2006 Corvette New Car Test Drive
The Chevrolet Corvette is the best high-performance value in America. The Corvette delivers supercar performance for the price of a midsize luxury sedan.
And for all its performance, the Corvette does not exact a painful toll on its driver or passenger. Chevrolet has eliminated nearly all the cruder, less desirable traits that characterized Corvettes of yore. The 2006 Corvette could be a reasonably comfortable daily driver in most locales, for at least three of the four seasons.
Known to sports car enthusiasts as the C6 (for sixth generation), the current-generation Corvette was all-new for model year 2005. It's much better than the C5 it replaced, which was a solid sports car in its own right. What makes the C6 better is everything: performance, refinement, ease of operation. It's more comfortable and easier to drive, not only on the road, but also on a race track. It quickly infuses the driver with confidence. It feels like it has more grip than the C5, and it does. It's more agile than before yet more stable. Its new brakes are excellent and, yes, it's faster. If you believe the best time to buy a car is in its second year of production, then the 2006 Corvette is the one to buy.
The standard Corvette coupe and convertible are powered by Chevy's 6.0-liter LS2 V8. This engine sounds great and intoxicates with its acceleration. New for 2006 is an optional six-speed Paddle Shift automatic transmission. With either the manual or automatic, the coupe is awesome, and the convertible is really wonderful. Drop the top on a nice day, turn on the stereo and you'll likely have what psychologists call a peak experience. It's a wonderful feeling and at those moments the Corvette more than justifies its price.
The headline for the 2006 model year is a new, ultra-high performance Z06 model. The Corvette Z06 is a true supercar for a price that's merely expensive, as opposed to insanely expensive. This ultra-high-performance coupe features a new 7.0-liter LS7 V8, high-tech, weight trimming chassis features and upgraded brakes. If any $66,000 car can be called a bargain, this is the one. The Z06 Corvette accelerates faster, grips better and stops shorter than European sports cars that cost twice as much.
The 2006 Chevrolet Corvette is available as a coupe or convertible.
The Corvette coupe ($44,190) and Convertible ($51,890) are powered by a 6.0-liter V8 generating an impressive 400 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission is standard. An optional six-speed Paddle Shift automatic ($1,250), new for 2006, can be shifted manually with levers on the steering column.
The Corvette coupe features a one-piece removable roof panel in body color (standard) or transparent plastic ($750). The dual-roof option ($1,400) includes both.
The Convertible comes standard with a manually operated soft top; its optional power top ($1,995) has a heated glass window in back.
Two suspension options are offered for both the coupe and convertible. The Z51 Performance Handling Package ($1,695) is designed for track days, while Magnetic Selective Ride Control ($1,695) automatically switches from extra-firm to more comfortable touring settings with electronically controlled variable damping.
Standard features for the Corvette coupe include leather seating surfaces, dual-zone automatic climate control with a pollen filter, power everything (including seats), cruise control and HID headlights. The Convertible adds sport seats with adjustable lumbar support and side bolsters. The sport seats are included with Preferred Package 2LT ($1,495) for the coupe, which also adds a rear cargo net and luggage shade.
The optional Preferred Package 3LT ($4,795 coupe, $3,395 convertible) includes a head-up display, heated seats with position memory, a premium Bose stereo with an in-dash six-CD changer and XM Satellite Radio hardware, a power telescoping steering column and rearview mirror with compass. The list of free-standing options is short: DVD navigation ($1,695), which includes the Bose audio; OnStar telematics ($695); and polished aluminum wheels ($1,250) or dark gray painted wheels.
Safety features that come standard, in addition to dual-stage front airbags, include ABS, traction control and electronic stability control. We recommend the optional side airbags, but there's a rub. The side bags are included in the option packages, but not priced individually. You have to get all the extra stuff if you want them. For 2006, Chevrolet has eliminated the manual passenger airbag switch in the Corvette, replacing it with a system that automatically senses a child seat or small passenger and disengages or engages the passenger-side airbags accordingly.
The new 2006 Corvette Z06 coupe ($65,800) is considerably more expensive than the standard models and raises performance to another plane. The heart of the Z06 is a 7.0-liter V8 producing 505 horsepower, with racecar features such as dry-sump lubrication and coolers for the power steering pump, gearbox and rear differential. Beyond the engine, the Z06 package includes a host of high-performance components, starting with hydro-formed aluminum frame rails (rather than the steel rails used in the standard Corvette). Its hardtop is fixed in place. Its brakes are upgraded, its tires are huge and it's offered only with the six-speed manual transmission.
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