Monday was a lovely day for a drive through the country in the all-new 2014 Chevrolet Impala. It’s been a long miserable winter, and you wouldn’t recognize much of rural Ontario. Nor would you recognize the Impala.
This pretty boy ain’t no cop car or taxi. Indeed, GM’s reversing its focus on fleet sales, aiming for a larger consumer market, from 25% to 75%.
The Impala is a car with a lot of history and changes. Devotees, like my cousin Glen who is not surprisingly a taxi dispatcher, will probably welcome the new look. It’s sleeker and cooler. More interesting, people who never would have thought of purchasing one may do so now. It’s edging closer to Cadillac and Buick influences.
It comes in three main lines—LS (from $28,445), LT (from $31,445) and LTZ (from $36,445)—with a choice of two engines colouring whichever you choose. None of the 4-cylinder models, available on LS and optional with LT, were finished yet and ready for testing.
However the 3.6L naturally aspirated V6 in the LTZ offered some fun. It outperforms its direct competitors in terms of power: 305 hp and 264 lb-ft of torque trump the 2013 Taurus’s 290 and 255, and the Dodge Charger’s 292 and 260.
Its fuel efficiency numbers are 11.1 city, 6.9 highway, 9.2 combined. We tended to be in the low 8s on our drive, which was country roads. That is, not quite superhighway, but fairly constant and with little stopping. So it performed well for a big engine.
It’s comfortable—memories of awful taxi rides are a thing of the past—but the shocks offered some resistance for tighter handling.
I didn’t love the steering at higher speeds but it was easy to maneuver around parking lots and tight country lanes. Speaking of which, a pair of co-drivers from Quebec were leaving the first stop just when we arrived. Each car was halfway up a tight 30-meter dirt road. They decided that I could reverse while they enjoyed a BlackBerry break.
Fortunately a rear-vision camera comes standard with the LTZ.
GM’s best story is value. Expect to see that in the marketing. You do get some goodies built into the base price. In fact the 2014 base Impala LS is only $145 more expensive than the 2013. When you consider just that redesigned look, it’s a cheaper facelift than you’ll find at any spa. There’s more: satellite radio and Bluetooth. The touchscreen doesn’t like my cold vampire fingers but that’s not unique. And that price includes 8-way power seats up front in premium cloth. Very comfortable with lumbar support that knows how to treat gentleman during a long drive.
Furthermore, you’re riding on 18” wheels and protected by 10 airbags. We didn’t test the airbags but loved the wheels on the dirt roads.
BASE PRICE: 2014 Chevrolet Impala—Coming Soon
LS from $28,445
LT from $31,445
LTZ from $36,445
Though a co-owner and former editor of DailyXY, Steven Bochenek is actually an advertising writer who does some journalism on the side. In 2011 he was accepted into the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada. His other interests include playing music, long-distance running, skiing and writing in the third person.
Photo courtesy of the author.