Although it’s easy to focus on the 2020 mid-engine C8 or a classic model from some point in the last 60 years, the Chevy Corvette has been so fantastic throughout its entire run that you could pick pretty much any year and find something great. Of course, you already know this, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s fun to take a look at what the Corvette has had to offer from time to time. Today, I was looking at the selection at my local Certified Pre-Owned Chevy dealer, and it got me thinking about what that includes; the Chevy CPO program only allows for models that are less than six years old, which means you can find CPO Corvettes as far back as 2017. What does that get you? Well…
The 2017 Corvette
If you’re a Corvette fan, then you probably already know that the 2017 model year landed right about smack dab in the middle of the seventh generation for the ‘Vette – the C7 models. The C7 Corvettes launched with the 2014 model year and went through 2019, so a 2017 Stingray is a fantastic representative of what this generation had to offer. As you might expect, what it had to offer was amazing performance and power thanks to a 6.2L V8 engine that delivered 455 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque.
The 2017 model paired that engine with a standard 7-speed manual transmission, with an 8-speed automatic available. Although a manual transmission is certainly fun in a sports car, the automatic has been noted as being particularly responsive, and it really flies through the gears – the C7 Corvette could rocket from 0 to 60 in about 3.7 seconds with the automatic. Of course, this was still a pretty conventional sports car, with the engine up front, but its performance feels closer to a supercar in terms of how well it accelerates and its stopping power.
One of the great things about the 2017 model is that Chevy introduced a Grand Sport option for the C7 Corvette that year. The Grand Sport features some of the enhanced stylings of the high-performance Z06 model, including a wide-body and performance-tuned suspension, but it keeps the standard engine rather than featuring the more powerful one in the Z06. In other words, it offers a great middle-ground that includes some of the Z06’s best features without pushing the price tag quite as high as the Z06 model.
The interior of the 2017 Corvette was great, but I’m not sure I’d really call it anything unique or special. There were terrific options, including a leather dashboard and upholstery, plus very comfortable and highly adjustable seating. With an available head-up display and other great tech features, the interior was sophisticated and advanced, but it certainly felt like what you’d expect. We’re going to have to wait a couple of years to see an interior that’s truly revolutionary (but don’t worry, we’ll get there).
The 2018 Corvette
There weren’t a lot of huge updates for the 2018 model year of the Corvette, though a few things are certainly worth noting. In terms of performance, it featured the same great engine and design that made it incredibly fun to drive. The rear backup camera was fitted with a wider lens for 2018, providing you with a better view behind the vehicle, and the available performance data recorder was updated. This included some new options and additional information that could be saved and viewed in order to let you boost performance – a great feature if you’re one to take your Corvette to the racetrack.
Most of the updates for 2018 were aesthetic in nature, including a new exterior paint color and a new accent color for the interior. The other big option to mention was that 2018 saw the 65th anniversary of the Corvette – in honor of that, Chevy offered a limited Carbon 65 special edition for this model year. Only 650 of them were ever made, and they featured carbon-fiber details on the exterior and interior, including a carbon-fiber spoiler and more. It made for a gorgeous and unique option, though with so few of them out there, they’re certainly tricky to track down.
The 2019 Corvette
Here it is: the end of an era. At the moment, the 2019 Corvette represents the last production front-engine model that you can find. This was the final year for the C7 series, and it went out with a bang, though it was mostly unchanged from previous years. There were a couple of new exterior color options, but otherwise, it was pretty much the same as the preceding years.
Except, that is, for the return of the ZR1 model, which elevates the near-supercar status of the Corvette to true supercar levels of performance. The ZR1 featured a 6.2L Supercharged V8 engine that delivered a massive 755 hp and 715 lb-ft of torque. All of this power lets the ZR1 go from 0 to 60 in under 3.0 seconds, and it can run the quarter-mile in less than 11 seconds. There’s no denying that this was a sports car made for sports-car fans, and it takes the Corvette’s amazing performance to the next level.
But then again, there was something even more remarkable just around the bend…
The 2020 Corvette
As you already know, I’m sure, the 2020 Corvette changed everything; this was the launch of the C8 ‘Vette: a mid-engine beauty that finally delivered on what many of us had been hoping for and waiting on for years. The development of this was pretty much an open secret for a long time, and it really came down to the fact that GM’s engineers and designers had reached the limit of what they could do with a conventional sports car. As long as the engine remained in the front, they simply couldn’t push the envelope any further.
With the 2020 model, they moved the engine back behind the cockpit, just over the rear wheels, and brought a whole new level of performance to this amazing vehicle. They retuned the 6.2L V8 engine to deliver 490 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque – or 495 hp with an available performance exhaust package. We said goodbye to the manual transmission as an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic became the only option on this legendary vehicle. While I love the feel of shifting gears as you fly off the line as much as the next guy, I have to admit that the incredible precision and responsiveness of the dual-clutch is something else.
The shift to a mid-engine design and the new transmission lets the C8 Corvette fly from 0 to 60 in just 2.8 seconds, and it can run the quarter-mile in 11.2 seconds. Plus, the removal of the engine from the front means the nose is shorter, giving you an incredible view of the road ahead of you. To maximize this, Chevy’s designers removed buttons from the front dashboard to lower it and expand your view even further; the controls are now found on a row of buttons running between the two seats. The whole thing feels like a jet cockpit, and everything has clearly been designed to center and focus on you, the driver.
The 2021 Corvette
Although certainly not as revolutionary as the 2020 model, there were a few nice improvements made just last year for the 2021 C8. These include standard support for wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, improved options for the digital gauge display, and enhanced safety features. There were a few aesthetic updates, too, like a full-length dual racing stripe in a variety of colors, as well as new interior color options. Overall, however, the 2021 Corvette delivers the same amazing experience and unmatched performance as the year that came before it. This makes sense because there’s only so much you can do to improve upon near-perfection.