Automobile of the Year: 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

A. J. Mueller

Yes, the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette is the Automobile of the Year. No, this was not a foregone conclusion. The Corvette may have a special place in the American automotive pantheon, but not every new Corvette has been a big deal. The C6, for example, was a conservative effort, a safe play that didn't reach. The new C7, though, is something else.

This is a thorough redesign, and it starts with a new frame. Switching from steel to aluminum (previously only Z06 and ZR1 models used an aluminum frame), the C7's frame structure is nearly 100 pounds lighter than the C6's and considerably stiffer. The front and rear cradles -- both aluminum -- are also lighter and stiffer. The lift-off top remains, but it's carbon fiber (as is the hood). The V-8's 6.2-liter displacement is the same as before, but this is an all-new engine, backed by a new seven-speed manual transmission. There's newfound sophistication in the chassis and an interior that makes no excuses to anyone.

The car's performance is simply awesome. In today's era of horsepower inflation, the big V-8's 455 hp, or 460 hp with the performance exhaust, may not be numbers made for bar boasts -- we'll have to wait for the Z06 for that -- but you get the impression that reaching some marketing-driven power figure was not the point. The point was to smoke tires, roar out of turns, and storm down the straights -- oh, and do all that without quaffing unleaded. As it turns out, this new 6.2-liter proves to be highly effective at all those things.

With 460 lb-ft of torque (again, add 5 with the performance exhaust), the ability to fry the Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber is always there, just a push of the traction control button away. When you're more interested in go than in show, the Corvette gets down and boogies. We clocked an 11.9-second quarter mile at 118 mph; 60 mph ticks by in less than four seconds. Launch control is available should you want to clock yourself, and there's a function that will record your time so you can amaze your friends. Full-throttle blasts are accompanied by a race-car-worthy soundtrack trumpeting from the quad exhaust pipes, but under mellower circumstances the engine emits a muted yet purposeful rumble.

Even in a Corvette, you're not always stomping on the gas, and this powertrain is just as rewarding in less aggressive driving. The new, seven-speed manual features creamy clutch action and a slick shifter. Without turbochargers to manage, the V-8's throttle response is precisely predictable, and the long-travel accelerator pedal lets you easily mete out the exact amount of power. Despite the normally aspirated engine's large displacement and potent output, a tall top gear and the ability to run on four cylinders (in Eco mode) help this muscular beast post EPA numbers that you won't be ashamed to mention in polite company: 17/29 mpg city/highway for the manual, 16/28 mpg for the automatic.

The Stingray is a great car for going fast, but it's also great for going slow. It's great for going fast not because it goes faster, but because it's now easier to drive it faster. The excellent steering comes by way of a system that Chevrolet says is five times stiffer and a wheel that's smaller than before; the result is newfound precision that makes this big machine much more wieldy. The chassis incorporates the expected suite of computer-managed traction and handling aids, but what's remarkable is how customizable they are and how deftly they perform their bacon-saving functions while still leaving so much of the car control in the hands (and feet) of the driver. There are five main modes, topping out in Track, into which you can delve further until you get to the level where stability and traction control are completely off. The optional and highly worthwhile Z51 package supplements all that with an electronically locking rear differential that constantly apportions torque from side to side, which allowed even the less skilled among us to power out of corners at GingerMan Raceway with confidence. This Corvette is not going to break away suddenly or snap around on you. There's grace and fluidity here.

Accessibility is a theme running through the C7. Despite the sophisticated technology, this is not a cold, technocratic machine. It is a democratic sports car -- and what could be more American than that? From the moment you press the hidden pad releasing the familiar electronic door latch and slip inside, the C7 presents a friendlier countenance. The driver's relationship with his surroundings has changed. You're no longer buried in the car, lost in a sea of undulating fiberglass, surrounded by cheap-looking plastics.

Forget all that. Your interaction with the C7 is as straightforward as a handshake. The ergonomics feel right; the switchgear is clear and functional; you can see out of the cabin; and the seats hold you comfortably in place. Yes, the Corvette really does have decent seats -- and we haven't even tried the optional competition buckets. It also has an interior worthy of a $50,000-plus sports car. The materials look and feel good, and the interfaces manage to be modern yet not gimmicky, a concept that more and more carmakers are finding elusive these days.

The interior design may actually be more successful than that of the exterior, which is the new car's most subjective aspect and its most controversial. The styling is very busy, and the essential Z51 package adds even more in the form of spoilers and brake-cooling ducts. Against that, the new design does move the Corvette's look forward at last, after three generations of stasis. And based on the reactions of our younger staffers and of the cell-phone-wielding paparazzi, the design also seems to resonate with a new generation. If the Stingray really can capture their imagination, then the Corvette might once again be seen on the coasts, not just in the middle of the country.

It is interesting that, in our days of driving and discussions, it emerged that the Corvette's major rival for this award was the Cadillac CTS. Of all the new cars introduced this year -- from brands such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Lexus, Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover, and many others -- the top two contenders for Automobile of the Year were both from General Motors. General Motors, the bumbling giant, tied up in knots of bureaucracy and legacy costs, recipient of a much-vilified loan from Uncle Sam. Although many will never admit it, today's GM is putting out some excellent products. We can't help but marvel at the fact that they were developed under the darkest possible skies. Given the circumstances, we might not have expected a great new Corvette, but that's exactly what we got.

The Corvette has long been a tremendous performance value wrapped in an all-American package. Now, however, with newfound sophistication and user-friendliness, the C7 should melt the barriers that have kept away so many driving enthusiasts. This is not just a car for the Corvette faithful but instead spreads the gospel to a new, wider audience. The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is a world-class car with no apologies to make, an expression of greatness from a town and a car company that have been dismissed as losers. It is also the Automobile of the Year.

Tadge Juechter, chief engineer of the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, is Automobile Magazine's 2014 Man of the Year. Click here to read the full story.

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

Base Price: $51,995
Powertrain
Engine: 16-valve OHV V-8
Displacement: 16-valve OHV V-8
Horsepower: 455-460 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 460-465 lb-ft @ 4600 rpm
Transmission: 7-speed manual, 6-speed automatic
Drive: Rear-wheel
Chassis
Steering: Electrically assisted
Front Suspension: Control arms, transverse leaf spring
Rear Suspension: Control arms, transverse leaf spring
Brakes: Vented discs
Tires: Michelin Pilot Super Sport ZP
Tire sizes F, R: 245/40R-18 (93Y), 285/35R-19 (99Y)
Measurements
L x W x H: 177.0 x 73.9 x 48.6 in
Wheelbase: 106.7 in
Track F/R: 62.8/61.6 in
Weight: 3436 lb
Weight dist.: 49/51%
0-60 mph: 3.7 sec
Top speed: 185 mph (est.)
EPA mileage: 17/29 mpg, 16/28 mpg (manual, automatic)

Jay Schleifer
That this car could have been created under the economic and business conditions it faced says good things not just about GM, but about America.  The Can Do spirit lives!
Ed Schildmeier
Many thanks to you Joe and to the whole staff at Automobile for electing the new Corvette Stingray as the 2014 Automobile of the Year. As a former vette owner I know what an amazing car the Corvette is. The power, the looks, the handling, are all unmatched by any other car made without spending tens of thousands of dollars more and going to an offshore brand. Naysayers have obviously never owned a Corvette and so they've never taken the time to really get under a Corvette's skin and marveled at the simplicity of the design. On your choice of 2014 Automobile of the Year- Bravo!Now, having said that, there's is a huge mistake in this new Stingray's design that someone should tell Tadge and Chevrolet know about. The problem has no effect on performance. The appearance is the problem here and, to me, it stuck out like a sore thumb on the yellow model you photographed for the article. Specifically the roof line. What are those yellow lines that protrude forward from either side of the rear glass? They look like a couple of spears painted on. Part of the allure of the vette is the removable targa top. Notice on a C4 how the roof panel just aft of the removable top is the same color as the car and it wraps all the way down to the body on both sides? That IS a targa top. Please tell GM to fix it.
Manny Gutierrez
Very Nice, I want one!!
Jennifer M Mcdonald
I need this..
percynjpn
The Corvette's awesomeness is awsomely awesome.
jjandmag
Folks - I was a skeptic and didn't care for the rear treatment either - until I saw the car in real life.  Then I sat in one.  Then I drove one.  Then I bought one!  A torch red Z51 7-speed with exposed carbon fiber top and chrome wheels in 3LT trim.  I traded in our torch red 427 convertible for it - it's that good.  I can personally vouch for the precise steering, ride, economy numbers, interior, etc. etc. etc.  It doesn't have the top end pull of the LS7 but around town there is very little difference except the C7 is much easier to live with due to it's low end torque and overall tractability.  At $68,903 MSRP this car is a steal and as hard as it is to get one now (several Z51 parts are in short supply) I'm glad I took the plunge when I did.  Styling is a personal taste issue but anyone that bad-mouths this car's performance without driving it - is not worth listening to.  Save the wave! 
Steve Dale
I've seen one on the road in Newport Beach and a 2nd parked at a car event. The rear looks like a kit car. Cheesy. I liked the rest, but a car that is not for me. I predict that the first re styling kits will  be the horrible rear end. The badge looks like it was torn off a high school Letterman jacket. 
Reza Shalchi
Salar corvette
Agustin Manuel Pastoriza
Displacement:16-valve OHV V-8 ???
sbabbittx5
Too ugly, too heavy and I guess I need to sit in one but judging by the photos the interior screams "Chevy" which isn't a good thing. I'll be keeping my Porsche thank you very much
Mortimer Duke
Now the real challenge begins.  How much will C7 add to GM's bottom line?  Leaving creditors on the hook for tens of billions and being gifted tens of billions more in taxpayer money and recapitalization, creating a phenomenal machine from unlimited resources is hardly remarkable.  What would C7 be if its development were limited to and by the resources GM actually earned?  Moons have been explored and diseases cured for less.What's most remarkable isn't how much can be had for so little.  It's how little GM can command from so much.  C7 clearly plays in supercar territory, yet even slovenly-by-comparsion versions of Camaro command more - rebates included.  C7 being vehicle of the year is neither a surprise nor achievement.  It was expected.  Now what of legitimate makers who bear the burden of competing with C7's affirmative action trust fund baby origins.
Cl Reply
I'm sorry I just can't get past the hideous Camaro styled rear lights and tail section.  It is esthetically awful.  However, with that said, the new C7 is worthy of Automobile of the Year award.
Johnny.5sp
I saw my first one last weekend. It was the only car on the showroom floor...oh did I mention they taped a sign on it "Do Not Touch".Yes there are a handful of cars that are faster and handle a wee bit better but most are double and nearly triple in price, all things considered,  it is "Untouchable"
Carhoots.com
Damn the new Vette is HOT! In electric blue or yellow it looks so bad ass. 
Patrick Stinga
This is probably the only time i would EVER consider getting a yellow car cause MAN does this thing look HOT in it! This thing makes yellow look good.
Jay Kumar Jay
badi sexy car h,
rthemichall
Looks enough like Lightning McQueen from the front to make me think Disney had a hand in the design.     
captlwr
$50,000 PLUS??!! How bout MSRP Sticker price of $76,000 (3LT with 7-speed) - Fast? YES...Better Interior? YES ....Easier to drive?? Maybe - but you better have your Mirrors set correctly bcuz there is ZERO visibility out the rear (except straight back) - and I'm NO "Vette Hater" - have owned 3 including the REAL "Sting Ray" (63 Coupe)..............the C7 IMHO is WAY too big and WAY too heavy for what it could have been as a completely new design......
Pranav Gambhir
Simply Awesome....!!!
Lokesh Recharla
Nice car.
Yogesh Sharma
Ye kitne k aati hai bhai
Someshwar Kiran Chawhan
How many hav 2likes 4a bit'F Racey Roding at 2Ni8...
Bijay Sinha
Yyyeeeeaaaa, so hot
Dhaval Suvagiya
Oooosam car........
Sumit Choudhary
nice car
Amol Kakade
nice pick bhai
Jasluv Singh
make this car bumblebee in next transformers movie!!!
TC Elif Çakır
(y)
Ruhan Yaseen
Awsme baby
Sharu Sharuuzz
this is my car
Dhoriyani Mayur
Very very nice amazing car nice. .......cute
Shijin Jayaprakashan
super car
Safeer Xtreamer
In india its Suzuki wagonr stingray ... lol
Yashwant Reddy
corvett C7
Abdul Maruf
nyc
Sagar Kevale
best
Mohammad Akbarpour
True Vette; actually nothing less is expected by a Vette
Nikki Vaishnav
shoroom kholo loo
Prajith VP
wow
Amol Sonawane
Beautiful car
Mehul Singh Rajpurohit
my fav
Vishnu Varma
it is my car.
Parth Chikani
I like car.becose i study automobil engineering
Ranjeet Nikam
whath car haa
Dana Camanara
Hey You Know it Jack Ryan !  Bravo !  Our friend here is a classic Porsche elitist ...I know...I was one !  Nothing like spending 125 grand for a 911 with half the torque....and don't forget the $2,500 door sills !  What a joke....the Germans are laughing all the way to the bank.  Btw...sbabbitt, it doesn't say Chevy on the back....which is what you'll be looking at.
Jack Ryan
@sbabbittx5 If I hated America that much I'd spend twice the money for less performance too.It's anything but ugly.
Johnny.5sp
@sbabbittx5 Ok I'll buy a Corvette and take my 60K savings to the bank
Bossman
How is a car with an overall length of 177 inches is too big ?? Its smaller than a 3 Series by 5 inches .
corvette6682
My '66 roadster weighed in at 3477lbs (no a\c, no power brakes or steering, and no power windows or locks). Seems the new C7 has all the good comfy equipment plus technology. Mine runs at least a full second or more slower. I love this new Corvette C7.
percynjpn
@Pranav Gambhir Wow - I didn't know Corvettes were so popular in India!

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