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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2002 Chevrolet Corvette Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2002 Chevrolet Corvette Overview

American Muscle, No Fat

The Corvette is probably the best known and most beloved American car on the road. Generation after generation have admired it, lusted after it and coveted it. Its likeness adorns the bedroom walls of countless teenagers and college dorms as well as the workplace cubicle walls of working parents everywhere. It is a dream machine priced within reach of the average Joe—even if he has to work a few years to save up the $42K starting price. The Corvette is more than just a car, it is a symbol; even in the mid 70s when the gorgeous body of the Corvette was saddled by an anemic 165-horsepower engine, Americans still snapped them up as fast as Chevrolet could build them.

Today's Corvette retains the powerful styling and two-seater tradition of the past, but it now has both the muscle and moves to challenge the best Europe and Japan have to offer. It also faces for the first time two domestic rivals in the form of the Dodge Viper and soon to arrive Ford GT40. Still, dollar for dollar, the Vette is the best value on the market, undercutting its competition by tens of thousands of dollars while outperforming most of them in almost every performance category that matters.

There are three models in the Corvette family. The coupe is the entry-level model and is easily the most recognizable of the three. It features a glass hatchback that gives the Corvette a sweeping fastback profile punctuated by an abrupt drop-off of the rear end. The convertible version of the Corvette loses the fastback styling and replaces it with a small convertible top, though most of the time we imagine the convertible will be viewed in its topless form. Finally there is the Z06, which is a hard-top coupe that has a small trunk lid behind a shortened rear window; the Z06 is also the most powerful and best handling Corvette ever produced. All three models share the same interior layout but with varying degrees of standard and optional equipment. The real differences between the three lay in their performance abilities.

The Corvette comes standard with a 5.7-liter V8 and a 4-speed-automatic transmission. The V8, rated at 350 horsepower, has been a part of the Corvette's makeup for almost as long as the car has been in production. In the lighter, more performance oriented Z06, the 5.7-liter is rated at a whopping 405 horsepower. GM's 5.7-liter, better known in the old days as the 350 cu. in. small block, has been modified over the years to the point where it shares little but its block size with the Corvettes of the past. It remains one of the most durable, long lasting and reliable engines on the planet. The Corvette's V8 snarls with the first turn of the key, its enormous intake manifolds sucking air like an athlete about to sprint for the gold. Slip the shift lever into drive, point the Corvette toward the open road, drop the hammer to the floor and you are rewarded by a head snapping takeoff followed by endless acceleration that leaves your stomach in your throat. The Corvette exists for the same reason roller coasters do; because Americans love the feeling of speed. A six-speed manual transmission is optional and adds to the fun of feeling like you are along for more than just a ride.

Power without ability is usually the recipe for disaster, as so many of us learned during the early days of Detroit muscle cars. Going fast in a straight line is one thing; going fast around a curve is a whole new animal. The Corvette is equipped with an outstanding suspension geometry that practically glues the car to the road. GM's Active Handling system monitors the wheels and helps keep you and the Corvette in control. The steering is spot on, appropriately heavy at high speeds and almost effortless when parallel parking. On the streets there is no maneuver we could find short of hitting a patch of black ice that would cause the Corvette to become unmanageable. It is clear that to even come close to the speed and handling limits of the this car, you are going to have to take it out on a race track. That being said, we think you'll find that from a performance point of view, the Corvette offers the most fun you can have within the boundaries of what is legal.

Now, because we know that you will also be using your Corvette for everyday drives and summer cruising, we would be remiss if we didn't talk about the cars more comfort-oriented features. You can equip your Corvette with such refined touches as leather-covered sport bucket seats that look and feel terrific, a Heads-up instrument display, power driver and passenger seats, removable roof panels (coupe only), dual-zone automatic climate control and Bose audio system with 12-disc CD changer.

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