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by Jay Traugott
The 21st century Impala has arrived, but does it wear its name well?
This couldn't have come any sooner. In fact, we're surprised that Chevrolet even waited this long. At one time (before GM's bankruptcy), the plan for the new Impala was for it to be based off the same or an updated platform of the dearly departed Pontiac G8. Yes, that would have been sweet. A rear-wheel-drive, V8-powered Impala? Sounded damn near perfect. But things changed for reasons we all know. So here we have the completely redesigned 2014 Impala (minus the RWD and V8).
It's immediately apparent that it not only looks better than the bland model it replaces, but also that it's a big sucker. Its Malibu sibling grew in size for its dramatic 2008 redesign which left the old Impala bound for rental fleets. Chevrolet needed to change that by offering a proper front-wheel-drive large sedan that can go head-to-head with the likes of the Toyota Avalon and Hyundai Azera. So does the new 2014 Impala make the cut? Let's take a look at the fine details. For starters, its all-new exterior design represents the next phase of Chevrolet's design language.
It features sleek proportions, sculpted body sides, standard 18-inch wheels and projector-beam headlamps, with HID headlamps and LED daytime running lights (which are standard on upgraded LTZ models). Power comes from a choice of three direct-injected engines. This includes the familiar 3.6-liter V6 with 303hp, but what Chevrolet is really pushing is their Ecotec four pot lineup. The 182hp 2.4-liter version works with the eAssist system to provide electrical assist in certain conditions in order to conserve fuel. All told, it supposedly returns 35 mpg on the highway. The 195hp Ecotec 2.5-liter, however, is where a lot of the attention is being diverted towards.
It's part of a new family of four-cylinder engines developed specifically with increased efficiency and greater refinement. All three engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. We particularly like the interior layout, which has a "flowing design" and integrated center stack that includes an optional eight-inch touch screen with the Chevrolet MyLink system. A 4.2-inch screen comes standard. The dual-cockpit styling, like that of the Malibu, works very well here and it's certainly a huge improvement over the unexciting cardboard look of its predecessor.
Chevrolet is also heavily pushing the amount of available safety systems, such as Full-Speed-Range Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Alert, Collision Mitigation Brake, Lane Departure Warning, Side Blind Zone Alert and a Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Official pricing hasn't been announced, but we can't image it deviating too far from the current model's $26k base price. The new 2014 Impala isn't what many had hoped it would be, but market forces dictated otherwise. Instead, we've been presented with this handsome, yet fairly conservative looking full-size front-wheel-drive sedan.
Chevrolet isn't chasing after BMW buyers here, but they clearly hope to attract those looking for an affordable and solid all-around large cruiser. The 2014 Impala may just fit the bill perfectly.