Last year's upgrade of the Impala's drivetrain seemed like an odd bit of progress for an aging sedan about to be replaced. Since the 2012 step-up to a 3.6-liter V-6, we've learned that the 2014 Impala will share that engine and its six-speed transmission--so it's no surprise that the combination carries over in the 2013 Impala unchanged.
This powertrain replaced a pair of low-aspiration engines, one of them paired to a four-speed automatic, and the new team is one of GM's most advanced pairings. Also found in the Cadillac lineup, the engine produces 300 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque, and can be run on regular unleaded gas.
It's been difficult to find the uprated Impala for test drives, but in our experience with other GM vehicles in the same size and weight class, the powertrain's been a good example of smooth, quiet operation. Replacing those old pushrod V-6 engines wouldn't make that a difficult task, but the 3.6-liter six has to meet the challenge brought by the Hyundai Azera's 3.3-liter six and the Toyota Avalon's 3.5-liter V-6--and in our recent test drives, the field seems to have drawn much closer. Thanks to the wider gear span of the six-speed, real-world acceleration and passing should be stronger in the Impala, too.
It's likely the Impala rides and handles pretty much as before--which is to say very well damped, with a plush ride and lots of body roll on tap to serve as a reminder not to make hasty changes in direction. While LT and LTZ models come with a somewhat firmer Touring calibration, the Impala remains a cushy highway cruiser more than anything else.
We'll update these driving impressions as soon as we can track down one of these latest examples.