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2019 Chevrolet Corvette review: America's sports car is still a thrill

Chevy's C7 Corvette represents one heck of a performance bargain, but it comes at the expense of luxury and tech.

Emme Hall Former editor for CNET Cars
I love two-seater, RWD convertibles and own a 2004 Mazdaspeed Miata for pavement fun and a lifted 2001 Miata for pre-running. I race air-cooled Volkswagens in desert races like the Mint 400 and the Baja 1000. I have won the Rebelle Rally, seven-day navigational challenge, twice and I am the only driver to compete in an EV, the Rivian R1T.
Emme Hall
4 min read

We're fans of the Chevy Corvette at Roadshow -- it's one of the best performance car values available anywhere. And while we've spent a lot of time discussing the merits of Grand Sport, Z06 and totally insane ZR1 models, the truth is, even the base has a lot going for it.

2019 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible

2019 Chevrolet Corvette

The Good

The 2019 Chevy Corvette offers excellent handling and a powerful V8 at a relative bargain price.

The Bad

The Corvette doesn't offer most driver's aids.

The Bottom Line

The 2019 Corvette remains a fun sports car that's more attainable than its rivals.

Big, bad V8 power

The 2019 Chevy Corvette Stingray is available as a coupe, but for this review, I've got the convertible. This two-seat, rear-wheel-drive droptop packs a 6.2-liter naturally aspirated V8, with 455 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. A seven-speed manual transmission comes standard, but this tester has the optional eight-speed automatic with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

The automatic transmission is fine, most of the time, though it wants to upshift a little too quickly, and doesn't usually downshift under braking. Even in spirited driving in Sport mode, the Corvette is lazy to downshift and dig into the power while accelerating out of a corner.

Switching to Track mode doesn't really mitigate the problem, but the paddle shifters are pretty satisfying to use. They're no substitute for a proper manual transmission, of course -- and Chevy's rev-matching, seven-speed stick is a delight -- but blipping the paddles on my own means I can eke out all the power this V8 has to offer. If you're going to buy a Corvette with the automatic, promise me you'll use the paddles.

2019 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible
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2019 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible

Good morning, sunshine!

Emme Hall/Roadshow

This tester has the optional Z51 performance package, which in addition to getting you an extra 5 horsepower and 5 pound-feet on top of the previously mentioned numbers, includes a sportier suspension tune, upgraded brakes and an electronic limited-slip differential. The transmission programming is also redone, and you get a performance exhaust, which really lets that free-breathing V8 sing.

The quick steering ratio means the Corvette can feel a little twitchy at first, but the reward is instantaneous turn-in, making the big convertible feel super nimble. Cornering is a flat-as-a-pancake affair, with an abundance of grip from the 11-inch-wide Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. Without the optional Magnetic Ride Control, it's easy to upset the chassis over undulating pavement, so if you're buying one of these with sporty driving in mind (I mean, it's a Corvette, after all), consider ponying up the extra $1,795 for the more sophisticated suspension tech.

Speaking of tech, driver assistance features are few and far between. Adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist and blind-spot monitoring are all absent.

A lack of luxury and tech

The Corvette uses Chevy's older MyLink infotainment system, housed on an 8-inch touchscreen, with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot built in. MyLink isn't quite as good looking or easy to use as the company's new Infotainment 3 software, and it's not as quick to respond to inputs, either.

For an extra $1,795, you can get Chevy's Performance Data Recorder. And if you plan on tracking your Corvette, it's a must-have bit of tech. PDR can capture your lap times, and let you review and learn from the experience. Four different informational overlays can take your track data and tell you your speed, gear position, steering angle and throttle and brake pressure data.

2019 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible
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2019 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible

The interior certainly doesn't stand out in a crowd, but it gets the job done.

Emme Hall/Roadshow

If you want even more track telemetry data, you can upload your PDR video to the Cosworth toolbox, which will even display a birds-eye view of your laps. It can be eye opening to see the line you're actually taking played out against the line you should be taking. I wish every track-minded car came with this technology.

The rest of the Corvette's interior is... meh. With the top up, visibility is pretty poor, especially rearward. This would be a great place for General Motors to install its rear-camera mirror tech.

Quality of materials and overall fit-and-finish aren't great, but hardly luxurious or modern. Opting for the convertible reduces cargo space quite a bit, too -- the Stingray Coupe has 15 cubic feet of storage space, but the droptop has just 10, and it doesn't have the easiest load-in aperture, either.

2019 Chevrolet Corvette: Drop that top

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A powerful value

For my money, I can't imagine buying a Corvette Stingray without the Z51 performance pack, but I'd add it to the base 1LT trim, rather than the more option-rich 2LT tester seen here. I'll also add the Magnetic Ride Control and Performance Data Recorder, as well as the $1,995 Competition sport seats. (I'd be taking my car to the track, in case you couldn't tell.) Optioning it this way puts my 2019 Corvette Stingray Convertible at $72,775, including $1,095 for destination -- a few thousand bucks less than the $74,885 of my test car.

In its base Stingray spec, the Corvette is a tremendous performance value. The cars a Stingray Z51 competes with -- the Jaguar F-Type R, Porsche 911, Mercedes-AMG GT and others -- all cost tens of thousands of dollars more.

However, those more expensive offerings also come with a lot more luxury and better tech inside -- things that are glaringly absent from the Corvette. If power and poise are your only must-haves, it's definitely tough to beat the 'Vette. But if you're looking for a more well-rounded package, you'll certainly get your money's worth elsewhere.

2019 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible

2019 Chevrolet Corvette

Score Breakdown

Performance 8Features 6Design 7.5Media 8