“Whoa!” came the exclamation from Margalit in the backseat, “That was some puddle!”
Even a Southwestern travel writer occasionally wanders far afield. A travel writing workshop at Disney World drew me from my Arizona lair to nearly a week of Disney and an opportunity to test some new products, including the 2014 Chevrolet Impala. This story is about that test drive for SheBuysCars. I was at the Disney Boardwalk Resort as part of the Traveling Mom/Traveling Dad workshop. We were there for the perview and dedication of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
Indeed it was—the accumulation of four consecutive days of rain at Walt Disney World outside Orlando, Florida. It was impressive; not the puddle, but the cherry red 2014 Chevrolet Impala I was driving. The reason is that when the right side of the car plowed through a puddle deep enough to send water sloshing onto the side windows, the car didn’t shutter, shimmy or slide. It hugged the road.
That was impressive.
There are four of us comfortably dry in the roomy interior. Its sleek design is reminiscent of the Impala’s early days on the road back in the early 1960s. This Chevrolet model has evolved generations from my huge 1964 Impala.
Today’s size is a better fit for driving habits. During the test drive, its city gas mileage in actual usage—that popped up on the heads-up display on the windshield, along with the speed—was better than the Environmental Protection Agency 19 miles per gallon rating. The car is rated 29 m.p.g. on the highway. The Orlando freeways were clogged, so we didn’t get a chance to ramp it up for high speed ride.
Technology Innovation and Evolution
When the Impala first hit the road in 1958, it was one of the first American cars with fuel injection. That feature was the first in a long line of technical innovations that are now on the dashboard of the sexy 2015 Impala we were not allowed to drive.
“I can read that map clearly back here,” Chris tells us. Sitting next to her in the back seat, I agree that the LED screen is clear and easily read at a glance. We’re looking at something dealers have yet to see, the new GM MyLink with 4G and LTE digital mobile speeds. The stationary 2015 Impala is equipped to the nines, so the leather seats are mighty comfy.
The list of technology-related features in Chevrolet is quite a menu. With the high-speed Internet connection, the car serves as an AT&T-driven Wi-Fi hotspot. Up to seven devices can be independently connected to phone, data, music, video or web streaming sources.
We’ve connected our smart phones, and Sasha, the agency representative on the Chevy account, has her tablet and phone hooked up. I did a quick check of my email—six messages dinged into the in box.
OnStar Safety plus Wow Factor
The cloud-connection comes via OnStar, the first-of-its-kind service connecting vehicles to assistance. “OnStar started out as a basic safety system,” explains Kameya, the OnStar representative. “Essentially it was a mobile phone connected to a call center sending location and basic reports from the car.”
Today, OnStar has multiple levels of service. The red “SOS” safety service is always available. Sensors in the car will send notification of an accident, including where the vehicle was hit and whether airbags deployed. In most cases, the OnStar call center is aware of the accident before the driver can push the emergency call button.
The new feature is the blue button connecting drivers to a call center to provide turn-by-turn directions, locations of restaurants and other shopping, and finding a place to sleep when the day is ending.
OnStar also functions as a hands-free mobile telephone device.
Turn-by-Turn Directions via Onstar
“Hello Traveling Moms,” said the perky voice at OnStar, “how can we help you?” We’re in a 2014 Camaro this time on a scavenger hunt threading our way through sluggish traffic in Buena Vista, Kissimmee and Orlando.
“We’re looking for a chocolate museum,” Meg, riding shotgun, tells the representative. “One second,” and after a short pause, “I have the World of Chocolate Museum & Café, 11701 International Drive. Is that what you want?”
“Absolutely.” Within seconds, the directions are downloaded to the navigation map on the console screen. With a promised special chocolate treat waiting for us, we’re on the streets guided by OnStar eNav technology and our collective sweet teeth.