Review: 2014 Chevrolet Impala Limited LTZ
Review: 2014 Chevrolet Impala Limited LTZ
|Topics: Chevrolet Impala, Alamo
Opinions expressed by Bill Crittenden are not official policies or positions of The Crittenden Automotive Library. You can read more about the Library's goals, mission, policies, and operations on the About Us page.
October 23, 2014
I know I'm a bit behind on things when I'm reviewing a car that's more than halfway out of production, but given the reason I got my hands on and my ass in this car, a new look on its lack of modern updates is completely fair game.
Most people who follow the American car market know that the 2014 model year saw a complete redesign of the Chevrolet Impala, taking it from a plain and simple style that worked well for basic sedan use on police and rental fleets to a style that the average car owner wanted everyone to see in his driveway. If only the new Impala had the rear wheel drive again to match the muscular-looking rear flanks, eh?
Well, the plain-style previous generation is continuing life through at least 2016 in...appropriately enough...production for police and rental fleets.
While police are more concerned with the basic aspects of vehicle performance (will it move fast enough to catch the baddies, is there enough room to put in a barrier between the suspect in the back and the officer in the front while still leaving enough room for an officer wearing a vest?), rental fleets are sadly shortchanging their customers continuing to use the stodgy old design.
My first experience in the car was as a passenger...and not in the back seat of the police cruiser version as some might expect (or hope?). It was riding shotgun in a rental fleet car, where I had time to note that despite the comfortable leather seat, it was missing all sorts of things modern travelers might take for granted: Bluetooth, a decent size glovebox for such a large dashboard, one-push window down (& up).
Considering that this car was a free "upgrade" from a much more fuel efficient Nissan that likely had these little modern touches, I can't help but feel that the customer would have a legitimate issue with the service their rental car company provided (Alamo, in this case).
I'd imagine Bluetooth to be especially useful for out-of-towners unfamiliar with the local radio market, and the rest are just minor little parts of the overall experience. But all those little negative impressions can add up to an overall feeling of "I'm gonna rent from somebody else next time."
Switching seats, the straight-line performance was impressive for someone more used to four-cylinder compact cars, but I didn't dare toss the thing into a turn to test handling because it was at this time that I noticed I sat up pretty high on the seat. It didn't cradle and surround the legs and bottom with lateral support the way a modern car designed for handling would be (such as Mazda...). I felt like I was perched up on a seat that I'd fall off of if I dared throw it into a turn OR use any sort of avoidance maneuver to keep the bumpers off of another car.
Would I be able to maintain control of the car if I were forced to make such a move?
In any case, it's a decent way to move people in a straight line forward. The seat back nicely holds the driver and passenger when the engine is opened up all the way. It's got just enough headroom for my oddly-proportioned 6'2" frame, and a decent back seat for when the company sends more than two people on a trip together.
But to a customer that's used to the modern gadgets of their car at home, even a brand new Impala with but a few hundred miles on it will seem hopelessly out of date, and that won't reflect well on the company that normally charges a premium for the full-size sedan.
Also not contributing to the feeling of being well taken care of in a car that usually costs decent amount of coin to borrow: the obviously off-kilter "no smoking" sticker. This one's all on Alamo this time, but seriously, I have to mention (and why not here?) that while it's annoying enough when people put round bumper stickers on their cars at odd angles, it's annoying on a whole other level when it's right in front of you as you drive!
Which, of course, brings me back to the original subject of this piece: the 2014 Chevrolet Impala Limited. Yes, this Impala is very "Limited." It makes a decent police, government, or corporate fleet car, but when you're charging for the privilege of driving it the Impala falls short of expectations.
Since nobody forced
Alamo to foist it upon their customers, so I don't know who should really be at fault for the experience: the car company that made the fleet car inappropriate for rental use in 2014 or the rental company that charged for it?