Those who look at the Corvette and see a gas guzzling V8 sports car are usually unaware that the sport car’s EPA highway mileage rating is 26. Corvette owners who regularly drive their cars know this number to be on the low side. So Popular Mechanics recently got behind the wheel of a new C6 to test what they call Corvettes “most amazing talent…its astonishing fuel economy”.
Popular Mechanics chose a route from a gas station in Santa Barbara, California north along US Route 101 to Santa Maria and then back, a round trip of about 140 miles. The Corvette was a C6 model equipped with a standard six-speed manual transmission. PM drove the Corvette on the freeway at 55 mph, 10 mph below the posted speed limit, using cruise control with the windows up, air conditioning off and vents open. The 18-gallon tank was filled with 91 octane gas.
At 55 mph, the Corvette’s tach showed a steady 1300 rpms, barely off-idle, but producing enough torque to maintain a constant speed on even some of the longer grades. According to the on-board computer, PM averaged 30.5 mpg with and average speed of 52.8 mph over the 142.8 miles. But it only took 4.358 gallons to refill the Corvette’s gas tank. That works out to 32.8 mpg!
So how does a sports car with a 6.2 liter 436 horsepower V8 get this kind of fuel economy? Popular Mechanics says the secret is the sixth gear in the transmission, which is an aggressive 0.50:1 overdrive that when combined with the 3.42:1 final drive ratio allows the engine to turn slowly at modest cruising speeds.
The availability of the low-end torque provided by the LS3 engine means that it doesn’t have to spin to high revs to make sure there is enough ft-lbs of torque on tap. Popular Mechanics compares this feat to the Ferrari F430 (EPA highway rating is 16 mpg) which believes the Italian sports car could not make the same trip without at least one downshift.
The thought of driving the Corvette at 10 mph under the posted speed limit sounds pretty boring though and the writers from Popular Mechanics said the same. Any vehicle driven conservatively will get better fuel economy than one driven hard and fast. That being said, Popular Mechanics sums up its fuel efficiency test by saying the Corvette’s â€œparsimonious performance likely can’t be duplicated by any other car with anywhere near the performance.â€
Lastly, for you detractors out there that only see Corvette owners as out of touch with the environmental movement or being less green than say a hybrid owner, I urge you to visit the story at Popular Mechanics and read the comments coming from Corvette owners who share their real life stories of the Corvette’s most amazing talent – it’s astonishing fuel economy.