By Frank S. Washington
DETROIT, MI -- Chevrolet has a hit on its hands. That fact did not need to be certified but during a week-long test drive of the 2014 Impala, Chevrolet’s new flagship sedan got as much attention as some exotic sports cars that cost three times more.
No matter what’s under the hood, the comfort of the interior or the engineering prowess, no car in American Autodom can be called a hit without looking good. And The Impala is a design standout.
The full-size 2014 Impala had a long low profile that suggested motion. The headlamps and LED running lights swept around the corners and framed its wide grille. The car had a hood dome that conveyed power.
There were sculpted coves in the rear fenders. The greenhouse area was spacious. The trunk lid was short to blend with the car’s overall proportions but it opened into an 18.8 cubic-feet cargo area. The Impala’s rump was finished off with dual diagonal taillights and dual chrome tipped exhausts.
Inside, the Impala featured Chevrolet’s dual cockpit layout. The black interior had a French-stitched folded layer motif that cascaded down from the very top of the dashboard at the base of the windshield.
One instrument pod held the odometer while the other housed the speedometer. In between the two was a TFT (thin film transistor liquid crystal display) information screen.
However, unlike more and more brands, Chevrolet did not rely on TFTs to simulate the instruments in front of the driver. Turn off the Impala’s ignition and the fuel gauge, engine temperature and other analogue gauges were still there.
The center stack is slowly morphing into a control pad. It didn’t end at the top of the edge console. It was an island unto itself. And Chevrolet, again sticking to the basics, eschewed a lot of gadgets.
Controls were simple and straightforward. You don’t have to click into a menu to turn off lane departure alert or rear park assist. The on off switches were on the left.
The heated and cooled microfiber-trimmed seats were comfortable and the backs were tall. Combined with long seat cushions, the Impala’s front seats felt like supportive easy chairs, firm ones. The back seats were comfortable as well. There was leg and headroom galore.
There were three engine choices. Our test vehicle was equipped with the top of the line 3.6-liter V6 that made 305 horsepower and 264 pound-feet of torque. Chevy said the Impala had the highest power output in the segment for a normally aspirated V6.
The car was quiet due to lots of sound suppression technology including an acoustically laminated windshield and front-door glass. It had plenty of power and the engine never worked hard in the flat environs of this state. Although the Impala was a full-size sedan it handled like a smaller car and responded to driver input quickly and accurately.
The suspension was soft without feeling cushy. There may be a sport version of the Impala on the way which would have a much firmer suspension. A stiffer chassis enabled engineers to tune the Impala’s ride and handling more precisely.
This 2LZ Impala Sedan had full-speed-range adaptive cruise control, crash imminent braking, forward collision alert, lane departure warning, blind side zone alert, rear cross traffic alert, rear camera and rear-park assist.
It had 20-inch aluminum wheels and the latest generation of MyLink. Its intuitive smartphone interface can accommodate new features. There were icons for the car’s navigation system, the smartphone and music apps including Pandora internet radio and the weather.
The 2014 Chevrolet Impala is the 10th generation of the nameplate. And Chevrolet has done a pretty good job of building on its legacy. The test vehicle had a sticker of $35,770. Add options and shipping charges and the sticker came to $39,905.
Frank S. Washington is the editor of AboutThatCar.com.
This was printed in the September 8, 2013 - September 21, 2013 Edition