You don't typically buy a large sedan to get wowed by gimmicks. You buy one for the comfort, room and ride, but the 2014 Chevrolet Impala in our long-term fleet has a gimmick we've actually found to be useful in our nearly six months of real-world testing.
A hidden compartment sits behind the 8-inch touch-screen in the middle of the dashboard. You hit a button to raise the center touch-screen, revealing a small, square-shaped hiding spot. Sure, its location is odd, but it's actually a useful bit of real estate that's good for the usual stuff such as smartphones, music players or a tollway pass ... and some more interesting goodies, too.
Here's what the editors have stashed in it so far:
"I use the Impala's secret storage cubby regularly regardless of whether I'm driving the car on short or long distances. I like the cabin to be clutter-free, so I stash my phone, wallet and keys inside the retractable screen. Having a USB input in the storage space is great because I can charge my phone or iPod while it's tucked away in the easy-to-reach location." — Joe Bruzek, road test editor
"I use this all the time mainly when going to the gym. I put my wallet, house keys and glasses in there and just take the key fob in with me. I'm impressed with just how much room there is back there and none of my stuff is smushed. It's rare to see a useful 'gimmick' is in the real world — unlike so many other features we see in new cars." — David Thomas, managing editor
But not everyone agrees on its usefulness:
"I'm not sold. My wife accidentally bumped the opener button when she was trying to look something up in the navigation system — which stopped everything, much to our frustration. It's nice for sunglasses and the like, but I'd rather have more open space along the console. I'm a glutton for open console bins — and granted, the Impala has a medium-sized, covered cubby ahead of the gearshift. But I'd take a bigger, open area down there any day over all the hidden containers." — Kelsey Mays, consumer affairs editor
And some of us are more romantic than others:
"For the guy who wants to propose — he can put a ring in it and when he's ready to pop the question just have the screen motor up." — Mike Hanley, senior editor
Cars.com photos by Evan Sears