Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com
August 7, 2013
"And the winner of Miss Fleet Queen 2013 is.... the 2013 Chevrolet Impala! There she is, Miss Fleet Queen for 2013."
A bit harsh, but sadly it is true. The last generation Impala is known in the automotive world as being a fleet queen. Not many Impalas end up on driveways: Instead you can find them at your nearest rental lot, police station, or used car lot at very low prices. In fact, General Motors said that 70 percent of Impala sales in 2012 were to fleets. This isn't good news when you consider the resale value proposition and legendary status of the nameplate.
General Motors knew it was time to try and salvage the Impala nameplate, which brings us face to face with the 2014 Impala. GM hopes the new Impala can very much erase the past of fleet service and start a new chapter as Chevrolet's full-sedan. Can it though?
The first thing you can say about the new Impala is that it's a major improvement over the last one. The new model has presence and a style that is distinctly Chevrolet. The front end is very much influenced by the current Camaro. You have a long and very stout front end, with a small grille that is flanked by a set of narrow headlights. The sculpted hood and LED daytime running lights help give an aura of class.
Moving to the side, the Impala has two bold character lines; one stretching from the headlights to the rear door handles and the other running along the wheel arch. The back end features a chrome bar with the Impala name stamped and a set of chrome-tipped exhaust ports.
The big surprise of the new Impala lies inside. If you were expecting acres of hard plastic, awful wood trim, and just plain blahness, then you will find yourself with your mouth wide open at what Chevrolet has pulled off. The center focus of the interior is the dual brow dashboard that gets stitched leather accents along the top of gauge cluster and along the top edges of the dashboard and door panels. Chrome trim runs along the bottom to provide some contrast and has ambient blue backlighting which adds a nice touch of class. Materials and build quality are excellent.
Being a full-size sedan, you expect it to be very spacious for you and your passengers. The Impala delivers that in spades. The driver and front passenger will find power adjustments and heated and cooled seats. The driver also gets a power tilt and telescoping wheel. In the back, you'll find plenty of head and legroom.
As for technology, the Impala comes with a 4.2-inch color display in the instrument cluster that displays infotainment and vehicle information in a very clear and easy manner. The big news is the next-generation of Chevrolet's MyLink infotainment system. Housed in a eight-inch display, the second-generation system provides a new interface with large buttons to press, 3D maps, a much improved voice recognition system, and number of changes. Playing around with the system, I found it to be a little bit sluggish. Trying to move around the system or changing a system with touchscreen took longer than expected. Thankfully, Chevrolet provided a set of buttons and knobs below the screen to help control certain functions. Much like Cadillac CUE, I expect MyLink to get better after a update or two.
Powering the 2014 Impala is the well-known 3.6L direct-injected V6 engine with 305 horsepower and 264 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission that routes power to the front wheels. If you have read past reviews of mine concerning GM vehicles equipped with the 3.6L, you know that my biggest compliant is that you have to work the engine to get to the power. The Impala is a little bit different. I found that Impala had a bit more power on the low end and was able to accelerate much quicker than its sister car, the Cadillac XTS. Much of this is attributed to Impala's lower curb weight of 3,800 pounds. The six-speed automatic provided smooth and crisp shifts.
Fuel economy wise, the EPA rates the 2014 Chevrolet Impala at 19 City/29 Highway/22 Combined. During the week, I averaged 22 MPG in mixed driving.
The 2014 Impala mostly follows the book on full-size sedan ride. The suspension does an excellent job of lessening the impact of road imperfections, even with the LTZ's twenty-inch wheels. Chevrolet also borrowed a couple engineers from Buick to help with quietness. There is a large amount of sound deadening, additional door seals, and acoustically treated front and side windows. The Impala is very quiet on most surfaces; the only place it falters is when you're driving concrete parts of freeways. This is mostly down to the tires as I figured out.
Where the Impala differs is in relation to how it drives. The steering is somewhat heavy and responsive, something I wasn't expecting in a full-size sedan. The Impala's body is very rigid as well. Pair these two items together and you have a very confident full-size sedan. Driving on a curvy road, the Impala allows you to have some fun. It's no Toyota Avalon in driving fun, but for many the Impala offers the right balance.
At the end of my time with the 2014 Chevrolet Impala, I was awestruck. Here was a nameplate that was dragged through the fleet mud for a number of years and General Motors realized it was time to save it. From the design to how it rode, you could see the hard work that was put it to make the new Impala stand out and leave its fleet past well behind. That work seems to be paying off as Consumer Reports named the Impala the best large sedan, and sits right behind the Tesla Model S and BMW 135i in their ratings. Meanwhile in the sales chart, the Impala record a 38 percent increase in July sales.
It's a vehicle that GM and Chevrolet should be very proud of.
Disclaimer: General Motors Provided the Impala, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
Year - 2014
Make – Chevrolet
Model – Impala
Trim – LTZ
Engine – 3.6L VVT SIDI V6
Driveline – Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic Transmission
Horsepower @ RPM – 305 @ 6,800 RPM
Torque @ RPM – 264 @ 5,300 RPM
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/29/22
Curb Weight – 3,800 lbs
Location of Manufacture – Oshawa, Ontario
Base Price - $35,770.00
As Tested Price - $39,510.00* (Includes $810.00 destination charge)
LTZ Comfort & Convenience Package - $1,035.00
Chevrolet MyLink with Navigation - $795.00
LTZ Premium Audio Package - $700.00
20' Aluminum Wheels - $400.00