2014 Chevrolet Impala Review By Larry Nutson
2014 Chevrolet Impala First Drive Of A Natural Beauty
by Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, New York Bureau
The Auto Channel
I remember the first Chevrolet Impala back in 1958, in the days of my youth and my keen interest in cars. The ’58 was the top-of-the-line Chevrolet and only offered as a 2-door hardtop or convertible. The Impala line expanded in subsequent years to a full series with a range of body configurations.
I recall a high school classmate’s red ’60 Impala convertible and its 348 cubic inch engine with three 2-barrel carburetors sitting on top. The Super Sport SS appeared in 1961. And, 1962 brought us the “409”. My dad had a maroon ’64 Impala 2-door hardtop with black bucket-seat interior. All cool stuff back then. More recently, in 1994 the Impala name was revived on the Caprice 4-door sedan powered by the 5.7-liter V8. A colleague had an Impala SS and put in a “chip” for more performance and changed the rear end gears to some low drag-race appropriate ratio. And today, I see lots of Impala Police cars in Philadelphia.
We were introduced to the Impala within the environs of MILK Studios’ exhibit of New York-based photographer James Houston’s “Natural Beauty” project. Chevrolet has partnered with this project that is aimed to raise awareness about environmental issues, and to raise funds for Global Green USA.
Chevy says design is the number one reason for making a purchase in the full size sedan segment. The 2014 Impala is completely new and represents a fresh approach to design and style. The appearance is very fluid with sweeping body contours and an outstanding dual-cockpit interior. The Impala rides on a 1.2inch longer 111.7inch wheelbase. On the inside this yields 5.7 inches of more legroom. Even the Impala badge has been re-done.
Impala Designer Steve McCabe’s overview of the exterior and interior highlighted items like the free-flowing front end giving the Impala more presence on the road. The Impala has an overall bold stance and features three side highlight sculpture lines. Interesting to note is that this Impala is the last new car from GM that was influenced by Bob Lutz. For example, the original design was for just two side windows in the doors for the DLO…daylight opening. The much better looking three-widow side that we now see is his influence. The taillights are not LED but look like it. A small design detail in the shaping of the taillights influences aerodynamics.
Marketing Manager Jon Hahn tells us the current Impala sales are 2:1 fleet to retail. With this new Impala Chevy plans to reverse that ratio. By the way, there is no more bench seat. The new Impala is a 5-seater only.
Impala Product Manager Phil Carlisle mentioned that the average age of all new vehicle buyers in the U.S. today is 59 years. With the new Impala, Chevy hopes to be below that average with buyers averaging 55 years old. Chevy researched the new Impala with young folk and got a resulting positive reaction. We’ll have to wait and see.
On the product side, the Impala will come with three different engine choices. A 305HP 3.6L V6, a 196HP Ecotec 2.5L 4-cylinder, and a 182HP Ecotec 2.4L 4-cylinder with eAssist. All are mated to a six-speed automatic. The eAssist powertrain has the best EPA ratings at 25 city mpg and 35 highway mpg. The 2.5L gets 21 city/31 highway and the V6 gets 19 city and 29 highway. The fuel tank holds 18.5 gallons, so that can provide 500 to 600 miles between fill-ups. We only drove the V6 powertrain Impala, which is in Chevy stores now. The 2.5L just went into production and should be arriving soon. I would opt for the V6 if I drove the Impala with a full contingent of passengers very frequently or lived in a hilly area. I would like to drive the 4-cylinder before passing judgment. An interesting aside, the 4-cylinder cars have front grille aero shutters to reduce drag but the V6 doesn’t because this device didn’t provide a meaningful benefit.
The 2014 Impala comes in three trims, LS starting at $27,535, a LT that is the volume model and starts at $29,785 and the top line LTZ at $34,555. New on the Impala is power tilt and telescoping steering column, and a heated steering wheel. Wheel and tire choices range across 18, 19, and 20-inch wheels.
I’d suggest a visit to www.chevy.com to get a complete look at the entire Impala range with all its features, options, and complete specifications. If you want to compare the Impala to competitors such as the Ford Taurus, Toyota Avalon, Nissan Maxima or others you can do that right here on TheAutoChannel.com.
All-in-all, our 2014 Impala drive took as nearly 50 miles outside Manhattan into the rolling hills of Westchester County. The various “parkways” that wind through Westchester with their narrow lanes, twists and hills, and even a few traffic lights provide good opportunity to experience the Impala. I came away favorably impressed with its overall quietness, quick acceleration, ease of handling, responsive steering, minimal harshness, roomy interior, and comfortable and supportive seats.
My take: The 2014 Impala is just as stunning as the 1958 Impala was in its day.
© Larry Nutson