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CNET On Cars: 2014 Chevrolet Impala
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CNET On Cars: 2014 Chevrolet Impala

8:02 /

The 2014 Chevrolet Impala is not your low-riding, grandfather-driving, rental-car-roaming vehicle anymore. In fact it's now a nicely appointed vehicle with a pretty good motor attached to it.

-Ah yes, the Chevy Impala, the favorite vehicle of low riders, grandfathers, and rental fleet employees, dramatically changed-- yes, that is an Impala. Let's drive a 2014 2LT and check the tech. Now, this is a part of our video where I normally tell you how to spot the car in question. That's easy on this one. Just open your eyes. This car looks nothing like that previous Impala, that doe ball queen of the rental lot. This car has angles and creases, kind of rear haunt, sloping forward design, a little bit of a Camaro, a little bit Malibu, and hotness all over it and then a nice job with this vehicle. Now inside the Impala we have what is known in the common American vernacular as fancy. Unfortunately, GM traditionally can't help themselves in confusing luxurious with gaudy. So, I see a lot of overly-polished plasti-wood and excessively wide chrome strips all over this thing, but that's just how they do it. And on the start of the show, as you probably noticed, is this 8-inch Chevy MyLink head unit. This is your audio, your media, weather, Pandora-- your OnStar is now graphically controlled, not just in those mere buttons that still exist up here, and the trick everyone loves is push the button-- you've seen this on TV probably-- well push it and hold it, and the screen goes up and there you have a little secret bin for your mobile device and you can also charge on that USB port which is also a connection for media. Now, when I go to the navigation system, you find the first indication of what continues to pop up throughout this rig which is very slow response. This unit seems to be overwhelmed by the processing chores it has to do. That tells me not enough CPU or not optimized code. Just trying to zoom out is a push again and again experience. If you wanna enter a destination, you can press that button there, oh, no thanks. I prefer to use the voice command which is actually pretty advanced on this car. You're able to tell it an address as the number, the street, and the city in one go, that's nice, and you get good prompts on the center screen and you sometimes get the similar prompts on the main screen. So, there's a lot of visual support, so you know what it wants you to say and can get the task done and get back to driving. Street address-- -Say the address in California or say change state or-- -235 2nd Street, San Francisco. -235 2nd-- -Yes. -Complete your selection from the radio display. -Now, here's where it gets long and sluggish, for some reasons it's transferring from that screen to this screen and taking forever and I was told to wait and look over here and now continue my confirmation of the navigation, that's where things start to breakdown, so I hit my address to go there, for some reason it took me to the Pacific ocean, I don't know what's going on. The audio sources are pretty straight-forward, nothing goofy, everything solid, so you've got lots of USB ports. You saw the one up in here, right? I've got two more down here in the console. You can three USB devices at once. Other media choices include my streaming Bluetooth phone of course, there's AM/FM Satellite, an HD radio on this guy and Pandora works quite seamlessly once your phone's paired-- boom, it just works. Nice meta tags, good Avamar, very clear controls. They've done a good job on that. Now, let's talk about driver control technology, first of all you see our shifter here, one choice only six-speed automatic, there is a manual position but not a sport mode. But when you get in there, you don't have paddles to shift on this car ever, it uses little dainty rocker switch on top of the knob-- I never like that. Now, we have all the driver assistance tech in this car which includes rearview camera, which is optional by the way. It should be standard on a car of this level in this price. We have a lane departure warning, but it won't correct anything, we'll check that on the road. We have blind spot indications, again, there's no correction just that little light goes off. And we also have forward collision warning which will tell you when you're closing on someone too fast, but again it won't do anything about it, and we also have rear sonar for parking along with that optional camera and that combines also for cross-traffic alert to avoid getting T-boned when you're backing out. Now under the hood, the Impala's unusual. The only car in its class where you can get a four-cylinder, 2-1/2-Liter direct injection modern motor, but you won't find that on Taurus or Azera or its other competitors. We don't have it though. We have the big boy right now, the V6 that's 3.6 Liters, direct injection variable valve timing, output is 305 horsepower, 264-foot pounds of torque. This car weighs 3,800 pounds or so-- gets up to 60 in 6.8 seconds there about, so not bad-- certainly no slow. Now the MPG is 1828, but an average of just 21, kinda thirsty, which brings up an interesting point. There will be later in production, the availability of a 2.4 Liter Eco Assist mile hybrid. We've driven that engine before, not anything quite this big, but it could be an intriguing motor, it's actually kind of a nice one and it could take care of the thirstiness here. We'll see about that. Let's go for a ride. A lot to be said, the Impala's V6 engines got gobs of good stuff if you put it manual and shift through the gears, but if you leave it to the automatic, everything is muted. The shifts are relatively buttery, they're not urgent, and therefore the engine doesn't feel urgent although I think it is, the powertrain isn't because of the transmission. Now the ride quality is excessively smooth and the stirring is kind of numb and over-assisted. All of this is as if you can tell adding up to a lot of the DNA from the old Impala, kind of bleeding through. General Motors still thinks this car is apparently selling to the same audience it used to sell to, which I find a little surprising for all the work they have done on it. Now out on the open road, the lane departure warning system is calibrated a little-- a little lazily for my taste, is the best way to put it. It doesn't seem to sound the warning until you're already on or well over the line, most of the time on the freeway. That to me kind of defeats the purpose. The forward collision warning does have the three settable levels and it is actually pretty meaningful tech. It seems to do a pretty good job, although, I'm happy to report, I rarely found it doing its job while I was driving, which is good. And all, this car feels like a much more quality piece than the previous Impala, which is actually a high price. I find the outgoing Impala to be, well, highly and inspiring and actually very serviceable, very well-built car if not much in terms of concept. Okay, let's price our 2014 Impala. This guy is a 2LT, it's basically the mid-trim level, nice, but not everything is in there, so we start adding on-- 1,095 to get that MyLink head unit with navigation, that's a must to go CNET style. Now as I mentioned, you gotta also package up, if want a rear camera, that makes me grit my teeth but you gotta do it. That's called the convenience: rear cam, rear sonar, automatic mirror, home link-- it's a little under 1,000 bucks. And the steel of the day is our driver assistance package for only 890 bucks, you get the forward collision warning, the cross traffic alert, the lane departure warning, and the blind spot warning, that's kind of a deal. So all in we're somewhere shy of $36,000 nicely equipped but not top of the line. How does the Impala fare overall? This is not a driver's car, but it's a nice driving car. You know what I mean? It's not going to appeal to a dramatically different market than the one that left it, but it's now a seriously good competitor against the Taurus, the 300, the Azera, and the Toyota Avalon. All of which by the way, had been refreshed lately, it's a very competitive space, but this guy can hold its own.

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