Taxi drivers everywhere are turning their heads and drooling over my vehicle this week. This is GM’s much improved full-size offering: the 2015 Chevrolet Impala, loaded up in LTZ trim with all the goodies, of course, and powered by a 3.6L direct injection V6.
Completely redesigned for the 2014 model year, the 2015 Impala builds on the success of the Impala by introducing a pair of new features: fuel-saving stop/start technology on the 2.5L engine and new OnStar with 4G LTE connectivity and standard built-in Wi-Fi hotspot.
The 2015 Impala also delivers a host of additional advanced technologies at a competitive price, including 10 standard airbags, as well as available safety technologies such as full-speed-range adaptive cruise control, crash imminent braking, forward collision alert, lane departure warning, side blind zone alert, rear cross-traffic alert, rear camera and rear park assist.
The Impala’s design is based on the new aesthetic introduced last year for Chevrolet’s flagship sedan — one that honours the cues that helped distinguish the classic nameplate for decades. The result is a handsomely large vehicle that boasts a unique flowing interior design with a dual cockpit feel.
I’m not a super-fan of large sedans as they are a little cumbersome around town, but offer excellent highway manners so I do look forward to them if I have a long road trip on my schedule. Large sedans have also fallen out of favour with consumers as they flock to the CUV segment. But if you do not like or need extra ground clearance or high seating, a large sedan offers tons of room and a comfortable ride — maybe I’ll grow fonder over the week.
Pricing: 2015 Chevrolet Impala LTZ
Base price (2LZ): $39,845
Options: 20-inch wheels — $420; Premium Audio — $795; Navigation — $795, Comfort Package — $1,365; Adaptive Cruise Control — $1,315;
A/C Tax: $100
Price As Tested: $46,285
Ford Taurus SEL
The interior of the 2015 Impala is something to behold in person. In photos it may look a little odd with the sweeping dash and dual cockpit design. But in three dimensions it is visually interesting and very well executed as the door panels flow seamlessly over to the dash and around on a multitude of angles.
The Impala is also very large, a little difficult to portray in photos. The rear leg room is limo-like, while the trunk is so vast I’m sure a family of four could easily toss their suitcases in without much planning. The interior size dose have some negative effects on ergonomics though.
Reaching the touchscreen for various navigation and entertainment needs is a stretch, at least for me as the screen is far away and tilted upwards. Behind the screen is an extra storage space as well with a USB plug for your media device, do not attempt to reach this while driving it is just way too far. But perhaps that is a good thing: putyour cellphone in the cubby and do not touch it while driving.
The infotainment system can sync to your smartphone and it can provide both phone and text messaging support.
Quality and attention to detail are high on the positive list inside the Impala. The leather trim and dark wood accents look great and the hinged storage compartments all feature soft open and close action. GM is certainly aiming high with this offering and as a result the pricing matches it. Which seems unfortunate as those looking to spend close to $50k are usually looking at a badge.
What do I expect from a full-size sedan? Well, I expect a quiet ride, a compliant ride due to the long wheelbase, sufficient power, a quiet engine under cruising and a relaxed pedal feel on the brakes – without compromising actual braking performance of course.
And what does the 2015 Impala provide? Pretty much exactly all of the above – although I will have to say I am quite surprised that my tester seems to be emitting more tire noise than I would expect, especially from a late model GM vehicle which have been most excellent in this regard. Now I’m not saying it sounds like you are driving in a on off road tires, but I have noticed the noise – but that could be because there is zero wind noise to drown it out.
The suspension is compliant but not overly soft, the long wheelbase does it’s job on the highway keeping the car true while pampering the driver and the passengers. The 3.6L engine is also quiet once up to speed but the Impala is large and heavy so it is not seamless power as the transmission needs to knock down a gear often when accelerating.
The seating in the Impala match the target audience by offering very little support (a flat seat for the most part) but they are in my opinion anyways far too hard. Because of their flat and hard design, it feels like you are sitting on the seat and not in the seat. It’s an odd feeling that translates to a less than ideal driving position which could be tiring on longer drives.
Three things surprised me about the Impala this week. The first is the trunk space — you see, I know the Impala is a full-size sedan and I expected a large trunk. But when you can easily stuff a full-size snow shovel into the trunk without even trying, well that impresses you.
The second is the fact that my other half came home Friday afternoon after driving the Impala to work. She came home and said, and I quote. “I really like that car.” That is high praise indeed, especially when not solicited by me. She did note that pressing the buttons on the steering wheel with her mitts was very difficult, as was operating the heated seats without having to look down directly, good feedback.
The third was the fuel economy. Although not stellar, winter fuel, winter tires and cold temperatures in a very large sedan netted an average of 10.1 L/100 km this week. That is not too shabby in my books. I looked back at a Toyota Avalon review I did back in 2013 and that car netted 8.0 L/100 km but it was full-out summer at the time.
The Impala is a low-volume seller, not because this new version is a bad car, but because the market just isn’t into large sedans at the moment. But if you are interested in a large sedan you need to give this one a shot.