With a phoenix-like turnaround, the revamped 2014 Chevrolet Impala has changed the landscape of Consumer Reports ratings by earning the top spot overall for all sedans and taking a position that has been held by Japanese and European models for at least the last 20 years.
The Impala has gone from the bottom of its class in Consumer Reports ratings, with a mediocre test score of 63, too low to be CR Recommended, to an “Excellent” 95 that places it not only at the top of its “Large Sedan” category, but also among the toprated vehicles Consumer Reports has tested. Only two vehicles have a higher test score; the Tesla Model S hatchback and the BMW 135i coupe.
“The Impala’s performance is one more indicator of an emerging domestic renaissance,” said Jake Fisher, director of Consumer Reports automotive testing. “We’ve seen a number of redesigned American models – including the Chrysler 300, Ford Escape and Fusion, and Jeep Grand Cherokee – deliver world-class performance in our tests.”
Consumer Reports engineers found the Impala rides like a luxury sedan, with a cushy and controlled demeanor, while delivering surprisingly agile handling, capable acceleration, and excellent braking. The Impala corners quite well for a large car, with prompt turn-in response and controlled body lean. Steering is nicely weighted; it’s light enough for parking maneuvers and provides decent feedback. When pushed to its handling limits, the Impala proved secure, responsive, balanced, and easy to control.
Inside, the spacious cabin sets a new standard for Chevrolet fit and finish, with generally high-quality materials and trim. The backseat is roomy and comfortable, the trunk is huge, and controls are refreshingly intuitive and easy to use. The 22 mpg overall Consumer Reports measured with the Impala’s 3.6-liter V6 engine and sixspeed automatic transmission is competitive, but it’s not the best in its class.
Consumer Reports has been testing, reviewing and comparing cars for more than 75 years. The organization started calculating numerical scores and compiling comparative overall ratings charts in 1992. In that time, the top-scoring sedan spot in Consumer Reports tests has been held 12 times by a Japanese model and nine times by a European model.
Overall, Consumer Reports found the Impala is competitive with cars that cost $20,000 more, including the Audi A6 and Lexus LS460L, as well as the recently reviewed Acura RLX and Jaguar XF.