Chevrolet recently announced that the C7 Corvette Stingray would be capable of an impressive 17/29 MPG for city and highway mileage, respectively. What’s more, with a special “Eco Mode” engaged, the Stingray can achieve 30 MPG highway. Not bad, but while this is a nice headline for Chevy, digging a little deeper reveals what most enthusiasts know- you can’t have your 455-horsepower cake and eat it too.
A high-revving V8 coupe with 30 MPG?! The future is here! However upon closer examination, we see what is required to achieve this lofty fuel economy number. The manual transmission locks out gears 2 and 3 in normal driving situations, forcing the driver to shift from 1 to 4. It is called Computer Aided Gear Selection (CAGS), which has been on Corvettes in the past. It is how Chevy is able to skirt the “Gas Guzzler” tax, but represents something of a double standard with the EPA.
Recently, Hyundai and Kia took one on the nose for mis-stating their MPG figures. Owners cited that the MPG numbers were not realistic in real world driving, however, what Corvette owner actually wants to drive like this? The average ‘Vette owner, will (or should) be driving their seventh-generation Chevy coupe with enthusiasm, thus the skip shift is not only disingenuous, but it dilutes the driving experience.
What makes the Corvette still affordable today is that GM spends the money where it should be spent- on the engine, transmission and suspension. Even the interior is getting some attention. As a result, GM employs some simple, practical technologies rather than elaborate ones. A complicated hybrid system would save some MPG on the ‘Vette, but would go against everything that it is. The CAGS system can be disabled on the cheap (we won’t go into how), so you can have your fun-driving Stingray, it just won’t return 30 MPG. It will get the fuel economy that it is SUPPOSED to.