Chevrolet boasts many legendary names in its lineup, but one of them has been neglected for some time. The Corvette, Camaro, and even the Suburban get regular updates, but the Impala is usually ignored. From the ’58 Ron Howard drove in American Graffiti to the SS 409 of Beach Boys fame, many Impalas have become classics. That’s not true of any of the recent versions, all soft land yachts made for retirees. Chevy tried to rectify things with the new 2014 Impala, which was just unveiled at the New York Auto Show.
The new model drove onstage amid a cloud of gasoline fumes from 1965 and ’66 Impalas (apparently Chevy needed to remind showgoers of its past glories). For this 10th generation model, Chevy hoped to make a statement with styling. “We wanted to create a sedan that had reach, that was expressive,” said John Cafaro, Director of Exterior Design at General Motors. His goal was to create an attractive design that won’t look out of date in a few years, what Cafaro calls a “contemporary classic.”
The 2014 Impala definitely looks better than its predecessor, but that isn’t saying much. Even Chevy admits that the 2007-2013 model was way past its prime. The new Impala trades the old one’s blubbery lines for something a little more straightedge. It has the slab-sided look of the 1960s Impalas.
Cafaro and his designers also focused on giving the Impala a wider lower stance, something that makes every car look better. The front fascia is more upright; there is a vague hint of Camaro in the headlights, grille, and taillights. According to Cafaro, this look is also functional. He said the Impala’s long wheelbase and six-window configuration make it more spacious. Indeed, the back seats will pass muster in any taxi fleet.
The same “contemporary classic” theme carries over to the interior. On the show car, the mostly tan interior contrast with a black dashboard and center console to create a nifty two-tone look. However, the added chrome accents may be a bit too much. The large touch screen for Chevy’s MyLink connectivity system wasn’t integrated well with the rest of the design, either.
Taking styling cues from ‘60s Impalas involved one major challenge. Those classic Impalas are rear-wheel drive, while the new one is front-wheel drive. However, Cafaro said the 2014 Impala’s design was not influenced by its drivetrain; he wanted it to look the way it does whether it was front-drive or not. He also said Chevy was able to achieve the premium feel it wanted from its largest sedan, despite the lack of rear-drive cache.
Underneath the new styling, the Impala has the same running gear as other recent Chevys. The top engine is a 3.6-liter V6, which makes 303 horsepower (as much as the 2007 Impala SS’ V8), a 2.5-liter Ecotec four, an a 2.4-liter four with eAssist mild hybridization. This is similar to the system in the 2012 Malibu, and Chevy says it will be be good for 35 mpg. Chevy worked hard to give the new Impala some style, we’ll have to wait for a test drive to see if it has any substance.