In a major reversal of past form, the all-new, made-in-Canada 2014 Chevrolet Impala has emerged as the top-scoring sedan in Consumer Reports road-test ratings, after 20 years of Japanese and European rule.
Since 1992, 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. The Impala, which had degenerated into primarily a fleet and rental car conveyance before its 2014 overhaul, has gone from the bottom of its class, with a CR score of 63 – too low to be CR Recommended – to a 95.
That score puts it not only at the top of its "Large Sedan" category, but also among the top-rated vehicles Consumer Reports has tested. Only two vehicles overall have achieved a higher test score: the Tesla Model S hatchback and the BMW 135i coupe.
Consumer Reports says, "the Impala rides like a luxury sedan, with a cushy and controlled demeanour, while delivering surprisingly agile handling, capable acceleration, and excellent braking.
"(It) 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."
The organization also praised its interior, saying it sets a new standard for Chevrolet fit and finish, with generally high-quality materials and trim. The back seat is roomy and comfortable, the trunk is huge, and controls are refreshingly intuitive and easy to use.
CR's measured fuel consumption of 10.7 L/100 km from the Impala's 3.6-liter V-6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission was said to be competitive, although not the best in its class.
Despite its high test score, this Impala is still too new to get a Consumer Reports "Recommended" rating. To be Recommended, a vehicle must perform well in CR's tests, have average or better reliability in its Annual Auto Survey of consumers and perform well in government and industry crash tests. How well the Impala will fare in the last two of those three criteria remains to be seen.
CR's complete tests results for the Impala can be found in the September issue of Consumer Reports magazine, on sale on newsstands August 1.
Click here to go to Autofile's First Drive report on the new impala.