2013 Chevrolet Impala has a new design, although it rides atop
General Motors' Epsilon platform, which is used for the
midsize Buick Regal, Opel Insignia and Chevrolet Malibu, as
well as the full-size Cadillac XTS and Buick LaCrosse. These
cars share the same width, varying only in the length of their
Calif. — My brother called me a few years ago from a rental car
counter. He, along with four co-workers, was trying to figure out
which car would hold them all, along with their luggage. Among the
candidates offered, only one was a full-size car: a Chevrolet
I told him to
go for it.
amazed that this unassuming, drab gray sedan swallowed them and
their luggage so easily. What it lacked in glamour, it made up for
in utility. But it never garnered their respect.
explain why 70 percent of all 2012 Chevrolet Impalas were sold to
fleets, not consumers. If you don’t find an Impala waiting at the
rental car counter, most likely you’ll see one with a business
logo on its door.
But when the
2014 Chevrolet Impala goes on sale this month, Chevrolet is hoping
to change that.
tenth-generation Impala has a new design, although it rides atop GM’s
Epsilon platform, which is used for the midsize Buick Regal, Opel
Insignia and Chevrolet Malibu, as well as the full-size Cadillac XTS
and Buick LaCrosse. These cars share the same width, varying only in
the length of their wheelbase.
Impala, engineers worked to ensure that it was worthy of being
Chevrolet’s flagship sedan.
planners decided that unlike some other Epsilon models, which come
with optional all-wheel drive, the Impala would be offered only with
front-wheel drive. This saved weight, which was used in other parts
of the vehicle to enhance performance.
designers and engineers went to work on the sort of details you may
never notice. The doors use laminated side glass and triple door
seals to reduce noise. The rear-mounted brake light is integrated
into the ceiling, not mounted on the rear parcel shelf where it
would hinder rear visibility.
company attacked the details you would notice, such as rear seat
headrests that fold down when not in use to keep sight lines clear,
or the navigation system with 3-D modeling of major cities rendered
are easily spotted once you open the door and sit inside the car.
there’s a greater attention to detail, such as the stitching that
accents the seats or the optional ambient lighting. Interior
ambience does vary somewhat depending on model. Base LS Impalas get
cloth seats and mid-level LT models receive cloth seats trimmed in
vinyl, while the LTZ has perforated leather seats. It also has a
stunning two-tone color scheme that lends a premium feel that’s
lacking in the monochromatic cabin of lesser models.
seats are wide and flat, but prove comfortably supportive, even on
long hauls. As you might expect, seats on lower-level models aren’t
quite as comfortable as those on the LTZ, which can be heated and
cooled — unusual for a Chevrolet.
cabin is much more spacious than last year’s; so too is the
enormous trunk, which has been enlarged.
While most of
the Impala’s instrument panel is recessed to enhance cabin space,
the center stack thrusts rearward toward the driver, making it
easier to reach. It’s anchored by a standard 4.5-inch screen for
audio functions. Many buyers, however, are expected to choose the
optional Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system, which controls
navigation and Bluetooth audio streaming, among other features. It
comes with an 8-inch touch screen. Thankfully, MyLink is intuitive
to use and features a valet mode that locks out strangers from
accessing any information stored in the car’s systems. It also
locks the storage bin hidden behind the screen. Thoughtfully, the
bin is large enough to hold a smartphone and has a USB port.
While the new
Impala’s details are impressive, especially when compared to the
car it’s replacing, its driving feel is just as notable.
Impalas will come with a 305-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 and a
six-speed automatic transmission. It will be joined later in the
year by a 196-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a mild
hybrid with a 182-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and
highway fuel economy of 35 mpg. That last model, dubbed eAssist by
GM, uses a small electric motor to enhance performance without
affecting fuel economy. But unlike a full hybrid, eAssist never runs
solely on electric power.
powertrain, all Impalas come with 10 air bags, anti-lock disc brakes
and a full slate of safety options such as blind-spot alert, a rear
camera and much more.
provides strong performance, with GM estimating a 0-60 mph time of
6.8 seconds. The throttle is very responsive and the transmission is
cooperative most of the time, although there were some odd,
hesitating shifts when coasting downhill.
employs the Camaro’s steering rack and you can tell when driving
an LT with 19-inch wheels. This is a vehicle that will carve through
canyons, thanks to steering that varies its assist as you push it.
There’s little undue body lean and excess body motions are held in
check. Bumps are well absorbed. Stability at speed is impressive.
While it’s no sports sedan, it’s significantly more fun to drive
than its competitors.
an LTZ with 20-inch wheels seemed to have a lighter feel to its
steering — almost too light.
Like on many
recent new GM vehicles, the interior was impressively quiet, even at
high speed. There wasn’t any noticeable wind or road noise, except
on rough pavement.
visibility is much better than the Impala’s corporate siblings,
thanks to its handsome styling, which doesn’t sacrifice looks for
utility. The one exception is the rear window, which is narrow. Be
sure to get the optional rear camera.
In the final
analysis, it’s hard not to be impressed by the 2014 Chevrolet
Impala, a car that does everything a full-size car should.
comfortably carry five people and their luggage. Its cabin imparts a
premium feel, while the car’s overall styling evokes its heritage
without a hint of nostalgia. Its performance is strong, while its
appetite for fuel is meager. And the Impala’s price is low enough
to challenge those of smaller cars with similar fuel economy, but
focusing the product — no all-wheel drive or high-performance SS
models — Chevrolet’s new Impala will hit many buyers’ sweet
start, the Impala was the flagship of the Chevrolet line. Debuting
in 1958 as the top trim level in the pricey Bel-Air line, the Impala
came in hardtop coupe and convertible body styles with a V-8 that
produced up to 315 horsepower.
year, the Impala became a full model range.
Chevrolet added an optional 409 cubic-inch V-8 and Super Sport
package. Both would become legendary in song and on the track.
By 1965, when
Chevrolet sold nearly 2.4 million cars, almost half were Impalas. It
was a high-water mark. That same year a new option package, the
luxury-oriented Caprice, would be introduced. Like the Impala, the
Caprice would become a unique model the following year, eventually
overshadowing the Impala.
later, the Impala’s luster had faded to the point where it graced
the entry-level full-size sedan.
In 1986, it
was dropped. From 1994 to 1996, the name was revived as a
high-performance variant of the Caprice in an effort to stoke sales.
The name then vanished once again, reappearing for 2000 on a
V-6-powered front-wheel-drive sedan. It has remained in production
3.6-liter DOHC V-6
3,800 pounds (estimated)
space: 18.8 cubic feet
excluding destination charge: $26,725