Corvette Stingray’s suite of safety and security features.
2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Road Test & Review: Final Thoughts
What can we say here we haven’t already said? If you love to drive and have the means, there are very few cars on the market will deliver the performance, and now the overall satisfaction of the Stingray. This car will run with anything anybody has to put up against it, from anywhere in the world. What’s more, when you consider price, the Corvette has always been an outstanding value proposition in the realm of high performance sports cars. With its newfound sophistication, and the overall quality of its interior, it is now even more so. Long story short, you won’t find another car at the price capable of doing everything the Corvette does—period. And what’s more, it does everything exceptionally well.
2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Road Test & Review: Pros & Cons
Outstanding performance in every parameter
Excellent interior fit, finish, and comfort
Older automatic transmission