The flagship, in nautical terms, is the vessel that carries the commander of a naval fleet. It is considered to be the most important ship in the fleet, if not the finest ship. As we use words in the English language to mean other things or help explain other things, a flagship for any automaker is considered to be the most important car in the lineup. It sets the tone for the rest of the cars and is usually the biggest, most luxury-laden, and sometimes the most powerful vehicle. Generally speaking, it’s usually the signature of the design language, and is a preview of things to come. In Chevy’s case, that car is the all-new 2014 Impala.
The flagship, in nautical terms, is the vessel that carries the commander of a naval fleet. In Chevy’s case, that car is the all-new 2014 Impala.
Since 1958, the Impala has been Chevrolet’s iconic flagship. It has mostly been on a rear-wheel drive platform, which unfortunately discontinued in 1996. It was resurrected in 2000, but this time it was built on a front-wheel drive platform. John got into the particulars in his Quick Drive, so there is no need to rehash everything out. What you do need to know about the all-new Impala is that it is worth the hype.
I was never a huge fan of the FWD Impalas since the 2000 resurrection, but I must say, the new 2014 Impala is a phenomenal looking sedan. At 201.3 inches long, it is all business. Our tester, which was fitted with the optional 20” aluminum wheels (and combined with the big body), really gives it a considerable presence on the road. The chrome accents are kept to a minimum to give an overall classy appeal, and the clean beltline crease and the aggressive hips give the car an almost RWD-like stance. Overall, the design gives the car a sleek profile, and it looks as if the cabin has been stretched out.
Our Silver Ice Metallic paint did well to show off the body lines, but combined with the aluminum wheels and chrome bright work, made the car too old-looking. I’ve seen the Impala in a dark blue and fell in love with its elegant look. Silver…not so much. If the front end of the Impala is a sign of things to come for the rest of the Chevrolet lineup, consider me impressed. The rounded look is gone and is replaced by a more aggressive, chiseled face. Our LTZ model came fitted with HID headlamps and LED day time running lamps to give a more modern and upscale appeal. The rear of the car is more Audi-esque in my opinion than anything else. The tail lights wouldn’t look out of place on any Audi model given their sleek shape. The rear looks a bit more simple than the front and sides, and has a softer look to it; however, it is accented by dual exhaust finishers near the bottom. Overall, it is very clean and simplistic, even though it has an aggressive nature about it.
The simplistic look permeates through to the interior as well.
The simplistic look permeates through to the interior as well. The layout of the controls is straightforward and easy to decipher. The test car came with the optional LTZ Comfort & Convenience Package, which includes a driver’s seat memory setting for the seat, mirrors, and steering column, premium carpeted floor mats, carpeted trunk mat, an auto dimming rear view mirror, heated mirrors with an auto dimming feature on the driver’s side, ventilated front seats, universal home remote, and a heated steering wheel. The front seats are heated, which is a standard feature on the LTZ model. The other options was the Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system with navigation, as well as the LTZ Premium Audio Package, which gives you a 11-speaker Bose System.
The interior is appointed with rich leather and soft touch materials in all but two places. The HVAC control surrounds is hard plastic, as well as the center flow console that houses the shifter. It feels like cheap plastic that may be easy to scratch and feels hollow, but they are two places that don’t matter much in a car.
The coolest feature of the car that really got me scratching my head are the chrome interior trim pieces that have ice blue ambient lighting within them. At night time, the ice blue shines through the chrome but during the day, you can never tell that there is lighting hidden inside. Very cool and cleanly done though, kudos. The seats are wide and covered in the same rich leather that covers the rest of the dash, and are very comfortable and supportive for long trips. The side bolstering isn’t very effective in keeping you in the center of the seat, but the mission of this car isn’t to go on your favorite stretch of backroads, it’s to keep you comfortable on your journey.
The rear seating room is abundant. I can fit comfortably in the rear behind the driver’s seat, once I set it to a comfortable position. The flat bench is comfortable, and can actually seat three across the back rather comfortably, if they don’t mind having their elbows or knees touching each other. The trunk is the largest I’ve seen thus far in this class, and the rear bench is a 60/40 split which will fold forward to give you more space.
The rear seating room is abundant. I can fit comfortably in the rear behind the driver’s seat.
The controls are very intuitive and the HVAC are easy to adjust and reach and can be committed to muscle memory. The steering wheel controls are rather odd though. The buttons themselves remind me of, and feel like the remote controls that are on the seats of airplanes…except these work. The left side of the steering wheel controls your adaptive cruise control, while the right side buttons will control the gauge cluster information screen and all of its sub menus. Hidden behind the wheel are four buttons, two on either side of the wheel that control the radio presets and volume (similar to what Chrysler has in many of their vehicles). I usually expect to see the audio control buttons to be plainly visible on the face of the steering wheel and not behind it, hidden from view. The left side controls the volume, while the right will help you navigate your presets. The gauge cluster is very clear and easy to read, and the ice blue illumination throughout the interior (much like many GM models) is very easy on the eyes, with big and easy-to-read digits.
I do have a bone to pick with Chevy’s MyLink system. I completely understand that it is a first-generation infotainment system, much like CUE for Cadillac, so it is going to have its bugs; but the system needs considerable more time to get the quirks out. It is so unbelievably slow, and you sometimes have to touch an icon twice for it to understand your command. Other times, when you do press it twice, it will recognize the first command and go to the menu you want, but it will decide to recognize your second touch and choose the selection that was in the same area of your original icon selection. This puts you in a menu or category that you didn’t want and began to frustrate the hell out of me.
I’m all for infotainment systems in cars (whether you like it or not, they’re here to stay), but please make sure they work properly. Use the voice icon to give the system commands, and it is once again slow to respond to your inputs and has trouble understanding what you told it to do. All of this is rather unfortunate, because it has a very clean looking interface. In addition, it offers Pandora, SiriusXM radio and HD radio, which can be played through the very clean-sounding 11-speaker Bose Audio system. If you use too much bass, the system has a slight distortion when turned up high. Keep your bass fixation to normal people levels, and you’ll be satisfied with the sound waves that stimulate your ear canals.
The 8” touch screen has great resolution and the graphics are crisp and clear. The screen is motorized and can be moved up at a touch of a button on the center stack to reveal a secret hiding compartment with a USB input for your iPod (because we all know no one uses Zune).
Despite its size, the car feels smaller when driving.
Another issue I have with this particular tester is the choice of color for the interior. It is a silver car with a Jet Black/Dark Titanium leather interior, which is all fancy talk for saying that the interior is gray. In my opinion this is probably the worst color combination for any car on the market. A silver/gray car with the same color interior is about as dull as it gets. Also, the Impala has three different color stitching. Blue stitching on the seats, white on the dash, and black/dark gray on the steering wheel. The blue looks very nice and matches the interior lighting, so it would make sense to have that, but the others I’m not too sure of.
The car is loaded with countless safety features, such as 10 standard air bags, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and brake force distribution, available collision mitigation braking, forward collision alert, lane departure warning and blind spot alert. Our test car also came with a rear view camera and cross traffic alert, as well as the available rear park assist. What does this mean to you, the potential buyer? It is easy to drive, and keeps you and your occupants safe and sound.
Despite its size, the car feels smaller when driving. Due to the large windows, blind spots aren’t much of an issue, and visibility all around is fantastic. It hides its size and weight rather well; however parking lot maneuvers can be a little difficult, due to the long hood (relatively speaking for cars these days). Thankfully, the parking sensors are there to alert you, the closer you get to an object. The steering wheel is very light and requires very little effort to turn.
The suspension is soft and isolates you from just about anything the road may throw at you. Large potholes that may unsettle you and your passengers in any lesser vehicle will hardly phase the Impala. The soft suspension doesn’t help when it comes to driving the car at a brisk pace on twisty roads though. Add in the body roll (even though it is well controlled for a car of this class), and you will experience the car pushing at every corner. The brakes aren’t meant for that kind of abuse but the brake pedal is linear in its application of force, as well as easy to modulate. What this car doesn’t have in corner carving ability, it makes up for it by having comfortable cruising in spades. Add in the quietness of the interior, and you have yourself a very quiet and supple riding vehicle. It floats along long stretches of highways and country roads effortlessly with nary a quiver sent into the cabin. Having the largest wheel option possible on this car didn’t feel as if it would effect the ride negatively, however you do get a bit of slight road noise. If you find that to be too intrusive for you, you can save yourself the extra $400 and just settle for the 19” wheels instead.
It won’t win you any drag races, but it will accelerate up to highway speeds effortlessly with almost immediate throttle response.
It is so uneventful and lacks any sort of excitement, that I dare say that the car is almost boring. Our photographer and close friend, Garry, even stated “It’s not anything I would buy, but I know a lot of people I’d recommend it to. It is comfortable and very smooth.” Indeed it is. This car is a people mover, and gets its occupants from Point A to Point B with the least amount of drama as possible, while doing it incredibly well and looking stylish. It doesn’t have many features that any person in their mid-20’s would strive for, however I certainly see the appeal for those who have families, and are looking for a comfortable sedan for them and their loved ones.
The Impala we tested was fitted with the tried and true 3.6-liter direct injected V-6 that can be found shoved between the front fenders of other GM’s products. Propelling the car via the front tires while churning out 306 horsepower at 6800 rpm, as well as 264 lb.-ft. of torque at 5300 rpm. All of this is mated to a 6-speed automatic, and the power is adequate which fits the car’s personality quite well. It never feels as if it is working too hard to keep the car moving, and has ample get up and go when being thrashed.
It won’t win you any drag races, but it will accelerate up to highway speeds effortlessly with almost immediate throttle response.
The shifts are practically imperceptible, whether it’s up-shifting or down-shifting. You can select your own gears, using the buttons on top of the shift knob but why would you want to? It is always in the right gear for the type of driving it is meant for. If you buy this car and complain about its lack of a sporting personality, you have bought the wrong car.
The shifts are practically imperceptible, whether it’s up-shifting or down-shifting.
The EPA rates the V-6 Impala at 19 mpg city and 29 mpg city highway, for a combined estimate of 21 mpg city. Driving around in town yielded roughly below the city estimates, and on mostly highway driving, I was able to achieve 26 mpg city and above with ease. With some hypermiling techniques, higher fuel economy numbers can be attained, however if you live in CT and travel on I-84 or I-91, going the speed limit will turn you into road kill. I would venture a guess and say that the lower city readings I have been getting of roughly 17-18 mpg is due to the excessive hills in my area, as well as the need for the 3.6-liter to get the heavy body going. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get into any flatter terrain to test this theory. Chevrolet offers a 4-cylinder option on the lower trim for those needed extra gas mileage however, I would question the engine’s ability to tow this car around. The V-6 feels like a perfect match.
With a total vehicle price of $39,510, it is a lot of car. With the LTZ Comfort & Convenience Package ($1,035), Chevrolet MyLink with Navigation ($795), LTZ Premium Audio Package ($700) and the 20” aluminum wheels ($400), it has every creature comfort that you could possibly want in a people mover. Despite its short comings with the MyLink system, it is an all around fantastic package that continues its flagship bloodline and continues to carry the iconic Impala nameplate with class and style.
With a total vehicle price of $39,510, it is a lot of car.
THE CAR FANATICS BLOG TAKE
It knows what it’s job is and it does it well. Comfortable, spacious, easy to drive. What more do you need?