Does the number $28,445 seem reasonable for the reinvented 2014 Chevrolet Impala? Chevy thinks so, arguing that the new price is just $145 more than the 2013 Impala.
Well, sort of. We all know that 70 per cent of Impala sales are discounted to fleets. And GM has loaded up the 2013 model with plenty of retail incentives, too. Almost no one has paid the sticker price of an Impala in years.
Still, the made-in-Oshawa, Ont. Impala is important and it does have a sexy new design, a quiet, refined cabin, new powertrain offerings and a long list of safety features and technologies. Not a bad car to drive either, not at all.
The piece of the car Chevy's engineers are most excited about, however, is the latest MyLink infotainment system. It has a customizable, eight-inch colour display screen and what Chevy types say is "natural voice recognition." On the safety side, the new Impala has adaptive cruise control and crash-avoidance technologies like Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Side Blind Zone Alert. Ten standard airbags, too.
It is also good to see Chevy heading down a road filled with modern direct-injection engines. The big engine is the 3.6-litre V-6 (305 hp and 0-100 km/h in about seven seconds), but there is also an updated 2.5-litre four-cylinder (196 hp) and a 2.4-litre four-cylinder with eAssist to save fuel. The latter puts out 182 hp, but gets fuel economy estimated at 5.6 litres/100 km highway. All engines come with a six-speed automatic transmission.
The full pricing range: The 3.6-litre car starts at $32,945 for the LT and $39,645 for the LTZ. The 2.5-litre starts at $28,445 for the LS and goes to $31,445 for the LT and $36,445 for the LTZ. Plus there's the $1,550 destination charge. Pricing for the 2.4-litre engine with eAssist will be announced at a later date when the car is about to go on sale.
Chevy sees the Impala taking on the likes of the Ford Taurus, Toyota Avalon, Hyundai Azera (no longer sold in Canada) and Nissan Maxima. It seems well-armed for the job. The cabin is roomy enough, the ride is dead quiet, the handling surprised me for its responsiveness, the design is excellent and the technology is easy enough to use and understand. So, a good first impression.
Of course, I've learned to be careful about first impressions. They are often deceiving. A final verdict will come later, after a longer test drive.