It can be dangerous to tread on an icon, but after a decade or so of dull, duller, and dullest Impalas, Chevy had every reason to chuck the past and to stamp some new ideas into being.
It works--beautifully. The new large Chevy sedan has a passing resemblance to the Malibu and Traverse at the front, but even there, the Impala gets it right where elsewhere it's gone a bit wrong. The shovel-shaped grille could wear a Honda logo. The headlamps may as well be etched with Saab logos. The hood has almost as many ribs as the old Chrysler Sebring, but comes off clean. The catapult for the shape comes at the rear door, where a complex, Mercedes CLS-like intersection of surfaces echoes the rear quarters on the Buick LaCrosse, until it darts off at the shoulder line into a new and smartly pressed crease. It's one of GM's best efforts at mingling looks while keeping the brands distinct.
Meanwhile, when last we left Chevy's hyperactive interior design squad, they'd rendered the Malibu sedan in about a dozen textures and eroded inlets into the dash cowl, giving it a Nicholson-esque shoreline hairline. At some level, the ebb and flow works--your eyes move constantly around the cabin's perimeter.
They're actually looking for a place to rest, before they get tired and give up. There's nowhere near as much glitz as in the Avalon, still, but the Impala makes up for it in its sheer number of finishes and cutlines. The controls work fine, especially the big gauges and their nested LCD screen (it's an option), or the sealed switches on the steering wheel that run cruise control and media. We just believe, in our heart of hearts, there's a way to pull off this dramatic a look with less drama.