- The Washington Times - Friday, January 4, 2002

Chevrolet Corvette keeps getting better with age.

Although the Chevrolet Corvette has been around for nearly 50 years, every time I drive the latest model, I’m surprised. America’s greatest sports car keeps getting better and better.

Obviously, all vehicles have improved over the past five decades, but the Chevrolet keeps delivering in the areas Corvette fans demand: power, performance, handling, safety, refinement, and comfort.

In some categories, the progress is minute; in other areas, there are big changes.Corvette fans, belonging to numerous clubs throughout the country, are loyal and knowledgeable, with some seemingly able to describe every nut and bolt on the 1963 Sting Ray.

Other members can detail the Corvette’s progress through the years. Chevrolet engineers have to keep the club members’ desires in mind as they make changes, whether those modifications be major or subtle.

The changes in the 2002 model will definitely get the approval of every member, as well as of prospective buyers.

My tester was the coupe with a 5.7-liter V8 engine that produces 359 horsepower.

Better yet, it provides 360 lb-ft of torque that is available in the low rpm range. I touched the accelerator pedal and the response was immediate.

This engine was linked to a four-speed automatic transmission. With a manual transmission, the torque would have been 375 lb-ft.

Had my tester been the Z06 model, the horsepower would have been increased to 405 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque.

The four-wheel independent suspension is remarkable in two ways.

When a driver turns, the wheels seem to hug the ground with such security that there is little need to slow down for the car doesn’t sway or lean. Years ago, I drove a Corvette down a highway at 50 mph and had to slow down because of the jarring ride.

Back in the early 1980s, Corvette could boast of flat turning ability, but the ride was very harsh. The ride in the 2002 model compares very favorably with a luxury sedan, yet the flat turn remains a notable attribute.

Although the Active Handling System was introduced to the Corvette about four years ago, it cannot go unmentioned.

This is a yaw control system that assists the driver in maintaining stability should the car get into an oversteer or understeer situation.

Last year, Chevrolet made more improvements with a Bosch brake pressure modulator.

Naturally, the Corvette has other safety features, including traction control, anti-lock brakes, and daytime running lights.

The driver and passenger are surrounded by a rigid structure that includes a safety-cage construction, energy-absorbing front, rear crush zones, and reenforced body sides.

But power, performance, handling, and safety are just a small portion of what this $46,575 sports car offers.

In addition to having an attractive interior, this beauty is really a two-seat concert hall, with very little road noise.

The sound system includes a 12 CD changer, AM/FM stereo with Bose speakers. There are also dual-zone air conditioning system, and adjustable sports bucket seats, including power seats for the passenger. Other options: twilight sentinel, electrochromatic mirrors, Head-Up display, telescopic steering column. And just to make the new Corvette even more eye-appealing: polished 17- and 18-inch aluminum wheels.

For those who like the great outdoors, the top can be removed and stored in the rear. The unlatching is quite easy but one person might find the weight of the top a bit of a struggle. But in time, Chevrolet will probably find a way to make that task easier, too.


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