By Len Ingrassia
CNHI News Service
— What else premiered in 1958 besides TV's Sea Hunt, Bat Masterson, the Huckleberry Hound Show and 77 Sunset Strip?
You guessed it.
Chevy Impala hit the road as a coupe and convertible and has been an American icon ever since. Now in its 10th generation, the Impala has transformed, re-tuned, re-configured, revamped and altered just about everything on its four wheels.
The newest Impala has heads turning. It may just pull the classic car out of its doldrums with sleek and sculpted body sides, projector beam headlamps and an equally impressive interior. The 2014 full size sedan finally gives Chevy a car to compete in a global market and at home with rival Ford.
What a welcome relief to drive the new sedan. Without its exterior badging, the new sheet metal design could pass for an expensive import or a refined German touring sedan. Really.
Chevy engineers set out to reinvent the classic '58 model using today's technology and driving dynamics in a posh cabin filled with creature comforts. After a week of test driving the new car, I believe they accomplished their goal.
Primary competitors for the Impala include the Toyota Avalon, Dodge Charger, Ford Taurus and Hyundai Azera.
Three trim levels are available; the LS, LT and LTZ ranging in base price from $26,000-$33,000 respectively. A 2.5-liter four cylinder is standard on all trims with an available six-cylinder developing 305 horsepower. A mini-hybrid, four-cylinder engine with small electric motor will be available later this year.
All models are front wheel drive with a six-speed automatic transmission. In the zero to 60 mile per hour sprint the Impala with six cylinder engine reached its target in 6.9 seconds, about average for its class.
On the road, the Impala delivers a smooth and comfortable ride with the V6 powering the two-ton sedan in brisk fashion. Passing and braking are accomplished with ease and its electric power steering is precise.
Inside the cabin, an eight-inch touch screen controls audio, climate, navigation and available apps as part of Chevy's second generation MyLink system. While all new car interface systems come with a learning curve, the Chevy system is easily mastered through touch, voice or drag movements.
It seems to have borrowed from the Cadillac CUE system with its display of high res 3D navigation mapping. Searchable apps include weather forecasts and alerts, HD radio and other popular sites.
Many of the screen touch controls are mimicked with redundant knobs in the center stack for those who prefer manual adjustments.
One innovative feature adds a storage bin at center dash. With the press of a button, the center screen lifts vertically toward the windshield for glove box type storage that is lockable with a four-digit screen code.
For passenger safety, the Impala includes 10 airbags, available collision mitigation braking, adaptive cruise control, forward collision alert, lane departure warning and side mirror blind zone alerts. A rear camera system with guidelines and rear cross traffic alert system is also available.
The new Impala is a huge improvement over the previous model and provides consumers with a relatively inexpensive alternative to much higher priced luxury sedans.
Len Ingrassia is an automotive columnist for CNHI News Service. Contact him at email@example.com.