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When your new full-size American sedan receives praise from the organization that purportedly hates American cars, something must have gone awry.
Except it hasn't. After awarding the Tesla Model S – another American car – its highest-ever score, Consumer Reports gave the 2014 Chevrolet Impala its third-highest score, a whopping 95 points out of 100, and the No. 1 spot among all sedans. Among gasoline-powered cars, only the BMW 135i coupe scored higher. Not even the Audi A6 or the Lexus LS 460L scored as high as the Impala.
The magazine's domestic-bashing reputation, a perceived notion in which mostly Japanese cars from Honda and Toyota would regularly score highest for about 20 straight years, has been justified. The outgoing Impala scored a 63, and while rental-car fleets and police departments lapped up the big Chevy, there was nothing to set it apart from newer, better-made sedans with actual technology. Not even a navigation system was offered in the 2013 Impala.
Only in the past few years has Consumer Reports started to score American cars higher, and that's because American cars – regular cars, not SUVs and pickups – have actually become competitive again. Many foreign competitors have lapsed, including the Honda Civic, which Consumer Reports took off its vaunted "recommended" list for lukewarm performance and lower-than-expected quality. Other automakers have also been subjected to the magazine's wrath, including Toyota for problems with its floor-mat recalls and for stability control systems that didn't work properly on a Lexus SUV. The tides have changed.
As for the 2014 Impala, Consumer Reports called it a "phoenix-like turnaround," with an interior that's "refreshingly intuitive" and a suspension that "rides like a luxury sedan."
"The Impala’s performance is one more indicator of an emerging domestic renaissance," Jake Fisher, the magazine's testing director, said in a statement. "We’ve seen a number of redesigned American models – including the Chrysler 300, Ford Escape and Fusion, and Jeep Grand Cherokee – deliver world-class performance in our tests."
We drove the 2014 Impala and found much to like, noting that it "drives smaller than its considerable size" and offers tons of room. However, we weren't as pleased as Consumer Reports was over the interior, which still feels full of cheap plastic that may not hold up well to squeaking and rattling. Time will tell, but for General Motors, it's time to celebrate.
[Source: Consumer Reports]