The Chevy Impala is back, and it once again lives up to its historic nameplate. Developed entirely post-GM-bankruptcy, this year’s fully redesigned Impala marks a big step forward for the Chevrolet brand. Finally gone are the dark days of GM’s W-platform, which had held on like a tick for 25 years beginning in 1988 with models like the Chevrolet Lumina. On GM’s Epsilon II platform, the new Impala returns to all that we love in a full-size American sedan; it offers bold looks with plenty of space, comfort, and affordability.
The Impala is fresh inside and out, with a handsome new exterior design that strikes us as both modern and sophisticated. Flowing lines lend the car dynamic character, while flared rear fenders, rounded wheel arches, and a sharp Camaro-esque grille evoke the car’s rich American heritage. “It’s great example of American style and expressive drama instead of self-referential austerity,” notes West Coast editor Michael Jordan. “It’s also a reminder that Jaguar’s William Lyons set out to imitate American cars with his designs and created a persona that still has more resonance with Americans than the German brands do. It’s a big car for a big country.”
Inside, the Chevrolet Impala feels as just as big and spacious. Our Impala, in 2LT trim with Convenience, Advanced Safety, Navigation, and Premium Seating packages, delivered on comfort and refinement that stands up against competition like the Ford Taurus and Toyota Avalon. A motorized cubby behind the 8.5-inch touchscreen is a cleverly-hidden addition that many of our staff found quite cool, as well. Front seats are impressively supportive and comfortable, and lengthy 9-foot 3.7-inch wheelbase means rear passengers have plenty of room to stretch their legs. Well-designed A-pillars and large windows yield wonderfully open views, while double-pane acoustic glass keeps the cabin astoundingly quiet. It’s a truly enjoyable place to spend long drives on the open road, where the Impala feels most at home.
Taking all of the best elements from Buick and Cadillac’s parts bin, GM has finally shown that it has the willingness and know-how to engineer a real winner in this segment. The 3.6-liter 305-hp V-6 revs nicely pairs with the smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission, producing more than adequate power to send the Impala cruising lithely through bends and curves. Electrically-assisted steering is predictably light but does offer satisfying directness and feel considering the car’s substantial size. Associate Editor Greg Migliore found the chassis to be floaty and balanced--perfect for family-hauling duties.
At $35,770 as tested, General Motors has definitely shown that the new Impala delivers on just about everything you want out of a full-size sedan in this segment, and at a competitive price. More importantly though, the Impala demonstrates GM’s ability to course-correct, improving every aspect of the car from the ground up. This kind of rebound speaks volumes about the direction GM is headed in the future.
Photos by Patrick Hoey.
We will be releasing our 10 Finalists for the 2014 Automobile of the Year throughout the week leading up to the announcement of the winner on Saturday, November 16. See our other finalists here: