The sedan received a 95/100 rating. In comparison, the new Jaguar XJ luxury sedan scored just 79/100.
That makes the Impala the first domestic car to top the rankings since the magazine started tracking scores this way 20 years ago, and puts it behind only the Tesla Model S (deemed a luxury hatchback) and BMW 1 Series coupe.
That's a remarkable win for the Impala, which went from greatness in the 1960s to the definition of a boring fleet car in recent iterations, purchased in bulk by rental companies and driven by vacationers and business travelers.
We tested a $39,510 version of the fully revamped 2014 Impala, and dubbed it an excellent option for those who just want to get around in comfort.
Consumer Reports liked it even more:
Consumer Reports' engineers found the Impala rides like a luxury sedan, with a cushy and controlled demeanor, while delivering surprisingly agile handling, capable acceleration, and excellent braking. The Impala corners quite well for a large car, with prompt turn-in response and controlled body lean.
Steering is nicely weighted; it's light enough for parking maneuvers and provides decent feedback. When pushed to its handling limits, the Impala proved secure, responsive, balanced, and easy to control.
The magazine does not yet have reliability for the car (it's too new), so cannot officially recommend it. The Impala has a base price of $37,750.
This month, the Impala received a five-star safety score from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and General Motors just released Q2 financial results that smashed earnings expectations.
"Our results in this quarter," GM executive VP and CFO Dan Ammann said, "were clearly pegged to winning vehicles like the Cadillac ATS, Chevrolet Impala and Opel Mokka."
There are people who believe that you can learn all about a car in a trip to the test track, but we are not among them. We believe in the road, and we don’t mean just the road to the grocery store, either. So when the 2014 Chevrolet Impala came into our hands, we started thinking about a road of some serious distance, a drive that others lack the imagination, enthusiasm, and dedication to make.
And as we looked out the window here on Highland Drive and thought about a road that matched the American character of the reborn Chevy Impala, we realized that we were practically looking right at it. The Great Lakes! Five, huge, interconnected bodies of water like no others in the world! We’ll drive around each one! 7000 miles! Eight states and Canada, too! Road maps, road food, and roadside attractions!
So this is the Great Lakes Circle Tour. Five editors (and their friends), five lakes and thirteen days. One great American sedan in the 2014 Chevrolet Impala. Some new roads, some new adventures, and some new insight into an important new car.
At Automobile Magazine, we go the distance. It turned out to be so much fun that we’re thinking about making T-shirts.
Great Lakes Circle Tour: Lake Erie
If there’s a body of water, the real estate around it is expensive. This cardinal principle of real estate value is an easy enough formula for a house overlooking an ocean, but what happens when your waterfront property is in a gritty, post-industrial locale, and your water is Lake Erie? It set us thinking as we left Ann Arbor in the 2014 Chevrolet Impala.
Just like the cities around Lake Erie, the Chevy Impala is a prime symbol of the ups and downs of American industry. Once a revered nameplate at General Motors, the Impala languished in the 1990s and 2000s, eventually becoming GM’s shining star only on rent-a-car lots. But no more, since the 2014 Chevy Impala rides the same Epsilon II platform as the Buick LaCrosse and Cadillac XTS. It also shares its torquey, direct-injection 3.6-liter V-6 with these cars. And Impala bodywork so featureless and anonymous in past generations has now grown so sleek and dramatic that it almost deserves description as “sultry.”
If there was a comeback kid in GM’s stable, it would be the new Chevy Impala. And to see if the cities of Lake Erie were equally rejuvenated, we programmed our destinations into the Impala’s MyLink infotainment system and started to drive.
Cleveland: Burn On, Big River, Burn On
We knew that a post-industrial city like Cleveland would have some grit to it, but we weren’t prepared to see it as soon as we hit the city limits. We pull off I-90 almost immediately, taking a quick series of rights until we hit 3rd Street. All of a sudden we’re puttering through a deserted neighborhood of quarries and industrial buildings, and then we park in the middle of a New Deal-era drawbridge over some water leading to the Cuyahoga River. There’s not a boat or barge in sight.
It’s a deserted neighborhood, but one fortunately in proximity to Cleveland’s ongoing revitalization. Just up Literary Avenue is Bergen Village, a neighborhood filled with mid-century triple-deckers yet now also home to shiny new condos. In a sign of the early stage of Cleveland’s renaissance, the condos start “in the low $200s,” an amount of money that would net you a walk-in closet back in Ann Arbor.
Cleveland’s return from industrial ruin has come in fits and starts. Yes, it’s the site of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the neighborhood known as the Flats is clawing back from port town to nightlife attraction, but the process is still slow. We can’t help but notice the sidewalks are empty.
Impala: Mid-century or Modern?
At about $37,000 as tested, our top-spec 2014 Chevrolet Impala 2LTZ (with the 305-hp V-6, LED running lights, big 19-inch wheels, and MyLink connectivity) sits squarely in the crosshairs of another traditional-style front-wheel-drive sedan with a V-6, the Hyundai Azera. While the Azera is down some 12 horsepower to the Impala (293 hp to 305 hp), its powertrain feels smoother.
Erie: Water Is Power
We’re less than a mile from Erie’s sparkling convention center (a prime piece of waterfront property), when we pull over for photos of the Chevy Impala next to a quaint historical building. Only when we climb back in the car do we realize that the building is an old pumping station. It seems a bit prosaic to say it, but this is a reminder that the Great Lakes – and the water in them – have meant a lot more to America than just a place to get a tan on weekends.