2020 Chevrolet Corvette Daily-Driven Review: An Exotic You Can Race Comfortably to Costco
It's been a little over a year since the release of the all-new 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, and you probably know a lot about it by now. You know pretty much everything but the emblem and the cylinder count changed for the Corvette's eighth-generation. You've probably read all the first-drive reviews, watched all the track-driving videos, and seen all the rants about what's to love and what's to hate. And you know it's a world-beater value, more so than ever.
What you may not know is what it's like to drive the newly (and finally) mid-engine Corvette every day. Is it more of a weekend toy than a daily warrior? Can you fit a pack of Costco toilet paper anywhere in the car other than the passenger seat?
All of the above are actual questions I received from readers, though my favorite, by far, was: "Will it destroy my back like my Porsche Boxster did?"
Rather than driving the Corvette like a 16-year-old kid who borrowed his dad's sports car for prom night, I set out to daily-drive the C8 in a responsible and diligent manner so I could answer all of those questions you sent in via email, social media, and fax machine. Gotta love Corvette owners.
In fact, I parked my own Honda Civic and didn't touch the keys until my time was up with the Corvette, therefore forcing me to perform every task my life (and wife) threw at me, in a two-seater, 495-horsepower, bright-freaking-orange 'Vette.
And the verdict is that although the Corvette is more of a supercar than ever now, it's actually better to live with than most supercars.
The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Coupe, By the Numbers
- Base Price (As Tested): $59,995 ($79,315)
- Powertrain: 6.2-liter V8 engine with cylinder deactivation | eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission | rear-wheel drive
- Horsepower: 495 horsepower @ 6,450 rpm
- Torque: 470 pound-feet @ 5,150 rpm
- EPA Fuel Economy: 15 mpg city | 27 highway | 19 combined
- Seating Capacity: 2
- Cargo Space: 12.6 cubic feet
- The Promise: A refined, world-class sports car with the soul of unapologetic American muscle.
- The Delivery: The C8 strikes a near-perfect balance of sportiness with ease-of-use and overall comfort.
America's Thirst Trap Sports Car
The first thing you have to understand about the new Corvette is that it looks good in person. No, I don't mean it just looks good. Like, it looks good.
Upon delivery of it to my house, I witnessed multiple people pull over and get out of their cars just to check it out. I've had many many cars in for testing here at my humble casa, but I can't recall any that have caused that kind of commotion—maybe only a candy-red Lexus LC500.
Looking more like something that rolled out of Woking or Maranello than Kentucky, the Stingray is a magnet for attention, especially in my test car's Sebring Orange color. Considering my Civic couldn't turn a single head even if I physically grabbed a person by the neck and manually turned it, becoming the subject of many photos, thumbs-up, and even joyous honks and screams by passers-by definitely took some time getting used to. I drove a blue C7 Grand Sport with shouty racing stripes last year, and it probably garnished as many nods from the general public in one week as the C8 did in one day.
Daily-driving such a thirsty-for-attention beast, however, can have its drawbacks. Everywhere I parked people came up to me to ask me questions. Perhaps normally I wouldn't mind it as much, but nowadays, with a deadly virus floating around, I wasn't as excited to be surrounded by strangers wanting to interrogate me about the car. Don't get me wrong, they were all nice folks, but sometimes you just want to get in and out of a store without having to deal with a crowd.
For what it's worth, the car deserves all the attention that it gets. Every detail of the design shines through, especially in such a bright hue. Even the dark accents found on the lower front grille, mirrors, taillights, and rear diffuser, complimented the car in a way that's never been seen before on a Corvette.
Whether you're going to the grocery store, the cleaners, or just a weekend getaway with your significant other, cargo capacity matters. If you can't bring your stuff with you, chances are you either won't go at all or you will drive another vehicle that can do it. In this case, being able to daily-drive the C8 meant having enough room not just for a phone and a wallet, but also weekend bags, groceries, a kid booster seat, and more.
Cargo capacity is rated at a combined 12.6 cubic feet for both "trunks." In comparison, the other mid-engine sports car I've daily-driven and road-tripped in, the Acura NSX, offers just 3.9 cubic feet. This huge advantage meant that I could actually hit up my two regular grocery stores without having to leave my wife at home so I could use the passenger seat as a cargo bay.
The trunk swallowed a 24-pack of bottled water with ease plus all of our other unbagged groceries. The frunk, meanwhile, was big enough to hold bigger and boxier items like produce, kiddy juices, and other things that come in small cardboard boxes. For the dear reader who specifically asked about the Costco toilet paper, I can attest that one Costco-sized pack will fit in the rear and front trunks, though you have to get creative with how everything is organized to make sure the tops latch.
Heating issues were also a topic of discussion for many of you who reached out to ask whether there was enough heat-shielding around the engine bay/trunk to keep cold groceries from getting damaged. You guys are most definitely smarter than I am because I threw in several cold products in there without thinking about this at all.
Most notably, a box of ice cream mochi bites I put in the trunk was not damaged after being exposed to the engine heat on a 78-degree day—at least not any more so than it would've in a normal trunk.
If you have small kids, you'll also be happy to know that the frunk is big enough to store an average booster seat, with or without back support. This means that you'll always have it handy when needed, which my 9-year-old daughter was thrilled about. She's tall enough to fit in the regular seat just fine, but using the booster gives her a much better vantage point and allowed the seat belt to fit more comfortably. Do know that the Corvette doesn't offer any LATCH anchors on the passenger seat, so keep this in mind if you have young kids on full-blown car seats.
Like in most cars in this segment, storage is limited inside the cabin. You have a small cubby in the armrest that fit my mask, hand sanitizer, and wallet just fine. There is a slot for a smartphone with wireless charging where your elbow rests, though most of the time I simply opted for using a cupholder. And speaking of cupholders, you won't want to bring any oversized cups with you, because these holders don't have the spring-loaded adjusters. Sorry, Yeti or Big Gulp drinkers.
Lastly, if you want to store anything larger than a sunglasses case, you have to use the glovebox.
Drivability and Comfort
The Corvette has almost always been a Baby Boomer car—this is just a fact. I was a long-time writer at Corvette Forum and I know 'Vette owners. It defined American performance for their generation in the 1960s, and it's the car's key demographic today.
I know their needs and their wants, and I also know their concerns, which is why it is important for me to truly address accessibility and comfort in this review.
The C8, like all of its predecessors, sits pretty darn low to the ground compared to the average car and, ironically, isn't exactly the most Boomer- or fat-guy (me) friendly. However, after multiple days behind the wheel, I came to the conclusion that it's easier to ingress and egress than former Corvettes and other European sports cars. There is, however, one issue.
The doors on the C8 aren't your average car doors. They're long and they have sharp angles on them courtesy of the car's massive side vents. This makes it especially hard to fully open the doors in tight parking spots without flattening their pointy edges and spiraling into depression as a result. Where could you possibly come into such scenarios? Grocery store parking lots and narrow home garages, for starters.
I often had to choose parking spots where no one was parked on either side so I could swing the door open enough for me to roll out comfortably and without damaging the door. You need anywhere from 2.5 to possibly three feet of "doorspan" in order to swing your legs out of the car and onto the ground comfortably. Same thing when entering the car, as the door has to swing open a considerable amount for you to plant your butt on the seat. Of course, this will vary depending on your body size and overall flexibility, but not by a whole lot.
This problem is enhanced by the fact that door sills on mid-engine cars are considerably wider due to the body's structure, but the seat isn't as low or "sunk in" to the tub like in other cars, so rest assured you won't look like a zoo panda frolicking in its enclosure as you attempt to graciously get in and out of your car.
If you have accessibility issues or concerns, I highly recommend you check one out at your local dealership, but if you were previously able to drop your ass into a C4, C5, C6, and C7 without any issues, you'll be just fine with the C8.
In terms of comfort, my MagneRide-equipped test car was essentially flawless. I explored all of the driving modes, Tour, Sport, Track, and I found Sport mode to be the best all-arounder. Normally I'd be happy with Tour, but I found it to really dumb down the car's dynamics way too much.
Sport mode delighted with a very comfortable suspension feel for driving around city streets and highways, also offering quick-enough transmission and throttle reaction. Track mode made things a bit faster and a bit more hardcore, while a fourth setting called "My Mode" allows to individually tweak settings for various parts of the car, much like I recently experienced in the 2020 BMW M8 Competiton cyborg killer that was too fast for its own good.
I found the steering feel to be very light on most modes, especially Sport, which I thought was rather odd but quite welcome. Most cars nowadays try to overcompensate for poor feedback by cranking up steering wheel resistance on sport modes, which usually results in steering that's numb and heavy. Not the Corvette.
It's not often that a car manages to bridge generational gaps, yet it seems like the C8 has done exactly that. During my time with the car I heard nothing but praise from younger people who oftentimes said it looked "like a McLaren." At the same time, veteran enthusiasts just drooled at the sight of Chevy's new halo car.
I encountered a dozen Corvettes on the road and not one of them had anything negative to say—at least not to my face. In fact, while behind a meticulously-maintained C4 Grand Sport at a red light, the owner simply stuck his phone out the window and took a selfie w me in the background. They just ate it all up with a smile.
All of this, however, is typical sports car stuff. Drive a McLaren or a Ferrari and you'll typically get plenty of onlookers. However, all of those cars cost multiples upon multiples more than the C8 and aren't typically as much of a joy to drive, and most definitely not as cheap to maintain.
See, this new 'Vette excels by offering the performance and the looks of an exotic, but the price tag and ease of use of a Chevy pickup. It's the entire package.
No, it's not perfect. The optional GT2 seats ($1,495) are very hard and very uncomfortable. However, I know for a fact that the standard seats that don't cost any extra money are much better and should be the seat of choice for nearly everyone who buys this car. Also, sideways visibility is poor, and wireless Apple CarPlay would be nice in a car with this much tech and price tag.
I'm not sure if anyone actually plans on buying one of these with the intention of driving it in a daily manner, but that's not really the point. Whether you drive the C8 once a month or five days a week, it's going to be a phenomenal experience regardless if you drive it to the grocery store or the Grand Canyon.
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