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Road Test: 2014 Chevrolet Impala LT

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Big as always, but better MPG

Big, But More Efficient Than Ever.

Chevrolet knew they had to do something with the aging Impala to be able to stay competitive among large cars. The result is the completely redesigned and engineered 2014 Impala, which continues the 56-year legacy of their flagship sedan.

Chevrolet Impala: Quiet and Refined

The 2014 Impala is so completely different from its predecessor that from this point forward let’s agree those previous versions did not even exist. The new Impala carries an air of sophistication, but not snobbiness, with

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Big Car, Big Ambitions

a comfortable modern interior and clean contemporary styling. The large car segment, which includes the Ford Taurus, Dodge Charger, Hyundai Azera and Toyota Avalon (although the EPA classifies the latter as a midsize car), is sales-challenged because of the interior roominess and fuel economy of cars in the midsize category. In addition, large sedans have historically skewed to an older buyer, a category the Baby Boomer generation seems loathe to embrace. To answer this challenge General Motors designed a head-turner of a car that exudes confidence and is packed with technology, comfort and safety features for a very competitive price. Based on the same platform as the Buick LaCrosse and Cadillac XTS, the 2014 Impala offers a value proposition against these GM siblings and even to competitors, in-and-out of its size category.

Drivetrain

The 2014 Impala comes in three engine options: 2.5L 4-cylinder, 2.4L 4-cylinder with eAssist (GM’s mild hybrid system) and the 3.6L V6, which is what was powering the car we tested.

The 3.6L had plenty of power, 305 hp and 264 lb-ft of torque, for negotiating the onramps and passing needs of Southern California freeways. Why Clean Fleet Report is reviewing this car (as we primarily feature alternative fuel vehicles) is that it gets a very thrifty 29 mpg on the highway with the 6-speed automatic transmission. For six-cylinder gasoline-powered full-size cars, this is the best you can get, delivering a 351-mile range from the 18.5-gallon tank. The two four cylinder engine options get even better fuel economy, with the eAssist model delivering 35 MPG on the highway and 29 MPG combined, the tops in this class. It even beats the Audi A8 TDI and easily bests the Ford and Chrysler competitors.

Therefore, we felt the gasoline-powered Impala was newsworthy for those of you looking for a large sedan that gets excellent fuel economy for its size category. Clean Fleet Report will feature more of these vehicles when they merit the attention and recognition.

Interior

I was driving the Impala LT with the convenience, advanced safety, premium seat and navigation packages. The dual cockpit design theme’s fit and finish was impressive with a good mix of soft and hard plastics and premium materials such as leather and suede microfiber fabric. There were no unnecessary fake woods or plastic chrome pieces and the ambient lighting throughout the wraparound dash, centerstack and front doors added a soft, soothing turquoise glow. For seating comfort, the Impala had top-stitched heated leather front seats (bottom and back) with an 8-way adjustable driver’s seat (4-way passenger seat) and a tilt and telescopic adjustable steering wheel.

 

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Impala’s interior moves upscale

The Impala came with Chevrolet’s My Link infotainment system as well as OnStar, an 8-inch color monitor, 11-speaker Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound (a first for any Chevrolet) system, SiriusXM, Bluetooth, CD/MP3/USB and streaming audio capability. The touch screen worked well after spending some time getting to know it; it has a nice security feature of being able to raise it to reveal a hidden storage compartment that can then be locked when handing the keys to a valet. The MyLink system has GM’s Natural Voice Recognition that can interpret what you are saying, as when I asked for a person to be called at their office and it said “calling so-and-so at their work.”

A note regarding OnStar: a simple push of a button connects you with a friendly General Motors representative to handle emergencies, directions and general assistance to make your driving experience safer and more enjoyable. This is one area where GM is the industry leader and, after the initial six-month service plan expires, it is well worth renewing.

GM has also spent time and attention making the Impala’s interior a quiet experience with sound-suppressing, sound-absorbing and active noise cancellation technologies. Some of these are accomplished through the acoustically laminated windshield and front door glass and sound-absorbing carpeting.

None of this comfort is worth a thing if the car isn’t safe to drive. The 2014 Impala LT model I was driving had 10 airbags, ABS with four-wheel disc brakes, halogen headlights, power and heated outside mirrors, rear

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Big in back too

parking assist with color camera, forward collision, rear cross-traffic and side blind-zone alerts, and a lane departure warning system.

The 2014 Impala easily seats five adults comfortably with ample rear leg and headroom. If needed, the 60/40 rear folding seat provides for additional storage in an already large and fully carpeted trunk.

Exterior

The 2014 Impala is contemporary in its design with sculpted doors and a sweptback roofline. It stands out from its class competitors and has the look of movement even when standing still. The LT model had 19-inch wheels, which complemented the design nicely, but I can only guess the optional 20-inch wheels would give it even more of a muscular stance.

I have two observations that are not purchase-decision deal killers but personal preference. The Impala, as with many new car designs, has a chrome accent strip on the trunk lid, which seems more like “me too” thinking and not the innovative design GM wants you to believe went into the Impala. As well, the overly large bowtie emblem on the front grill doesn’t add to the look of a sophisticated car and both are a bit overdone.

 

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The Impala drives smaller than its size

The Driving Experience

Make no mistake about the 2014 Impala: it is a large car. If your current everyday driver is a midsize or compact car, the Impala will look and feel huge. You will notice it first in the long front hood and the extended turning radius. But once on the road, all that goes away, except for in tight parking spaces at the mall. The Impala rides smooth, quiet and has very responsive handling for a car of its weight and size.

The Impala has front MacPherson struts with a multilink, coil spring and stabilizer bar rear suspension. Combine this with the electric-assisted power steering and the car took sweeping corners without body roll, and the tighter turns were acceptable for car of this size and weight. However, I felt all this led to a lack of road feel, which is the compromise for designing a car that needs to have a luxury plush ride.

But when out on the open road, say driving from Los Angeles to Palm Springs, you could care less about cornering as the ride is smooth and quiet, and with the heated seats (it was December when I tested the Impala) and top notch sound system, you find yourself completely enjoying the Impala’s cruising ability.

Pricing

The 2014 Impala comes in three trim levels: LS, LT and LTZ with three engine options: 3.6L, 2.5L and the 2.4L with eAssist, ranging in price from $27,535 to $36,580.

All prices are MSRP and include the $810 Destination Charge.

The 2014 Impala comes with these warranties:

Basic:                             3 year/36,000 miles

Powertrain:                     5 year/100,000 miles

Scheduled Maintenance: 2 year/24,000 miles

Drivetrain:                      5 year/100,000 miles

Roadside Assistance:      5 year/100,000 miles

Rust:                              6 year/100,000 miles

Observations: 2014 Chevrolet Impala LT

General Motors is very proud of the 2014 Impala and has boldly stated it will

reset the standard in its segment and hopes it will be on your consideration list if you have a need for a large, full-size car that can sit five adults comfortably, or maybe you take long trips and value the solid feel of a large

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2014 Chevy Impala-ready to do battle

car beneath you. With excellent class-size fuel economy, it will get you to your far-off destination in style, comfort and with a few dollars left in your budget for a nice night on the town.

The Impala’s build quality and design has it competing against cars a class up and more expensive.

If this sounds like you, then the 2014 Impala should be getting your close attention next time you are cruising the car dealerships.

Enjoy your new car and as always, Happy Driving!

Competitors

Ford Taurus

Chrysler 300

Dodge Charger

Toyota Avalon

Hyundai Azera

Story & Photos by John Faulkner

Posted: Jan. 2, 2014

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Top 10 Best Fuel-Economy Cars for 2014

 

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About Author: John Faulkner

John Faulkner is an automotive marketing professional with more than 30 years experience branding, launching and marketing automobiles. He has worked with General Motors (all Divisions), Chrysler (Dodge, Jeep, Eagle), Ford and Lincoln-Mercury, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota on consumer events and sales training programs. His interest in automobiles is broad and deep, beginning as a child riding in the back seat of his parent's 1950 Studebaker. He has a keen appreciation of Art Deco design, no bias for domestic versus foreign makes and loves competition - whether that be F1, IndyCar, Sports Cars, NASCAR or participating in Track Days at places such as Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Thunderhill or Willow Springs. John lives in Dana Point, CA, and enjoys a top-down drive on PCH on an early Sunday morning.

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