My C7 Review (9/29/13)

**This is a copy and paste of my C7 review that I wrote back in 2013.** 

Now that I have driven over 600 miles on the all new 2014 Corvette Stingray, I’ve developed enough familiarity with the car to be able to write a review.

A little information about myself:
I’ve been living Corvettes 24/7 for the past 7-8 years. It all started when I took on the position of being a lead service technician for a small used Corvette dealer. Before I knew it I became a Corvette owner myself. Work became my life. If I was not working on Corvettes during the day, I was out driving mine or going to a cruise-night or local Corvette club meeting. Today, I oversee all Corvette operations for a Chevy dealer. I’ve worked on/touched/driven nearly 2,000 Corvettes. Some people would say I’m a Corvette expert, but I’ll never brag or admit to being something I am not. I’m just doing what I love. I am sure there are others that know more about Corvettes than I.

Onto my review of the all new, 2014 Corvette Stingray:

I’ve been having the time of my life, living Corvettes. I’ve driven some of the sweetest rides, not only Corvettes, but classics/hotrods/muscle/exotics. From time to time I’ll get an opportunity to travel and bring back a Corvette for the dealership. Because the dealership I work for is new, we have not earned the ability to get the new Corvette early in it’s production. We have a Corvette department and really want to specialize in Corvette sales and service. It’s important for us to get the new Stingray as soon as possible.

I made some phone calls to other Chevy dealers to see if they have any Stingrays ordered that are available for purchase. We were willing to buy the car for sticker price. I had no luck with Kerbeck. I was laughed at by Mike Furman at Criswell, in-fact he told me I will not find one at any other dealer. My next phone call was with Dave at Bud’s Chevy/Buick in Ohio. I immediately put a deposit on a 2014 Stingray that was in the order system for 2 months. The person who originally ordered the car changed their mind on the color. The order was too far along to make any changes. At that time Chevy showed the car at 3400 status code. I figured we had a good chance of getting one of the first Stingrays.

Our Stingray was ordered to be a Z51 Coupe, Torch Red with Black/Adrenaline Red interior. The options included the 3LT package, an automatic transmission, chrome wheels, navigation, and the performance exhaust.

On 9/13/13 the status of our Stingray showed it was produced. We contacted GM to get a shipping date, they could not tell us at the time. The VIN of the car showed it was #965 out of 1000 built. I figured it could still be at least a few weeks before we would see the car, being that it was produced behind 964 Corvettes. Out of the blue, I got a phone call from Dave at Bud’s on 9/23/13 that our Stingray had arrived.

As soon as possible, my brother and I made way towards St.Marys Ohio to pick up our Stingray. We were very excited. To the best of our knowledge, no dealer in NYS had one. We were going to be the first. The 7 hour drive seemed to take forever. We arrived in St.Marys, exhausted, around 2am. Our hotel was right next to the dealer, so we drove around the building to see if we can see our new Stingray. Around back we were able to peek inside their Corvette showroom and found our car in a perfect picturesque setting under their “Corvette” sign on the wall. We rushed to the hotel to check in. The faster we went to bed, the faster morning would come to get our car.

Here is the Stingray in the Corvette showroom, late at night. Picture was taken through the window.

It’s a good thing we were so tired, we would have been restless otherwise. I felt like a kid on Christmas whose parents always seem to know the right thing to buy. We tried to give Bud’s a little time to get ready before we walked in, so we hung out at McD’s for a breakfast sandwich and coffee. About 1/4 to 9am, we walked into the dealer.

Bud’s is a great place. They had several Corvettes on display, and all of them were pristine. The staff was professional and easy to talk with. They have a nice display of Corvette apparel and I had to buy a couple of Stingray hats. We met Dave and he took us to our Stingray in their back Corvette showroom.

The Corvette showroom was tremendous. I assumed it was meant to store Corvettes during the winter, I was wrong. It’s where they normally keep all of the Corvettes available for purchase. They had moved them all to the front showroom because they had plans to refinish the floor. Our Stingray was in the same spot it was in when we peeked in the window late the night before.

Here is our Stingray, in the showroom, lights on!

With the florescent lights on and the big white walls of the showroom, our car looked like a perfect cut ruby. It felt unreal to me; I was actually going to drive this thing home! We took pictures of the car and played around with it to familiarize ourselves. I was too excited to be able to sit still and learn how to use all of the functions. I just wanted to get behind the wheel! In no time we paid for the car and I got into the driver’s seat. Dave opened the big overhead door and I pushed the start button on the dash. The car started with authority and out the door I drove.

On the road!!

The first two hours of my drive home was spent playing with the DIC, Radio, NAV, and drive mode switch. It probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do as I really should have spent more time familiarizing myself when stationary. It takes awhile to get a hang of things and learn how to navigate through the DIC. Had I not been driving at the same time, I would have probably learned how to operate everything faster. Let me just say that the technology on this car, is finally back to where it should be. I think we can all admit the C5 and C6 was actually behind in technology. The Corvette was meant to be ahead of the curve, and we’re back.

There are 5 different driving modes: Weather, Eco, Touring, Sport and Track. These modes are selected by moving the rotary switch on the center console either left or right. Weather, Eco and Touring share the same display on the DIC. Move the switch to Sport mode and the DIC changes to a different display, mainly a large round tachometer. In Track mode your DIC transforms into a linear tachometer and displays lap times.

Here is what I noticed as far as driving characteristics go in each mode:

Weather- I tried for maybe 2 minutes, so I can’t really say anything about this. The weather was perfect, 70 degrees and sunny.

Eco- Throttle response felt dull. Active Fuel Management seemed to kick on more often. The suspension felt the same as Touring. Transmission was not as eager to shift up or down.

Touring- I’d say this mode is what most people will use as it seemed to offer a balance of fuel economy and sporty feel. The car would react to throttle position change, but was not afraid to go to V4 mode. Suspension felt more relaxed.

Touring Mode:

Sport- The exhaust tone got a touch louder. Throttle response was faster. Transmission seemed to try and predict what you are doing. It would stay in a lower gear if you were driving spiritedly. The exhaust would get even louder when higher in RPMs and throttle position. Suspension felt more firm and nimble. V4/AFM does operate in sport mode, but not as often as Touring or Eco.

Sport Mode:

Track- The exhaust got even louder, probably wide open. The suspension felt the same as Sport mode. Most noticeable difference was the throttle response and transmission. The transmission acted like a manual. If you were on the gas, and let off to brake, it would stay in the gear until vehicle speed was low enough to downshift. Engine RPM climbed to redline until the transmission shifts as well. Throttle response told me the engine was operating at max power. I’m guessing the camshaft was phased for maximum power. I don’t think AFM ever came on in Track mode.

Track Mode:

The radio, navigation and HVAC took me a little bit to figure out. I like the idea of a centralized control unit for all of the comforts. I feel as if it should work a bit more seamless. The home display is simple, big icons that allow you to select radio, xm, navigation, settings, etc… The screen is a touch screen, or you can use the twist knob to change your selection and press the center button, “menu”, to select.

The radio/xm is fairly straight forward. My only complaint is with the presets. Initially you are shown only 6 preset slots. Above the preset slot display are two small dots, one is yellow one is orange. To me that indicates there are 6 more slots available, it took me awhile to figure out how to access the additional presets. I quickly filled my first 6. After several attempts of navigating through the radio, I finally found the additional presets by pressing the screen and scrolling up with my finger. Had I read the owner’s manual, maybe it would have told me. The scrolling feature of the screen/radio was a bit rough. Being an iPhone owner, I’m probably spoiled by the seamless operation. If only the radio unit of the Stingray was like it.

The navigation feature has its positives and negatives. The new 3D display is nice. When zoomed in you can see the layout of the land and clouds in the sky. If I had to guess, the sky will reflect actual conditions, for me it was partly cloudy. Manually inputting the address of your destination is simple and straight forward. The navigation of the Stingray wanted me to go a different route than my iPhone. Both were set for the fastest route. I had no luck with inputting a destination by voice command. The system could not recognize any destination I was telling it. It suggested destinations in a completely different state. I hope GM improves that.

The heating and air conditioning is straight forward. You have your manual controls on the dash below the central control unit. The temperature selection knob is on the left, pretty with a digital display. The fan speed switch is on the right. The passenger has their own temperature switch on the right side of the dash near the vent, as well as controls for the heated/cooled seats. My biggest complaints are; 1.) No ON or Off switch. Maybe I’m just weird, but I like a fast on/off switch. To turn the A/C on and off you have to either push the “Auto” button on and it will adjust the cabin temperature to your selection, or turn the fan speed switch. I didn’t realize you can use the fan speed switch to turn it off, because there is no label to do so. 2.) You have to push the “sync” button to match drivers selected temperature with passengers. I think it should automatically be the same, unless the passenger overrides it. These are OCD’s of mine, and I didn’t read the book. I’m sure it would not be as big of a deal for others. My favorite feature of the HVAC is the air cooled seats. I felt like I was sitting on an air hockey table.

The Stingray rides real nice. It felt super smooth, yet firm and planted. My back did start to hurt a bit after a few hours into the drive. The seats are firm and snug. A large person may feel a bit uncomfortable right off the bat. GM did a real nice job improving the ride quality. Those little bumps in the road don’t shake the whole car and crests in the road don’t make the car feel like it’s unloading when going over at speed. I could not tell when the AFM came on and put the engine in V4 mode. I guess the drive train was made 3x stiffer than the C6 to help dampen the vibration that comes with AFM.

The interior is something GM should be proud of. After 600 miles of driving the car, I still have to remind myself that this is a Chevy. The materials of the dash and seats feel premium for sure, something I’d expect in a Ferrari. The carpet feels cheap, I like a more plush carpet and reminds me of an outdoor patio carpet. Maybe it was a way for GM to save money and weight. Fortunately the carpet it black, so it doesn’t really bother me. The driver’s door panel rattled with bass of the stereo. I adjusted the bass setting to midway, and it still slightly rattled the door. The black trim around the shifter moves when going from park to drive, the leather shift boot seemed a bit hard for leather, maybe that’s why the trim moved.

The 7 hour drive back to Rochester, NY went fast. Not because we were speeding, we weren’t, but because the Stingray has enough features, lights and displays to keep someone with ADD (like myself) occupied for hours. It also helped that I was driving the best Corvette produced to date that caught the eye of many passerby’s along the way. It’s interesting to see the extent some people take to catch up to the Stingray to take pictures.

As soon as I pulled into the dealership I work for, all of the sales people were glued to the showroom window and then came out to look at the car. Several people pulled in from off the street to admire the car and take pictures. There is no denying the beauty this car displays. Before the car hit production, many people were quick to comment on the tail lights; “It looks like a Camaro”. I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard that. And now that people can see the car in person, “The tail lights don’t look like a Camaro, I really like it”. Pictures do not do this car justice. Put a C7 next to a C6, and the C6 looks outdated.

Just Arrived:

My time with the Stingray did not stop there. We had planned a special Corvette event for Saturday, September 28th (yesterday). I helped organize a Lap and Lunch event with Watkins Glen International. We invited 30 Corvettes and 60 people to join us at the dealership for Coffee and Donuts in the morning, and then head down as a group to Watkins Glen International. It’s about a 1.5 hour drive. The event entailed us to 3 paced laps around the track and then a catered lunch would follow. I was to lead the pack of Corvettes with the Stingray.

At about 8am, Corvettes started pulling in to the dealership. We put the Stingray right out-front for all to admire. Everyone was drawn to the new Corvette; you knew it was something when people walked passed coffee and donuts. There was not one negative comment made about the car. It was love at first sight for most. If we had more Stingrays, they all would have been sold that day. About an hour later it was time for us all to get into our Corvettes and lineup.

People Checking Out The Stingray:

Line Up!:

A few were excited to see me get in the new Stingray and lead the pack, a few were jealous; naturally. We divided into 3 groups of 10, and the last Corvette blocked traffic for us all to pull out together. The leaders of each group had radios to communicate with each other should our groups become separated. It was difficult to stay together as a pack of 30 when going through towns, so we would regroup once we got out of town. For those who have never traveled in a pack of Corvettes, it’s truly amazing. To see the string of Corvettes and those bright running lights behind you is breathtaking. Pedestrians would stare and point, cars passing by would nearly run into the back of each other. The 1.5 hour drive felt like 10 minutes.

On The Road!:
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We arrived at Watkins Glen International and immediately were lined up to go on track. There was a car club who was currently on the track, so we had a few minutes to use the restroom and stretch our legs. The pace car driver gathered us all together and explained a few rules, no passing, be safe, have fun. We then got back into our Corvettes and got ready to drive 3 paced laps around the track. I was still leading the pack, so I was right behind the pace car. Having been on the track before, both competitively and leisurely, I knew that if I pushed the pace car he would travel at a good pace for the rest of the group. Off we went.


Our first lap was at a normal to slow pace, average 55-60 MPH. I did not get an opportunity to try the new Stingray out, but I made sure the pace car driver knew I wanted to have a little fun. After crossing the finish line to start our second lap, the pace car picked up the pace. He was a bit more aggressive on the turns and picked up the pace a bit on the straights. I had a good opportunity to test the handling of the Corvette in the turns, and I took full advantage of it.

The Stingray begs to perform. It has the power and torque that backs its aggressive exhaust tone that roars like a lion and will leave those behind in fear. In the turns it asks you for more, more throttle, more speed, and it loves it. Ask it to stop, and it does it with ease, like it’s a walk in the park. I can’t wait to get on the track to really test what this car can do; I only brushed the surface and was quite impressed.

After 2 laps we stopped at the finish line to take pictures. A few of the guys from the performance driving club who was already at the track, hopped the pit wall to take a look at the Stingray. They were there with their highly modified/track prepped C5 and C6s. They knew a lot about the Stingray, but had never seen one in person. It’s only a matter of time before people realize the effect this car will have in the automotive industry. After we took our pictures we had one more lap on the track, we traveled at a good pace, but not fast enough to further test the car out.

Picture Time:
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Car Club Checking Out The Stingray:

After our 3 laps, we were directed to the Glen Club. We parked all 30 Corvettes neatly in a row where we could take some more pictures of our cars and the gorgeous background of the track and scenic Seneca Lake area. Our catered lunch consisted of deli sandwiches, salads, cookies, and coffee. It was simple, but delicious. After lunch, some headed to the wineries. I just wanted to get back in the driver’s seat of the Stingray. I hopped in the car and made way back to the dealership where I average 30.7mpg.

Glen Club:
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The value of the Stingray is tremendous. I’d expect to pay triple the price for something comparable. Chevrolet deserves a pat on the back. The Stingray boasts the fuel economy of a compact, the styling and materials of an exotic and the performance of a supercar. The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is the best Corvette made to date.

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