With each loan from GM’s press fleet we receive both a one-sheet and a copy of the vehicle’s window sticker; both – of course – are informative. With our 2014 Impala we’re told this newest Chevrolet was built in either Hamtramck, Michigan (Ham-tram-ik – as a test for an ability to enunciate – is priceless) or Oshawa, Ontario, and is a full-size sedan. Also, via GM PR’s ‘fast fact’ department, the Impala ‘first hit the road’ in 1957 as a 1958 model.
If you were around in the late ‘50s (or know someone that was) you’ll remember that in most middle-class households the one-stall garage was occupied by either a Chevy or its Dearborn-based rival, Ford. Sure, Dodge or Plymouth had a share of the market, but it was small relative to Ford or Chevy. Some fifty-five years later the dynamics of the marketplace have changed significantly. Not only do Chevy and Ford not dominate in the marketplace, the demand for full-size sedans would appear to be going the way of the telephone booth. People like their cars midsize, and if going large typically do it via a 3-row crossover. Regardless of current conditions and/or prevailing forecasts, GM has – with this newest Chevy – made a credible attempt at revitalizing what has historically been a viable segment. And there was nothing in our $40K Impala to dissuade us from thinking the buying public won’t agree.
From the 2014 Chevrolet Impala’s expressive sheetmetal to its responsive V6 powertrain and competent, capable underpinnings, the Impala shines in a way it probably hasn’t since the demise of the Impala SS in 1996. The next-gen Impala, introduced in 2000, seemed predestined for rental fleets, with lackluster metal moved – after a fashion – by an indifferent powertrain. Given the overall goodness of this new 2014 ChevroletImpala, why does Chevy’s fleet team lead its list of supposedly notable features with ‘Chevrolet’s most advanced MyLink infotainment system’? Really?
Regrettably, it gets no better as you scan the itemized listings. Number Two on the Impala’s Top Eight is the Impala’s motorized 8-inch color touch screen with storage and USB behind it (see photo, right), while #3 is the reconfigurable 4.2-inch color instrument cluster display. Were it us (it never will be…), we’d lead with the Impala’s amazing amount of passenger space and cargo room, aggressively reference the Impala’s expressive design and, lest we forget, get on third with a comprehensive overview of the Impala’s way-capable engine and drivetrain. But that’s just us, and Chevy is simply taking a page from its crosstown rival, Ford, in talking up the technology while relegating the vehicle itself to ‘back-of-the-bus’.
Of course, when Ford started beating the drum on its technology it was in the middle of its own economic downturn and product funk. Mortgaged all the way to its corporate logo, Ford Motor Company had little to brag about on the showroom. And while MyFord Touch will never beat – in our view – a competent platform or capable drivetrain, in the mid-00’s very little of same could be found in Ford’s corporate catalog. The intro of in-car telematics almost won the communication contest by default, as Ford had not much else to talk about.
It’s different today, with virtually Ford’s entire lineup overhauled. Only the Taurus and Mustang are recognizable – after a fashion – with their 500 and ‘05 predecessors; virtually everything else has moved on to the better/bigger world of One Ford. Of course, MyFord continues to resonate, but largely due to customer dissatisfaction with its reliability and/or interface.
When Chevrolet introduces an all-new Impala resonating on so many design (expressive) and mechanical (it’s responsive, composed, competent and efficient) levels, why do the marketing types insist on emphasizing those things comparatively irrelevant to what will surely be a relatively mature audience? This isn’t, after all, Chevy’s entry-level Cruze, but a viable competitor (at least in fully-equipped guise) for consumers considering both Buick and Cadillac. And given this relatively mature consumer segment has both money and borrowing power (as this is posted, an article in USA Today confirms the purchasing power of Boomers…), we think Chevy would be well served by considering them to a greater degree, and tech geeks – at least in this segment – to a lesser degree. And doing it sooner rather than later.