2014 Chevrolet Impala

Chevrolet has completely redesigned its Impala full-size sedan, transforming the venerable nameplate from an outdated rental fleet queen into a thoroughly modern ride with an impressive amount of technology, safety and luxury. Between its limo-sized interior, clever infotainment system and tastefully understated styling, it should prove appealing to those in search of a cushy, feature-packed four-door.

The Impala also distinguishes itself by offering a pair of segment-exclusive four-cylinder powertrains - including an eAssist "mild-hybrid" system - for those seeking a lower MSRP and maximum MPGs. A smooth and strong V6 is also available.

Pop open a door, and the Impala's greatest asset immediately becomes apparent: a cavernous and well-equipped interior. Passenger room is abundant, especially in the palatial rear seat area, and there's also impressive material quality to go with the spatial quantity: available perforated leather upholstery, sueded microfiber, contrast stitching and soft-touch materials give the cabin a decidedly upscale feel.

All Impalas except the base model come standard with Chevrolet's MyLink infotainment system, which controls the sound system and navigation system (when equipped) and offers access to smartphone-based apps like Pandora radio and Stitcher radio. The system can connect to up to 10 Bluetooth devices and store as many as 1,000 contacts, and it is accessed through an eight-inch touchscreen that allows iPad-like swiping, flinging and clicking.

Redundant dashboard knobs and steering wheel controls give users alternate options for controlling MyLink, and there's also a voice recognition system for hands-free calls, destination entering, song selection and more. Its "natural language" capability can recognize a staggering number of phrases - effectively eliminating the need for the clunky and cumbersome memorized commands.

An effective voice command system would be wasted in a noisy cabin, but thankfully the Impala provides a library-quiet environment with triple-sealed doors, acoustic laminated front windows and even a noise-canceling system to quell drivetrain din on four-cylinder models.

Other interior highlights include a configurable 4.2-inch driver information screen mounted in the instrument panel, an available Bose surround sound system and a novel "vault" area behind the eight-inch MyLink that protects valuables with a four-digit code.

Powertrain Options and Handling Dynamics
The Impala is offered with a four-cylinder motor or an eAssist mild-hybrid system - both are late-introduction powertrains - in addition to a V6. All send power to the front wheels through a standard six-speed automatic transmission.

The entry-level four-cylinder is a direct-injected 2.5-liter unit that produces 195 horsepower and 187 lb-ft of torque and comes equipped with an active noise cancellation system to minimize interior noise. The eAssist setup pairs a 2.4-liter four with an electric motor for a total output of 182 horsepower. Although fuel economy ratings for the four-cylinder models are not yet available, Chevrolet expects the eAssist-equipped Impala to hit 35 mpg on the highway.

The range-topping engine is a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 305 horsepower and 264 lb-ft of torque - enough for a zero-to-60 mph sprint in the mid-six-second range. Mileage is rated at 19 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway.

Though its suspension lacks the effective HiPerfront strut suspension and adaptive damping system seen on more expensive full-size GM sedans, the Impala nonetheless manages to strike a commendable balance between ride comfort and well-controlled body motions.

Trim-Level Breakdown
The Impala is available in LS, 1LT, 2LT, 1LTZ and 2LTZ trim levels.

The LS comes fitted with the 2.5L four-cylinder motor in addition to power windows and locks, A/C, a six-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo system with AUX and USB input, SiriusXM radio and HD radio, Bluetooth connectivity, a 4.2-inch color infotainment display, remote keyless entry, cruise control, a power-adjustable driver's seat and 18-inch steel wheels with hubcaps.

The 1LT adds dual-zone automatic climate control, the MyLink infotainment system with eight-inch touchscreen, a power-adjustable front passenger's seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter knob, heated exterior mirrors and 18-inch painted alloy wheels. Stepping up to the 2LT will garner the V6.

Opting for the 1LTZ will swap out the V6 in favor of the 2.5L four-cylinder but add remote start, leather upholstery, a proximity key, heated front seats, a rear vision camera with rear park assist and a suite of safety technologies (detailed below) including forward collision, lane departure, rear cross-traffic and blind-zone warning systems.

Finally, the 2LTZ brings the V6 and a power sunroof.

Options include adaptive cruise control, a Bose surround sound system and 20-inch aluminum wheels.

Occupant Safety
All Impala models are fitted as standard with no less than 10 airbags - including dual front, front knee, front side, rear side and full-length side-curtain units. Traction and stability control systems and a tire-pressure monitoring system are also including.

Impala LTZ models come equipped with a forward collision warning system that alerts the driver if it detects an impending collision and can apply the brakes automatically to mitigate crash damage. They also feature a lane departure system that notifies the driver if the Impala begins to wander into an adjacent lane, a rear cross-traffic alert system that chimes when it detects cars, pedestrians or other obstacles in the car's path during backup maneuvers, and a blind spot warning system.

Key Competitors
As a full-size, front-wheel-drive sedan, the Impala counts the Ford Taurus, Hyundai Azera and Toyota Avalon as its primary rivals. The rear- or all-wheel-drive Dodge Charger is also worth a look as a more performance-oriented alternative.