The Chevrolet Impala has been so mediocre for so long, it's nearly impossible to imagine it as new. Towards the end of the last generation, it became the darling of rental fleets everywhere. Meanwhile the competition stepped up its game with the updated Chrysler 300, Toyota Avalon, and even a new comer, the Kia Cadenza. Can the new 2014 Chevrolet Impala fast-toward over the past and beat the competition?
Chevrolet has chucked the past and given us crisply themed sheetmetal that we'd like to see elsewhere in the brand's lineup. The shovel-shaped grille could sport a Honda badge, and the headlamps might as well have a Saab logo. Let's just say this is one of GM's best efforts when it comes to keeping its brands distinct.
Meanwhile the interior ebbs and flows which keeps your eyes moving constantly around the cabin's perimeter. It's no where as glitzy as the 2013 Toyota Avalon, but the finishes are nicely done.
Under the hood of the Impala you'll fine one of three engines. Base models have a 2.5-liter four-cylinder rated at 195 horsepower. Our tester had the 3.6-liter V-6 with 305 horsepower. There's also a hybrid model with a version of GM's eAssist mild-hybrid system for the Eco model with 182 horsepower. That setup pairs a 2.4-liter gas four-cylinder to an electrical assist system.
The V-6 engine's fuel economy is slightly behind the competition at 19 city, 29 highway, and 22 combined. That's about a digit or two lower than the Azera and Avalon, and the 35 mpg highway that Chevy is expecting the mild-hybrid Eco model to return is well off the Avalon Hybrid's 40 mpg rating. Opting for the base four-cylinder model only brings those ratings to 21/31 and 25 combined.
For 2014 the Impala adopts a whole range of new safety technology. From ten airbags to standard OnStar, the Impala's already earned a good rating from the IIHS. Beyond the basics, the Impala now is available with feature such as blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, a backup camera, forward-collision warning, and parking sensors.
Like other Chevrolet models, the Impala is available in three trim levels--LS, LT, and LTZ. If you want the V-6, you'll be getting an LT or LTZ model. Starting from about $27,500, the Impala LS features power locks, windows, and mirrors, cruise control, air conditioning, and 18-inch wheels. Stepping up to an LT model like ours will cost you just a tick under $30,000, and adds a fully powered driver seat, Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system, hidden storage behind the LCD screen, and available navigation. A loaded LTZ model with ventilated seats, 20-inch alloy wheels, and navigation can cost more than $41,000.
It's taken a while to get here, but the 2014 Chevrolet Impala leaps past its history with fine handling and even better styling.
For more information be sure to read our full review of the 2014 Chevrolet Impala.