Offered in LS, LT and LTZ trim levels, the 2014 Impala is available with a choice of three drivetrains: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder, an eAssist mild hybrid system and a 3.6-liter V-6. The V-6, which goes on sale first in mid-April, is the engine I tested at a driving event in San Diego. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder goes on sale a few months later and the eAssist version a few months after that. To see the 2014 Impala's specs compared with those of the Ford Taurus, Toyota Avalon and Hyundai Azera, click here.
The Impala wears the latest interpretation of Chevrolet's twin-port grille. While it's similar to the 2014 Chevrolet Traverse's grille, its vertical orientation and width gives the Impala a Camaro-esque appearance. The look is subtly aggressive with a hint of menace, and when paired with the optional LED daytime running lights, the car really stands out.
The visual interest continues beyond the front. Intricate sheet-metal creases, including rear quarter-panel arcs inspired by classic Impalas, give unexpected detailing to the doors, hood and trunk lid. Large wheels are the order of the day, with 18-inch steel rims with covers standard and 18-, 19- and 20-inch alloy wheels available on the higher trims.
The styling, though, compromises driver visibility. The tall tail helps finish the exterior design and is a boon for trunk room, but it results in a short, rectangular slot of a rear window. The B- pillars are also wide, which blocked much of my view when checking for traffic over my left shoulder. The Impala offers a number of electronic safety features designed to enhance the driver's sense of what's happening around the car, including a blind spot warning system and a backup camera, but there's something about an airy cabin with unobstructed views that technology can't replace.
The V-6 sedan accelerates swiftly up to cruising speeds. Power doesn't arrive with the forcefulness of the Toyota Avalon's V-6, which remains one of the best V-6 engines around, but the Impala's no slouch, either; Chevrolet cites a zero-to-60-mph time of 6.8 seconds. Engine noises are especially muted in the cabin, even under hard acceleration.
The V-6 teams with a six-speed automatic transmission yielding an EPA-estimated 19/29 mpg city/highway. That's similar to what front-wheel-drive V-6 competitors like the Azera (20/29 mpg) and Taurus (19/29 mpg) offer, but it’s behind the Avalon (21/31 mpg). At this time, mileage estimates haven't been certified for the other engine choices.