2014 Chevrolet Impala vs 2014 Toyota Avalon

Full-Size Sedans With a New Lease on Life

Previously, the Chevrolet Impala and Toyota Avalon were dull enough to make Ben Stein seem like Robin Williams.

Uninspiring too look at, drab inside and dull to drive, they championed space, comfort and value above all else. They were the highway queens for rental fleets, retirees and travelling salespeople alike.

But people are sick of being bored. Customers want a little excitement for their hard earned money. We’re not talking about feeling like a six-year-old at Disney, but something a little more exhilarating than standing in line at the DMV was sorely needed for both brands. Thankfully, Chevrolet and Toyota’s full-size sedans both recently got a much-needed dose of vivacity.


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Now More Exciting

2014 Toyota Avalon 6In fact, Toyota is in the middle of revising its vehicles with sportier looks in an effort to forget its stodgy past. The Corolla, 4Runner, RAV4 and Highlander have all received aggressive, if not controversial new styling inside and out. The Avalon plays it the safest however and features some old Toyota styling elements mixed in with a few Lexus cues. The top-of-the-line Limited model adds some pizazz with quad HID headlights and LED daytime running lights.

2014 Chevrolet Impala 9The last generation Impala was the poster child for anonymity. Without an interesting or unique line on the entire car, Chevrolet was determined to change things with the 2014 Impala. Beauty is subjective, but we are sold on the new Impala’s look and find it to be more appealing than the Avalon. It is identifiable from a distance and projects the sort of road presence that is associated with most modern full-size sedans.

Power vs. Lightness

Impala vs Avalon 1

Although each vehicle offers more efficient, less powerful engine choices, we selected the two drivetrains that have come to dominate this segment over the past several years. That means V6 engines measuring around 3.5 liters hooked up to a six-speed automatic transmission. In the Toyota, the 3.5-liter V6 is good for 268 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque, while the Chevrolet’s more potent 3.6-liter V6 makes 305 hp and 264 lb-ft of torque.

SEE ALSO: 2014 Chevrolet Impala Review – Video

Even though the Avalon suffers from a substantial power deficit, it does possess a near 340-lb weight advantage. On the road, the cars feel very similar power-wise at city speeds. Once up to speed though, the Impala begins to show its power edge on the highway.

Since it is lighter and less powerful, the Toyota Avalon Limited achieves better fuel economy ratings of 21 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway; two better than the Impala LTZ in both scenarios. However, after a week of testing, our real-world numbers closed the gap and saw the Impala achieve an average of 23.2 mpg compared to the Avalon at 24.

Predictable vs. Isolated

2014 Chevrolet Impala 1

Both succeed as comfortable cruisers ready to eat up miles of freeway, especially if you choose optional adaptive cruise control. The steering in both cars is light, as it should be, but we Avalon’s wheel is too easy to spin. The Impala as a whole communicates back to the driver what is happening on the road better than the Avalon. The Chevrolet was very predictable in its actions and feels less isolated from tactile road feedback than the Avalon.

There are some minor issues with the Avalon as well. The brakes require too much pressure to stop the car and lack a linear slow-down feeling as you press the pedal. That tends to lead to frequent unpleasant stops in heavy traffic. The other issue is the ride comfort. For a large car set up to pamper passengers, too many bumps and cracks in the road make their way up into the cabin of the Avalon, which is a complaint we have with a few Toyotas lately. Although more supple on the road, the Impala is not a pillar in comfort either. Maybe both manufacturers focused a little too much on excitement while developing their latest land yachts.

Space vs. Style

2014 Toyota Avalon 2

Inside it becomes a battle of the spacious Impala versus the sumptuous Avalon. When it comes to materials used, overall design and execution, the Toyota wins hands down. Whereas the Avalon is coated in faux leather wrapped surfaces and expensive looking materials, the Impala is splashed with a mash-up of vinyl-like surfaces and teal stitching. Oh, that teal stitching. We have no idea how this came to be so prevalent in Chevrolet products but here’s hoping it stops. To be fair, there are plenty of trim combinations available for the Impala that nullify the complaint.

Although the Avalon is a much nicer place to be, the Impala does have a few redeeming qualities. The center stack controls are easy to understand if not a little bit cheap feeling and there is a hide-away cubby behind the screen for stashing valuables. Our only big gripe is that the telescoping steering wheel doesn’t extend far enough.

SEE ALSO: 2013 Toyota Avalon Review – Video

The Toyota Avalon is as much for passengers as it is for the driver. The Limited model features three-zone climate control and heated rear seats: two items not found on the Impala. Legroom is almost the same between the two cars with the Toyota coming up about half an inch short at 39.2 inches. The Impala’s trunk is bigger at 18.8 cubic feet, but the Avalon is nothing to sneer at with 16.

Compare Specs

2014 Chevrolet Impala
2014 Toyota Avalon
Vehicle 2014 Chevrolet Impala Advantage 2014 Toyota Avalon
Engine 3.6-liter V6 - 3.5-liter V6
Horsepower 305 hp Impala 268 hp
Max. Torque 264 lb-ft Impala 248 lb-ft
Fuel Economy 19 MPG city / 29 MPG hwy Avalon 21 MPG city / 31 MPG hwy
Observed MPG 23.2 mpg Avalon 24.0 mpg
Weight 3,800 lbs. Avalon 3,461 lbs.
Front Legroom 45.8” Impala 42.1”
Rear Legroom 39.8” Impala 39.2”
Rear Cargo Capacity 18.8 cu. ft. Impala 16.0 cu. ft.
Starting Price $27,670 Impala $32,150
As Tested Price $41,340 Impala $42,410

Pricing is another area that favors the Impala. With a naturally aspirated four-cylinder base-engine, the Chevrolet begins at just $27,670 after destination charges, while the cheapest Toyota lists for $32,150. However, as tested, our loaded Avalon Limited model came to $42,410 after destination charges, while the Impala 2LTZ came in at almost the same price of $41,340.

Impala vs Avalon 3

The Verdict

Still, at a thousand dollars cheaper, with more passenger space, more power and a minimal fuel economy penalty, it is hard to argue with the Chevrolet Impala. Plus, the new car has rediscovered that full-size elegant road presence Impalas of old were synonymous with. Toyota did an admirable job bringing its full-size sedan up to date; Chevrolet just did it better.

2014 Toyota Avalon Limited

2014 Chevrolet Impala LTZ

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