2014 Chevrolet Impala First Drive

The 2014 Chevrolet Impala aims to restore pride to a storied nameplate. Will it succeed?

What It Is
The 2014 Chevrolet Impala is a full-size cruiser-sedan.
Best Thing
Attractive styling, surprisingly agile.
Worst Thing
Parts of interior could be more refined.
Snap Judgment
The 2014 Chevrolet Impala looks great, offers full-size comfort, and is surprisingly fun to drive.


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The 2014 Chevrolet Impala is the latest iteration of one of America's most storied vehicle nameplates, one that has been attracting drivers since GM first introduced it back in 1958. Now in its tenth generation, the 2014 Chevrolet Impala looks to make the car once again a great American sedan. In recent years, the Impala had been largely relegated to rental car companies, earning its keep from fleet sales. But the 2014 Impala adds more alluring style, and gives buyers a choice of three engine options: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder; a tech-savvy eAssist hybrid powertrain; and a 3.6-liter, 305-hp V-6 engine. The four-cylinder engine options will debut in a few months, but the V-6 powered model is the one we spent a day poking around in, and the one that will go on sale first, in mid-April.

In addition to bolder styling, the 2014 Chevrolet Impala will feature the next-gen Chevrolet MyLink Infotainment system. MyLink's navigation uses 3-D mapping that gives your drive a Sim City feel, with buildings shown to scale. There's also a "valet mode," which both acts as a physical storage safe, and blocks out drivers such as valet attendants from accessing information such as addresses stored in the navigation. The Impala comes in three distinct models: the entry-level LS, the mid-level LT, and top-of-the-line-LTZ. The 2014 Chevrolet Impala LS starts at $27,535 after delivery, and can quickly climb. One model we tested--an LTZ decked out with all the bells and whistles--was priced at $41,205 as equipped, not cheap, but in the same range as competition like the Toyota Avalon and Ford Taurus. And with all these changes to the 2014 Chevrolet Impala, the question remains: can Chevy's full-size sedan compete with the Taurus, Avalon, and newcomers like the Hyundai Azera? We spent a day driving around San Diego to get some answers.

Walkaround

At first glance the 2014 Chevrolet Impala is large, long, and commanding. There's no shortage of road presence. Sleek up front, with well-defined wheel arches, and dual exhaust pipes in back, the Impala looks strong and modern. Entry-level models come with 18-inch wheels, while 19-inch and 20-inch alloy-wheels pair nicely on the Impala's grand frame. Chevy's newest sedan looks fresh, unlike the Nissan Maxima and Ford Taurus. And with the Toyota Avalon and Hyundai Azera offering sleek, modern styling, the Impala will find itself in good company. If nothing else, the 2014 Impala will pique your curiosity, and make you want to check out the interior.

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Sitting Down

While the exterior of the quickly won me over, inside it was a tale of two Impalas. Like other full-size sedans in the class, the 2014 Chevrolet Impala is comfortable and roomy. The two-tone interior really works, and I like the leather and stitching, although you can see where the leather was cut and folded under the dash. The Chevrolet MyLink is user-friendly, attractive, features customizable skins, and really works to the Impala's benefit. But while the Impala generally strikes a good balance between luxury and sportiness, there are a few misses: the instrument cluster and gauges are simple, and uninspired; fit and finish is not as refined as in some of the competitors, and the control panel in the headliner--which also houses the OnStar button--looks outdated. But compare the 2014 Chevrolet Impala to the previous generation and the improvements are notable. Overall, there's a lot to like here. The backseat is comfortable and leg and knee room is abundant. Cargo room is cavernous, and by and large, this is a better car than the one it replaces.

Driving

Driving the 2014 Impala proved to be quite a surprise, for the better. Despite the length and size of Chevrolet's large sedan, the car feels nimble, like you're piloting something far smaller. The suspension offered enough cushion to make the ride comfortable, but driving, you never feel disconnected from the road. The 3.6-liter performed capably, and steering felt appropriate and linear. The one pronounced hiccup, occurred several times during a downshift, where the car jarringly cuts power and drops gears, to help ease force applied to the brakes. While this sounds good in theory, the shift isn't smooth, and occurs abruptly. I wouldn't be surprised if Chevrolet tweaks engine input software, to make the downshift smoother. Aside from that, the Impala offered a pleasing, more-than-capable drive. Chevrolet says this is the quietest Impala ever, and it expects the four-cylinder models--especially the hybrid--to be even quieter.

A Few Photos of this Vehicle

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Summary

After years of earning its keep through fleet and rental car sales, the 2014 Chevrolet Impala looks to restore the storied Impala nameplate to one of respectability. The Impala enters the new model year with fresh, modern looks and plenty of road presence. Powered by an ample 3.6-liter, 305-hp V-6 engine paired to a six-speed automatic transmission, the Impala offers competitive performance. The interior is greatly improved from the previous generation, and generally strikes a good balance between luxury and sportiness. Inside, the 2014 Chevrolet Impala manages to be comfortable and features a roomy, airy cabin. But a few areas could use refining and more inspiration. The mid-level LT model we drove, was priced at $31,700 after delivery and featured 19-inch alloy wheels; dual climate control; MyLink media system with 8-inch touchscreen; and a variety of packages that added heated seats, blind spot and lane departure warnings, parking assist, and remote start among other features. Coming in priced almost $10,000 less than the top-of-the-line LTZ we drove, this is the model we'd opt for, the one we really think merits strong consideration if you're shopping the full-size sedan segment.

Basic Specs

3.6-liter V-6 engine, six-speed automatic transmission, FWD, 305-hp, entry level LS starting at $27,535, LT $31,700 as tested, LTZ $41,205 as tested. 19 mpg city/29 mpg hwy

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