2014 Chevrolet Impala review
By Kirk Bell of MSN Autos
A good friend of mine who works in government has owned two company cars in recent years, both Chevrolet Impalas. Though he's not much of a car guy, I've felt strangely sorry for him. With a design that traces its roots back to the 1980s, the outgoing Impala hardly embodies the best of the domestic auto industry. For 2014 Chevrolet is changing all that. The Impala is truly new for the first time since 2000 and it represents a great leap forward for full-size Chevys. Comparatively speaking, my buddy's next company car will be something to envy.
The 1LT adds dual-zone automatic climate control, MyLink infotainment system with 8-inch touch screen and alloy wheels. The 2LT comes with the same equipment as the 1LT plus the 3.6-liter V6 engine.
The 1LZ adds perforated leather upholstery, HID headlamps with LED daytime driving lights, 8-way power front passenger seat with 4-way lumbar adjustment, rear obstacle detection, rearview camera, keyless access and starting, 19-inch wheels, and a suite of safety features that consists of forward collision alert, side blind-zone alert, lane-departure warning, and rear cross-traffic alert. Like the 2LT, the 2LZ comes with the 3.6-liter V6 engine, plus a sunroof.
Under the hood
Soon after launch the Impala will add General Motors' new 2.5-liter 4-cylinder unit. In the Impala it produces 196 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque, and has preliminary EPA estimates of 21 mpg city/31 mpg highway. Toward the end of the year, the Impala will be offered with GM's eAssist mild hybrid, which pairs the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 182 horsepower and 172 lb-ft of torque with a 15-kilowatt electric motor that can aid propulsion but can't power the car on its own. This powertrain carries an EPA estimate of 25 mpg city/35 mpg highway.
All engines are mated to a 6-speed automatic with manual shift capability.
To go with the improved new look, Chevrolet offers a new generation of its MyLink infotainment system. It pairs with smartphones to offer access to applications, including Pandora Internet radio, and its 8-inch dashboard touch screen is the control panel for navigation and communications functions. The screen employs large, easy-to-access icons and it is customizable to include the icons you want in the configuration you want (four designs are also offered). Voice recognition can also be used, and the system stores up to 60 favorites, which can include radio stations, phone numbers and navigation destinations.
MyLink is easy to use, although the commands could be a bit quicker to respond. The large icons mean drivers won't fumble to hit the right part of the screen, and a as an added bonus, the touch screen flips up to provide access to a hidden storage bin behind it.
Interior space is more generous than in the last Impala. Front seats offer lots of room, but they are too flat to provide much lateral support in aggressive turns. Even tall passengers will be comfortable in the rear, which is wide enough for three-across seating and has enough contour to make outboard passengers comfortable. The rear seat folds down to expand on the generous trunk that offers 18.8 cubic feet on its own.
On the road
On the road, the Impala offers much of the XTS' dynamic capability and the Buick's refinement. It drives smaller than its considerable size, rotating willingly and staying fairly flat through turns. Those rebound springs help the car feel natural when transitioning back to a straight line, and the bump stops combine with a long wheelbase and an independent rear suspension to create a smooth ride. The brakes are strong, and while the steering is a bit too light for our taste, it's direct and predictable.
The engine at launch is GM's 3.6-liter V6. It offers plenty of pep, with zero to 60 mph arriving in a swift 6.8 seconds. It's strong off the line, and we detected no torque steer even though the Impala sends 305 horsepower through the front wheels. The 6-speed automatic transmission kicks down responsively to provide highway passing punch and shifts smoothly. While it can be shifted manually, we would prefer steering-wheel paddles to the plus-minus toggle on the shifter.
The Impala will also be offered with GM's 2.5-liter 196-horsepower 4-cylinder engine and 2.4-liter 184-horsepower eAssist mild hybrid. Both will come with active noise cancellation to reduce the typical 4-cylinder buzzy engine sounds. Both should also provide adequate power and improved fuel economy. With projected EPA ratings of 25 mpg city/35 mpg highway, the eAssist won't offer the thriftiness of the more advanced hybrids on the market, including the 40 mpg combined rating of the Toyota Avalon, one of the Impala's main competitors.
Right for you?
(As part of a sponsored press event, the automaker provided MSN with travel and accommodations to facilitatethis report.)
Kirk Bell has served as the associate publisher for Consumer Guide Automotive and editor of Scale Auto Enthusiast magazine. A Midwest native, Bell brings 18 years of automotive journalism experience to MSN, andcurrently contributes to JDPower.com and Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com.