Redesigned for the 2014 model year, the latest Impala is thoroughly modernized, offering new technology, high-tech gadgets and even a few exclusive features. It may be hard to believe, but it's true: With the creation of the new model, Chevrolet has finally released a car worthy of wearing the Impala name that recalls some of the automaker's most stylish 1960s sedans and coupes.
What's New for 2015?
After a full redesign for 2014, the 2015 Impala is largely unchanged except for a new engine capable of running on compressed natural gas. The Impala's eAssist, mild-hybrid powertrain choice is no longer available. That means a V6 and 2.5L four-cylinder engine are your choices for 2015. The 2.5L engine now comes standard with stop/start technology which turns the engine off automatically under certain conditions. It's enough to boost Impala fuel-economy to 25 mpg for combined city and highway driving, 31 mpg on the highway or a 5 percent increase overall.
OnStar with 4G LTE and standard in-car WiFi is also new for the 2015 Impala. Yes, you need a data plan, but Chevy gives you three months free so you can try it out first.
What We Like
Stylish design; roomy interior; huge trunk; excellent ride; modern technology; in-car Wi-Fi
What We Don't
Poor rear visibility; busy button-filled cabin; loud tire noise with 20-inch wheels
The 2015 Impala is available with two powertrains, each mated to a standard 6-speed automatic transmission. The base-level engine is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, rated at 196 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque. It returns 22 miles per gallon in the city and 31 mpg in highway driving.
For shoppers who want a little extra power, the Impala offers a range-topping 305-hp 3.6-liter V6. The engine boasts different fuel economy ratings depending on the trim level you choose, though each one checks in at around 18 or 19 mpg in the city and 28-to-30 mpg on the highway. The V6 is also available in compressed-natural-gas guise.
Standard Features & Options
The Impala offers three basic trim levels: LS, LT and LTZ, but Chevrolet subdivides the LT trim into 1LT and 2LT and the LTZ trim into 1LZ and 2LZ. Don't worry; it's not as complicated as it sounds. The 1LT and 1LZ models use the Impala's standard 4-cylinder; 2LT and 2LZ trims use the V6. Otherwise, the cars share roughly the same equipment despite the different trim-level numbers.
Base-level Impala LS models ($27,900) are the most sparsely equipped. They include 4-cylinder engines, automatic headlights, power accessories, USB/iPod connectivity, GM's OnStar telematics system, air conditioning, Bluetooth and a power driver's seat.
Step up to an Impala LT ($30,200 for the 4-cylinder; $31,100 for the V6), and you'll get a long list of extra features, ranging from alloy wheels and dual-zone automatic climate control to a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth audio, and Chevrolet's MyLink infotainment system with an 8-in color touchscreen. As we mentioned, the 1LT model uses the Impala's 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, while the 2LT offers the car's 3.6-liter V6.
Topping the Impala line is the luxurious LTZ ($35,300 for the 4-cylinder; $36,300 for the V6), which feels like an upscale full-size sedan. Standard features include keyless access and ignition, lane-departure warning, a backup camera, a remote starter, parking sensors, a blind spot monitoring system, forward-collision alert, leather upholstery and heated front seats. The Impala 1LZ features the sedan's 4-cylinder engine, while the 2LZ includes the V6 and a standard sunroof.
The Impala also offers a long list of optional extras including a power sunroof, adaptive cruise control, 20-in alloy wheels, a Bose audio system, a heated steering wheel and ventilated front seats. New for 2015 is a compressed-natural-gas engine offered only in LS and LT trims, aimed primarily at fleet shoppers with easy access to natural gas. Also, the four-cylinder version of the Impala comes standard with stop/start technology.
In-car Wi-Fi is new for 2015, it essentially turns your car into a rolling Wi-Fi hotspot. You'll have to purchase a data plan, but those who only want to use the technology occasionally (say family road trips) will be happy to know you can purchase data plans for long or short term use.
The 2015 Chevrolet Impala comes standard with all the usual features: side-curtain airbags, front-side airbags, anti-lock brakes and stability control. It also offers a few others, such as traction control, front-knee airbags, and GM's OnStar telematics system, which offers stolen-vehicle tracking and remote door unlocking. OnStar is now 4G LTE capable which means a more responsive system. You also get 6 months of OnStar's "Directions and Connections" package. OnStar is the one feature that blurs the line between safety and convenience.
As for safety-related options, the Impala also offers a long list: There's a backup camera, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, a blind spot monitoring system and forward-collision alert.
In government crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the latest Impala earned a 5-star overall rating, a score comprised of two 5-star tests -- for front impact and side impact -- along with a 4-star rating in the government's rollover assessment. The nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not yet completed its assessment of the Impala.
Behind the Wheel
For a large family sedan, the Impala is effortless to drive. Strong acceleration gives the Impala V6 the fortitude required to negotiate city traffic, merge onto freeways with the flow of traffic and climb mountain grades, all while returning better than 20 mpg on average.
The new Impala's electric steering offers pleasing heft regardless of vehicle speed and crisp response when bending the Impala into a curve or while turning into a parking space. Given that it's the same system as found in the Camaro but recalibrated for the full-size Chevy sedan, perhaps this comes as no surprise. Suspension tuning provides a deft blend of ride smoothness and handling prowess, and while the Impala is not a sport sedan, it can cover ground at a rapid pace on twisty roads.
Chevrolet could improve the new Impala with regard to the 6-speed automatic transmission. We found that it stumbled on occasion, especially when driving in the mountains. A manual shift button is provided at the top of the gear selector, but it's unsatisfying to use despite the fact that it matches engine revs when downshifting.
Impala LTZ models equipped with the optional 20-in aluminum wheels sure look terrific, but there is a penalty to be paid in terms of ride quality and interior noise. So equipped, the 20-inchers allow for more of the road texture to be delivered to the cabin, sometimes rudely, as in the case of traveling over a pothole. The 20-in tires also create more road noise.
Other Cars to Consider
Ford Taurus -- The Taurus offers impressive gas mileage and improved handling compared to the Impala, but it's smaller, and the Taurus' design is older than the Impala's newly freshened look.
Hyundai Azera -- The newly redesigned Hyundai Azera offers powerful engines, high-tech gadgets and a long list of features -- both standard and optional.
Toyota Avalon -- Toyota's full-size Avalon sedan offers excellent refinement and legendary build quality, and its hybrid variant is even more fuel efficient than the Impala's.
We like the new Impala for its dramatically improved driving experience, its highly competitive cabin materials, and its long list of standard and optional features. If we were choosing one, it would have to be an LT model equipped with a few of the safety gadgets from the upscale LTZ. Going that route, you wouldn't break the bank with features you don't need, but you'd still have all the necessities such as modern safety technology and Chevrolet's excellent MyLink infotainment system.