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Year-Long Review of the 2021 Chevrolet Corvette Z51: Single Garage Solution

More than a year behind the wheel of a mid-engine Corvette proved to us that’s all you need.

More than a few automakers have tried to create a supercar that you can drive every day without much compromise. and Those efforts, whether cleaning or adjusting an existing vehicle, are rarely successful. There is a meaning behind the saying “a jack of all professions and no master.” Something to give. After 14 months behind the wheel of the 2021 Chevrolet Corvette Z51—our 2020 Car of the Year—it’s not as big as you might think.
Well, we’re actually going to stand here and tell you that the Corvette is the only car you need. In reason, of course. Those with children or those who regularly transport plywood will need a different set of wheels. Everyone else? Get a ‘Vette.

2021 Chevrolet Corvette Z51 Yearlong Review Verdict: The One-Car-Garage Solution
2021 Chevrolet Corvette Z51 Yearlong Review Verdict: The One-Car-Garage Solution

See, I’ve done about everything that you can think of with this Corvette. Eight hundred miles of road trips? Several times. Bring home a Christmas tree? Tied to the roof. Shortcuts? Once Google Maps sent us a shortcut that turned out to be a poorly maintained dirt road and we managed to get there undamaged. Hardware stores? Do it. Grocery shopping? Every week. Beat the Porsche Cayman GT4 around the track? All while costing nearly $47,000 less.
Sure, there are a few times we need to move too big. On those occasions, we deliver $20 to the local big cannery and rent a pickup truck for an hour, or delivery. The problem was solved and for a lot less money than owning a second car.

We can do all of this because the Corvette is really as realistic as it is as a superlative performer. With two trunks and a removable roof, transporting almost everything home is no big deal. Neither of them went on vacation: We just packed a lot of carry-on luggage instead of a large bag.

2021 Chevrolet Corvette Z51 Yearlong Review Verdict: The One-Car-Garage Solution
2021 Chevrolet Corvette Z51 Yearlong Review Verdict: The One-Car-Garage Solution

Whether on the road or halfway across the state, the C8’s combination of top-class car quality, unusually comfortable sports seats and high-speed stability has made driving at any length a breeze. Set to “My Mode”—customized with better braking feel, large exhausts, slight shock absorbers, and lightweight steering—the car perfectly fits. If you happen to be on a straight rural highway with no other car in sight, it will happily travel at 100 mph for hours without beating you even a little.

Sometimes, you’ll have to slow down when you encounter major collisions, be it on dirt roads or pull over your steep driveway. When you do, a GPS-tagged rhinoplasty is an absolute must- have. We stopped taking advantage of the opportunity altogether and just lifted our noses at any time in the driveway or speed bumps or whatever it seemed like it might be in trouble. Tagging all locations in our neighborhood and around the office makes commuting much less stressful.

The car also does corvette stuff really, really well. Like putting that Cayman GT4 in its place. Or hit 60 mph in 2.8 seconds and confound cars with significantly greater power and fatter MSRP. It’s also great to rip up our local canyon roads whenever the mood hits.

The only thing that makes driving this car better is putting it in the right direction and leaving it there. Not only does it help with better lap times, but it also gives the steering wheel better feedback and communication. Yes, it’s worn tires in less than 10,000 miles, but it’s worth it. Worth $1,889.96 for tires and $100 for mounting and balancing by our friends at ZipTire. Supercar maintenance is not cheap.
However, in comparison, the Corvette is quite reasonably priced for repairs. A service appointment that we paid us only returned $183, which is significantly lower than the average luxury car service (usually more than $200 per visit) although a lot more than our long-term 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z51 C7, comes with free maintenance service for the first few years and doesn’t cost a dime but tires. As it happened, the front trunk stops opening at the moment when the car needs service, requires ordering a new opener and returning 12 days later to install it, but that is warranted along with some minor recalls. Our C7 Corvette is a bit more troublesome than our C8.

While nothing else needs fixing, we have some suggestions for Chevrolet when the mid-wheel update comes out. While we don’t hate the long row of center console buttons like some, we agree that the ergonomics aren’t there and it creates a wall for passengers to reach. While Chevy is rearranging all of that, it can also move the cordless phone charger from behind your elbow to a more accessible place. A set of hooks on the ceiling behind the seat to hang your jacket won’t hurt either. It’s not like you can look out the back window anyway. Adding insulation in the back trunk will also be great. Cold groceries are always in the front trunk.

On the outside, it would be great if Chevy could find a way to keep rainwater from standing on the hood and skis from pouring into the front trunk and trunk after you open them. It would also be great if they could thin out the side trim wings. They are mounted on the widest parts of the door and are the first thing that hits the car parked next to you. Shaving them will make it easier for you to squeeze in the door when someone parks too close.
Overall, these are small fixes that can make us happy, but they are hardly troublesome. Thoughtful features like a front cover hidden under the headlights, a downward-facing front camera, automatic distance lock, and automatic comfort entry/exit features make us forget about most of our kinks.

Quite often, our friends and colleagues post photos of cars they see parked side by side in the wild with captions like “state-of-the-art two-car garage.” Great if you can’t choose just one car and you have the money to spend on multiple ones. However, if you can live with just two seats, you don’t need a two-car solution. The C8 Corvette is the ultimate one-garage solution.

2021 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Mid-engine, RWD
ENGINE TYPE 90-deg direct-injected V-8, alum block/heads
VALVETRAIN OHV, 2 valves/cyl
DISPLACEMENT 376.0 cu in/6,162 cc
COMPRESSION RATIO 11.5:1
POWER (SAE NET) 495 hp @ 6,450 rpm
TORQUE (SAE NET) 470 lb-ft @ 5,150 rpm
REDLINE 6,400 rpm
WEIGHT TO POWER 7.4 lb/hp
TRANSMISSION 8-speed twin-clutch auto
AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO 3.55:1/1.71:1
SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Control arms, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; control arms, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar
STEERING RATIO 12.5-15.7:1
TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK 2.3
BRAKES, F; R 13.6-in vented disc; 13.8-in vented disc, ABS
WHEELS, F;R 8.5 x 19-in; 11.0 x 20-in, cast aluminum
TIRES, F;R 245/35R19 89Y; 305/30R20 99Y Michelin Pilot Sport 4S
DIMENSIONS
WHEELBASE 107.2 in
TRACK, F/R 64.9/62.4 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 182.3 x 76.1 x 48.6 in
TURNING CIRCLE 36.4 ft
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,643 lb (40/60%)
SEATING CAPACITY 2
HEADROOM, F/R 37.9 in
LEGROOM, F/R 42.8 in
SHOULDER ROOM, F/R 54.4 in
CARGO VOLUME 4.0 (frunk)/8.6 (trunk) cu ft
ACCELERATION TO MPH
0-30 1.3 sec
0-40 1.8
0-50 2.4
0-60 3.1
0-70 4.0
0-80 5.0
0-90 6.2
0-100 7.6
0-100-0 11.4
PASSING, 45-65 MPH 1.5
QUARTER MILE 11.4 sec @ 120.4 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 99 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 1.01 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 23.4 sec @ 0.86 g (avg)
TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 1,300 rpm
CONSUMER INFO
BASE PRICE $67,295
PRICE AS TESTED $80,420
AIRBAGS 4: Dual front, front side/head
BASIC WARRANTY 3 yrs/36,000 miles
POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 5 yrs/60,000 miles
ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 5 yrs/60,000 miles
FUEL CAPACITY 18.5 gal
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON 15/27/19 mpg
EPA RANGE, COMB 352 miles
RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded premium
ON SALE Now
Our Car
SERVICE LIFE 13 mo / 16,512 mi
BASE PRICE $67,295
OPTIONS Z51 Performance pack ($5,995: 3.55:1 axle ratio, electronic limited-slip, rear spoiler, heavy-duty cooling, performance suspension, brakes, tires, and exhaust); Front lift w/memory ($1,995); Magnetorheological dampers ($1,895); GT2 bucket seats ($1,495); Red brake calipers ($595); Composite rockers ($550); Premium paint ($500); Carbon flash side mirrors ($100)
PRICE AS TESTED $80,420
AVG ECON 17.0 mpg
PROBLEM AREAS None
MAINTENANCE COST $400.69 (2- inspection, oil change)
NORMAL-WEAR COST $2,062 (set of tires)
3-YEAR RESIDUAL VALUE* $96,800 (120%)
RECALLS None

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