Chevrolet Brings Back Impala With A Full Tank
April 5th, 2012
Words: Alex Villani
Pics: Adam Bean, Brian DeLuca, Alex Villani
Say goodbye to the ancient W-body based Impala with its sub-par materials and fleet-special design. Chevrolet has launched the all-new Impala here in New York, and it is a stunner. As part of GM's vehicle debut bonanza for the New York Auto Show, the Impala was the most anticipated vehicle launch here at the show according to our Facebook poll. Not only did Chevy pull off a quazi-retro designed exterior perfectly, but the interior is one of the best laid out of any GM product, complete with high quality materials and a whole host of technological features. Designers pulled themes from both past and present Chevy products to put together an aggressive yet elegant package inside and out.
On the outside we cannot start talking about the design until we talk about the new face of Chevrolet and the loss of the dual-port shield grille that has been the staple design element of most bow-tie products. In comes this more Camaro-themed grate design with slender headlights that give the car a much wider appearance. This change in grill design accentuates the overall width of the car where the current dual-port design adds to the vertical appearance of the face. The three-bar chrome grille looks better than in the pictures, and have a lot of detail than just a generic design. The slim-line headlights have nice details to add to the richness of the front end with projector beam standard with optional halo and HID that add to the Camaro-like face. Sitting below the headlights are the standard LED lights that are actually the vehicle's daytime running lights.
Walking down the side of the car, you can see that there is more body language in the sheet metal coming from the sharp horizontal body line that fades into the hockey stick heritage cue that comes up and over the rear tire. This crease gives the Impala more pronounced hips that merge into the fast-slopping roof line which finishes the vehicle off with, get this, non-Camaro oriented tail lights. The window openings have well done satin finish surrounds as Chevrolet moves away from traditional chrome as the satin look is much more upscale. The tail lights do feature LED lighting, but not in the Morris Code dot design found on Malibu, the Impala's tail lights used internal reflectors that offer up a much smoother and cleaner look. The large trunk lid has some interesting creases as well, but they are just cosmetic. The Impala will have standard 18 inch wheels with optional 19 and 20 inch for the LT and LTZ trims. Both cars at the show were wearing a very non-traditional multi-spoke design that will split the audience between those that like it and those that do not.
Inside the new Impala is also very attractive, but not at the helm of Camaro inspired cues. The new interior has some retro touches with Chevrolet's long-time dual-cowl dash design. The dual-cowl look has been used in other recent Chevy's (such as the 2008 Malibu), but the bow-tie brand took a step back from the signature cue with the 2013 Malibu. The entire dash in the new Impala is comprised of very high quality materials, further proof that Chevy intends for this car to finally become a proper flagship for their sedan lineup. The lion's share of the instrument panel is made of a soft-touch plastic, while the top of the dual-cowl is formed from a wrapped material that is even softer than the rest of the dash.
Interior designers went to town by opening up the color palette and putting together various color combinations as well as different types of accenting trims which gives consumers eleven different combinations. The cars on display both had two-tone interiors, one with a caramel and ebony and the other with a dark brick and ebony, complete with contrast stitching. The dark brick interior also had the mid-level ultra-suede inserts for the seats and the door panels while on the Impala with the caramel color theme, the seats and doors had a perforated leather. The seats also have contrast piping that does not run on the edge of the bolsters but on the inner seating surface. The piping climbs up the seats and widening out at the top to give the look of a broader back rest.
To accent the high quality materials is the introduction of a lot of high-tech features starting with a very large 8.2-inch screen that can slide up with a touch of a button reveling a little hidden compartment similar to that of the Malibu. The difference here is that the big screen can still be used even in the extended position. Below the screen you will notice that there are only a few buttons that get you to the basic functions of the radio, the bulk of the stuff will be left to the touch screen. The Impala video showcased what looks to be a second-generation MyLink system that receives a little trickle-down from the Cadillac CUE system. As part of the updated MyLink for Chevrolet, there is another color screen that measures over 4 inches in size smack dab in the middle of the instrument panel which will display some information such as radio station and song title, navigation, as well as the traditional driver-info stuff. Another thing that Chevrolet can thank Cadillac and Buick for is the suite of high end creature comforts such as heated and cooled seats along with heated steering wheel.
Impala will also enjoy safety hand-me-downs that will protect the driver and passengers on the road using a host of sensors and cameras. Impala will receive an updated version of the Equinox's lane departure and forward collision alert system. Unlike the Equinox's camera system, the Impala will come to a hault so you do not plow into the vehicle in front of you. This system will be integrated with blind-spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert system giving you a virtual bubble of protection. If by some chance all those systems fail, 10 air bags will deploy to soften the blow of any major impact. An optional adaptive cruse control system increases the luxury quotient as well, a system that was sorely needed as more and more of Impala's competitors are showing up with it.
Finally Chevrolet is moving Impala out of the depths of the fleet lots and moving them back into show rooms in hopes of rekindling America's passion for the car. It has been a long time since 1965 when Impala sold one million units and while it might not hit that number again, Chevrolet has certainly equipped the car to make the biggest impact in the market. As the new Impala starts to hit showrooms, the current model will go to full fleet duty for about six months. Despite the lack of all-wheel drive, Impala's powertrain starts off with a 2.5-liter four cylinder as base with optional 2.4 e-Assist or 3.6 liter LFX from Camaro making 303 horsepower all mated to next-generation six-speed automatics. Look for the new Impala to start production by January of 2013 as it helps relaunch a new face for the brand and a new chapter for Chevy's flagship sedan.