The Turo Test
In case you aren't familiar, the famous TURING test of 1950 is a process that determines whether or not a computer is capable of thinking like a human being. It has been the foundation for plenty of sci-fi movies/books/etc over the years and continues to be a relevant concept in both fiction and modern technology. In a similar fashion, my TURO test was a 48hr process to determine whether or not a human being can be capable of thinking they might want to buy a 10-year old Corvette.
Through their app and website: www.turo.com, TURO aims to be something of a VRBO/Air BnB for cars. The process is nearly identical - search an area with prospective dates you would like to rent a privately owned car and scroll through results. Every car has its own terms, fees, conditions, etc. You submit your request, and upon acceptance, and you’re in. Then when the day comes you show up at the predetermined meetup location, go over a simple inspection/orientation from the owner and you’re off. I had been close a few times previously but had not actually used TURO before. Similarly, I had not driven a Corvette in over 20 years. Seemed like a good recipe for a weekend rental.
First, I need to get something off my chest. While I AM a man who has proclaimed he was “married to his car” (https://www.everydaydriver.com/single-post/when-to-marry-your-car), for the past year or so I have secretly had a wandering eye. I absolutely love my car. It was the absolute best teacher for my first RWD daily-driven 4-climate car and it’s the perfect autocross and track day vehicle. It’s not as fast as I could now handle with ease, but with those main purposes in mind, I don’t long for anything more/different when driving events come along. However, the other 358 days a year, the car isn’t the best choice for sane street driving where I live (hundreds of miles from curvy roads and nearly a thousand from the closest mountain pass).
The past couple of years, I have grown more and more interested in finding a car that can not only serve as a sports car for performance driving events, but also an “Ice Cream Car” to cruise around locally in topless comfort with my wife Sarah - the CAR being the topless one, not her. Get your mind out of the gutter ;-) The FRS is a terrific performance driving car, but not a great ICC.
Now, open-roof cars and racetracks are not generally friends. There’s very few convertibles that are allowed to participate without destroying the car by welding in a cage, but it’s a pretty short list for an admittedly picky driver like myself. However, the built-in Targa roof in the Corvette coupe cheats the system quite a bit. Thumbs up for track use, and is nearly the equivalent of a full drop-top when it’s time to cruise.
While I have never been a lifelong Corvette enthusiast, I have always liked them, appreciated them, thought they were cool and respected their performance potential. In my prior phases of car shopping, they have never really been on my radar for a purchase because they were either too expensive for the one I wanted or as a kid I just “dreamt bigger” than the affordable supercar. When daydreaming without a budget, I was never one to “settle” for the performance bargain Corvette when there was fancy Italian exotica up for grabs. In terms of American sports cars, my love affair with the Viper is well documented, but as an adult with a normal income and a mortgage, I can’t pretend things like budget and value aren’t huge factors.
The notion of selling my beloved Scion is not a decision I take lightly. I have been thinking of this for a while now, and will not risk selling it until I am absolutely sure of it’s replacement. The 6th generation Corvette has long been my favorite looking era, to my eyes being “PEAK” traditional Corvette in styling. Clean lines, great proportions without the fussy overstyled detailing of the C7 which has angles that bothered me in 2014 that haven’t gotten any less jarring to my eyes now.
On paper, my front runner is the 2010-2013 Corvette Grand Sport. This particular configuration combines all the very impressive track-ready add-ons of a Z06 without the larger engine and fixed-roof Aluminum structure. What’s left is a relatively over-protected, under-stressed Corvette that will lap all day long with relative ease and unlike it’s bigger brother the roof comes off for the sunny days you AREN’T on a racetrack. On paper, it’s absolutely perfect. But I haven’t actually DRIVEN a Corvette since a base model C5 in 1999. I mean, I LOVED it then, but I had hardly the experience (and enormous pickiness) that I have now. The on-paper logic of the C6 was fine and all, but I needed to really KNOW before I do anything serious.
Which brings us to the TURO test...
The specific corvette that I want is a manual transmission C6 Grand Sport Coupe. This particular configuration is not available on TURO nearby, but there is a bog-standard base model in the next town over. It even has an automatic transmission. Clearly, if I could fall for THIS car, the setup I would buy would only be better, so I booked the car for a Friday-Sunday rental.
I went to the meetup, did a quick once over with the Owner on the basic functions of the car like the aftermarket stereo and the top removal/stowing process and was off. TURO started out as easy as I had hoped.
I spent most of the 20 minute drive home trying to get the seat in a place I liked. I had sat in corvettes many times (at the auto show mostly, but a few other times) and had been mostly convinced that I did not fit in them. Usually in a short effort I couldn’t keep my skull from resting on the “hoop” between the hatch glass and the roof panel. This is a dealbreaker in fitment that can be overlooked. But I was able to finagle the seat controls to a place where I was free from needing a helmet and eventually got pretty comfortable.
Aside from the initial ergonomics disaster, the transmission was a huge roadblock to enjoyment. This is not a witch hunt against automatics purely because I want manuals, but more a testament to how far Automatic transmissions have come in the past 10 or so years. This car was a 2009 but this transmission dates back a few more years prior. It RACES to higher gears, is fairly reluctant to downshift unless you really hoof the pedal and then it just charges forward after a 1.5 second delay. Using the switches on the wheel was even worse - the design is a push/pull on the same lever and with both hands, similar to how Porsche used to do it. I.E. it’s really terrible. I never got used to it after lots of trying, and almost always went to upshift with my right hand pulling (like in basically any other car) which would just try to downshift and/or not do anything since I was already at the top of the current gear. Eventually I learned to just keep it in “S” which had more fun shift mapping and let the car do it’s thing. It wasn’t perfect, but it was decent for most situations and allowed me to not dwell on this shortcoming anymore and just drive the car from that point on. But I absolutely admit it was a rough first hour or so, with my opinions of the car changing constantly.
I took the car out after dinner to get Ice Cream, and aside from its small cupholders, the Corvette proved to be a fine candidate for Ice Cream Car duty.
The next day was planned mostly around excuses to go out and drive the car with Sarah. I wasn’t going to be able to really exploit the Corvette from a performance car sense - I would never go to proper driving events in a borrowed car - but I honestly know too much about these cars to worry if they will be up to that task. Of course they will. It is genuinely far more the day-to-day use I wanted to really explore this weekend to see if I could imagine actually owning and living with one.
Day trip in the sun-filled sky to go hiking? Check. Daily triple with ease on a deserted country road in the middle of nowhere? Check. Dinner out that evening? No problem! I even ran an errand to Menards to grab a few items to show off how much you can stuff in a C6 hatch in between. Spoiler alert: A lot.
I took the car out alone the next morning for a more "exercise" type of drive, and it was joyous. The dual-mode exhaust proved to be a must-have factory option on these cars. In the open setting it sounds fantastic but it's not TOO loud, and far from obnoxious. But when the valve is shut the cabin is quiet enough even sans-roof to have a conversation at 60mph without raising your voice. It's really impressive, considering the much more modern Supra can't even have the windows open above 70mph without popping your ears with insane buffeting.
All in all, it was a really fun spirited drive early in the morning before traffic woke up to spoil everything. It was a glimpse into knowing this "base" car had all the performance a road car needs for anybody. Modern stats have gotten more impressive, but it's easy to forget that even a 2-generation old Corvette is still a very fast car amongst the sea of CUVs out there these days.
For reasons I will explain later, I will save a proper C6 Corvette review for another day. For now, we'll leave it with broad strokes. In the end, many of the things I had heard or expected of the car were true. This article is more of a TURO review than anything after all.
The interior is not particularly impressive. The seats are not terrific. The transmission tunnel gets warm. The car is honestly too fast to really exploit on public roads. The automatic gearbox is a huge letdown more because Autos have gotten SO much better in the last decade and this one feels old. While my particular rental didn’t have much in the way of squeaks/creaks, I can imagine them coming eventually. But that's... just about it.
Nearly everything in terms of driving experience was just lovely, but more than anything I was genuinely surprised how smooth it drove. It soaked up bumps in the road while still telling you they were there in a really great way. The steering is direct, responsive with a good amount of feel and feedback. It's definitely a sports car, but is just soft enough that it does a decent impression of a GT car too.
Speaking of that, perhaps better than anything in memory, the C6 has a genuine Dr Jekyl/Mr Hyde vibe about it. It’s SO good at masking speed that you can easily be cruising along at 20mph over the limit and not realize it (making it even MORE odd that so many Vette owners are going slowly in the left lane when you see them). However, poke it with the loud pedal and it just roars and takes off like a mad dog off its leash. It’s raucous as hell and has so much more visceral FEEL than most modern performance cars in a way I love. It proved to be a hell of a performance car and a terrific ice cream car for us after our time with it ended.
Both Sarah and I thoroughly enjoyed our time living with the Corvette. It could be a terrific next step in my enthusiast driving portfolio. It would also be a terrific recreational driver's car with her with open-air motoring aplenty be it 7 or 700 miles from home. A car that thrives on the track but gets ice cream like a champ.
Ultimately, the TURO experience was a great one for me. Through the course of those days and a few hundred miles put on the car, I realized MANY things about the Corvette. Most of which I expected, but a few I was surprised by. But I think the biggest revelation was that this made me look at other car purchases we have made - the typical 15-20 minute test drive at a dealership and using that brief glimpse to then sign up for 5y of payments and living with it - just seems insane now.
The 48hrs I lived with this Corvette was an evolution of my opinion on it. If I had judged the car on my initial 15 miles I genuinely wouldn’t have had such a great opinion of it. But thanks to my TURO test, I’m selling my FRS and shopping for MY C6 Corvette soon after. THEN I’ll give it a proper full car review and be elated to share it with you.
I write and I know things. I am also the resident motorcycle expert at Everyday Driver - check out the Cycle Report - www.thecyclereport.com - on our YouTube channel. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and may not align with the founders of Everyday Driver.