By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 11/10/2011
There is only one Chevrolet Corvette. It's an American original that has weathered the best and worst of times. The 2012 Chevrolet Corvette offers even more driving enthusiasts to love. With horsepower and handling to rival some of Europe's greatest super cars, the made-in-America 2012 Chevrolet Corvette continues to offer superior performance at a fraction of the price of those super cars. The 2-seat 2012 Chevrolet Corvette comes in a number of flavors. These range from the basic coupe and convertible, which start just above $50,000, to the supercharged 638-horsepower Corvette ZR1, a track star that tops the $100,000 mark. In between are the Corvette Grand Sport, which is available as a coupe or convertible, and the 7-liter, 505-horsepower Corvette Z06. All versions are available in 2012 Chevrolet Centennial Edition trim, which features "Carbon Flash Metallic" paint and special bodywork pieces. Hardcore Corvette fans will notice that the Corvette coupe and convertible and Corvette Grand Sport coupe and convertible are available in four trim levels, from 1LT to 4LT. While the Corvette Z06 and Corvette ZR1 are not available as convertibles, the Corvette Z06 is offered in 1LZ, 2LZ and 3LZ trim levels, with the Corvette ZR1 offered either in 1ZR or 3ZR trims.
There are a million reasons to want the 2012 Chevrolet Corvette. They range from good ol' nostalgia to the basic need for a pure adrenaline rush. We don't say this about many cars, but if there is one car you should own at least once in your life, it's the Chevrolet Corvette.
Fans of foreign sports cars, such as the Porsche 911 and BMW Z4, are rarely convinced to consider the Chevrolet Corvette. Also, those accustomed to highly tailored interiors found on exotic Italian sports cars probably will find the 2012 Chevy Corvette a bit lacking in refinement.
While the base Corvette and Corvette Grand Sport trims receive some minor interior upgrades, the big news for the 2012 Chevrolet Corvette is found on the Corvette Z06 and Corvette ZR1 models. The Corvette Z06 is available with an enhanced Z07 Performance Package with race-track-ready Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires and a new Performance Traction Management system, which manages torque delivery to put all that power to the pavement. The Corvette ZR1 receives these same upgrades in the new PDE performance package.
The 2012 Chevrolet Corvette is a genuine driver's car. Thanks to a host of high-tech electronic performance enhancements, the C6 Corvette rounds corners and responds quicker than any previous Corvette. The 6.2-liter V8 engine is never short on power, requiring only a slight tap of the accelerator to release its fury. You don't need to have muscle to handle this muscle car because the 2012 Chevy Corvette coupe's power steering turns with little effort yet returns excellent on-center feel and guidance. All three of the suspension packages – a base system, Magnetic Ride Control and the Z07 Performance package – are designed to satisfy a wide range of driving styles, from the casual weekend cruiser to the hard-core track enthusiast. In the sport mode the Corvette grabs the pavement with tenacity, and in touring mode it soaks up road harshness like a large luxury sedan.
Chevrolet's latest short-throw 6-speed manual transmission makes the shifter in past Corvette models feel like something pulled out of a 1966 Chevy pickup.
Keyless Access with Push Button Start
Keep your keys in your purse or pocket. When you approach the car, you simply reach for a touch-panel in the door handle and the vehicle starts up with the press of a button.
While we are certain that the 2012 Chevrolet Corvette can compete on almost any race track with almost any competitor, its interior does not compete as well. Even with the partial microfiber suede coverings provided in the new Chevrolet Centennial Edition, the Corvette's cockpit seems more Camaro-quality than Audi or BMW. It's not a horrible interior, but it does speak to the Corvette's Chevrolet roots. A handsome Custom Leather-Wrapped Interior Package (part of the 4LT Package) is well worth the extra cost, adding a dash of elegance to Chevrolet's road warrior. The newly designed front seats add additional side support and remain fairly comfortable even on long drives. One must remember, however, that this is a V8-powered performance car, so those looking for Lexus-like quiet in the cabin will be in for a rude awakening.
The 2012 Chevrolet Corvette coupe is unlike any Corvette before it, yet it retains a familiar look. That's because this sixth-generation Corvette draws inspiration from the 1968 C3 design, although this model has exposed headlamps and much shorter front and rear overhangs. The Corvette Grand Sport model borrows many of the design elements from the Corvette Z06, creating a thrilling-looking coupe for around $55,000. A traditional feature that is standard on the Corvette coupe is the removable body-colored roof panel, which is also available in tinted glass. There is even a package that offers one of each. The ultimate in Corvette design is the 2012 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, a super-car edition that adds its own unique body panels, and a combination of 19-inch front wheels and 20-inch rears, among other features.
The 2012 Chevrolet Corvette coupe features a 430-horsepower, 6.2-liter V8 engine, 6-speed manual transmission, traction control, limited-slip rear differential, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), side-impact airbags, xenon headlamps, AM/FM stereo with CD/MP3 capability, auxiliary input jack, SiriusXM satellite radio, OnStar, color-keyed removable roof panel, dual-zone air conditioning, Driver Information Center (DIC), keyless access with push-button starter, leather seats, 6-way power driver's seat, cruise control, leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel and 18- and 19-inch front and rear alloy wheels, respectively. The Corvette Grand Sport adds wider fenders, special wheels, revised suspension settings, Z06-style front splitter and rear spoiler, larger brakes and specific manual transmission gear ratios. (Specific rear-axle ratios are available on automatic-transmission models.) The Z06 adds a race-inspired 505-horsepower, 7.0-liter V8, revised front end, wider rear fenders, 18-inch front and 19-inch rear 10-spoke wheels and a track-inspired suspension. The ZR1 brings a 638-horsepower supercharged 6.2-liter V8 and a 205-mph top speed.
Options include a paddle-shift 6-speed automatic transmission, Head-Up Display (HUD), Bose audio with 6-disc in-dash CD/MP3 player, power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, Turn-by-Turn and DVD navigation, Magnetic Selective Ride Control, dual-mode exhaust system, transparent roof panels and polished alloy wheels. Also available is the Custom Leather-Wrapped Interior Package, which adds padded door armrests, custom embroidery on the dash and headrests and two-tone leather-wrapped pieces to the upper and lower instrument panel, door pads and seats. A new Chevrolet Centennial Edition package is similar to the Leather package, but includes suede-like inserts and custom Carbon Flash Metallic paint. The Corvette Z06 offers a number of performance enhancement options including the Z07 Performance Package which adds Brembo ceramic brakes, Magnetic Ride Control, larger Michelin Pilot Sport Cup Zero Pressure track-ready tires Performance Traction Management and 20-spoke wheels (19-inch front and 20-inch rear). The CFZ Carbon Fiber Package includes a black carbon fiber splitter and a ZR1-style full-width rear spoiler.
Although there is no denying the pleasure a 430-horsepower (436 horsepower with the optional dual-mode exhaust) V8 delivers, with the 2012 Chevrolet Corvette has a certain lack of refinement. The 6.2-liter LS3 small-block V8 feels gruff at idle and roars loudly when pressed into action. It's a purely American feel that instantly takes one back to the late 1960's muscle car era. Porsche and Jaguar lovers will probably never like this engine, but they can't easily overlook its tremendous performance potential, either. The Z06's 7.0-liter V8 pushes the level of performance and refinement into the realm of the European supercars. The Corvette ZR1's supercharger allows its 6.2-liter V8 to produce an incredible 638 horsepower and 604 lb-ft of torque.
430 horsepower @ 5,900 rpm (436 with optional exhaust)
424 lb-ft of torque @ 4.600 rpm (428 with optional exhaust)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/26 (manual), 15/25 (automatic)
505 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
470 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/24
6.2-liter supercharged V8
638 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
604 lb-ft of torque @ 3,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/21
The 2012 Chevrolet Corvette coupe's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts just under $51,000, while the Corvette convertible's price is closer to $55,500. The Corvette Grand Sport starts around $57,000, while the Corvette Z06 begins closer to $76,500. The Corvette ZR1's price exceeds $113,000. A wide range of competitors with similar performance and horsepower figures include the Porsche 911 Carrera S, which is priced at close to $90,000, the Nissan GT-R, which has an MSRP of about $91,000, and the Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, which is available at just under $50,000. Be sure to visit kbb.com to see our Fair Purchase Price which shows what others in your area paying. Even if you find yourself paying full retail for your Corvette, you can take solace in the fact that over a 5-year period the 2012 Chevy Corvette rivals the Porsche 911 Carrera S in projected residual values.