2014 Chevrolet Impala 2LT HD Video Review
Veteran travelers may have driven the darling of the rental car industry, Chevrolet’s Impala, they just might have forgotten about it. It’s been that dull for that long. Why do automakers allow boring de-contented cars into Hertz, National and Avis fleets? Diverting some advertising money into well-equipped cars could lure new customers. People who travel make decent money and there is no better target demographic.
But I digress…
A New Era- A fleet of well-equipped 2014 Impalas at the airport could easily drum up demand at Chevy dealerships (the previous gen will continue to flood the rental market for the near future). Re-imagined right down to a sleeker logo, Impala returns to its roots. When it was launched as a coupe in the late 50’s it was a looker and wildly popular.
With help from fleet sales, Impala has been the segment’s volume leader in a shrinking segment. Rumor has it the Taurus nameplate will be retired when the current gen ages out. Even baby boomers who grew up with Impala have switched to import brands and crossovers. Avalon, Azera, Cadenza, Charger, Maxima, and 300 carve up the rest of the pie.
Base four-cylinder Impalas go for around $27, 535 with destination. My particular higher-end 2LT model stickers for $35,770. Go nuts with a fully loaded LTZ model and you’re looking at 42 grand.
Choose Your Power- GMs eAssist mild hybrid system will be available in late 2013. For now choose between a four-cylinder (that’s not a typo) making 196 horsepower, or the engine I’m driving, a smooth 3.6-liter direct-injected V6. It makes 305 horsepower @6,800 rpm and 264 lb-ft of torque @ 5,300 rpm.
The only gearbox is a six-speed automatic with an awkward manual shift mode on the lever. Handy audio controls on the back of the steering wheel only look like paddle shifters. Is the target buyer going to miss them? Probably not.
Impala is aptly named, hoofing it from 0-60 mph in just under 6.5 seconds. It’s quiet at full-gallop-highway-speeds too, part of the reason why my tester’s Bose audio system sounds so good.
A New Turn- Impala does not corner like a cow. Chuck it into a turn and body roll is minimal. This is no German sport sedan but it’s engaging and- more important- very comfortable. Sharp bumps are soaked up by the suspension, there is no pogo effect after hitting big undulations.
Electric power steering has a light effort but doesn’t feel vague. Personally I like my tiller weight on the hefty side but the on-center feel is stable even when the road surface goes wonky. EPA rated fuel economy for the V6 is 19 city, 29 highway. Me and my lead foot are seeing a couple less than that. At least it drinks regular fuel.
No Longer Benched- Impala’s bench seat option in front is no longer available (I believe it was the last in the industry). The swoopy and roomy interior will make you forget all about it. Stitching is everywhere throughout the cabin. Done up in Seattle Grey it’s a bit bland and dreary. It’s my experience that Chevy’s darker interiors look more spendy. The ashen tone of the plastic wood trim gives it a genuine plastic look.
There’s loads of expected storage cubbies, and one behind the motorized LCD screen that isn’t. People love watching the display rise. Put a cheeseburger in here and it’s dinner and a show. There’s a USB port inside.
Light piping shines though the chrome-like trim that sweeps through the instrument panel and front doors. It’s a clever and dramatic touch that’s sure to impress the traveling executive and the person finishing that cheeseburger. Suede-like seats are wide and heated, skinny people will rattle around in them. The parking brake is electric.
The Luxury of Simplicity- Ironically, user interfaces like Chrysler’s Uconnect and Chevy’s MyLink system seem easier to use than some found in luxury cars. The latest MyLink gets a crisp screen that’s well organized. There’s Pandora if you connect a smartphone with data plan. The nav system can be programmed by passengers when driving (thank you GM lawyers), and destinations can be entered in one fell swoop, just like you’d address a letter. Oh wait, we don’t do that anymore.
While enroot, the navi zooms into details when approaching turns and important junctions, then pulls back for a bird’s eye perspective. Chevy dose a nice job of providing just the right amount of hard buttons. Natural language voice commands will usually work too, but this is not Siri. My only real complaint is that moving to the next song on my iPhone is p-r-e-t-t-y s-l-u-g-g-i-s-h.
Impala has loads of safety and luxury options. Blind spot warning, lane departure, and collision alert are on my tester. Adaptive cruise control, vented seats, sun roof and heated wheel are optional. 10 airbags are standard, at this writing it has not been crashed tested.
Real Room- The back seat has plenty of space for six footers to stretch out. The middle position doesn’t loose headroom either but the size of the middle hump is surprising considering Impala is front-drive. My tester gets both 12v and household style power outlets in back. The seats split and fold 60/40 to expand the trunk. Who needs a crossover?
Impala has a big trunk, very few sedans can bag an eight in the TP trunk test. Where some only offer a repair kit nowadays, Chevy ponies up a real spare tire.
Forget about the outgoing Impala (which should be easy), the 2014 is a dramatic change and a top pick in the class now. Even if you’re not in the market for a full-sized sedan, it’ll add an element of interest to your next rental car experience. The big family sedan market might be shrinking, but Chevrolet Impala buyers will be living large.
ALL STILL PHOTOS PROVIDED BY GENERAL MOTORS. VARIUS MODELS ARE SHOWN.