After years of waiting for the mid-engine Corvette to make its debut, the pressure was on for Chevrolet to deliver a modern-day icon. As the C8-generation car enters its second model year, we are happy to report that its status is preserved—in fact, it’s elevated. The Corvette offers impressive performance, a 490-hp V-8 engine, and an affordable base price, which helped it snag a 10Best award and make our Editors’ Choice list. Both a coupe and a convertible are offered, and the Corvette’s two-seat cabin is spacious and comfortable for full-size adults. Beyond its spectacular performance, Chevy’s engineers made the ride supple enough for daily commuting and cross-country road trips, yet with the Z51 package the Vette is track-capable. Cargo space is limited, but golf clubs still fit in the back, and the front trunk (frunk) offers a deep well that’ll easily hold a carry-on suitcase.
What’s New for 2021?
Chevrolet has added a few standard features for 2021, including wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, new options for the digital gauge display, and a Buckle-to-Drive safety feature that prevents the standard automatic transmission from shifting out of park until the driver has buckled their seat belt. On top of that, any Corvette can now be ordered with the optional magnetorheological dampers as a standalone option; previously, to get them you’d have to purchase expensive Z51 performance package. Cosmetically, a new Full Length Dual Racing Stripe package is available, with stripes in blue, orange, red, or yellow. A new gray-and-yellow interior color scheme has also been added to the options sheet. Pricing of all models increases by $1000 across the board for the 2021 model year.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
The Corvette is available as either a coupe or a convertible with a folding hard top. Since the coupe’s roof lifts off for open-top motoring anyway, we’d stick with it. We’d instead spend the money to upgrade to the 2LT version, which starts at $68,295, and adds a goodly number of features, including a head-up display, a wireless smartphone charging pad, heated and ventilated seats, a heated steering wheel, a 14-speaker Bose stereo system, blind-spot monitoring, and much more. The Z51 performance package is also a must-have as it brings all of the Corvette’s best performance-oriented gear.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Although the engine is in a new location—now behind the passenger compartment instead of in front of it—it remains a 6.2-liter V-8, albeit one making 490 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. With the dual-mode performance exhaust that is part of the Z51 package, it makes 495 horsepower. The Z51 option also adds an electronic limited-slip rear differential, more aggressive brakes, and summer tires. An eight-speed dual-clutch automatic (a Corvette first) is the sole transmission. It is controlled either by a push-button gear selector on the center console or by using two large steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles. A manual transmission is not available. In our testing, we recorded a zero-to-60-mph time of 2.8 seconds and the quarter-mile in 11.2 seconds at 122 mph in a car equipped with the Z51 performance package and the optional FE4 magnetorheological dampers. We managed a braking distance of 149 feet from 70 mph and recorded 1.03 g’s on the skidpad. Even in base form, however, the new Corvette is capable of heroic handling and delivers big thrills on both road and track.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The 2021 Corvette earns EPA fuel economy ratings of 15 mpg city, 27 mpg highway, and 19 mpg combined. We subjected it to our own 200-mile highway fuel-economy test and recorded 26 mpg, 1 mpg less than expected. The last generation–remember the Corvette with the engine in the front?–managed a 27 mpg result in the same test.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The new Corvette’s interior remains a two-seat layout, but the cabin is moved up closer to the car’s nose to accommodate the mid-mounted engine. The interior is lined in materials such as leather, real metal, and imitation suede and even has a stitched headliner. Speaking of the roof, it’s removable just like those of previous Corvettes, and it fits inside the car’s trunk just aft of the engine compartment. The rear trunk also can accommodate two golf bags, and a front trunk offers space for luggage or cargo while the roof is stowed. The driver sits behind a squared-off steering wheel and a 12.0-inch reconfigurable gauge display; a large infotainment touchscreen is angled toward the driver for ease of use. The interior design takes the driver-focused concept to the max, bisecting the cockpit with a tall bank of switches for the car’s climate-control system. Overall, the new Vette’s cabin is quite good. Upgrading to the 3LT package gets you upgraded materials such as sewn leather on most of its interior surfaces, plus carbon-fiber trim. The new Corvette offers two trunk areas, one ahead of the passenger compartment and one behind the engine, for a total of 13 cubic feet of storage space. Chevrolet says the Corvette can fit two sets of golf clubs in the rear compartment when they are stacked on top of each other. In our testing, we were able to fit our set of clubs easily, so Chevy’s claim seems valid. When it came to seeing if there was room for our carry-on-size suitcases, we were able to fit one in the Corvette’s front trunk and two in the rear compartment.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The new Corvette uses Chevrolet’s Infotainment 3 Plus system, which features an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth audio streaming, a 4G LTE mobile hotspot, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. The system is easy to use and quick to respond to commands.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The Corvette hasn’t been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, so we cannot comment on its performance. The Corvette can be had with a limited number of driver-assistance features, and none are standard on the base model. Key safety features include:
- Available blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
While its performance is amazing, the Corvette’s warranty coverage is strictly average. At least the first maintenance service is covered at no cost.
- Limited warranty covers 3 years or 36,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 5 years or 60,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for the first visit