2014 Chevrolet Impala: Chevy’s Iconic Flagship Takes Flight at a New Level
The 2014 model year marks the 10th time Chevrolet has introduced a new Impala – and this little antelope, born in the Year of the Snake, is a refined, modern take on “The General’s” iconic five-passenger sedan. Its looks have not always been consistently stunning-in fact, the outgoing model was growing a bit long-in-the-tooth. However, the 2014 Chevy Impala’s design team has hit it out of the park with a gorgeous design that is equal parts American muscle and European sculpture.
We came to San Diego to drive the new model that also gets an updated interior with some luxury chops; new features, like the updated “My Link” navigation and infotainment system; updated safety, with ten airbags; and an improved ride. It goes on sale in April, starting at $27,535; top-of-the-line editions, with all the bells and whistles available will run up to $41,000.
Chevy says its all-new, full-sized flagship is an exclamation point in the Chevrolet portfolio; you’ll likely agree, when you take a look at the Impala’s exterior styling-its lines and side profile remind me of the Audi A8’s regal beauty. The wide, grinning front grille is accented by a low air intake that seems to float beneath it thanks to a partial frame of painted sheet metal. Narrow wraparound headlamps give the car a look of fast motion even when it is standing still, and scooped-out sides are a fresh take on a historically wide-waisted vehicle; rear port glass cutaways adds a tasteful trim feature. The rounded curve of the rear end, which sits high above the ground, looks as quietly stately as many luxurious Euro sedans. Trapezoidal twin exhaust pipes hint at power under the hood, and the decklid of the trunk includes an integrated spoiler. Standard wheels are 18 inches, with 19- and attractive 20-inch wheels also available.
Inside, a dual-cockpit cabin is unified by a wraparound dash and soft-touch materials. Standard fabric seats have a nice stitching detail, and the instrument panel comes with a standard 4.2-inch color display. An eight-inch touch screen with concealed storage behind it is available on higher end models. Icy blue lighting is easy on the eyes, as is the optional chrome trim and ambient lighting throughout the cabin. A notable feature comes with Chevy’s next-gen My Link . In addition to 3-D mapping; valet mode; gesture recognition (this means you can swipe, flick, click and drag to communicate with the system); Bluetooth connectivity for 10 devices; HD, Pandora and Sirius XM; storage for up to 1,000 contacts—you can also change the color and icons for your screen and gauge cluster! This system was recently voted Best of the CES Award Car Technology.
Chevy has paid attention to acoustics, with new windshield glass and suspension tuning that, combined with insulation and noise-cancelling software built into the car, makes for a quieter and more comfortable ride and a lower coefficient of drag, which aslo improves fuel economy. Eight-way power adjusting driver and power up/down passenger seat is standard, as is single-zone climate control.
The front-drive Impala offers three powertrains: a 3.6-liter V-6 delivering 305 horsepower and 264 lb.-ft. of torque; a new Ecotec 2.5-liter four-cylinder that delivers 196 horses and 186 lb.-ft.; and the Ecotec 2.4-liter with eAssist, an electric motor boost that puts the motor’s highway gas mileage estimates around 35 mpg, but drops horsepower to about 182. All are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
We drove the new model on a 150-mile-long route from San Diego to the foothills of the Sierras, on roads that provided ample opportunity to try out its handling features, as well as its interior comfort and convenience features. Front MacPherson struts and a rear four-link suspension, combined with the car’s wider track, help give it a firm stance and improved ride on the road. Chevy also has refined the electric power steering and added drift-correction technologies in Impala that clearly refine its road feel. While there wasn’t a driving need that called upon traction and stability control, they are bundled in to the driving dynamics and are standard. We did, however, have a panic-brake incident that brought us to a full stop using Impala's four-wheel disc brakes with ABS; it was impressive how well balanced this full-sized sedan handled this unplanned maneuver with a flat chassis-i.e. no vehicle porpoising!
We particularly liked the interior quietness and spaciousness of the cockpit that now has more front and rear legroom and a truck that can swallow up to 18.8 cu.ft. of gear. The rear seats are a 60/40 split-folding configuration and fold flat for additional storage. Also, of note: there are 10 air bags, including knee bags.
We drove two V6 models -- an LT and LTZ -- that are rated at 19/29 mpg, although with our more spirited driving we achieved approximately 24 mpg. As a short-statured driver, my only complaint was with an oversized driver seat, but with power adjustability, I was able to maneuver it to get good visibility and the height/telescoping steering wheel adjusted to a good fit, as well.
The Impala is available in three trim levels: LS, LT and LTZ. LT and LTZ models can be ordered with either the 3.6-liter V6 ($30,760 for the LS and $36,580 for the LTZ) or the 2.5-liter Ecotec engine ($29,785 for the LT and $34,555 for the LTZ); LS models come with the 2.4-liter motor ($27,535). LS models get 18-inch steel wheels, cloth seating, single-zone climate control, 8-way power driver’s seat adjustments and power up/down passenger’s seat adjustments, 4” color information display, 6-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo, and 4.2” color infotainment display. Up one level, LT models add 18-inch painted alloys, cloth upholstery with vinyl trim, dual-zone automatic climate control, 8-inch color touchscreen infotainment screen (Chevy MyLink radio) with hidden storage and lockable storage to the left of the steering wheel.Top-of-the-lineup LTZ Impalas boast 19-inch bright alloy wheels, perforated leather seats, high intensity headlamps with LED accents, exposed dual exhausts with chrome tips, power lumbar adjustments in the driver’s seat, keyless access with push button engine start/stop, and a bevy of safety technologies including forward collision alert, blind sport monitoring, lane departure and rear cross traffic warnings and a rear backup camera.
Photos and video by Scott Harris. Interior image courtesy General Motors.