Review: 2022 Chevrolet Corvette 2LT

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Staggered front to rear, these 19- and 20-inch aluminum wheels are dealer-installed and, at $2995, the single most expensive option on this car. Matt Tierney

We ask our possessions to speak for us. Shoes, cars, phone cases—what we own says something about who we want to be, or who we once were. Rarely does a car cross those categories; nostalgia bombs draw a dividing line between old and young. The eighth-generation Corvette is one of the few exceptions.

When we tested the 2020 Corvette 2LT two years ago, we found that the first mid-engine Corvette served perfectly the needs of the traditional Vette crowd, even without any of the optional factory performance hardware. After spending a week with a 2022 C8 in the dead of a Michigan winter, we’ll double down on that verdict and extend it. Even in nasty weather, this car simultaneously courts an old audience and converts a new one. For the first time, this is a Corvette with a malleable image.

Chevrolet has made a handful of small but critical mechanical changes since the C8’s 2019 debut. The most significant arrived for 2021: MagneRide, GM’s magnetorheological adaptive suspension, became an available option apart from the $6345 Z51 performance package, to which it was previously tied. For 2022, Chevrolet engineers tweaked the LT2, upgrading the V-8’s direct fuel-injection and recalibrating the engine. The driveline changes don’t affect output, still 490 hp and 465 lb-ft, but they do allow the engine to deactivate half its cylinders for fuel efficiency over a wider range of speed. Sniff if you want, but the ’22 Corvette lands an impressive 24-mpg EPA highway rating.

Visually, this Corvette is more likely to ruffle the feathers of the Vette establishment than alienate the younger set—most of whom, if anecdotal experience is any guide, don’t initially think the car is a Vette. For the younger generation, the C8’s shape seems to simply register as a blank slate, evidence that Chevrolet has stepped far enough from tradition to make the car fresh. Even covered in winter grime, our Amplify Orange tester drew compliments—in the McDonald’s drive-thru, in the Domino’s parking lot, from the garage of an onlooker during a photo shoot: Rev it!

2022 Chevrolet Corvette C8 Stingray side profile action
Matt Tierney

Even if all you want is to bask in attention, you’ll still enjoy the miles. The C8 is more grand tourer than minimalist sports car; casual use does not punish the driver. Nor does the car feel bored or twitchy. Much of the credit is due to the magnetic suspension, as friendly in daily use as it is technologically complex. The C8 is unflappable. “Better-riding than my GTI and almost as good as my pickup,” said Larry Webster, Hagerty Media’s Vice President of Content. The Chevy is especially adept at controlling front-to-back pitch, but even single-wheel interruptions are handled with poise. “There is simply no other two-seat sports car with this much polish and performance at this price,” said Eric Weiner, this site’s executive editor.

2022 Chevrolet Corvette C8 Stingray interior
For $1495, the GT2 chairs provide foam that’s twice as dense as that in the default set, plus some carbon-fiber bling and adjustable side bolsters. Matt Tierney

Excellent forward visibility paired with a short nose and four cameras makes parking easy, too. (Opt for the Performance Data Recorder, and you’ll get a fifth camera, a 1080p device that captures on-track footage.) Two front cameras can stitch together an overhead view of the nose, allowing you to position the Vette’s air dam a safe distance from parking barriers. The real-life three-quarter view from the driver’s seat is a necessary sacrifice to the mid-engine chassis, however; a Ford Focus can hide there comfortably.

You absolutely want the Front Axle Lift, a $2260 add-on that can raise the Chevy’s nose roughly two inches in three seconds. Since the system will operate at up to 23 mph, you don’t even have to stop before turning into a steep driveway or cribbing a speed bump—and one punch of a cockpit button logs the location in the computer’s memory, for automatic, GPS-based deployment at up to 1000 locations. Even though slush obscured many of the driveway grades we tried, we didn’t once hear the dreaded sound of underbody on concrete.

2022 Chevrolet Corvette C8 Stingray front end
Matt Tierney

Regardless of whether you think an ice- and salt-rimmed sports car is heroic or shameful, the C8 will cosset you through the coldest weather. The V-8 takes a few extra revolutions to kick to life in the cold, but most of the drama ends there. The seats heat your rear. A nifty rubber charging pocket on the rear bulkhead snuggles your phone. The stereo packs a wallop—or doesn’t, if your ideal winter soundtrack is acoustic guitar or Gregorian chants. The throttle and brakes are easy to modulate, which means grip on a snowy road can be easily kept or lost, your preference. Go to a mid-afternoon haircut, make a late-night burger run, run to the city after work to grab drinks with a friend… everyday life is that much more glamorous when you’re driving a bright orange sports car with all-day torque and a chin it knows to not drag on the ground.

2022 Chevrolet Corvette C8 Stingray interior driving action
Matt Tierney

Even the engine note is delicious, though the traditional small-block burble doesn’t quite match the “poor man’s Lambo” looks. Expect the flat-crank Z06 model to deliver a properly exotic yowl when it arrives for the 2023 model year. All told, this Vette is only unpleasant when you decide to leave it: The sills are wide, the roof is low, and the steering wheel is a knee-threatening square. Even your five-foot-seven author did not enjoy the process.

In the end, this car doesn’t require explanation. That may just be the biggest win on Chevrolet’s part; after decades of refusing to fund a mid-engine Corvette architecture, Chevy finally unleashed a hypermodern design that still honors the model’s legacy. Car people of all ages and backgrounds get this thing: Within six months of the C8’s debut, Japanese tuning house Pandem had produced a carbon-fiber widebody kit. ($7500, if you’re asking.) Rappers and sports stars are buying C8s and decking them out in custom paint and color-matched Forgiatos. People grok the C8, even those whom the establishment thinks would be better off in one of those luxury SUV things that all look the same.

With the eighth-generation Corvette, Chevrolet has dared to wean the model from nostalgia, leveraging decades of experience to reinvent America’s sports car as something genuinely malleable. By risking a new audience, Chevrolet has actually resurrected the cross-flag mystique: You may not like Corvettes, but you’ll definitely like this car.

 

***

 

2022 Chevrolet Corvette 2LT

Price, base/as tested: $69,445 (2LT) / $81,220

Highs: Head-turning street presence, sublime ride, great power, talkative steering and chassis, winter usability somehow even better with the engine in the back.

Lows: Strangely configured cargo spaces, convoluted egress.

Summary: An entirely livable, thoroughly wonderful Corvette, but also so much more.

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