Review and photos by Paul Williams
Haliburton, Ontario – According to Chevrolet, the arrival of the new 2014 Chevrolet Impala is a milestone for the brand. Longevity it certainly has, as this is the 10th generation Impala since its introduction way back in 1958.
2014 Chevrolet Impala. Click image to enlarge
A skeptical (about the “milestone…”) but open-minded group of journalists greeted its debut in Canada on a cold, blustery, wet day in Toronto, whence they headed north to the picturesque Haliburton “cottage country” region in brand new Impalas. General Motors didn’t have to bring the vehicles from afar, as – along with a plant in Michigan – Impalas are built just down the road in Oshawa.
So what makes the 2014 Impala so special?
First of all, Chevrolet is promising that this Impala will be marketed to consumers, and not to fleet sales. “You can have confidence purchasing this product,” says Eric Marshall, Chevrolet’s Marketing Manager, “There will be no Impala police pack; there will be no Impala taxis.”
This is a major shift from past years, when 70 percent of Impala sales went to commercial customers (car rental companies, taxi fleets, for example), with private consumers making up the balance. Now it’s the private customer who’s expected to represent 70 percent of sales. “A major shift,” says Mr. Marshall, which will protect the value of these cars into the future.
Styling is another notable feature of the 2014 Chevrolet Impala. Indeed, the production version looks very close to the company’s sleek initial design drawings for the car. Chevrolet describes it as “expressive,” and it’s true that the new Impala is more dynamic in appearance than the outgoing model.
Specifically, what you may notice are distinctive design elements like the sculpted coves in the body sides, steeply raked windshield, short rear deck, wide grille, wraparound front lights and Audi-like rear lights. The large wheels start at a standard 18-inch diameter (up from 16 inches), with 19- and 20-inch wheels available.
Not everything is different, though. Impala remains a full-size, front-drive sedan with generous room for five passengers (sharing its platform with the Buick Regal, Buick LaCrosse and Cadillac XTS). Although it grows in length by approximately 50 mm to 5,113 mm, it supplies 145 mm extra combined legroom for front and rear occupants. This is a large, roomy cabin.
Like the exterior, the interior receives a thorough redesign, with the focus on improved fit and finish, and greater attention to detail.
Under the hood, two four-cylinder (I4) and one V6 engine are offered, each direct injected and matched to a six-speed automatic transmission. The new 2.5L I4 makes 195 hp and is expected to return 9.9/6.3/8.3 L/100km, city/highway/combined; the eAssist “mild hybrid” 2.4L I4 (available later this year) makes 182 hp with 5.6 L/100 km highway estimated based on lab testing; while the 3.6L V6 produces 305 hp at 11.1/6.9/9.2 L/100 km, city/highway/combined. All use regular grade gasoline.