Living in Havana, Oregon suits us very well, but it’s good to get out into the real world from time to time, including some contact with contemporary cars that we’d never likely see here, let alone drive. A family event in Baltimore last week meant a rental car for the four of us, and as we were loading our luggage into a Nissan Altima at 11:30 PM after our flights, the very friendly Enterprise employee suddenly said out of the blue “How would you like to take this brand new Impala we just got instead? It’s a class above your car, but enjoy the upgrade on us. I think you’ll like it”. I do love Enterprise; and have since they started back in the late seventies. And he was right.
We grabbed our bags out of the Altima, handed back the keys, and followed him across the aisle where this handsome big buff guy was sitting. I haven’t generally been a big fan of Chevrolet’s styling trends in recent years, except for the prior generation Malibu (minus its big bass mouth). And I’m not going to say the new Impala bowls me over, since its still a bit too self-consciously “bold” and “dramatic”, especially on its front end. But then I still haven’t quite gotten over Audi’s switch from its delicate little grilles to giant storm sewer grates. Is it really necessary to have that “chrome” detail down in the corner of its front valance? And of course, the bowtie is still way too big.
Ok; I get it; we’re not exactly living in understated times. And the Impala’s expressive front end is a substantial improvement over Chevy’s Audi-aping gaping maws of the recent past. In the context of the times, which is really the only relevant point of view, the Impala fits right in; a bit better than average even. Design is fashion; comparing the new Impala to one from decades ago is a lost cause. It has a decided presence, one that comes across better in the flesh than in pictures.
Speaking of fitting in, our four bags were practically lost in the Impala’s trunk. And in this case, the word “cavernous” truly applies, as it’s very long, deep and dark. And huge, in case that wasn’t clear. Almost startlingly so; are the rear seats folded down way up in there?
If the trunk was a preview of coming interior room attractions, it was a very successful one. The Impala is very generous inside. I don’t get a lot seat time in new cars, and the last time we all flew to Baltimore, we had a 2010 Camry rental (review here). The overwhelming impression was how roomy, quiet, and comfortable it was. The Impala has it beat in every category, but then that’s a bit of an unfair comparison, since it’s in a price and size class above the Camry.
For a bunch of country bumpkins like us, you might have thought we were getting into a big new Jaguar or Acura or some other car costing a lot more. Whoa; this is nice…and big…and nicely put together… Oddly, in the blazing sunlight, my camera makes the interior look tan or light brown. It was actually charcoal black; weird.
The back seat has superb amounts of leg room; the front seat was all the way back here, and then I got in behind it and there was still a very healthy gap between my knees and the seat back (I’m 6’4″). Luxurious. As a point of comparison, rear leg room is 5.7″ more generous than the antiquated W-Body Impala of yesterday and yore. But then any comparisons with that living relic are pretty irrelevant at this point; it was about a decade past its sell-by date. Rear headroom was a bit less generous, but the flowing roofs of modern cars almost guarantee that.
My washed-out shots of the dusty IP aren’t going to do it any favors, and like the exterior and other recent Chevy dashes, it’s a bit busy. But it grew on me, and it was easy enough to drive off after a late flight, and reach the closest big knob to adjust the air conditioning. And the quality of its materials and assembly was better than expected.
Just don’t ask me anything about the Impala’s center screen and functions. I’m a total idiot when it comes to modern car controls, and I had no use for it anyway. What I was looking for was a quiet drive after a long day in noisy jets. And the Impala exceeded my expectations in that regard, and then some. But I sure would have liked it to show me the view out back when I parallel parked it, with some trepidation. The camera is optional, but standard on the top-line LTZ.
The doors close with a nice kathunkk, and then one might as well have been sitting in a mausoleum, including once under way; this is an exceptionally quiet car, thanks to a lot of attention to acoustic details. I’m lacking the regular exposure to other new cars to make informed comparisons, but I don’t think I’ve ever been in a quieter car. The 18″ tires make themselves heard only as the delicate patter of distant feet on expansion gaps, but otherwise there’s a kind of hush all over the Impala tonight as we make our way to Towson.
The Baltimore Beltway isn’t exactly the place to wring out a new car, but from the moment we head off, its clear that the Impala has excellent dynamic qualities. The ride is very comfortable; Chevrolet has attained luxury car levels, without having to resort to the sophisticated suspension (Hiper-struts) used on its platform stablemates, the Buick LaCrosse and Cadillac XTS. Yet the Impala digs eagerly into on-ramps, and although the electric steering doesn’t provide the kind of genuine steering feel I prefer, it’s gotten to a pretty acceptable level.
The 305 hp 3.6L V6 and six-speed automatic are about as eager to please as the Enterprise folks, and I wasn’t able to catch the transmission in any serious lapses of judgement. There’s certainly plenty of motivation; in such a quiet car, the biggest problem–at least for me–is keeping the speed down. Fuel economy? Beats me.
I’m not really qualified to compare the new Impala to its competition, seeing that I haven’t driven it. What exactly is its competition anyway? The Buick LaCrosse? Well, the Impala undoubtedly is more dynamic than it, and a better deal in the bargain (prices start at about $30k). A little bit of inter-brand competition, eh? And of course there are cars like the Azera, the Avalon, Chrysler 300, Maxima, and others.
On arriving back home, our pile of mail included the latest Consumer Reports, with a test of the Impala. I’d already heard about them giving it the highest rating of any current cars in it class, but then there’s this line: “Overall, the Impala is competitive with cars that cost $20,000 more, including the Acura RLX and Jaguar XF”. I guess we really did score a good upgrade.
My interest in these was piqued last week, having viewed a short video review of them by the editors of Consumer Reports.
I’m looking forward to a “What if?” piece on this site, featuring Photoshopped photos that illustrate what it would look like if it were available in all of the body styles offered in 1965. 🙂
When I first saw pix of the car on the internet, I wasn’t too crazy about the design, I thought it too overstyled for a “Chevy”. Now that I’ve seen a number of them on the roads, wow!
Everything I read about these cars is positive. For the first time in a long time, I’m thinking I could do without another Pontiac in the driveway. As much as I’d like to have a Caddy (before I’m too old to enjoy it), this car may change my mind.
I’ve often thought you can’t go too wrong with a big Chevy, but this one seems to prove my ideas. I may have to rent one myself just to see if it’s all true…
Same here. It photographs terribly, the proportions of the car are extreme, and taking it out of context of it’s size by seeing it in pictures makes it look much worse. But in person it is simply HUGE, and looks pretty prestigious IMO. I couldn’t tell what it was when I saw the first one on the road, but it looked pricey. Never had that opinion of a domestic, mainstream brand sedan, ever. Sat in one at a car show, very nice. I wouldn’t mind driving one at all.
It looks like this is a nicely done car. I think my least favorite feature is what I see as overdone styling of the car and the dash, but not everyone will agree with me on that. There are too many swoops and lines, and I prefer a simpler look.
That said, this car looks to be (more) bad news for the Taurus. Not just the oodles of room inside, but I have to believe that a powertrain that is as smooth as you describe will be much easier to live with than the Ecoboost system in the Ford. Smooth torque beats a turbo in my book almost every time, particularly for a car in this class.
Oh yes, I nearly forgot – Come In for a Great Deal on a 2014 Impala at Cavanaugh Chevrolet! 🙂
If you wanna buy a car go see Cav!
If you wanna buy a car go see Cav!
Now all you need is your dog Spot……..
Go see Cav….go see Cav…..go see Cav!!
Taurus may not be the underdog for long; it’s rumored that it will be all-new for the 2015 model year, moving to a larger version of the Fusion platform, which has been well received in the motoring press and is selling so well that Ford is looking for ways to increase plant capacity.
Ironically, this new Impala is on the same Epsilon II platform shared with the smaller Malibu (among others), so I can only hope that Ford achieves the same successful result by basically following the same tactic. It certainly can’t hurt, as the current Taurus is a bloated pig with a cramped interior…and I’m usually a fan of Fords.
Impressive car on the outside, a little busy but looks good! That dash is too wacky for my tastes though and I don’t think I’d get one with a gray interior if I had a choice. I’d also hate to be in that back seat on a long trip with the army bunker windows. Other than that it’s a real improvement and I’m looking forward to see what else GM comes up with. Does anyone see a resemblance to the early 90’s Lumina in the front end between the horizontal grille bars and hood creasing?
When I caught my first glimpse of the new Impala, I said out loud, “Go Chevrolet!” Isn’t it crazy that I feel like GM is something of an underdog, and am pulling for them to win?
These are the most photos I’ve seen of the car now, and I have some quibbles. But I’m not going to express them. I hope nobody else does here, either. Because the truth is, this car looks to be incredibly competitive, and I say good job GM for getting it this right.
My goodness, I’m hungry!
We checked one out at our auto show back in February, and I was VERY impressed! I’m starting to see these on the road and I continue to be impressed and am beginning to hunger for one.
Maybe next time…
Anyway, I’m actually quite happy with my 2012 LTZ “antiquated” W-body. It’s worlds apart from my old 2004, and perhaps the LTZ trim was greatly improved over previous editions, as it handles so much better than my old Impala. Much more solid-feeling, too, not to mention so much better-looking (my opinion). After all, Chevy deemed it worthy of adding a sidescript as all cars used to have. I added my own on mine with the Impala emblem. Really makes the car stand out.
It’s nice to see the General and my favorite car company, Chevy, making much better products. To me, at least.
When I saw the title of this article pop-up on RSS, my first thought was, “I wonder if Zackman got a new car?”
Zackman, I am liking the look of this too over my 2005 Impala LS. But not enough to spend over $30k on one right now as I just bought a house and my Impala has 103k on it. Still plenty of life left! Also, your additions to your car dress it up so much!
Impala has over 55 years of distinctive styling, some years awesome – 1961 – and some years not so much – 1972 – but never bad. For this new Impala, GM decided to flush all that away and make the new Impala a cross between the overstylings of the Hyundai Sonata and a Honda/Acura. WHY?
Chevrolet has always made very tasteful and attractive cars. It was as though GM knew that each Chevrolet needed to look good naked, without the goo-gaws of Pontiac, or the brougham touches of Buick or Oldsmobile. Consequently, Chevrolet styling was almost always near perfect. Appearance was rarely ever a problem for Chevy.
So – I’m not at all impressed with the way the 2014 Impala looks from any angle. The front end is a Honda – the back end is an Acura – and the side sculpting is from Hyundai. This is not a Chevrolet, based on styling, and it could have been.
With this car, Chevrolet looks afraid to look like a Chevy. GM is deliberately muddling up its classic image and obviously chasing South Korean brands within the Market. Someone over in GM marketing has convinced the decision makers at Chevrolet that to win over entry level sedan segment from South Korea is to do what they do with their styling. Fire those people!
There is not a single hint of Chevrolet in this Impala, except the oversized belt buckle blocking the Honda grille.
I forgot that big chrome grilles where a Honda staple for years…
Well, there always has to be a dissenting opinion……
The Impala’s front end and the that of the new Accord do bear a resemblance. There’s a little too much going on along the Impala’s flanks for my liking and the taillights are generic.
It seems like most of the major middle of the market OEMs move as a herd with their styling ques. Midsize to large cars have always been the vanilla middle of the market. With Hot August Nights in town for this week in Reno you can really see the common themes.
It has been a well reviewed car, I simply wish it had more style and was more distinctively IMPALA.
I am dismayed that this car is available with the ecotech 4, even though it will likely only go to fleet customers. This car is simply far too heavy for a 4 pot.
The 2.5 litre 4 makes 195hp with pretty good torque, is it any worse than the base 1970 or so hp carb’d 305 in a Caprice from the 80’s?
Flagships should be flagships. I’m dismayed at Ford for offering the 4cyl ecobost as the base Taurus engine. 3.5 should be standard with the turbo SHO as an upgrade.
Chrysler has a 300hp engine standard in both the Charger and the 300, no more weak chested barely 200hp 2.7V6. Flagships should be flagships. If that means you have to sell more Cruzes to meet CAFE, so be it.
Although I agree that the 4cyl seems a little odd for a full size car, I think people would be all over it if GM didn’t offer the 4.
Plus…I don’t think the Impala is the flagship..I believe that has been given to the low volume V8 only SS.
When it comes down to it it is all about the power to weight ratio. I suspect the 4cyl Impala will be a solid 9 second car to 60 mph…do we really need something faster than that in the real world? 9 seconds used to be considered really decent performance before they started stuffing 300 hp engines in every bland sedan known to man.
I had forgotten the “SS” mostly because it should have been the Impala. The entire Chevrolet line is FWD save the Corvette and the SS (and the trucks/SUVs). Why not a RWD family sedan? V6 or V8. Make the V6 available from LT to LTZ trim and slap SS badges on anything with the V8 so you would be back to building Impala SS.
When did the Camaro become FWD?
Because the Impala has only come with the top spec engine it entire run? Old preconceptions have to be ditched sometimes, you can buy an S-class with a small diesel or an SL with a V6 in Europe, and both of those cars are on the top rungs of the MB ladder.
The four cylinder will be fleeted 100% for sure. GM will use it to bulk up its CAFE numbers. The Impala is not a flagship for GM. That is what Cadillac is for. Heck, Ford even makes you pay more for the four banger in the Taurus because it has the name “Ecoboost” attached to it.
You can get the 4 banger even in the upscale LTZ trim, and the car that Paul rented was a V6, so it’s mix and match, though I imagine that the V6 Impala will make up the bulk of sales overall, unless there is a big spike in gas prices.
The 2.0 EcoBoost is actually a $995 option on the Taurus. It puts out fewer horsepower (240 vs 288) but more torque (270 vs 254), and gets 26mpg combined vis-a-vis 23mpg combined with the 3.5. So I don’t really see it as an inferior option
Car and Driver recently tested the 4 banger Taurus and found real world fuel consumption of said banger was no better than the V-6.
The biggest potential problem I have with the 2.5 in the Impala is the NVH.
In the ATS both the 2.5L and 2.0T both move the car fine, but they also are quite coarse in how they go about their business. I don’t know if this was intentionally done to “sport up” the Cadillac or if it’s true when the engine is in Malibu or Impala trim.
My first car having been a ’65 Caprice, I’ve always kept an eye on Impalas, mostly to my disappointment. This one is certainly an improvement, and something I would almost consider, but not yet. Give it six taillights, and a little more visual separation from a Camry, and a dash that doesn’t remind me of a Nissan.
But still, it’s better.
A very professional new car review on Curbside Classics. This will have certain other automotive theme blogs very nervous.
Though I’m usually not a Chevy fan, especially in recent years, I really like this car. Ever since I started seeing them on the road I’ve been fascinated. In fact I was considering taking a test drive the other day on my day off. Something else came up though.
Apart from being overly tall like many new sedans for my tastes (tall in beltline and in overall vehicle height), I love the styling!
The interior is certainly the nicest in a Chevrolet in many decades. I like the teal stitching on leather-equipped LTZ models. I still haven’t seen the interior in person, which I still must do at some point. The thing I’m dying to look closely at is the woodtone trim. It’s hard to tell how convincing it looks from photos.
The one thing that surprises me is the fact that this car was at Enterprise. I though Chevy wanted to keep fleet sales of this model down. Isn’t that why they’re still making the old Impala for another year?
Keeping fleet sales down is different than eliminating car rental sales. At least up until 2 years ago, GM passenger car commercial sales were about 6% while the industry average was about 4.5%, not that high considering that a lot of types of specialized vehicles don’t see rental duty. Larger 4 door sedans like the Impala are natural candidates for car rental agencies simply because of their size and basic designs, cars will be rented and someone will have to provide them. Furthermore, especially for a new well received model like this Impala, it serves as a way to introduce the public to the car, especially since that at this price/class level, there are no real “stripper” decontented fleet models anymore. Also, Enterprise seems to have a different business model than the other major rental agencies, concentrating more on locations in neighborhoods and insurance replacements and private rentals and less on airport work. I am not sure I have ever seen an Enterprise airport kiosk. They appeared in many Cadillac dealerships from time to time.
Very true about Enterprise. People who rent from Enterprise are often people who are in the market for a new car. If you need or want to go on a long road trip, and you don’t trust your aging daily driver, you go to Enterprise.
My company has us rent generally from Enterprise or National (owned by Enterprise’s parent company, along with Alamo) and they have a presence in every major airport I fly into for them (most often SeaTac and PDX). I generally go with National because I have status with Emerald Club and can generally get upgraded at least one class and frequently two, but if a group of us are going and need a minivan to haul us around, we use Enterprise because they’ll cut us a deal and hold exactly what we need.
I generally want to get something with Sirius/XM, and Sonatas are the most reliably equipped this way from Naitonal, although I have had 300s, a Fusion and a Durango with satellite recently. I have yet to see a Chevy with satellite included, although it’s probably National’s fault, not Chevy’s. I have seen Impalas available recently; maybe I’ll grab one for the next trip. I did rent a new Malibu earlier this year and was favorably impressed.
I’m glad Chevy has a hit but….a sure sign that I have gotten old is that every new car looks the same to me and that I don’t care for the car styles of today. Swoopy low roof, small dark tinted windows, swept back lights and odd openings in front, high big butt, angled taillights, too many disjointed character lines on the sides, grey or black paint and interiors, ugly dashboards and huge consoles, hard seats, huge wheels which use expensive tires and kill the ride. I need to start work on that time machine so I can go back to 1963. Do I win the prize for curmudgeon of the day? 🙂
“Do I win the prize for curmudgeon of the day?”
You’re in line after me – or with me! We’ll share the beer and shed a tear…
I feel your pain, but I have come to accept it – they don’t and never will make cars like they used to, so I decided to separate that part of “geezer-dom” and accept the future.
Having said that, I wish the domestic OEMs would be mindful of their glory years and design accordingly, especially now.
Let you in on a secret: Go back to 1939, 1963, whenever. Line up all the cars of a set size together, then have someone who is not necessarily a car junkie look at them and try to pick out the Ford, Chevrolet, Buick, etc. Odds are they can’t do it, “Because they all look the same.” Yeah, we can do it (for certain time periods) because we’re insanely interested in those time periods.
I’m one of those anoraks, as long as we’re talking pre-1980’s, which is where I started losing interest in individual years of cars. And to this day, still cannot tell the difference between a ’83, ’84’, ’85, etc. model of virtually any brand out there. Because, at that point, I was totally consumed by motorcycles. Cars had become appliances. Something you drove to work because the weather was too bad to ride the bike.
At the same time last night, Maggie and I were watching “The Master”. Came on the scene of them doing the “ride to a point” game in the desert and without thinking in the slightest mentioned that they were riding a pre-WWII Triumph (girder forks, postwar bikes had hydraulic telescopics at least by ’48), and the car in the background was a ’46 Studebaker. That’s a combination of my childhood (vintage cars) and my ’80’s (vintage motorcycle).
You can’t pick out a current car at 200 meters, year, make and model? That’s because current cars don’t particularly interest you – other than the transportation appliance function. Out there, however, there’s some 10 year old kid who’s lifted his eyes from his X-Box screen long enough to get really interested in those transportation appliances. He’s the old fart 40 years from now that will be able to tell a ’12 Acura TL from a ’13 Acura TL-S at 200 meters. Without thinking about it in the slightest. And to him, those cars will be as different as a ’57 DeSoto Firedome and a ’58 Fireflite.
Thanks Zackman and Syke. You both make excellent points that I will take to heart. I also learned a new word – anorak.
Syke makes a great point. Most of us as enthusiasts can ID a vehicle in out “sphere of knowledge” at 200yrds. I can ID the make of a packer body on a garbage truck and know my Subies and Jeeps. 50s Golden Era & 60s-70s muscle cars are lost on me beyond being able to usually name the OEM.
Interesting and very true comments by Syke. This past weekend my friends and I attended the big Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) meet in Macungie, Pa. The feature car was Buick, and under the tent was a 1929 Buick.
The 1929 Buick was the second car that Harley Earl styled for GM. It was a catastrophic failure for the division, all because of a “bulge” at the beltline and slightly rounded body sides. Those features resulted in it being dubbed “the pregnant Buick.” And this was at a time when the word “pregnant” was not used in polite society.
Looking at the car today, however, it’s hard to see what all of the fuss was about. It looks like a typical late 1920s car. But, at that time, the bulge and slightly rounded body sides were enough to make the car the biggest commercial flop from a major producer until the Chrysler/DeSoto Airflow a few years later.
Yes, I’ve read about that ’29 Buick a number of times, and have struggled to “see” that bulge. Design is always a very contemporary thing, and has to be seen in that context.
Well said, and absolutely essential to keep in mind, especially on a site like this one where we spend s much time talking about cars of the past.
Current design is always a contemporary affair; it’s fashion. And it always changes. And either one is interested in the current fashion (cars) or one isn’t. And if one is, they will notice the subtle details that differentiate the various contemporary products. If not, “they all look alike”.
That’s why it’s a real challenge for writers to write about older cars from before their time. Brendan Saur did an admirable job here last week taking on the 1954 Plymouth Savoy last week here, despite it having been built decades before he was born.
And it’s why it’s hard for me to write about a lot of domestic cars from the 80s through the current time, because I just didn’t spend much attention on them.
I generally agree with this, with all of the points mentioned.
The one thing that I would add, in terms of design/styling, is that one also has to remember to view a car in terms of the context of the market in which it exists. The Impala is a larger traditional four door sedan vehicle meant to sell at volume and to customers that want/need a sedan of that size and will likely be using it on a daily basis. The Impala offers more styling flair than most Camcord models, but one must remember that the basic sedan market is not known for, nor do buyers necessarily buy them with a heavy emphasis on styling. Even the most diehard Toyota fan will not sell a Camry or Corolla as “eye catching” but of course most buyers of those cars do not care. Domestic make buyers, even now and even in this category, still expect a bit more flair which Chevrolet and GM seeks to deliver but nothing that would elicit a controversial response.
My answer to the comparison between 1965 and today is two part, the first being that considering all of the factors that go into building a car today, designers simply do not have as much leeway to be as aggressive as they had been in the past. The second part is that today, much like with television viewing, the proliferation of car makes and models in the marketplace has differentiated the market enough that there simply is no reason to offer a heavily stylized version of an Impala when there are a plethora of other models to do so.
While the Impala may be initially priced and be physically larger than its immediate competition, ostensibly Camcords, Taurus, and other such vehicles, most of the intended audience will cross shop those vehicles. It is a bit curious that base models are priced higher than base Camrys, but I believe the thinking is that the Malibu will take up that slack on the lower end. Both Chevrolet and Ford both have more models in line than the major Japanese brands so the model-to-model alignment is not perfect. The Impala seems to straddle the market between the Camry and the Avalon, while Buicks straddle the market between Avalons and Lexus.
While I generally agree with Syke’s point that non-enthusiasts or even auto enthusiasts who are “out of their element” will look at a bunch of cars from the same era and think they all look the same. I’ve occasionally talked to people that said that all 50’s cars look the same. (It was a short conversation indeed.) It’s not a perfect argument though.
Automakers used to work very hard on annual styling changes, especially in the 50’s through early 60’s. There were often big differences from year to year compared to today. By the 1980’s, designs would linger for years with very minimal changes.
I became interested in car styling in the 1980’s growing up and, while I could immediately identify the make and model of many contemporary cars, I couldn’t pin down the exact year of most. As it has been pointed out, Ford even had a commercial making fun of the early GM FWD cars as looking all alike. Further, I remember complaining that all the Japanese cars of the day looked alike.
“I’m glad Chevy has a hit but….a sure sign that I have gotten old is that every new car looks the same to me and that I don’t care for the car styles of today.”
Syke makes good points regarding sameness per decade (the 1958 GM models all look quite similar from the front, too, as has been pointed out). This could be analogized to architecture through the decades as well. How many raised ranch subdivisions were built c. 1970 and how popular are they now?
But just as I’m not a raised ranch fan (or a fan of the now ubiquitous vinyl-sided colonial or brick colonial with faux-Georgian front subdivision), for me it’s less that cars of today all look the same as other cars of today, than that they don’t look as good as the cars of yesterday, whether or not those cars looked alike. Just as I’d rather live in a subdivision of 1920s Tudors and center hall colonials over a 70s raised ranch, I’d also prefer a car with some right angles, bigger windows, color choice, and less blandness.
I watched that Mad Man esque “The Classic is Back” Impala ad and then I saw the car. It just doesn’t do anything for me. It was as if the classiness implied by the ad was immediately eviscerated when it appeared. “What is that thing doing in this ad?” It felt like someone had photoshopped out the 1958-1964 Impala he should have been driving. Lest I be accused of hagiography, I don’t think a B-Body 1977 would have been a convincing car in the ad, either. The car that would make most sense is a full-size convertible.
I don’t know if it’s a sign of getting old since I’m in my early 30s.
I understand your point completely, both in terms of cars and in terms of housing. I to dislike tract type housing and housing that blends in easily with the other homes in the neighborhood. When we purchased our home in August of 2011 in Charlotte, NC, we moved into an historic neighborhood that was initially laid out in 1903. My home was built in 1927 and can best be described architecturally as a combination of Craftsman style and southern plantation. We purchased specifically for that reason that it evoked a classic look that is not able to be easily replicated today. I cannot imagine what the cost would be for a real porcelain dining chandelier medallion would today.
The same applies to cars, as I mentioned in my above comments, there are more car makes and models today to cover a lot of ground compared to 50 years ago. Yes, 50 years ago GM had a 50% market share, but also Chevrolet covered the broad line market with 3 major body styles (A, B, C). So naturally, there were more variations of a basic theme than there is today. Also, a lot is driven my customer demand and expectation. Again as I mentioned above, most buyers of cars of this Impala class usually indicate that specific styling is not a priority. GM has historically, and still tries to today, to differentiate its models with a bit extra styling flair, but again, in a broad line basic market car like a large sedan is not going to be known for pushing the envelope. When you want to sell 250K of a car in a class that is very generalist, there is a risk of being overdone.
I usually track with your opinions but not here. Camry and Accord can get away with vanilla styling and still sell a lot because of their large, loyal owner base (“built in demand”) and a sterling reputation for quality and resale value.
Companies wanting to sell high volume (200K+/year) where the previous model was nonexistent, a failure or fleet queen need to differentiate wherever possible and styling is the easiest place.
That’s because a large percentage of the sales will be conquest and you need to give people a reason to buy. If it’s generic they will just by the Accord or Camry. Many OEs have made this mistake and it always ends up costing them in transaction price and profit.
The current Sonata, Optima, Fusion, 300/Charger, previous Malibu, two generations ago Altima and Passat are just a few examples of successful conquest strategies in the mainstream segments. None of these products had boring styling, until it sold so well you got sick of it.
The Chinese seem to prefer more generic looking sedans and that’s what will pressure design selection for the US market, if the car is going to be sold in both markets. For example the Sonata, which is a smash hit here, doesn’t sell well in China.
thanks to design&engineering from OPEL new CHEVYs are looking better&hopefully are a lot more reliable in long run compare to older ones.looking forward to drive something reliable&longlasting made in our great country again.life is just too short to drive a Toyota.
General Motors is a global company. Opel has been on shaky financial ground in recent years, so the funding for that design and engineering had to come from somewhere. In other words, this Impala may be more “all-American” than you think.
While there is (obviously) a considerable percentage of the workforce of Opel being homegrown, when you get up to the senior management level and the design level, those people have been around. Wayne Cherry, GM’s Styling VP from 1992 to 2004, was based overseas for almost his entire career returning to the US to almost immediately take over the VP slot. His immediate predecessor, Chuck Jordan, also spent a lot of time overseas in the late 60s and early 70s before returning to the Chevrolet studios in the 1970s. (You can see this in that the 1975 GM intermediate X car exteriors were taken from the design of the Opel’s sold in Europe).
I do not have any specific information as to what influenced the design of the 2014 Impala, but in general these days, there is less of a distinction between an “American” car and a “European” car within the legacy Detroit makes. Ever since the initial OPEC even in the fall of 1973, the designs of all cars from everywhere sold in the US have slowly merged to the point that there is no longer any particular differentiation beyond raw styling and availability of certain models and types of cars.
I have no problem with the General using Opel designs, per se, but WHY do the big three keep putting out so many models where the gas cap is on the wrong side of the vehicle?
We in North America drive on the right-hand side of the road. Why build cars for the NA market where the driver has to pull up on the left-hand side of the pump? It appears that Paul’s “fresh for ’14” Impala is a victim of this design oversight. Not every gas station is a 14 pump affair on a large lot.
I’ll grant you this isn’t a huge thing, but to me, market correct placement of the fuel filler door does represent more appreciation for user-friendly design on the part of the automaker.
The Japanese get it. My Indiana built Civic has the fuel filler door on the NA correct left-hand side of the vehicle. Same for the Ohio built Accords. Many other Japanese models sold in NA are NA correct, also. As for the big three, not so much. It wouldn’t surprise me if I rented a Civic In Great Britain that I’d find the fuel filler door on the GB correct right-hand side.
Maybe Craig can shed some light on why so many vehicles that are primarily sold in the NA market have a right-hand side fuel filler?
There is nothing “to get” about filler door location. There is no regulation as to location left or right nor are the designers doing anyone any favors by placing it on one side. Originally, most fillers (on domestic cars) were in the rear behind the license plate (or if really old behind a piece of trim). It was moved from there partly for safety reasons and partly for design reasons. The choice of location is up to the manufacturers and is a function of arrangement of the exhaust system. Historically, European cars had the fillers on the right, apparently due to curbside pumping. In the US, most gas stations are islands with multiple approaches which allow you equal access. A good mix of left and right fill is ok because is does cut down on bottlenecking at the pumps somewhat. Some cars have an arrow on the dash indicating the direction of the pump, but the symbol location is not a tried and true method.
Interesting thought. My brother was driving my car last week and texted me “WTH with the gas tank on the right?”.
Funnily enough, going back through all seven of our new cars over the years, they’ve all had the filler on the right.
I didn’t realize they put fillers on the left…..
As the driver of a 2005 Impala LS I was very interested in reading there would be a new Impala. And after seeing them in person and sitting in one, I am very impressed. My parents had a LaCrosse last year as a rental car, and this car feels miles apart, especially in the back seat.
I suppose, for now, that tall sides, high beltlines and blunt front ends are the norm, so maybe I have to accept that. (Wait, weren’t cars in the 1940s and 50s just like this?)
And yes, to echo many of you, it’s a bit overstyled, with too many creases and such (like almost everything else on the road now). I do wish the back was a little less generic, and that they’d try to pick up some more of the simple, classic Impala cues of its ’60s heyday. But overall, I like this car, and I think it looks really good, in spite of all this. It’s got good road presence, and I’m glad to see it getting such positive reviews, especially after the last two generations.
Nice subjective review. You probably didn’t do a lot of backing-up, but how is the rearward visibility with the tall trunk and faux spoiler look of the trunk lid? The back window looks like it comes all the way down to the edge of the trunk lid, because I can see the top of the rear seatback. That would help.
In the front-end shots it somewhat reminds me of a Honda Crosstour with a Chevy-styled grille, especially in the second picture. When shot from down low in the front, it looks like a fastback (or whatever you’d call the Crosstour roofline) and not a sedan.
It’s one of many details I forgot at 11:30 last night: visibility to the rear is predictably bad. My one or two parallel parking jobs were not a happy experience. It need a rear-view camera as standard equipment on the base model (it is standard on the top line LTZ).
Something about the new Impala is connecting to even well-heeled car buyers. I live in a posh development filled with the usual suspects – BMWs, Audis, and more silver ML350s than you can shake a stick at.
I see new Impalas in many driveways. And they look right at home.
Even more than that, I went out for drinks with a friend of mine a couple of weeks ago and we ran into his younger cousin, he’s in the medical field and makes good money, he had a Maxima before and he was raving about “his new car”, I roll my eyes getting ready to hear how cool his new “BMW, Lexus, Audi, Mercedes whatchamacalits” is, and he drops the bomb…..he traded the Maxima in for……………a triple black loaded to the gills 2014 Impala LTZ.
Good Job Chevrolet.
Carmine, I think you will appreciate the fact that after two Porsche Cayennes and an M-B ML350, I am now driving a Caddy SRX and I love it.
At least as it stood too years ago when I left Cadillac, both the CTS and the SRX were attracting a substantial amount of conquest buyers. From the data that I have seen on the ATS, 72% of ATS buyers had never owned a Cadillac before. The XTS will likely have a lower potential conquest value simply because of its size, design, and specific appeal to what would be considered a more traditional Cadillac buyer. The CTS-V and the CTS coupe have been sold almost exclusively to buyers who had previously driven a non-Cadillac product. (No doubt aided by the fact that aside from the XLR and Allante (both expensive vehicles at the time and convertibles), Cadillac had not offered a coupe product since 1993.
Normally I would never correct you, but you must mean since 2003, since Cadillac offered an Eldorado through 2002.
Yes 2003, but with that said, at the end of the Eldorados life, it had become a boutique model, so much that production was transferred to the Lansing Craft Centre. Most of the sales of the Eldorados were to traditionalists, heavily men, who still had a taste for such a large personal the luxury coupe.
The new coupe models appeal to an entirely new demographic that was never been with Cadillac before. They are younger and more affluent and the CTS and upcoming ELR coupes are smaller models that appeal to a “sporting group.” Cadillac has not played heavily to the coupe market since the 79-85 generation Eldorados, so it will be interesting to see how everything plays out.
Mmmm, sorry. No one is going to convince me that BMW/Mercedes/Audi = Chevrolet Impala. Unless they hold a gun to my head. Even then, I’d still hesitate.
Some people are more open minded than others, your loss, he voted with his $40k, so thats what matters.
My experience with GM products is that it is rather wise to wait a year or two before signing on the dotted line.
That’s pretty much all cars unless its a carryover of a proven drivetrain with a mild refresh.
With the tighter CAFE requirements and higher gas prices, we are in a period similar to that of 1975-81, when manufacturers were rushing new engines or features into production in an attempt to boost mileage. In too many cases, the paying customers were ultimately the final testers.
I’ve have a great experience with my 2003 Honda Accord, but I’m more than a little leery of the CVT in the 2013 four-cylinder Accord, even though I really like the car.
Yes CAFE has tightened now given the long reign of stable regulations over the last 20 years or so, but I do not see that automakers are scrambling to rush product into the market place or reacting in the same way that we did in the late 1970s. For a couple of reasons, one 40 years go, the shock of OPEC and the reaction of both the government and the buying public was a situation that was both very rapid in forming and very rapid in changing in short periods of time. Even though gas prices have, over the long term, been trending up since about 2001, except for a couple of brief spells around Katrina and in 2008, the energy market and public perception of it has not been as volatile as in the 1970s.
Secondly, now that we have had the benefit of 40 years of mindset of fuel economy, technology has progressed that both emissions and fuel economy can be met without the crude stop gap measures that marked the market back then.
Lastly, the biggest change between 40 years ago and today is the fact that now failure analysis is fully computerized. When I started out, it was just like it had been from the dawn of time, trial and error and failure eventually begot success. A good engineer had many battle scars since you never really knew what worked if you didn’t know what didn’t. Today, computers are able to simulate so many scenarios that everything that man can think of plus many things that cannot are tested before even the first prototype starts rolling. Today, we have whole teams of people that do nothing but work on exhaust system planning. We had a guy that spent 25 years doing nothing but designing catalytic converters. In 1974, it was brand new science.
So I am less hesitant to recommend virtually any brand new vehicle to anyone, especially since these days, most cars have pretty impressive warranties that cover everything at least for the original owner.
Agreed. Though I would extend that suggestion to other manufacturers as well.
My yuppie, DINK, doctor, liberal, lives-in-the-north-east sister almost bought a Buick Regal over a repeat M-B C300 4Matic last week. And would have pocketed 1/3rd the purchase price had she done so. Love of her past M-B (first time she’s repeated on a car) and a wonderful relationship with the dealer won out – not the car itself.
That’s saying something. The Germans may be selling lotsa luxury cars over here, but as people are realizing most of them are leased, not bought, what passes for acceptable luxury to those who walk in the dealership and write a check are changing.
The trick is to snap up a Benz lease return. Low mileage, maintained and MB dealers have them looking as good (if not better than new); why not? Service plans on a lease return, used purchase Benz are just like the new ones (almost). And, like new Cadillacs (and this Chevy) no ‘second-guessing-what-am-I-Toyota-Lexus-Nissan-Hyundai-Mazda-Inifiniti” non-distinctive “Hello Kitty/Shirokiya” generic styling . . .
Just make sure you have the MB factory warranty to go with it.
I will continue to commute in my 95 Olds, thank you.
And I’ll keep driving my “new” 94 Buick wagon with 60k miles…
Big Plastic Butt. It makes me want to say “honey, just because they make tights in your size doesn’t mean you should wear them in public.” Certainly, there’s a lot of safety built into that butt, but a (faux) bumper definition would give it some dignity.
“But Fonda ain’t got a motor in the back of her Honda”
I’ve been waiting for this for…well…30, 40 years?
Could this be the best all-around Impala since 1970? And that says a lot because of all the 1977-96 B-body love that goes on at CC…count me among them, I’ve owned and enjoyed two of them…but it was always with qualifications…avoid this engine, that transmission…and that interior, well…
This car is EXACTLY why I’ve been so vociferously critical of GM and their decades of well-deserved Deadly Sins. Because I’ve always believed they had it in them to build Chevrolets of this caliber. There’ve been too many slivers of greatness from GM even during the bad years to believe otherwise. And go dig up the road tests of the superb 1949-52 Chevrolets, or compare most years’ Impalas to their counterparts during that 1961-70 period. And it’s easily forgotten that the Tri-Fives became classics not just on their styling and features, but also on their build quality and durability. They simply outlasted their Ford and MoPar counterparts.
One reviewer, upon inspecting the interior of a decked-out LTZ, went so far as to ask if the Cadillac XTS is even necessary.
When I saw the Consumer Reports blurb, I have to admit my first thought was…”did GM make a big contribution to (parent) Consumers Union, as Honda/Toyota have been accused of doing?” But reviews like this one confirm what I want to believe: that Chevrolet is finally serious about once again building a great car for the price range and segment.
Welcome home Impala. We’ve missed you.
GM has always been committed to building a great car. It was just that before its legacy costs, as well as bloated structure, prevented it from doing so.
Now GM is a lean organisation as it has walked away from all its liabilities. It has more money to put into content rather than retirement costs. Hence better products.
Here’s one reason the new Impala is so quiet…you’re basically riding inside a set of noise-reduction headphones.
“How GM makes a car sound like what a car is supposed to sound like” (via BoingBoing)
“Strangely, to give people the impression that the Impala’s engine was working as intended, GM had to partially mask its real sound.”
I am very glad GM is making some progress in returning to making cars that people will actually buy, since I will see at least some return on the tax dollars I poured into it.
I stopped by at a GM dealership and saw one. It doesn’t do a whole lot for me. It is too large and the styling is too “big.” Everything is “big” in the car. I am sure it drives quite well and see no reason it won’t sell well. It will be the default large car at rental agencies for sure.
I didn’t like the fabric on the seats at all.
Just recently listened to the Lutz “Car Guys vs. Bean Counters: The Battle for the Soul of American Business” book while traveling. Your name was mentioned in not so good terms. I hope Bob is reading this and understands what point you were making.
I enjoy your work.
That would by my son Ed he’s referring to. Ed has been just a wee bit hard on GM and the Volt in recent years.
I’ve always enjoyed the Impala highway ride, and I’m impressed with how nice this one looks. Two minor nits to pick, the wide hips looks like an Avenger from the side profile and the steering wheel is too distracting. I’d be willing to bet the steering wheel is still too big to be comfortable just like the last generation.
Give GM a couple years to work out the bugs and it looks like it could be a great car.
Given that the modern design language is what it is…I actually kinda like this, and other new GM issuances. I’m sure it’s a late flowering of Maximum Bob’s aggressive husbandry a few years back. But…the overstated badges and overdone grille/face (one of Lutz’s obsessions) aside, it’s a fine result.
Quality: the proof of the pudding is the tasting. And durability takes a long time to taste out. But GM has a spotted record in this area; and government ownership, or quasi-ownership, does not bode well.
Before the haters and bashers pile on, let me stake my position:
I have owned a Yugo – a car assembled by a European government.
I worked for a FORMER government entity – Conrail, the government-owned-and-run former Penn Central. It went private in 1986; I hired with them in 1997. Old-timers remembered before-and-after vividly; many of them had been through the whole ride, from the 1970 bankruptcy.
Before that, I worked for a government agency that had been private within recent memory: Denver’s Regional Transportation District, which had been the Denver Tramway Company until 1974 when the property was turned over to Denver County. Old-timers there, too, remembered how it was before and after.
I am not sold on a government’s ability to efficiently, satisfactorily provide a consumer good or service. This is not philosophical, so much – but just the observation of how a privately-run business responds in ways that a government agency or one sheltered by government protections does not.
And GM is nothing if not sheltered, in its current manifestation.
I would consider owning this car – USED – if statistics prove it to be more reliable than recent facts might suggest.
Where to begin? You do know that the government has been selling off its minority ownership position in GM, right?
And the US examples you gave were pretty much all necessary creations after the previous private entities went bust. It’s nice to wax nostalgic for the Pennsylvania Railroad, but it did go belly up. Free enterprise doesn’t always work out so well. It’s not like the government was hot to get into the railroad business. Likewise the car business. Which is why they sold Conrail, and are very hot to sell their remaining shares in GM.
Like I said – no intent to stake out a philosophical position. Of course I have one; but it’s not relevant here.
But…everything I have seen, working on both sides of the line…suggest that public ownership is toxic to the mission of a goods-and-services organization.
FWIW…the best years of the railroad in question were after government ownership, not before. The PC got what was coming to it; but the young go-getters that came in after Conrail privatization were the driving force right up until it became a takeover target.
I’ll just add this and then drop it.
Renault (in its State-ownership days).
I can deny reality; but I cannot deny the consequences of denying reality. I rode this pony once – with a Yugo. I won’t repeat such a mistake.
Did you conveniently forget that Renault is still 17.5% owned by France? And that the state of Lower Saxony owns 20% of VW? It’s obviously been very detrimental to them, eh?
Your typical sweeping generalizations don’t hold any water. Each example you give is different, and has to be considered in its own set of circumstances, which time doesn’t allow. But it’s not hard to do a little homework before you lump them all together.
Lada, Yugo and Trabant? Thats all you got? REALLY? Your basing the majority of your obviously flawed argument on terrible cars made in Soviet Bloc countries with mostly controlled/planed economies where there was little to no completion? Really? The United States is JUST like so-bloc East Germany. I don’t often call someone a complete idiot on this site, but you’re deserving of the title today.
Carmine, if you think the USA is like a former-east block country, I would suggest that you have never been to one. I am not sure name calling is exactly very becoming of you, either.
Canuck: Carmine was responding to JPT, with a heavy dose of sarcasm 😉
Yes, you hit the nail on the head, this is EXACTLY like a Yugo. You seem to have the impression that GM was nationalized in some sort of way that resulted in all the car designers and engineers being fired and replaced with social workers and DMV employees? Do you seriously think that the government itself directly, not via they cash it supplied, is designing and buiding GM cars? You seriously think that?
Rick Wagoner was sacked from orders from the Commerce Department.
The bankruptcy proceedings did not follow normal legal channels.
The Volt would never have been pursued given the technology available today and market information.
Which makes me wonder about other decision-trees being followed in Renaissance Center.
The Volt was subsidized, like dear and beloved Toyotas Prius was subsidized by the Japanese government too? Your point? I am the first person to tell you that the government is the LAST solution to any problem, but to make comments like the ones you posted above are just plain ignorant, was the 2000-2013 Impala an example of how awesome a car GM could build without government control?
How has the Volt been selling?
Could that be because the price/cost is not in line with the demand/expectation for such a model?
How has the Prius been selling? I don’t have facts about how much subsidy if any was put into it. Bottom line is, they were able to bring that model to market at a price that made sense to potential buyers.
WHY did the Volt and GM ignore this market reality? Do you remember the political chatter surrounding GM’s bankruptcy and the voices DEMANDING that the on-hold Volt be rushed forward?
They have sold 61,000 Volts to date, and they should sell even more now that the price was cut another $5000, the Prius only really started to click in its 2nd generation, the first generation Prius was a pretty slow seller, it takes a while for new technology to be adapted. Toyota didn’t quit on the Prius when it didn’t sell 500,000 of them in their first year on the market
But how many of the 61k sold were purchased by the public, and how many were purchased essentially by taxpayers for government employees? I think the Volt’s first big problem was deviating from the original design, which I thought looked very cool — and I don’t care for Chevrolet. Also, the original Prius was a boring design, based on the also-boring Echo I believe, so it’s not surprising their sales numbers increased following the redesign. Anyway, point is, new technology can only carry a car so far with the buying public. You have to make it visually attractive as well, though tax incentives don’t hurt, I suppose…
Volts are pretty common in the Portland area these days, and I’ve never seen one that wasn’t privately owned.
Carmine’s point is correct, adoption of new technologies always starts slow, because their growth is exponential. Looks small at first, but pretty soon it takes off. It’s like the fable of the grains of rice and the chessboard. We think linear, 1,2,3,4,…, but exponentials are sneaky.
For example, think back to when people you knew started to use cellphones. Mid-to-late nineties maybe? The first cellphone came out thirty years ago, in 1983. Seven years later there were only 12 million in the whole world. Now there’s over 6 billion.
By the way, this sales chart is pretty interesting. EVs are selling better than hybrids did in their early days.
What’s this got to do with the new Impala? Nothing! 😉
Its fairly well known that the Prius was a money loser for many years for Toyota. They had to sell them at a loss just to get into the market and get where they are today.
Lexus, when introduced and primarily for North America (first) in 1989, were selling those cars here below cost – negative – to establish themselves. It worked. Ditto with the Prius. Why so hard on Chevy? The Impala is a business example of doing ‘right things right’ – so far, a project management success story. I didn’t hear a lot of squawking when the U.S. Government bailed out Lockheed . . . . and yes, GM committed arrogant business management sins that went unabated for many years. I had a chance to sit in, pour over the details of both this new ’14 Impala and the XTS Caddy at the last Honolulu car show . . . very impressive indeed. Especially the XTS with all the touch screen, easy to use technology. A flicker of the “good” old GM.
Gee, I remember saying that about the Prius, with sources, a few months ago, and getting shouted down!
This not being a political site, I’m gonna leave the hornets’ nest I kicked, to settle down for the night. There are sound, reasoned responses for the many rebuttals tossed back at me.
But this is not the place. Let it suffice…I’ll be a while putting either hopes or cash on a General Motors offering.
Rick Wagoner was overdue to be sacked. The bankruptcy proceedings were “legal” (don’t open that one up again). And the Volt was largely developed before the bankruptcy, right? And the Volt’s technology will presumably be relevant and useful to GM going forward.
> Rick Wagoner was sacked from orders from the Commerce Department.
You can’t very well fault the government on that decision. It was past time for Rick to be shown the door.
EDIT: Ha! You beat me to it, Paul! 🙂
This car is probably the first vehicle to really do justice to the Impala nameplate since the 1977 model. If Paul’s experience and the reviews of various publications are any indication, it definitely lives up to the hype.
One problem, however, is that when I look at this car, I can’t see any reason to move up to a Buick LaCrosse or Cadillac XTS. Of the three cars based on this platform, the Impala is by far the most attractive and the best overall value.
That’s a key point. Or more like the key point.
There are more features and options available on the LaCrosse and XTS that make it worthwhile to some, color HUD, AWD, a 410hp twin turbocharged V6 for the XTS coming in 2014, better warranties, Cadillacs Shield owner maintenance coverage program.
Geeber, very good point as the Impala is the “value added” vehicle. I was extremely impressed with the XTS Caddy – which offers quite a bit more. The only potential trouble with the Impala is that it may come at the expense of Buick sales. On the other hand, this Impala is something that won’t be offered overseas (think China), so any losses for Buick here will be made up in Asia . . .
Opinions vary, but I find the proportions of the LaCrosse and XTS (the LaCrosse in particular) to be somewhat “off.” Neither one is a very attractive car, in my opinion, while I find the Impala to be genuinely good-looking.
But then, I can’t see why anyone would pick an XTS when the ATS is sold by the same dealer – and the upcoming CTS looks even better.
If I wanted a large, comfortable front-wheel-drive sedan, I’d buy the Impala; if I wanted a Cadillac, I’d buy the ATS or new CTS.
The rear seat looks cave-like.
And that’s the only nit I can pick. I trust Consumer Reports and I trust Paul. I’m really thrilled that GM is finally building a no-apologies best-in-class car. I hope the new SS (which is on my short list when our current vehicle expires) is another home run.
The first thing I noticed about the design, and found odd was that the trunk “cut line” moves diagonally way too far into the rear quarter panels, instead of a more vertical line down the trunk towards the bumper. I just don’t see the advantage of doing this. Do people load their trunks from the corners of their cars? To me it breaks the flow of the sheetmetal too much. Maybe other cars have this type of cut but I can’t recall one recently…
It looks very good to me overall, but it does need to look a bit more like an Impala. I like the way the grill shows a family resemblance withe the current retro-Camaro, but this car could really benefit from six tailights and some sixties-retro color choices.
One of the things that has bugged me since Chevrolet brought back the Impala was the lack of the triple taillights that were the car’s design signature. Two round taillights on the 2000-2005 Impala? This isn’t a freakin’ Bel Air, you idiots. And Chevy didn’t even bother to try with the 2006-2013 version.
The taillights on the 2014 Impala come close. They remind me of the 1967 Impala. I don’t particularly care for the ’67 taillights — they appear to be frowning to me — and I would much prefer something like the spectacular ’65, but it’s still an improvement. And the gorgeous leaping Impala emblem is still there.
I’ve only seen a couple of 2014 Impalas on the road so far, but it is a very striking car. That it also appears to be a very good car pleases me even more. I want Chevrolet to have an Impala that’s worthy of the outstanding Impalas of the 1960s.
Hate to say it, but the six tail light days are over. Long over.
Never could understand the idea that an old nameplate must have certain characteristics that are supposedly immutable. You know: Impala = six taillights, Cherokee = square styling and solid axles on both ends, etc.
Times change. Styles change. Technology changes.
Well, some styles change. We still have triple taillights on the current Mustang to match the original design… for now, anyway.
How about Jeep Wrangler = round headlights?
Evolving technology is a valid argument, but styling not so much IMO. If you have a nameplate with a long history, and you can do something with the styling that strikes a chord with your fanbase and doesn’t even really cost you any more (such as the shape of the taillights) then why not do it?
Chevy could have designed the taillights with 3 segments instead of 2 on each side and called it good. Then left it to the aftermarket to design some ugly “Altezza” taillights to swap-in to keep the diehard Impala=round taillights crowd happy. 🙂
I would agree with that. The people that notice the homage would love it, and the people that are oblivious… will remain oblivious. I don’t know why they didn’t go with the triples. Buick brought back the portholes, why not?
When will the universal triangular taillight’s days be long over?
It would be cool that for a ’15 or ’16 face (or “rear” lift), to bring back the “three taillights per side” of yesteryear’s Impalas. Much like the Buick ‘sweep’. GM could use off the shelf ’09-’13 Camaro taillights to do the trick and save tooling $$$.
Proof that GM has the talent and ability. Probably always had it. Now they have the will to build great cars too. I expect many more first class offerings from GM going forward.
This is hardly “attractive”, “sexy”, “awesome”, or whatever other adjectives you guys are using. Far from it. It already looks dated. It’s a big, safe, quiet car–the reasons I’m considering one. Is there a reason GM didn’t put “Impala” on the rear-end????????????
Its in the chrome trim between the tailights, its part of the trim so you really don;t see it in pictures.
Thanks, Carmine! I don’t care for that one bit however.
Don’t see many of these around because my town is in love with the Dodge Charger. Have seen a few though and they always catch my eye. First time I’ve seen the interior and like it a lot. The steering wheel and dash designs are fresh.
Why in the world they made the new Malibu look so much like the new Impala I will never know. The buyers are different. Malibu class cars are more popular with women and the previous generation was a bullseye for style and size. Refinement was good on those too. I spoke to a guy once who was explaining how GM used spray on insulation in the engine compartment, something very innovative at the time. Malibus were leaders for NVH.
Now they have a situation like VW has with Passat and Jetta. Not a good retail sales strategy, the cars are priced too close together to look so much alike.
I don’t love the design, but I don’t hate it either.
We have all seen GM come out with vehicles that appeared to be great upon first impressions but eventually turned out to be real turkeys. Many have been written about here in fact. Let’s hope they finished the job this time.
Let’s hope they didn’t and it falls flat on its hideous face.
someone wasn’t hugged enough as a child.
Back to the TTAC dungeon with you….
Glad you liked it Paul if its any good it will keep the Aussie Chev out of the US. I had a rental Holden Commodore with a 3.6 V6 engine and found it gutless on rolling country it kept downshifting everytime it pointed up hill no low to mid range torque fuel economy was good and I later bought a Peugeot instead for much better ride comfort handling etc
Design wise I like the negative area under the bodyside crease though you could credit BMW or Audi for that.
Also like the upsweep in front of the rear wheel opening though you could credit MB E-class for that. Seems like everyone is copying this styling cue. I find the VW sedans freakishly devoid of surface detailing and sculpting and that makes them look old and cheap.
Lest we forget who is the manufacturer; it is still a POS. Things will start to fall off, as usual, at about 1000 miles.
Doubt it, Kev. That comment may have been true in 1987, 1995 or 2002. A lot rides on this car . . . and I would bet this thing will stay tighter and take wear and tear comparable to work-dog cars like a Camry . . .
Time will tell on that one, Billy. I am looking forward to the testing of others rebuild GM’s stellar reputation.
would it be true to say that the 2014 impala is the crowning achievement from the era when bob lutz was in charge of gm design guidelines?
As an enthusiast, this car disgusts me. The front looks “Acura” and the big bulbous rear looks like a new Hyundai or a Cruze with a gland problem.
I’m sure this is a pleasant appliance to use though. Too bad they put the “Impala” name on it: it’s the ugliest one yet.
I’m very impressed with Enterprise though. That was very cool of them to offer you an upgrade. If I ever have to rent a vehicle, I will definitely choose them.
This Impala definitely looks derivative from many angles, but ‘ugliest one yet’ has to go to the 2000-2005 model – if solely for the tail lamp treatment. (I never understood the “bulging” door handles, either.)
Chevy still tends to overstyle its cars too much for my liking.
The front end of the 2014 Impala looks too much like an Accord and the sculpturing on the side is reminiscent of Hundai’s styling; also I’d really like to see the Impala return to
the six tail lights like Impalas of the ’60s. Whiel we’re at it, could we please see interiors in other colors than generic grey? Something like the bright interiors of the ’60s would be a huge improvement.
YES!! PLEASE!! +1,000,000!!! The “black or tan” interior color choice for most new cars is so frustrating! I guess I don’t understand how Mini can offer so many interior choices, yet more expensive cars are just, black or tan, black or tan… ugh!
I’ve seen a few in the metal (including up-close at the Houston Auto Show), but I actually like the looks of it. Seems to make better use of interior space than the LaCrosse, which I also like. Only thing I’d change out is the steering wheel. Other than that, I think GM has a winner.
I’ll take the Charger.
I totally agree with Syke’s comment on how we focus on what appeals to us.
I’ve always been a car junkie and while I grew up in the 90s, Spending my time looking out the window naming the cars on the other lanes has helped me be able to name most everything. I’ve started becoming more adept with the not as know pre-60s metal.
But I must admit that cars have become more anonymous. Even I’m hard pressed to tell a new 3 series from a 5 series or an X1 from an X3 at a glance. Can’t imagine the non-car focused public. Brands making their design language the same on all the models, each one just a bit bigger is a bit saddening. At least back then, you knew a full size from a mid-size at a glance. I know it’s a generalization but there’s no excitement anymore, so to speak. Even the Camry looks like the Lexus ES.
That Impala does look good but so did the 2008 Malibu which they kinda screwed up with the refresh from what I’ve heard. So here’s hoping they don’t try to fix this one too much on the refresh.
The interior is where this car doesn’t do it for
me. The shapes, namely the steering wheel and the center console look odd…a bit too alien-esque for my tastes. At least it has some amount of physical buttons. Buttons can be like jewels and really dress up that cabin, same with the gauges.
That’s why I’m not entirely happy with CUE from Cadillac but that’s another topic I’m sure.
Sorry if I went a bit of topic but I get heated with the current trends in the car world. One of the reasons I didn’t fully go and try mechanical engineering, cause those glory days of HP and beautiful cars and one mans vision without bean counting are sort of gone…for now only I’d hope. It’s all about efficiency and safety with lots of screens and sensors sprinkled in the name of GREEN.
Would not enjoy it as much I feel.
This comment should fall under the discussion above regarding GM and the government’s involvement, I got into the conversation to late to do justice to replying to a specific person’s comment – so I will just throw it out on its own.
Given my 41 year career with GM that spanned 4 years at GMI plus 35 years of full time employment starting out in 1972 before OPEC spanning everything and finishing in 2011 2 1/2 years into the bailout, I have seen it ALL. Of course it is only how I see things as one human being with only two eyes and two ears, but one person of about 4 million that were employed with me at various points over those years.
With that said, as it pertains to the bailout, I was 100% in agreement with it, not just for my own sake, but for the sake of GM, the domestic auto industry, and the general health of the country. In keeping with the custom of keeping policy and politics off of this website, I will refrain from commenting on “opinion.” The changes that took place at GM should have been done twenty years ago in the early 1990s when GM really hit the financial skids. The loss of 1980 was more of an aberration, looked at the time both inside GM and in the industry, as a short term thing driven by a weak economy, as well as the vast amounts of dollars being spent on the various FWD projects and necessary changes to comply with emissions and fuel economy regulations. By 1991, the die was cast. Of course in a large established organization like GM, even though the board of directors and many in the company generally knew that major changes were needed, it was about as hard to do as turning around the Titanic. That kind of herculean job went beyond the capabilities of one person and even beyond even the most adamant board. Yes today, GM is lean mean, and probably in the best financial and operational shape as it has been in since the day I walked in the door. Maybe since the 1950s. Unless buying habits suddenly change, GM isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The chains that the corporation dragged for 40 years in terms of legacy costs and commitments no longer exist. When I left in 2011, capacity utilization had hit levels not seen since the late 1970s and there are now few assets on the books that do not make the company money.
In terms of the employee, at least from my aspect in engineering, design, and planning, the change from the dark days of 2008 to 2011 is no less than astonishing. By 2008, it was like being married to a cancer patient, we kept on living but we knew there was a demon within us that could have taken us down at anytime. Moral was low, especially as the economy sank in general, and it was becoming increasingly difficult to put a happy face on the situation. Yes, GM still had a lot of incredible talent, especially in the design and engineering staff (today’s models are largely the product of existing employees not government appointees) and there were many products in the pipeline (like the CTS) that were gems.
So while there was much apprehension and personal opinion regarding “having the government as a partner” in many ways it felt more like relief than meddling. Most of the effect that is discussion regarding the bailout is the consequence of the changes with the UAW/CAW and with the top line executives. Yes those are important employees (as all employees are) but with the core middle that actually were the DNA of the company, apprehension gave way to progress. Most of the governments involvement was in regards to dealing with the UAW/CAW contracts, and more specifically retirees (legacy costs) and replacing most of the senior staff (which I tend to agree with most of the decisions). The government had very little involvement with any of the technical staff.
In a way, once the burdens of dealing with 3 million living current and past employees was dealt with, and with new senior management that was not burdened by commitment to the old ways (in some ways it was like the end of the Castellamarese Wars when the “moustache pete’s were bumped off to replace by the native born bosses). I had nothing against Rick Wagoner, he had been with GM for 30 years, he was certainly not a bad employees and his overall contribution to GM in his career was far more positive than negative, but it was understandable that he was asked to go. He was certainly not responsible for the current situation, and he probably was a victim to being in the wrong place at the wrong time to some extent, but no one said life is always fair. While his pension was cut, he was generously attended to so he has nothing to worry about. Sometimes, when significant change comes, even the best person needs to step aside and let those that are on top of that change take control. I learned that myself and eventually decided to retire in 2011, not because I was unable to function, but knowing everything that was going on with Cadillac, and the commitment of the future, I knew that I had only 4 or 5 more years left to commitment and my job was best handled by someone who could commit a much longer time in it to do it right.
So with all of the raw talent and ideas that were still within GM at the time, the government allowed us to resolved the inherent issues with the UAW/CAW and with a lot of new senior management, it was like a caged tiger unleashed. That is why today GM seems to be on fire. That did not happen because the government installed functionaries to run everything (in fact I never saw a single government person in the Tech Center ever during 2009-2011 behind a couple of PR tours) nor because there was machinations going on in the basement of the White House. GM is doing well now because in the end, there were still many thousands of wonderful talented, committed individuals that love to build cars and were ready to make it happen. In some ways I wish I was even 10 years younger as it would be an exciting time to be in the business now. So I look out over the 41 years that I was a part of GM, it is a bittersweet time as it took me from being an anonymous boy from a poor town on a poor island to a comfortable existence today with a wonderful family and a lifetime of memories. I can only hope that the small amount of influence that I might have had over my years will carry on in some legacy somewhere if not in product than in the mind of some employee whose is a better person for knowing myself in their life. So yes, I can go to bed now knowing that everything that I knew about the car business and the company that defined my life for so long will not cease to exist but live to see a new and better day.
Well, you guys are going to not like this but I think the Taurus looks better. It makes a good fleet car but I don’t think it is very sexy. It is just very bland to me. I bet it would be a cool wagon sleeper like the Malibu though. Moreover, their has been talk about the Volt…I happen to like it. Think it is best looking electric car on the road. Like its rear end design a lot. GM can build good cars it is just they have to be pushed very hard to do so. Please bring back a cool Caprice.
Basically a good looking car but I have an issue with it and the LaCrosse/XTS platform-mates. They look tall and narrow on the road, and don’t have a wide, confident-looking stance about them. I think the XTS is the worst offender. Cadillacs of late have had a great RWD look about them. This one is not even close. The belt line on all three is also too high, making the side glass look high and narrow. Not good for visibility or shorter drivers. All three have nice sheetmetal covering a flawed platform IMHO.
140 plus posts about a new car……I think we’re on to something here…..
Actually, I hope not. I come here to read about OLD cars.
Yes, I enjoyed this article, and the resultant discussion. Maybe this time next year we do another one about a current model.
Features about new cars should definitely be limited, but there could be a niche for “Future Curbside Classics” or something along those lines?
+1 what Syke said.
Yup, this is my escape from the toxic, politicized, ostentatious, shallow, overly critical blogosplere world that 21st century autodom has been mercilessly swallowed up in.
It’s so much more enjoyable to read about old relics where opinions and feelings about a car of yore are actually personal, and not about the socioeconomic impact of buying/not buying or admiring/abhorring this or that new car there.
I was more referring to interest in the Impala more specifically, it seems to received a positive reception here, no I really don’t want new car reviews becoming a trend here.
The 2014 Chevrolet “Grampa-la”.
No, no ,no!!! I don’t want a 550i, or an E-Class, or even one of those tacky Audi S6 sedans. Nope. Give me the “Grampa-la”!!! I want to be just as cool as every other 75 year-old at “the home”. And don’t worry, it has his and hers dentures holders in the front dash. No more losing ’em!!! And it also comes with automatic hot flash recognition seating!! Anytime you get one of those nasty “hot flashes”, the new Grampa-la will automatically cool your seats!! And, since we know you can’t see as well anymore, the front windshield is actually a magnifying glass!! That’s right!! Now you have NO excuses before you drive the car off the road into your neighbor’s living room!!!
So come on down!!! We have a storage area for your oxygen tanks while you shop!!!
The new 2014 Chevrolet Grampa-la!!! Drive one at 35 miles per hour today!!!!
P.S. This was just another jab at my Cadillac Compadre “Carmine” because I was bored. And because he thinks the coolest car ever made was the 1974 Cadillac Fleetwood Talisman.
Not in that color anyway.
I saw one of these on display in the local mall the other day. “Wow,” I thought. It looked to be better screwed together than the last Camry I drove a couple of years ago. I don’t like car payments and enjoy driving a car that I really don’t have to care about, since I bought it for peanuts, but I could definitely see this parked in my driveway.
Had an ’05 Impala I wish I had kept, and the wife and I have an ’09 that’s a good car. Can’t beat ’em for their economy and performance in a package this size.
The new style is growing on me, but I don’t like the squashed down greenhouse (or high beltline, if you prefer). And, if I were buying one and the dealer wouldn’t disable those tacky LED lights on the front it would be a deal breaker.
Agree with Paul that this car looks much better and more imposing in person than in pictures. And though the grille on this car (and the new Traverse) can be compared to the Honda grilles of late, I think the Chevys pull it off MUCH better. (And since when did Honda start using so much chrome?)
Also, as the raging millennial that I am, I just want to say that it makes me smile that you can get 20 inch blades on the Impala from the factory!
I am happy that the general is fielding a competitive new Impala. It was long overdue, but maybe worth the wait. I’m not in the market for a (luxury car?) big cruiser like this right now, but I’m happier knowing that it’s out there. Maybe after a few years of working the bugs out, I’ll be ready to cash in more GM card points.
Always love the banter on Curbside Classic! Carmine, you are the man!! (LOVE the TALISMAN too)….I think this Impala is a HUGE step forward for GM. If I could get past the hideous steering wheel – at least in pictures anyway – and the depressing gray interior – where are the awesome interior colors we used to have – I’d consider one of these. I think GM is finally going to be a serious player in the market again.
Looks like Cruze meets Charger!. Better than the awful Crue but has “Rent a Car” writen all over it.
In the past few weeks I’ve been on a marathon of business travel, and have had the chance to drive a number of late model rentals back-to-back, including this Impala. I’d remembered this post and had been curious to drive the 2014 Impala, so when I saw one in the Emerald Aisle at National at Logan Airport in Boston, I snapped it up (National, a division of Enterprise, is my choice for rentals since you get to “pick” your car).
There was much about the car to like, including its quiet smooth performance and enormous trunk (simply shockingly huge). But… Didn’t love the dashboard, and the materials inside, while light years better than the old Impala, can’t hold a candle to the new Ford Fusion. However, my biggest problems were these:
1) the car was just too big. In this day and age, a full size front wheel drive car just feels oddly out of place. It’s not quite “right sized” like the mid sized juggernauts, nor is it special like premium rear wheel drive sedans. To me, a Chrysler 300 or Dodge Charger does “special” better in a full size offering. I think Avalon does “generic” front wheel drive “quasi-big” in better, more manageable package. The Impala is left in no-man’s land: not special or distinct enough to draw attention, and not “right sized” enough to effectively serve as the new “standard” for larger, soft, comfortable cars.
2) why would GM need Buick with this car? I’ve driven rental Buick LaCrosse models, and, well, they drive just like the Impala. They kind of look like the Impala, inside and out. Badge engineering for the 21st century is no better than it was in the 1980s. And the Chevy is cheaper. And roomier. What was that Buick for again?
I really wish that I could have enjoyed this car more. I really want The General to succeed. But I’m really hoping there’s a Fusion for me to choose the next time I’m on the National lot.