2014 Chevrolet Impala


2014 Chevrolet Impala review

By Kirk Bell of MSN Autos
Rating: 8.8

Bottom Line:

With its 2014 redesign, the Chevrolet Impala goes from rental car also-ran to a legitimate contender in the increasingly competitive full-size class. It offers a pleasant, roomy interior with the latest in connectivity, driving dynamics that are at or near the top of the class, and pricing that is in line with the competition.
  • Capable handling
  • Roomy, pleasant interior
  • Powerful V6
  • Can top $40,000
  • Hybrid isn't as fuel efficient as competitors
  • Decades of rental-car reputation

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.

View Pictures:  2014 Chevrolet Impala

Model lineup
The 2014 Chevrolet Impala is offered in LS, 1LT, 2LT, 1LZ and 2LZ trims. The LTs get LT badging and the LZ models have LTZ badging. Standard features on the LS include cloth upholstery, power mirrors, an 8-way power adjustable driver's seat with 4-way power lumbar adjustment, AM/FM/CD audio, 4.2-inch color infotainment display, 10 standard airbags (including front knee and rear side airbags), OnStar assistance system and 18-inch steel wheels with wheel covers.

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
The 2014 Chevrolet Impala will be offered with three engines. At launch it gets a direct-injected 3.6-liter V6 that makes 305 horsepower and 264 lb-ft of torque. Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy ratings are 19 mpg city/29 mpg highway.

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.

Inner space
About five years ago, Chevrolet's interiors underwent a design renaissance. The cars had stylishly conceived dual-cockpit themes, but the execution left much to be desired. The attractive look was betrayed by hard plastic materials that looked and felt cheap. The Impala raises the bar in that regard. The dual cockpit look is still used, but most of the surfaces are either soft to the touch or wrapped with stitched vinyl to create an upscale look. We are somewhat concerned, however, that the quality may not go more than skin deep, as wrapped plastic is still plastic. Only time will tell if the Impala's interior will hold up without developing squeaks and rattles.

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
The Impala shares its basic structure with the Buick LaCrosse and Cadillac XTS, but some adept chassis tuning gives it unique, accomplished driving dynamics. The LaCrosse is tuned to be softer and quieter, and the XTS features loads of suspension technology to make a large car handle rather well. The Impala uses pretty standard suspension components — MacPherson strut front suspension, 4-link rear suspension — but a couple of key tweaks aid the ride and handling. Rebound springs on the struts make the car want to return to a flat attitude after the suspension has compressed in a turn, and taller bump stops provide more resistance to bottoming out over bumps.

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?
With its 2014 redesign, the Chevrolet Impala is no longer best left to rental fleets. A roomy interior, capable handling, a smooth ride and thrifty 4-cylinder or willing V6 power make it a fine choice as a family sedan, although the hybrid can't match the fuel economy of the competition.

(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.


Search local listings

powered by:

Recently Viewed Cars

View favorites
BB02 - 9/22/2014 7:20:20 AM