8 new reasons to love the Corvette Stingray


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Driven: 2013 Chevrolet Camaro Hot Wheels Edition

Hot Wheels cars have been a staple of growing up for decades.  At an early age, many automotive enthusiasts have been shaped through which models of the toy cars they played with. The very first of the original 16 castings of Hot Wheels cars released in 1968 was a dark blue Camaro.  Needless to say, there are a lot of Camaro fanatics who also love Hot Wheels cars.  For 2013, Chevrolet is producing a special edition Camaro that looks a lot like the original toy; wheels, paint, flames, and massive Hot Wheels logos included.

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First Drive: 2014 Chevrolet Impala is new from the ground up

In 2008, before General Motors went bankrupt, the Chevrolet team started looking at a replacement for the old but still strong selling full-size Impala. A lot of ideas were thrown around. GM explored many options for the car’s future, including a smaller, rear-wheel-drive based Impala with a retro look.

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First Drive: Thrashing the 2013 Genesis Coupe

Technically, the 2013 Genesis Coupe is a mid-cycle refresh. For any other manufacturer that would mean no change in powertrain, a few new colors, and probably a price increase. The 2013 Nissan 370Z is a perfect example. Not content with the status-quo, Hyundai decided to go another route. They fixed everything that was wrong, re-vamped the exterior, designed a new interior,  and poured on a lot more horsepower. Did it work? We took the ’13 Coupe out for a day long beating on the track and have the answer.

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Chevy Cruze Eco is a commuting dream machine

We first drove the new Chevy Cruze last year and loved it.  Small car size with large vehicle options. Now, after a successful launch, Chevy has rolled out another trim level to the popular vehicle; the Cruze Eco. It promises hybrid beating fuel economy at a lower, more conventional price-point.  Is this just hype or does the Eco deliver? Lucky for you, we recently drove one and have the answer.

Specifications as-tested

Model Year: 2011
Make: Chevrolet
Model: Cruze Eco

Engine: 1.4L turbo 4-cylinder / 138 hp at 4900 rpm and 148 lb.- ft. of torque at 1850 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic (6-speed manual available)
Drivetrain: Front-wheel-drive

EPA Fuel Economy: (auto/manual) 26/28-mpg city & 37/42-mpg highway
Observed Fuel Economy: 35.8mpg

Base MSRP: $18,425
As tested MSRP: $20,625

Equipped Options:
Connectivity Plus Package[$525]
6-speed automatic transmission [$925]

What’s different

The Cruze Eco, from any angle, really isn’t very visually different from any other Cruze you’ll pass on the road. There are only three distinguishing features can identify an Eco from the outside; unique light-weight aluminum wheels, a rear spoiler for aerodynamics, and a small green Eco badge on the trunk lid. Although that doesn’t seem like much,  rest assured, it’s what you can’t see that makes the Eco different.

Developed alongside the Chevy Volt, the Eco has benefited from several technological advances born out of the Volt program. For example, the Cruze Eco wears the same low-rolling-resistance tires as the Volt. The two cars, which share a common platform, also share some of the same aerodynamic tricks such as smooth underbody panels and closing out part of the front grill. The Cruze is even equipped with an electronically actuated front lower air-dam, which can balance engine cooling and aerodynamics on the fly as needed.  From these outside enhancements, coefficient-of-drag has been reduced 10% over non-Eco models to an impressive .298CoD. For reference, that’s only slightly more than the C6 Corvette.

GM also targeted weight savings. Over 200lbs of weight was shaved off the “regular” model. One example, the Eco-specific 17-inch aluminum wheels,  save 21-lbs over the 16-inch wheels found on the Cruze 1LT. Welds and metal thicknesses were also examined for weight reduction and in some places the sheet metal is 1/10th of a millimeter thinner.

There have also been changes to the standard 6-speed manual transmission to improve fuel economy. A taller 6th gear and more aggressive 1st/2nd gears are Cruze Eco specific. The 1.4L turbocharged four-cylinder has not been changed over the non-Eco models and still produces a healthy 138-horsepower and 148lb-ft.

Hybrid like fuel economy

All these small changes add up to a big result. A Cruze Eco with a manual transmission gets nearly 6-MPG better than its non-Eco counterpart. That equates to 42-MPG on the highway, according to the EPA. Unfortunately, the Cruze Eco we drove had an automatic transmission and was only rated for 37-MPG highway. We’re a little miffed that customers have to pay  $925 more for the automatic only to get less than the widely advertised 42MPG.

Still, high 30’s MPG isn’t anything to scoff at.  With a manual, low 40’s MPG is downright impressive considering the Cruze Eco isn’t a hybrid.  Don’t believe us? Remember, 42MPG will actually beat some hybrids on the road, like the Camry and Fusion Hybrids. It’s important to note, however, that the Cruze Eco is much smaller than either of them. As a rough comparison, the Eco is in the same fuel economy range as the first generation Toyota Prius, but without the added weight of all that hybrid “technology”

Putting the heat on full-size hybrids it’s no surprise  the Eco also leads the compact car class in fuel economy too. Even with the lower rated automatic, Cruze Eco bests the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic, rated at 35MPG and 34 MPG on the highway respectively.

However, it’s worth noting that the Civic and Corolla are currently both a few model years old. Newer competitors such as the 2011 Hyundai Elantra and 2012 Ford Focus are hot on the Eco’s heels. Both the Elantra and Focus promise 40-MPG or better. Even more of a concern for Chevy is that the Elantra promises 40-MPG standard, with no additional trim levels (The Eco is an extra cost trim level). So, while the Cruze Eco has a hot upper hand now, the comparisons are going to get much tighter over the next year.

How does it drive?

The Cruze really excels as a showcase of practical techniques for fuel economy improvement without expensive technology like battery packs and electric motors. The benefit in this is that, the Cruze is and drives like a normal car. In our time behind the wheel, only the low-rolling-resistance tires gave any hint of a Cruze that drives differently than a similar non-Eco model. With those tires, the Cruze tends to ride slightly softer and coast more effortlessly.

The 1.4L turbocharged Ecotec, used across the entire model,  is a new favorite engine of ours. There are very few engines that run as smooth as this, folks. It never feels stressed, strained, or buzzy, even at high RPMs. As mentioned above, our example Cruze Eco came equipped with the automatic, so we can’t comment on the manual for now.

Despite the lower fuel economy rating, we were still determined to see what our automatic Eco could really do. The EPA says our model should be able to push out 37MPG on the highway. On the winding roads and highways of New Hampshire, we squeezed out a respectable 35MPG, but no more (on winter gas). We only saw the full rating once; at speed, fully warmed up, 60mph, using cruise control. We’re left to conclude that to see the full potential of the Eco you’ll need to live somewhere flat and with straight roads. Otherwise known as, not New Hampshire.  With that said, 35MPG is still amazing and would take you over 500 miles on a single tank of regular gas.  Other media outlets who have tested the Cruze Eco with a manual transmission have reported fuel economy as high as 44MPG.

What you get on the inside

The Cruze Eco is no different inside than the base or LT models. You can get many of the same features as other models offer, but not all. If you choose the automatic, you can order up a remote start key fob, power driver’s seat, and reverse parking assist. Cruise control, a USB port, steering wheel mounted controls, and a leather wrapped steering wheel are required when you get the auto and optional when you choose the manual.

No matter which transmission you order, there are things you cannot get on the Eco at all. Navigation system, heated seats, and the premium stereo are all off the table. We’re fine doing without navigation but the lack of heated seats is disappointing. We also wished the Eco came with the cloth dash interior found on other models, however the only option is a faux-leather covering that looks rather dull.


A daily long-haul commuter’s dream in the nightmare that is rising fuel prices. If fuel economy is what you crave, the Cruze Eco is a home run in every way.


  • Despite weight cutting, the Eco drives every bit as solid as the regular Cruze
  • Perhaps the smoothest engine/transmission combination we’ve ever driven
  • Impressive technology offering; OnStar, OnStar app compatibility, USB slot, aux-in, XM Radio, and low rolling resistance tires to name a few


  • Interior feels rental car like- we miss the cloth interior inserts
  • 40MPG rating comes with a big catch – requires the manual transmission
  • Tame styling compared to 2011 Elantra

2011 Chevrolet Cruze Eco Photos

2011 Corvette ZR1 – A fire breathing dragon of speed

Apparently a 505-horsepower Z06 was just not enough for the Corvette team. No, they needed something outrageous. They needed something with a  supercharger for massive power, race ready ceramic brakes,  tons of carbon fiber, a name-plate with some history, and a six-figure price tag.  They call it the ZR1; we call it a fire breathing dragon of speed.

2011 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

Specifications as-tested

Model Year: 2011
Make: Chevrolet
Model: Corvette ZR1

Supercharged 6.2L V8 (LS9) / 638 hp at 6500 rpm and 604 lb.- ft. of torque at 3800 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual

EPA Fuel Economy: 14mpg city / 16mpg combined / 20mpg highway
Observed Fuel Economy: 17.8mpg

Base MSRP: $109,800
As tested MSRP: $124,345

Standard Equipment: carbon-fiber hood/fenders/roof/floor panels , carbon fiber splitters/rockers,  aluminum frame, 6-piston front/4-piston rear ceramic Brembo brakes, keyless start, 19″ front / 20″ rear wheels, dry-sump oil system, magnetic ride control, heads-up display, OnStar, XM Radio

Equipped Options:
3ZR Premium Equipment Package [$10,000] – Includes: Leather wrapped interior, Bose 7-speaker premium sound system w/navigation, heated seats, USB and AUX port for audio
Chrome Aluminum Wheels [$2,000]
Pedal Covers [$295]

Required Fees:
Gas Guzzler Tax [$1,300]
Delivery Charge [$950]

Check out our full gallery of photos shot during this review

A $124,000 Chevrolet?

2011 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

A Chevrolet that costs over $100k? Sure it’s a Corvette, but are they serious?  Turns out, yes they are.

I had my first ride in a C6 ZR1 just over two years ago.  Ron Fellows from Corvette racing was my driver and nearly relocated my stomach in a quick 5 minute drive down Woodward Avenue. Back then I knew the ZR1 was something special, but only recently when I had a chance to drive one over a long weekend did I begin to understand what the ZR1 was truly capable of.

The ZR1 is a challenge, a statement, and a piece of art wrapped up into one glorious machine.  It’s everything you’d expect from a Corvette, mixed with the upset child of a wood-chipper and nuclear power plant.  Driven lightly the ZR1 is as calm and civilized as any Corvette, but deep inside it carries the power to shame exotic cars from around the world.

Supercar performance

2011 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

As with any car sporting a house sized price, the engine is an important part of the package.  With the ZR1, on-lookers are not left to guess what engine lies under its carbon fiber hood. A unique clear window on the top of the hood allows the plenum of the LS9’s supercharger to be visible.

The story of the LS9, however, is not how good it looks, but how much power it produces. With 638-horsepower and 604 lb ft of torque, the LS9 bestows the C6 ZR1 as the fastest and most powerful Corvette ever sold to the public. The LS9 is based off the Corvette’s standard LS3 engine, not the 7.0L LS7 engine from the Z06. Enabling that hefty output from 6.2 liters is a four-lobe Eaton Twin-Vortices Series intercooled supercharger.  The LS9 also features titanium intake vales, titanium connecting rods, and a high performance pressurized dry sump oil system.

A high-tech hydroformed aluminum frame lifted directly from the C6.R race car saves the ZR1 138 lbs of weight over a traditional steel Corvette frame.   The car runs the scales at an impressive 3,352lbs, allowing for a weight-to-horsepower ratio of 5.2 lbs per horsepower.  This high-power and low-weight combination drives the Corvette ZR1 0-60 in 3.3 seconds and will complete a quarter-mile in 11.2 seconds at 135mph. Top speed is a blistering 205mph.

2011 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

The ZR1 can stop just as fast as it can accelerate thanks to a race ready cross-drilled carbon-ceramic brake system. A testament to how serious Team Corvette was about performance, the rear brake rotors were lifted straight out of the front brakes of the Enzo Ferrari. The ZR1’s front brake rotors are very similar to the Ferrari FXX’s front rotors and only differ in size.  Besides weighing half as much as a comparable steel brake rotor, ceramic rotors can withstand temperatures as hot as 1,800 degrees without warping.  A 6-piston front / 4-piston rear Brembo brake system has been spec’d to complement the ceramic rotors.  The ZR1 can stop from 60mph in only 96-feet; a current production car record.

While the brakes do feel fantastic, they do take some getting used to.  Far touchier than a “normal” car, the ZR1 can slow down considerably from just a light brush of the brake pedal.

Corvette civility remains

2011 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

You’d expect the ZR1 to be uncomfortable, harsh, and loud, right?  Well, not so. In fact the ZR1 is nearly as quiet and unassuming as it’s base counterpart. Part of this is is due to the electronically actuated exhaust baffle, similar to what you’d find on other current sixth-generation Corvettes.

Under idle and most acceleration circumstances, the ZR1 diverts exhaust gas through a sound reducing chamber. At wide open throttle, twin butterfly valves automatically open, allowing for straight-through exhaust and a monster sound.

On the road we found the ZR1 to handle just like you’d expect out of a car with this sort of resume. Standard magnetic select ride control allows for two ride modes (tour/sport) and is fully integrated with the traction control and stability control system to further enhance performance driving.   You can select one of a handful of stability/traction control programs to compensate for wet or dry track conditions.  Chevy has even provided a launch control system to aid in full power starts at the drag-strip.  All this technology ensures almost telepathic response from any input on the road or track.

2011 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

On the street you’ll never even come close to exploring the potential of the ZR1.  Fortunately, GM has made sure you can come as close as you dare without risking your life. Last year we drove a 610-horsepower Dodge Viper and found the massive V-10 was always on the verge of biting back. Without traction control the Viper had to be handled with care. Even with 28 more horsepower, not so with the ZR1. Staying composed in every situation is one of the ZR1’s strong points.

The entire car allows you to get close to chaos but seamlessly prevents you from going over the edge.  No harsh reactions, no overly aggressive throttle changes, and never the feeling that the car has more control than you.  This is one of the best stability systems we’ve ever tested.

Even with the safety net, it takes some time behind the wheel before you feel safe letting things rip. This is 638-horsepower we’re talking about here and rumors peg the output at around 700-horsepower in near freezing temperatures. Despite massive 335/20 rear wheels, the ZR1 is a very effective smoke machine if you’re not careful. But rest assured, once those wheels lock up you’re in for the ride of your life.

Official performance numbers for the ZR1 confirm it’s maximum cornering acceleration at 1.11G.  That means the ZR1 has so much lateral grip, it can corner at a force greater than that of the gravity holding it to the road.  This statistic was not shocking to us after the ZR1 chewed up and spit out every road we threw at it.  Even the most intense section of switchback pavement we use to evaluate cars was a yawner in the ZR1.

Unassuming yet recognizable

2011 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

One thing we noticed most during our short stint with the ZR1 was that it doesn’t get nearly as much attention as you’d think. Even with it’s sky-high price and Viper beating horsepower, the ZR1 gets barely more attention than any other Corvette. Only dedicated car nuts who know what a ZR1 is were even bothered to come and take a look.

Less attention; isn’t that a bad thing? Not so much.  In a Corvette that can out-accelerate 99.9% of every car on the road, standing out as bluntly as a Viper or Lotus Exige would be a curse.  We came to appreciate the down-low nature of the ZR1 when our arrest-me-red tester failed to draw even a second glance from passing law enforcement.

Should someone familiar with the ZR1 walk by, prepare for a conversation. On a handful of occasions pumping gas we were berated with questions.  Thankfully there’s a lot to talk about.

For example; that shiny wet clear coat that covers the carbon fiber roof costs nearly $2,000 a gallon and uses a UV protectant that costs $60,000 a gallon.  Also interesting is that the ZR1’s engine puts out over 100 horsepower per liter.

2011 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

For all you get with the ZR1 in the performance arena, it’s a surprise that you give up little creature comforts from the base model. The one substantial option on our tester was a $10,000 3ZR package which added some-what out of date looking navigation system, heated seats, a premium Bose sound system, bluetooth, memory seat, and a telescoping steering wheel.  We could do without the navigation system but really enjoyed iPod integration and the killer sound system. Unfortunately, you lose the USB port with any other radio option.

Some buff-books rag on the ZR1’s interior and while we’d like to say they are right, we hope customers buying a ZR1 realize it is not a luxury car.  The factory racing technology applied in the ZR1 is alone worth the vehicle’s price.  We think it’s amazing that you can buy a car that does 0-60 in 3.3 seconds all while heating your rump and listening to satellite radio. With that that said, things could be nicer. While the leather wrapped dash is a great touch, we think that you should get more for this much money.

Yes, $124k is an astronomical price for a car that most of us cannot and will not ever be able to afford. If you’re one of the lucky few who can, the ZR1 opens up a new world of possibilities.  Why buy an expensive exotic car when a Corvette ZR1 costs less, performs better, accelerates faster, and can still be serviced at your local Chevy dealer.


A race-ready car disguised as a daily driver delivers supercar performance at a 50% off price point.


  • Spectacular engine pulls in any gear
  • Extremely stable & predictable under all circumstances
  • Very quiet and civilized- could pass as a daily driver
  • Shifter is firm yet precise feeling
  • An exhaust note that will give you shivers of joy


  • Seats are not very supportive or comfortable
  • Cheap feeling/looking steering wheel and interior
  • Fake carbon fiber interior trim looks cheap when compared to the real bits on the outside
  • Navigation system visually looks out of date compared to other GM nav systems
  • “Butterfly” valve on exhaust system keeps the car far too quiet (thankfully pulling a fuse can fix that)

Check out our full gallery of photos shot during this review