In my three decades as an automotive journalist, I have been extremely impressed with a handful of cars we have tested during this time period. And to give you an idea of how many cars we are talking about, we normally test drive between 60 to 80 vehicles per year - multiply that by 30 and we are talking about 2,100 cars in a span of 30 years - so you get the idea now! During all these years, we have test driven the Chevrolet Impala probably a half a dozen times but this new "10th generation" 2014 reinvented iconic sedan from Chevy is one of the most impressive cars I have seen and driven in the last 20 years or so.
The Chevrolet Impala is a full-size sedan that was originally introduced for the 1958 model year and it was Chevrolet's most expensive passenger model through 1965 becoming the best-selling automobile in the United States, competing against the Ford Galaxie 500 and the Plymouth Fury when full-size models dominated the market. The Impala was distinguished for many years by its symmetrical triple taillights. But for a period of about 10 years, consumers had complaint of banausic designs, contemptible interiors, no attentions to details nor comfort, stodgy performance, but most important of all, middling to low sales for Chevrolet, until 2011 when Impala once again became America’s best-selling full-size sedan with sales of more than 171,000 units and also became one of the 10 best-selling cars overall in the United States, along with Chevrolet Malibu and Cruze.
So how does a legend like this iconic vehicle regained the throne again? It was only possible when the entire Chevy team, designers and engineers reached far into the future and shaped it into this amazing 2014 new Impala. “Our design team was challenged to create a new classic, but that didn’t mean relying on nostalgia,” said John Cafaro, director of North America passenger car exterior design. “This is very much a contemporary car, with design elements, craftsmanship and attention to detail that complement its advanced technology and performance.”
The end result is a stunning new interpretation of the Impala that’s only recognizable by its signature badge. They went totally out of the normal way to produce a car that combines superior materials with meticulously crafted technology. Its bold stance and sculpted lines combine form with function to please the eye and effectively command aerodynamics for a smooth, dynamic ride.
The new Impala is offered in LS, LT and LTZ trim levels. When you're shopping, you might notice the LT and LTZ are further subdivided into 1LT and 2LT, and 1LZ and 2LZ packages. It sounds confusing but the packages merely identify which engine the car has: The 1LT and 1LZ have a four-cylinder engine; the 2LT and 2LZ come with a V6.
Standard features on the entry-level LS (which is four-cylinder only) include 18-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, keyless entry, cruise control, air-conditioning, an eight-way power-adjustable driver seat, full power accessories, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a trip computer, OnStar emergency communications, Bluetooth and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite and HD radio, USB/iPod connectivity, an auxiliary input and a 4.2-inch color display. A convenience package with rear parking sensors, foldable rear headrests and a cargo net is the only option on the LS.
When you step up to the LT you then get 18" alloy wheels, heated side mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and the MyLink infotainment interface with an 8-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth streaming audio and an SD card slot. A four-cylinder engine is standard on 1LT models, while the 2LT has the V6 powerplant. Options on the LT are grouped in packages (and often have to be purchased in combination with one another) and include an upgraded Convenience package with parking sensors, a rearview camera and remote start, and a Safety package with a collision warning system, a lane departure warning system, rear cross-traffic alerts and blind spot monitoring. There's also a Premium Seating package with simulated suede upholstery and seat heaters; a Navigation package that also includes keyless ignition/entry; and a Bose Audio package and Wheel package that fits the car with 19-inch wheels. A sunroof is a stand-alone option.
And when you reach the top of the line LTZ, everything that we mentioned above comes as standard equipment except for the Bose audio system and navigation system, which remain optional. The sunroof, meanwhile, is optional on 1LZ models but standard on 2LZ models. All LTZ models come with leather upholstery and are eligible for exclusive options like 20-inch wheels, adaptive cruise control and the Comfort & Convenience package with ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, driver memory settings and auto-dimming rearview and driver-side mirrors.
The Impala is offered with a four-cylinder motor or an eAssist mild-hybrid system - both are late-introduction powertrains - in addition to a V6. All send power to the front wheels through a standard six-speed automatic transmission.
The entry-level four-cylinder is a direct-injected 2.5-liter unit that produces 195hp and 187 lb-ft of torque and comes equipped with an active noise cancellation system to minimize interior noise. The eAssist setup pairs a 2.4-liter four with an electric motor for a total output of 182hp.
The model we tested had the impressive and top of the line 3.6-liter V6 engine that produces 305 ponnies with 264 lb-ft of torque - enough for a zero-to-60 mph sprint in the mid-six-second range. Mileage is rated at 19 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway.
Though its suspension lacks the effective HiPerfront strut suspension and adaptive damping system seen on more expensive full-size GM sedans, the Impala nonetheless manages to strike a commendable balance between ride comfort and well-controlled body motions.
The 2014 Impala builds on Chevrolet’s signature dual-cockpit interior with greater attention to detail and upscale features – seen in everything from the wraparound flow of the instrument panel into the door panels and the available ambient lighting, to the soft feel of the materials and the premium appearance of the seats’ stitching.
The instrument panel integrates a new instrument cluster with a standard 4.2-inch color display with reconfigurable features for the driver information center. The eight-inch touch screen with concealed storage behind it is matched with the available Chevrolet MyLink system.
All Impala models are fitted as standard with no less than 10 airbags - including dual front, front knee, front side, rear side and full-length side-curtain units. Traction and stability control systems and a tire-pressure monitoring system are also including.
Impala LTZ models come equipped with a forward collision warning system that alerts the driver if it detects an impending collision and can apply the brakes automatically to mitigate crash damage. They also feature a lane departure system that notifies the driver if the Impala begins to wander into an adjacent lane, a rear cross-traffic alert system that chimes when it detects cars, pedestrians or other obstacles in the car's path during backup maneuvers, and a blind spot warning system.
The sophistication of Impala is matched by the extensive care that Chevrolet provides. The new 2014 Impala comes standard with Chevrolet Complete Care that includes oil and oil filter changes, 4-wheel tire rotation and a 27-point vehicle inspection.
What else can you ask for from one of the most iconic sedans in the world. Try it for yourself... see what the fuzz is all about and see why we were so impressed with this new reinvented Impala!