By Jack R. Nerad, Executive Editorial Director, KBB.com
KBB Expert Rating:
Americans have always loved large sedans, and the Chevrolet Impala is one of the most beloved and enduring of those "full-size cars." But in the past few years, consumer desire for more fuel efficiency chipped away at the size of the large-car segment, helping to send Impala sales downward. With the introduction of the 2014 edition of the Chevy Impala, the company is out to change all that. Impala product planners believe that their newest creation has the prerequisites to get them back in the game, even when fuel economy is a concern thanks to the mild-hybrid Eco model. We've driven the new Impala a lot, and if you're eyeballing a Dodge Charger, Ford Taurus or Toyota Avalon, then the Impala should be added to your list.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you're looking for a sizable sedan that offers sizable value, the 2014 Chevrolet Impala is perfectly capable of capturing your attention.
You May Not Like This Car If...
The Chevrolet Impala lacks the performance-oriented powertrain choices of the Ford Taurus, the in-your-face attitude of the Dodge Charger, or the fuel-sipping full hybrid of the Toyota Avalon. If you live on the bleeding-edge, other segment choices might better suit your tastes.
All-new for the 2014 model year, the Impala offers big gains in suspension and a stiff-yet-reasonably-light body structure. There's an inch more room between the front and rear wheels, and Chevy's designers penned a very good-looking body, albeit with less drama than the Charger, Chrysler 300, or even Taurus.
Driving the Impala
The optional 3.6-liter V6 gives the Impala both praiseworthy fuel economy and the highest horsepower number of any naturally aspirated V6 in the segment. Its quicker-than-you'd-guess 0-to-60-mph time of 6.8...
... seconds is just one indication that the V6-powered Impala feels powerful in any situation. A normally aspirated 4-cylinder and a 4-cylinder with eAssist joined the lineup after the Impala's initial introduction. Both are aimed at fuel economy more than outright performance, and offer significant mpg gains over the V6. No matter what engine you choose, the Impala offers luxurious comfort and quiet. It uses acoustic glass not only in the windshield but also in the front side windows, and all versions of the Impala have triple door seals. The suspension employs MacPherson struts up front and a 4-link rear setup. Rebound springs in the struts give the car an extra level of refinement. The electric power steering is quicker than you might expect in a large car.
SAFE TO SECURE VALUABLES Behind the Impala's optional 8-inch color touchscreen is an area similar to a hotel-room-style safe. When you use a 4-digit code to lock the safe, it not only locks the screen in the lowered position but also locks out your address book and other private info you might have entered into the Chevrolet MyLink system.
MYLINK INFOTAINMENT Ford has gotten a lot of mileage out of its SYNC system, but several of us like the Chevy MyLink system better. Among the niceties of MyLink are big icons, 3-D map presentation, and the ability to store 60 "favorites" – radio stations, contacts, songs and points of interest among them.
2014 Chevrolet Impala Details
Active noise cancelation in 4-cylinder versions is just one example of the lengths Chevy product planners have gone to offer Impala customers a luxury-like experience. A quick look inside reveals attractive, upscale materials in an appealing design, and, like some of our editorial staff, the interior looks even better in the dark. Ice-blue cabin lighting and chrome trim with "bleed-through" lighting add to the sophisticated feel, and the instrument panel features multi-dimensional gauges and a 4.2-inch screen with configurable colors. We found the seats, some of which are covered in leather and sueded microfiber, to be both comfortable and attractive. And the climate and infotainment (radio) controls on the center stack are big, clearly marked and easy to use.
Under the supervision of John Cafaro, the Chevy design team has drawn an Impala with a long, long hood, highly sculpted front end and a roof so lengthy you might call it a semi-fastback. Chevy pulled out the stops in the front by offering upscale low-profile projector-beam headlights, and the top-of-the-line LTZ trim level has HID headlamps and LED daytime running lights, taking a further step upscale. The overwhelming sense in the new Impala is one of contemporary luxury, and that is enhanced by an array of 18-, 19- and 20-inch wheels. Though the trunklid is exceptionally short, trunk space has not been compromised, offering a substantial 18.8 cubic feet of cargo space.
A 6-speed automatic transmission and variable-assist electric power steering (EPS) are two valuable pieces of standard equipment on the new Impala. The refined EPS incorporates what Chevy calls Pull Drift Compensation that automatically adjusts for external factors such as crowned roads and crosswinds. The base engine is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, and the Impala is equipped with seven airbags. OnStar is also standard, including six months of Directions & Connections service.
A wide variety of options allow you to equip the Impala as if it were a luxury-brand sedan. Available features include remote start, passive entry/exit, keyless start, heated steering wheel, power tilting/telescoping steering column with memory, dual-zone climate control and heated and ventilated front seats. A Bose surround-sound audio system is available, and the easy-to-use MyLink is standard on LT and LTZ models. Its 8-inch screen can be navigated in the very same way as a tablet computer, and compatible smartphones can be paired with MyLink using Bluetooth or connected via a USB port. The available safety features are nearly mind-blowing: advanced adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking, forward collision alert, lane departure warning, and side blind-zone alert among them. You won't have an excuse for backing into anything, either, since the Impala offers rear cross traffic alert, rear vision camera with dynamic guidelines, ultrasonic rear park assist and hill hold start assist.
Under the Hood
Of the three Impala powertrains available, we've had the most experience with the top-of-the-line 305-horsepower 3.6-liter V6. Its 264 lb-ft torque number won't bowl you over, but it felt strong during our 200 miles at the wheel, abetted by the 6-speed automatic transmission. The 2.5-liter 4-cylinder offers 196 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque. Arguably the most interesting engine choice is the 182-horsepower 2.4-liter Ecotec 4-cylinder that gets the benefit of eAssist. With a little help from its electric friend, the 2.4-liter engine will enable the Impala to deliver 35-mpg highway fuel economy.
The 2014 Chevrolet Impala comes in a variety of trims and configurations, with a starting price comparable to its V6-powered competition from Ford and Dodge. The base Impala LS with a 4-cylinder engine starts at about $27,500, while the mild hybrid LS Eco starts just under $30,000. You'll have to step up to the midrange 2LT to get the V6 engine, and it'll cost you just under $31,000 to do it. The range-topping 2LTZ comes with the V6 and lots of standard equipment for just under $37,000. Fill out all the options boxes, and you'll be driving more than $41,000 worth of big Chevy sedan, not cheap, but on par with the Ford Taurus Limited and Toyota Avalon Limited trims. We expect the new Impala to maintain its resale value somewhat better than the competitive models from Dodge and, especially, Ford. To find out what consumers are paying right now, please look at the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price.
Pros: "Looks good. Interior is VERY nice. Strong V6"
Cons: "Some cheap plastics. Touchscreen swipe hard to use"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Went to the dealership to look at Tahoes. My friend that owns the place drove me around the dealership in his new Impala and I was amazed at the difference from the boring husk of a car the Impala had been previously. Bought a 2LTZ on the spot. I can't speak for reliability yet, so it is unrated."
Pros: "Affordable luxury/tech features; great ride & MPG"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I now have 8,000 miles and 6 months on my 2015 Impala LTZ. I chose the 4 cylinder engine for the higher MPG rating. I find the 4 cyl has plenty of power. The engine runs quietly during normal operation and is slightly louder during heavy acceleration. The engine "stop/start" feature works well and helps a little with city MPG. MPG overall has been 27.4 (7,897 miles using 288.2 gallons) with a range of 23.8 MPG (all city) to 32.3 MPG (all highway). Only 2 trips to the dealership: routine oil change / tire rotation and a recall to check exterior door handles (no problems found). I chose the Impala LTZ because the high ratings the car has received; plus the fact that it offers many of the high tech features (blind spot, lane keep, front warning, etc.) and comfort features (memory seat, cooling seats, nav., etc.). The Impala LTZ offers most of the features the luxury brands have, but at a much more affordable price. The Impala has proven to be very comfortable, very quiet, and has an excellent ride. Congratulations Chevrolet, you hit a home run with your 2015 Impala."
Cons: "sometimes the radio can be slow to respond"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I love everything about this car. I have had it for almost a year and still love driving it. This is the best driving and riding car in its class. If you are Considering buying one, all I can say is you will not be disappointed. After purchasing mine, my sister-in-law bought one as did my daughter. We are all very happy with our choice."