Auto Review: A world-class Impala

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Thu., Aug. 15, 2013
- Contributed Photo

With just about every type of successful company that builds consumer products, there are icons that you remember all your life. For example, when I was growing up, I had a friend in school whose father would (like clockwork) buy a new Chevrolet Impala every two years. Over time, I got to see the evolution of an incredibly popular full-size sedan, until I moved away from home and my friend and I went our separate ways. Sad, but it happens.

What also happened is (from a distance) I watched the Impala change pretty dramatically over time, and as the needs of consumers changed, the car adapted to address them as best as possible. The various generations of Impalas have had varying degrees of success in the marketplace, and the last few years haven’t been too kind, as the competition has been fierce and many prospective buyers have opted for smaller sedans. But GM does not surrender marketshare without a fight, and the all-new 2014 Impala is a very impressive car. In fact, it may just take the Impala back to the level of popularity it has enjoyed in the past.

The new Impala rides on 111.7-inch wheelbase, and the front-drive platform has three available engines: A 2.5-liter Ecotec Inline Four with 196 horsepower, a 2.4-liter Ecotec Inline Four with e-Assist and 182 horsepower, and what will likely be the most popular choice (and the engine in our test mule), a 3.6-liter Direct Injection V6 with 305 horsepower. All engines get a six-speed automatic transmission, and this gearbox in cahoots with the V6 on our 2LT Impala whisked us to 60 mph in 8.3 seconds. The new chassis is an excellent compliment to this drivetrain, with a great mix of control and comfort, and the big car is even responsive when driven more aggressively than most owners are ever likely to do. Braking performance is also quite good, and naturally GM’s latest safety aids – including Collision Mitigation Braking, Full-Range Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Departure and Blind-Zone alerts – are available.

While the entire car is overhauled and improved, the interior of the new Impala stands out, for it is not only roomy and comfortable, but very contemporary. The driver’s instrument cluster straddles that fine line between familiar and futuristic; intelligently incorporating the latest in display technology in a traditional package. This includes clear analog instruments with a configurable driver information center (with a 4.2-inch screen) nestled in-between. GM’s latest generation MyLink infotainment system is also available, with an 8-inch touchscreen display. Front seating is very accommodating, and while more lateral support would be welcome, these are fine perches for those taking long road trips. The rear seats border on limo-like in terms of room, and the seatbacks fold forward in 60/40 fashion to increase capacity of the already huge 18.8-cubic-foot trunk.

The 2014 Chevrolet Impala 2LT is EPA rated 18 MPG city/28 highway and has a base price of $29,950. With options, our MSRP came to $35,770.

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