Chevrolet has redesigned its Impala sedan for the 2014 model year. If you were hoping to see this full-size car swap its front-drive layout for a performance-oriented rear-drive setup, you're going to be disappointed because the car you see here, which hits dealerships in early 2013, still has front-wheel drive. However, it does promise better fuel efficiency than its predecessor with the availability of GM's eAssist mild-hybrid system. Pricing information hasn't been released.
The new Impala is roughly the same size as the Buick LaCrosse, and it shares a 111.7-inch wheelbase with that sedan. Design cues include a power-dome hood, sculpted body sides and pronounced rear fenders that pay tribute to Impalas from the late '60s. The wide grille brings a new look to Chevrolet sedans, one that has some Camaro influences in it as well as a resemblance to the just-revealed Traverse crossover. Standard exterior features include 18-inch wheels and projector-beam headlights. High-intensity-discharge headlights, LED daytime running lights, and 19- and 20-inch wheels are optional.
Inside, the five-seat Impala adopts a version of Chevrolet's now-familiar dual-cockpit dashboard, which is used in the Malibu and Cruze. In the years since the Impala was last redesigned Chevrolet has made significant interior-quality strides; the brand says the Impala's cabin benefits from greater attention to detail and upscale features like available ambient lighting. The backseat head restraints fold for improved rear visibility, but trunk capacity, while very large at 18.8 cubic feet, falls behind the Taurus' 20.1-cubic-foot figure.
A revised gauge cluster includes a standard reconfigurable 4.2-inch color screen while the available Chevrolet MyLink system includes an 8-inch touch-screen in the middle of the dash that covers a storage bin. MyLink features include Bluetooth streaming audio and available navigation.
The Impala offers a choice of three engines, all of which drive the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. A 182-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder pairs with the eAssist mild-hybrid system to deliver a projected 35 mpg on the highway, according to Chevrolet. There's also a larger 2.5-liter four-cylinder that makes 195 hp and a 3.6-liter V-6 that produces 303 hp.
Four-cylinder Impalas feature active noise cancellation technology, and all of the engines use direct injection and run on regular gas. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder and V-6 are rated to tow up to 1,000 pounds when properly equipped.
The Impala has 10 standard airbags and GM's OnStar emergency communications system. There are also a number of available safety features including adaptive cruise control, a collision mitigation braking system, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic warning, a backup camera and rear parking assist.
The Impala has a storied history, but there hasn't been anything particularly exciting about the current model — other than perhaps the short-lived SS trim and its transverse V-8 engine. Ramped-up fuel economy rules and high gas prices effectively preclude a second act for that model, but as the Impala's sales have demonstrated, the car doesn't have to be thrilling to be successful, and the updates for 2014 position it well against its prime competitors.