Shopping for a new Chevrolet Impala? MSRP: $26,725 - $35,770
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|LS 4dr Sedan||Gas I4, 2.5L||Front Wheel Drive||$ 25,789||$ 26,725|
|LT 4dr Sedan||Gas I4, 2.5L||Front Wheel Drive||$ 27,671||$ 28,975|
|LT 4dr Sedan||Gas/Ethanol V6, 3.6L||Front Wheel Drive||$ 28,602||$ 29,950|
|LTZ 4dr Sedan||Gas/Ethanol V6, 3.6L||Front Wheel Drive||$ 33,802||$ 35,770|
The Chevrolet Impala has been so mediocre for so long, it's nearly impossible to imagine it as new, as improved, or as any other buzzword sure to show up in a TV ad or a sponsored Tweet.
Well, it is new. It is improved. It's excellent, actually. And the 2014 Impala now pulling into showrooms is such a departure from the cut-rate fleet model we've known for nearly a decade, it might want to retain counsel and look into a parental liberation.
The tenth-generation Impala nullifies the old one almost completely--except for the fact that the old car will still be built, only for fleets. The new one? It's a sea change in style, in feature and safety content, and most convincingly, in the way it nails the balance of comfort and handling without getting too lazy or harsh.
Now made from the same gear as the Buick LaCrosse, and built alongside the Chevy Volt in Hamtramck, Michigan, the 2014 Impala wears some crisply themed sheetmetal that we'd like to see more of on the smaller, less fortunate Malibu. The Impala's cues and details hit the high points the Malibu misses, without the misguided Camaro references in back and with assertiveness all over its front end. There's some CLS in its rear quarters, where the design really gels, even if it's fairly close to the same passages on the LaCrosse. The cabin? Give it some chamomile. The concept is high--like the Maxima, the Impala shaves away unneeded dash below a beltline--but the chorus of lines and textures and materials needs a more muted approach, or at least fewer cutlines.
We've driven only the best Impala (we bet), the one with the V-6. The four-cylinders come later, with an emphasis on gas mileage. Base versions will carry a 2.5-liter four rated at 195 horsepower, while an Eco version will carry a version of GM's eAssist mild-hybrid technology, with a 182-hp, 2.4-liter gas four-cylinder boosted at times by battery power for an expected 35-mpg highway rating.
With the six, the Impala justifies its animal inspiration. It's powered by GM's latest 3.6-liter V-6, rated at 305 horsepower, coupled to a six-speed automatic with an aggressive torque converter that judders on occasion while it tries to conserve fuel. It's a mild distraction from the Impala's strong acceleration--0-60 mph in about 6.8 seconds--and from its thoughtfully composed handling. The ride's damped extremely well, even on the biggest 20-inch wheels and tires, and the Impala's electric steering never feels overly heavy or slow to react.
As a large sedan by the Feds' yardsticks, the Impala offers up more space than the best-selling four-doors, and it tops the Azera and Avalon for usable space, too. On paper it reads smaller than the Taurus in some ways, but the net volume inside is larger. The front seats are very supportive in either leather or mixed media, and space is vast through the back seat, except in headroom. We expected a little more, to be honest, and we should have it, given the flatness of the back bench. The trunk almost makes up for it, and almost matches the Taurus cubic foot for cubic foot.
The old-school Impala lagged in safety gear and crash-test scores, but the 2014 model has ten airbags and can be fitted with adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, and parking sensors. A rearview camera is still an option on all but the LTZ, though.
Along with the safety technology, the Impala's infotainment systems get a thorough upgrade. Bluetooth audio streaming is now offered, as is navigation. Chevy's MyLink system controls the secondary features via an eight-inch touchscreen LCD--features like space for 60 favorites (radio stations, destinations, whatever) and a thousand personal contacts, connections for up to 10 Bluetooth devices, and a swipey interface that lets you choose where the icons rest, or which of four graphic skins you want it to wear.
The Impala arrives in showrooms in LS, LT and LTZ trims, with the V-6 versions the first to land. Prices range from $27,535 for the base model all the way to $41,000 if you're not careful--but a well-equipped V-6-powered Impala LT with a rearview camera and MyLink audio will run about $31,700.
- At long last, it's new
- A redefined look we'd like to see more of
- Strong V-6, even without the SS initials
- Balanced ride and handling
- 21st-century infotainment systems
- Four-cylinders won't be mileage champs
- Back seat's flat, and headroom isn't amazing
- Cockpit needs some chamomile
- Manual-shift switch is almost useless