The Chevrolet Impala name hasn’t exactly sparked much excitement in a very long time, despite circling NASCAR’s high banks. But that’s about to change, along with just about everything else that has to do with the Impala nameplate. So let’s see if Chevy’s new full-size sedan can generate some full-size enthusiasm, along with more sales.
It’s not that Chevrolet Impala sales have been that bad. It’s long been GM’s best-selling car. But, some 70% of the previous Impala went to fleet sales. That says a lot about a car when 7 out of 10 people who drive it are forced to do so. Chevrolet is looking to change that with the 2014 Chevrolet Impala.
One look tells us they’re off to a good start as the sweeping styling is a whole heck of a lot better looking than any Impala since the 60’s. It’s ready to slip through the air like a dream thanks to a big emphasis on aerodynamics.
You can clearly see some Camaro influence, naturally, particularly in the grille, tail lights, and the power dome hood. But this is no retread, as it has its own sleek proportions; similar to the Cadillac XTS with which it shares a lot; and unique details right down to the Impala on the C-pillar.
Top LTZ trim adds HID headlights and LED daytime runners. 20-inch alloys are optional, replacing the LTZ’s standard 19’s. Base Impalas still get beefy 18’s. Our test Impala rolls with V6 power; GM’s familiar direct-injected 3.6-liter with 305-horsepower and 264 lb-ft. of torque. A pair of I4’s are also available, a 195-horsepower 2.5-liter and a 182-horsepower eAssist light-hybrid.
Nearly every interior dimension has grown. There is the full-size room you expect. So, it’s 5-passenger road-trip comfort for all, plus room for 18.8 cubic-ft. of luggage in the trunk, before you fold the rear seats. There’s plenty of smaller item storage; under the trunk floor, in the doors, and even behind the cool fold up touch screen.
The dash has Chevy’s twin-cockpit overtone, and materials are consistent with recent GM’s; actually a little better. Things are much quieter than the previous Impala, and Chevrolet’s voice-prompt MyLink keeps all copacetic on the connectivity front. Gauges look very modern with a 4-inch changeable info screen set between the classic dual dial setup with “ice blue” lighting. Heated and ventilated seats are available for both in front, as is a heated steering wheel for the driver. 10-airbags are standard, and adaptive cruise control with forward collision alert and collision mitigation braking are available.
Ride is much improved, thanks to a stiffer chassis and hydraulic ride bushings; but it’s not necessarily sportier, which is to say it has a much more solid feel, but not one that encourages aggressive handling maneuvers, as we found out through our handling course. Though we also found body roll well subdued for a full-size sedan and the variable-assist electric steering quick and direct. Stability control was a little too fast on the trigger to reign in our high speed maneuvering; but we understand that most buyers will appreciate that safety aspect.
Keeping the hammer down in a straight line, the V6 roars to life and lays down a decent 0-60 time of 7.1-seconds and ¼ mile time of 15.6-seconds at 93 miles-per-hour. Not sport sedan territory by any means, but certainly up to the task of highway merging. Gear selection is by a 6-speed automatic, and it provided smooth and relatively quick shifts down the track. Hitting the brakes at 60 miles-per-hour resulted in stops that were very stable and consistent with a short 127-foot average.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the V6 are 18-City, 28-Highway, and 21-Combined. We averaged a very good 23.3 miles-per-gallon of Regular in mixed driving. Still, the Energy Impact Score is an average one, at 15.7-barrels of oil consumed yearly, with CO2 emissions of 6.9-tons.
Impala pricing starts at $27,535, that’s good for the amount of space and features you get. With high trim and a V6 going past 35K is easy, not unlike main rivals: Ford Taurus and Toyota Avalon.
While full–size sedans are no longer high volume models, they are still seen as brand flagships. And, the 2014 Chevrolet Impala certainly qualifies as a retail flagship, breaking the fleet image it has endured for years. It is a high styled, high quality effort that befits GM’s largest division. With so many big four doors redesigned recently, the full-size turf wars are tougher than ever. But, we think the new Impala is more than up to the challenge.
Torque: 264 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 7.1 seconds
1/4 mile: 15.6 seconds at 93 mph
EPA: 18 mpg city/ 28 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 15.7 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 6.9 tons/yr