As the brand’s flagship and design leader, the new 2014 Impala isn’t anything like past generations relegated to taxi duty and law enforcement.
|1. At launch the Impala will come with a 3.6L V6 making 305 hp and 264 lb-ft of torque.
2. Fuel economy is rated at 19/29 mpg (city/hwy).
3. Rear seat legroom is 39.8-inches with a 18.8 cu-ft of trunk space.
4. Priced at $30,760 for the V6, a fully-loaded LTX is $42,790.
5. Later this year a 2.5L 4-cylinder as well as an eAssist hybrid will be offered.
With plenty of Impalas serving as fleet cars today, it may be a testament to their long term reliability, but no one wants to drive a taxi as their vehicle of choice.
Which is why GM plans to help lose the stereotype by selling last-gen models to fleets for another year while this handsome new car is destined for suburban driveways.
LOOKS GOOD ON CAMERA, BETTER IN PERSON
With its standard projector beam headlights, 18-inch wheels, sculpted body lines and hefty hips, it’s looks like the Camaro might have influenced this car’s styling.
Those wheels can be replaced with 19- or even 20-inch versions more suited to its large proportions. In fact, the 18-inch wheels are reserved for lower trim levels unavailable during Chevy’s initial rollout in April.
Even if nothing else won points here, the new design certainly deserves some respect. Coming from being drab and ugly for decades, the new look positions this car to be as stylish, if not more so, than other large sedans – particularly the domestic competition.
The headlights are well proportioned to the grille and front fascia’s styling. A high beltline helps give the Impala a low-slung look while stylish creases accentuate its curves.
Plenty of chrome accents around the windows, grille and front fascia emphasize the body lines and the top trim LTZ models also have bumper-integrated exhaust ports borrowed from the Cadillac XTS.
A raked rear window helps hide the car’s size — something better noticed inside than out. In fact, the new car is actually longer than the 2013 model. It just wears it better.
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FINALLY A MODERN, FULL-SIZE CHEVROLET SEDAN
Chevy MyLink is like a simplified version of Cadillac’s new CUE telematics system. And it works well, especially juxtaposed with Caddy’s consternating take on touch screens. There are also new infotainment features debuting in the Impala including 3D maps and a valet mode to keep your address hidden — not that someone who drives an Impala is likely to lure many jewel thieves.
Adaptive cruise control, a first for Chevrolet, is also available as a standalone option for about $1,700.
While it isn’t without flaws, MyLink is relatively streamlined. Functions like pairing a cell phone, answering a call and browsing music are refreshingly simple. That system comes updated and mated to an eight-inch touch screen nestled in the dash.
There’s also a secret compartment behind the screen that you open with a button (like on the Cadillacs). Press it, and the display reveals a cubby with a USB port to charge and tether your phone.
That might sound fancy, but it’s refreshingly simple once you sit in the car. A few buttons and knobs are at your disposal for climate control, stereo volume, seat heat and fan modes, but it’s neither intimidating nor complicated.
The center stack isn’t the only part of the cabin that’s well done either.
In fact, every button is comfortably within reach and ergonomic to use — with one exception. There’s a manual mode available, but the gears are governed by a “plus-minus” rocker on the shift lever. It’s poorly placed and boring to use, but hardly a deal breaker.
Full-size sedans wouldn’t be themselves without ample space to stretch, and there’s plenty to be had here. Front seat legroom increased by 3.5-inches while the rear passengers have an added 2.2-inches. That also beats the Ford Taurus, it’s most direct competitor, by almost four inches in the front and almost two inches for the rear seats.
Trunk space increased as well to an absolutely massive 18.8 cu-ft. That is roughly a one cubic foot smaller than the Taurus, but both are so large you could pack your livingroom in them.
CHUNKY LIKE A BIG CAR, NIMBLE LIKE ITS NAMESAKE
The last time Chevrolet brought out a new Impala, customers could opt to drop a 5.3-liter V8 under the hood. But V8 torque in a front-wheel drive platform rendered mixed results. That engine was axed from the lineup years ago, leaving the V6 options alone.
Few shed a tear.
But the six-cylinder options weren’t really wonderful either. By the end of this year there will be three powertrains to pick from, although the 3.6-liter V6 is the only one to launch initially in April. With 305 hp and 264 lb-ft of torque, there are more ponies on tap here than with the old Chevy small block.
Chevrolet expects most Impalas to sell with that engine rather than the base 2.5-liter four cylinder or the 2.4-liter eAssist mild hybrid, both of which will roll out months later.
The EPA certified mileage with that V6 engine sits at 19 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. That’s 2 mpg highway below the Charger and Avalon, and while the turbocharged 4-cylinder Taurus gets 32, the reality of achieving that number in the real world is questionable.
With more ponies than its rivals, passing cars is easy with all that power, but you’ll see fuel consumption climb quickly too.
Power is nothing without proper poise, though. The new Impala has a stiffer chassis that handles the car’s girth considerably better than the outgoing model.
Unfortunately, the electric power steering system feels fittingly non-mechanical. Still, the car sticks through corners surprisingly well for it size.
Selectable driving modes would serve the new Impala well. After all, competing cars like the Toyota Avalon can be calibrated to sport, eco or normal settings at the touch of a button and help make a notable difference in how it drives.
WHAT ABOUT THE COMPETITION?
The Detroit Three each have their answer to the full-size sedan question. Chevrolet’s is the Impala while Ford and Dodge have the Taurus and Charger respectively. Unfortunately, Chevrolet is the only one of the three not to offer all-wheel drive.
A performance variant to replace the Impala SS isn’t on the books either, but that’s because Chevrolet plans to address that market niche with its V8-powered SS due out this year as well.
Cadillac’s XTS rides on the same platform and can be had with all-wheel drive. Chevrolet says it could add the option and will if the market demands it, but so far their research suggests buyers aren’t interested.
The V6 Impala won’t put you in the back of your seat, but it has plenty of power to accelerate and pass with ease. Fuel consumption figure aren’t unreasonable either, in fact they’re dead-on with a V6 Taurus, which is actually less powerful.
Domestic car buyers have a tendency toward brand loyalty. That combined with the fact that Dodge and Ford’s products differ on several levels mean the Impala competes, but sporadic differences make for an uneven playing field.
Regardless, the differences between the previous Impala and this generation are night-and-day. For the first time in decades, Chevrolet has a stylish, enjoyable, full-size sedan.