Selling large, non-luxury sedans is an increasingly tough game. Drivers who want a bit of space have been migrating to crossover SUVs. And those who want to upgrade from a compact or midsized car can now jump in a BMW or Mercedes for less than $35,000.
In other words, for a large sedan to succeed, it can’t coast; it has to be a really good vehicle. Chevrolet’s new Impala is just that, according to a wide range of critics. Car & Driver calls it “a once-proud prizefighter … eyeing a big comeback.” Consumer Reports rated it a 95 out of 100, the highest grade it has ever given a sedan.
“We’ve been extremely happy with it and really proud,” says Chevy spokesman Chad Lyon.
The Impala, hermetically sealed in laminated glass, is the quietest car Chevy has ever made, according to Lyon. In addition to so-called passive measures such as triple door gaskets and cavity baffles, it also has active noise cancellation microphones in the cabin that measure and muffle engine noise.
It’s also a really safe car, thanks to 10 airbags and a bunch of error-canceling features currently touted by luxury leaders: “crash-imminent braking,” lane-drifting alerts, and cruise-control that adapts to changes in the road ahead.
“It’s not one silver bullet,” Lyon said. “It’s the sum of the parts, everything from fuel economy to the way it handles.”
Impalas used to be bought by Chevy loyalists trading up from a Cruze or a Malibu and by the managers of rental-car fleets. The current iteration is winning more retail buyers and market share from other companies, according to Lyon.
“It’s starting to do a lot of things for us, even beyond some of our expectations,” Lyon says. “People actually want to be noticed in these vehicles.”