When the eighth-generation Chevrolet Corvette Stingray debuted in 2019, it pushed what we collectively thought a value proposition could be, and rightfully so. It finally had its engine in the middle, looked like it came from Italy, and had a sub $60,000 base price. It knocked heavily on the doors of cars that cost twice as much, often with similar or better performance figures.
However, the 2023 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is now in its third model year, and a few things have changed. For starters, that base price is now $64,500 plus a $1,395 destination fee. My 2LT tester and its Z51 Performance Package, Front Lift, and Competition Seats come in at $85,720. Additionally, the Stingray now has to watch out for the outstanding Z06 sitting above it at $106,695.
I started my week with the Stingray, with the Z06 in mind. I had just driven it a few weeks earlier, on the road and on track, where it thoroughly impressed me. Thus as I stepped back into what is now the “entry-level” model, I wondered whether that drive in the high-revving maniac that was the Z06 would comparatively spoil the driving experience of what is already a solid sports car. After all, the new car is a significant improvement in all areas.
However, using the Stingray as my daily driver around Los Angeles quickly squashed that fear. Sure the Z06 is easily one of the best cars I drove this year, but it doesn’t detract from the Stingray’s charm. And in some situations, like commuting through crowded city streets, the “entry-level” model is more comfortable and offers more usable torque but is physically narrower higher off the ground, making it easier to live with.
For 2023, the Corvette brings subtle but welcomed tweaks. These include new options like an Adrenaline Red interior finish, darkened aluminum trim, 20-spoke wheels, black exhaust tips, and 14 exterior colors. These should make the latest Stingray the most customizable yet, but they won’t affect how it performs on the road.
The Stingray counts on a balanced and effective sports car recipe. The naturally-aspirated 6.2-liter V8 that powers it delivers a healthy but manageable 495 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque when equipped with the Z51 package or performance exhaust. That’s enough power for a sub-three-second run to 60 mph and a 184 mph top speed. This is thanks in part to its quick-shifting dual-clutch transmission that makes full use of the available power.
To put those stats in context, it’ll hit 60 mph before a 2023 Porsche 911, 2023 Aston Martin Vantage V8, or 2023 Mercedes AMG SL 63 for significantly less money. And on the road, that straight-line speed is usable. With peak power at 6450 rpm and torque at 5150 rpm, the Stingray builds to its relatively low 6,500 rpm redline, delivering an exciting pace that doesn’t get away from you. It’s quick but approachable and frankly ideal for most people’s skill level.
On the flip side, the new Z07 is a far more aggressive animal that not only revs much higher, up to 8,600 rpm but makes 175 hp more when you’re there, requiring your full attention. The two Vettes are quick, but the Stingray now slots neatly into sports car territory, whereas the Z07 is a full-on supercar. They may look similar, but they are two different animals.
On a twisty canyon road, the Stingray served up plenty of reminders of why it received all the praise in the first place. Thanks to its magnetic dampers, it is not only planted but comfortable. It’s a mid-engined sports car, equally at home on a perfectly paved road or a bumpy one. Nothing seems to affect its balance, and with plenty of agility, it’s equal parts capable and enjoyable.
Chevy touts a dry weight figure of 3,366 lb, which should climb by a few hundred with fluids past 3,700 lb. Despite the perceived heft, it’s right on by modern sports car standards. And behind the wheel, the Vette doesn’t feel nearly as heavy as it is. Despite tipping the scales at what a sports sedan should, it’s light on its feet and always eager to change direction.
Although its steering is light and not very talkative, it is quick and direct. When I first stepped into a Stingray some years ago, its squared-off steering wheel was a bit of an eyesore, but thankfully with time, it developed a charm, especially since you don’t see this kind of design in any other sports car.
While it’s excellent on a twisty road, it is in crowded cities where the Stingray is in a league of its own. Those magnetic dampers I mentioned earlier result in ride quality, befitting a luxury car. Despite its low ride height, the Corvette deals with road imperfections very well. It gets very close to McLaren’s wonderfully complex Proactive Chassis Control but doesn’t quite beat it. So if you’re limber enough to get into a mid-engined sports car every day, it’ll reward you with a plush ride.
Although the Stingray’s mid-engined layout primarily benefits its performance capabilities, it also drastically changed its looks. While I haven’t always been the biggest fan of the C8’s angular styling and sharp creases, they follow a tried and tested supercar styling formula. At a glance, it’s easy to confuse the Corvette with something Italian.
That isn’t to say that the Stingray is just a poor man’s prancing horse. Instead, the Vette has a look of its own, drawing from its heritage with a more modern take. Like in the power department, the Z06 mentioned above gives you more. Its widened fenders turn the C8’s sharp edges into smooth lines. Despite being the most aggressive trim currently available, it carries a more elegant aesthetic because it’s more cohesive overall. It’s the kind of difference that when you see it, you can’t forget it.
Inside, the Stingray’s cabin layout angles everything towards the driver, with a column of buttons separating them from the passenger. Although naturally, there will be hard plastics for a mid-engined sports car slotting in at this price point. Chevy did a great job integrating them into the intricate interior design and adding plenty of leather surfaces to compensate. Although there’s a learning curve at first, the Stingray’s interior is special. It looks like nothing else and makes sitting in a Corvette a unique experience.
In front of the driver sits a 12-in digital instrument cluster flanked by a smaller infotainment screen to its right. As you move through its various drive modes, the screen’s layout and color shift. For example, a large horizontal tachometer and massive gear indicator take center stage in track mode. These touches add to the overall excitement of the interior. Wherever you look, you see intricate designs or colorful graphics.
Seating-wise, my tester had a set of optional Competition Sport Bucket Seats, which hug you in much tighter than the standard ones. However, despite their more aggressive construction, they’re still relatively soft and comfortable. I wouldn’t think twice before attempting a road trip in them. They represent a nice blend of comfort and sportiness.
Overall, the Corvette is just a nice place to be, it’s not only a performer, but with all of the tech and comfort you’d ever need, it’s a joy even in soul-sucking LA traffic.
With its $65,895 base price, the Stingray still offers one of the best value propositions on sale today. Should it be my money, I’d only option the $6,345 Z51 Performance Package since that affects its on-road performance the most. However, my flashy 2LT tester with its high wing comes in at $85,720. If you tick every box, a Stingray can surpass $90,000, inching closer to the $106,695 Z06.
While I completely understand why someone would spend the extra cash and get into a Z06, the Stingray is still an impressive sports car in its own right. For someone shopping in the lower trim levels where its value is strongest, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more enjoyable and genuinely usable sports car for the money.
Three model years on then, and the eight-generation Corvette remains just as impressive as it was back in 2019. Thanks to its segment-leading performance, on-road comfort, and twisty road agility, it’s still the right car for most buyers shopping at this price point. While the Z06 grabs all the headlines for now with its manic nature, the Stingray reminds us that the flagship is only as good as it is because the Stingray is already such a strong starting point.