Corvette still King of the Road

2009 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe

Year after year, the Chevrolet Corvette has been one of the most sought-after vehicles in the automotive press fleets. And, year after year, the car still continues to win praises and accolades.

C6 is the current platform designation for Corvette. What this brought was a vehicle new from the ground up and, for the first time since 1962, a power function for the convertible top. Designers also went back to an integrated headlight assembly which meant no more popups. This is also a design last seen in ’62.

Aggressive aerodynamic styling front and rear, as well as sharper side lines, give Corvette more of that good old American roadster appeal.

This new Vette in base form sports more power than the previous (C5) high output Z06 performer (power output is now up to 430 ponies courtesy the new LS3 6.2-liter pushrod V-8 engine) while offering a choice of suspension packages. The C6 also includes the keyless access with remote start feature we first saw on the Cadillac XLR, the first GM vehicle to use the new performance two-seater platform. No more fumbling for the keys; just have the key fob in your pocket or purse.

A new dual-mode exhaust system with larger mufflers at the rear allow Corvette to operate much quieter under mild driving conditions than previous generations but still emit a nice growl when it’s time to put the pedal to the metal (and increases power to 436 ponies).

New third-generation run-flat tires from Goodyear (18s up front and 19s in the rear) and large vented disc brakes keep C6 firmly grounded while standard Active Handling, traction control and ABS keep things under control.

An automatic gearbox is available to back up all that power created by the LS3 engine – complete with fingertip paddle-type shift controls on the new three-spoke steering wheel – but we enjoyed the more traditional six-speed gearbox with short-throw shifter.

Suspension choices include the base four-wheel independent short/long arm double wishbone design with monotube shock absorbers that is tuned for a balance of ride comfort and agility. Optional is a Magnetic Selective Ride Control system that uses a magneto-rheological damping fluid to react quickly to road conditions with choice of sport or tour modes. The third suspension option (which our tester featured) is the beefier Z51 performance package that utilizes more aggressive dampers and springs, larger stabilizer bars and enhanced brake components including drilled discs.

Inside we find the latest in electronic technology and componentry. DVD-based navigation, OnStar, XM-Satellite radios with CD units compatible with MP3 formats and electric door releases inside and out. We also enjoyed the heads-up display, which provides a quick read on necessary driver information including lateral G-force metering.

2009 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe

The C6 Corvette from Chevrolet is the total package. A street legal, factory fresh unit that can go from road to track and back again in nothing flat. And it has the capability of hitting some very good EPA numbers when being driven conservatively. In fact, Corvette is the only 400-plus horsepower sports car NOT currently saddled with a gas guzzler tax.

Pricing on our coupe tester begins at $47,045 but quickly rises to more than 58 grand fully loaded. Fuel economy is rated at 16 mpg city/26 mpg highway.

While our 2009 tester Corvette was not as chemically pungent as previous year models (a la the fiberglass body construction) there is still a slight reminder present. And while we still don’t like the 1-to-4 shift technology when driving at low rpms, even more annoying on this new model was the ever-present creaking of the seal of the new transparent roof panel option. A cool option to be sure, just constantly annoying.

At the end of the day, when all is said and done, Corvette still offers one of the best performance values around when comparing dollars per horsepower. From Bowling Green, Ky. to Route 66 to your driveway, Corvette is still king of the road.

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About the Author

David Goodspeed
David was editor of AutoworldToday at Today Newspapers in the Dallas suburbs until its closing in 2009. He was also webmaster and photographer/videographer. He got started doing photography for the newspaper while working as a firefighter/paramedic in one of his towns, and began working for the newspaper group full-time in 1992. David entered automotive journalism in 1998 and became AutoworldToday editor in 2002. On the average, he drives some 100 new vehicles each year. He enjoys the great outdoors and as an avid fly fisherman, as is his spouse Tish. He especially enjoys nature photography and is inspired by the works of Ansel Adams.