Regular readers are probably just as tired of us talking about Chicago's polar vortex winter as we are tired of persistent cold temperatures. If there's one car feature we can point to that made one of the area's coldest and snowiest winters on record more bearable, it's the remote engine starting system on our 2014 Chevrolet Impala long-term tester.
The Impala's remote start is a factory-installed feature included in the $1,095 navigation and stereo package or $940 Convenience Package. Time and time again, the Impala's remote start would fire up the engine at surprisingly long distances or from well inside a house, which beat having to crack the front door and hold the key fob outside like other systems we've tested.
Chevrolet lists the Impala's range at a little less than 200 feet, which may not seem that great a distance considering aftermarket remote starting systems tout ranges of 1,500 feet or more. Other factory-installed remote starting ranges are similar to the Impala's, like our long-term 2014 Jeep Cherokee's range of 300 feet, though some dealer-installed remote starts have longer ranges.
Chad Lyons, Chevrolet's large car communications representative, said many things can improve or decrease the remote start's radio signal, like the presence of other electrical noise at the same frequency.
"Physical conditions such as location to metal and weather can also play a small role. The metal can either help bounce the signal or block the signal depending on its distance and properties," Lyons wrote in an email.
Our Impala's remote start rarely let us down. We've started the car with the key fob from inside our 18th-floor downtown Chicago office while the Impala sits on the 11th or 14th floor at the parking garage across the street. About 5 to 10 minutes later when we reach the running car, the heated seats are toasty and heat is blasting. The Impala turns on the previous climate settings when the remote start is activated as well as the heated seats when it's cold outside and cooled ones (if equipped) when it's warm outside.
Owners of 2014 Impalas who experience a shortened range because of a fussy environment have a backup option called OnStar RemoteLink that provides a limitless remote start range. RemoteLink is a smartphone app for compatible Android, Blackberry and Apple iOS devices that links with your car and provides remote start and unlock/lock features. Chevrolet said its RemoteLink app triggered 1,603,107 remote starts in January in compatible cars. Check your GM vehicle and phone compatibility here.
Cars.com photos by Evan Sears