Appearance: This Impala, now the 10th generation, has been reborn as a head-turner. During our week with it, the car brought quite the reaction. Note to Chevy marketing: One tattooed young man rode up on his bicycle to tell Peter he'd made a "good choice" and how much he liked both the car and its commercial, which is set to Frank Sinatra singing Fly Me to the Moon. (Indeed, Peter's wife called it a "guy magnet.") Maybe all that reaction is because the Impala's slender grille recalls the Camaro, as does the recessed hood with its center bulge. Overall, the design is bold, with a lot of chrome accents, sweeping roofline, slightly flared panels over the rear wheels and what automakers like to call a "high belt line." The wide rear end has an integrated deck lid spoiler.
Performance: Chevy calls this a sports sedan, which is a bit of a stretch. Still, the 3.6-liter DOHC V-6 is a confident performer that produces 305 horsepower — more than enough for this full-size sedan. A 2.5-liter Ecotec 4-cylinder is also available, with another — a 2.4-liter eAssist 4 — coming later. The ride isn't "floaty," as it is in some large cars, and is planted. The steering is well-assisted, nice and light, and provides good feedback. For us, the only downer is that the Impala is front-wheel drive. Call us old school, but in a big American sedan, we expect power to be in the rear wheels. Still, it's not a deal breaker. Our loaded tester had lots of safety features, including forward collision alert, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, blind-spot alert and rear cross-traffic alert.
Interior: The quiet and comfortable cabin features the dual-cockpit design familiar to Chevy fans. The two-toned, two-tiered dash features accent stitching and soft-touch materials with attractive chrome accents. But not attractive is the woodgrain trim that seems to be a GM holdover and looks out of place in the contemporary cabin. There is plenty of head and leg room — front and back. The rear deck sits high, so the view out of the rear window seems limited. An 8-inch touchscreen features General Motors' MyLink system, which we think is one of the easier ones to use. The screen icon layout is customizable, and the interface recalls a tablet or smartphone. There also are dials and buttons for the audio system, which in our tester was an 11-speaker Bose system that comes as part of a premium package. The screen on the dash slides up with a push of a button to reveal a hidden compartment.
Our 3 favorites
Sunroof: Large panels give the cabin an even bigger feel.
Player: The Impala can now compete in a full-size segment that's no longer just for older drivers and fleets.
Styling: Even taking Cadillac into consideration, this may be GM's most striking sedan.
Design: The grille and headlights give the car a strong, determined look.
Trunk space: Long vacation? No problem.
Lights: The blue ambient lighting is beautiful in the dark.
The bottom line: The Chevy Impala has a winning redesign with a classy, upmarket look, and a price tag to go along with it if you want all the features.
Chevrolet has long seemed content to let its flagship Impala languish in the rental-car fleets, where a bland sedan doesn't have to live up to lofty expectations. So we weren't expecting much from a redesigned Impala. Now, after having driven the all-new 2014, all we can say is: Boy, were we surprised.