Heresy, you say! The 2014 Chevrolet Impala sedan’s base engine will be a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 195 horsepower. That’s nearly as much power as the 3.8-liter V-6 from the circa-2000 Impala–that car had 200 horsepower–but the idea of a small four-cylinder in a large American sedan doesn’t seem right.

Get used to it. It went into production on Monday.

2014 chevrolet impala 300x187 imageChevrolet still expects its volume-selling engine to be a 305-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 shared with the current Impala. That model went into production in GM’s Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, plant last month. Chevrolet is building its four-cylinder model in its Detroit-Hamtramck plant, however, where it is likely to shift even more production in the future as Canadian CAW contracts expire.

Currently, Chevrolet sells 70 percent of its new Impalas to fleets and 30 percent to private customers; it wants to flip that trend upside down with the new car. We anticipate the four-cylinder will see more fleet action than the better-equippedV-6 models.

The new car, at least in V-6 guise, gets 19 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway; the four-cylinder is rated at just 31 mpg highway.

Chevrolet is intent to make its new car something more than a fleet queen, and it expects that it will suffer sales losses in the process. That’s why it’s keeping the current Impala in production for yet another year, catering to its fleet clients. Cop car duty is being delegated to the Chevrolet Caprice PPV, rental car duty will likely come by way of the four-cylinder Impala, and of course, there’s now room for a high-performance sedan in the brand’s lineup by way of the 415-horsepower 2014 Chevrolet SS sedan.

“We actually did a lot of research into the name and it turns out it has a lot of equity,” Don Johnson, vice president of Chevrolet in the U.S., said. “It really represents that flagship vehicle brand within Chevrolet.”

Many years ago, the Impala name stood atop the Biscayne and Caprice lineups as a luxurious full-size sedan without the Cadillac, Buick, or Oldsmobile stigma. It was phased out in the 1980s as the Caprice name became more prevalent. It was revived as a high-performance, limited edition version of the Caprice in 1994, and then it was brought back to replace the Chevrolet Lumina in the brand’s lineup in the early 2000s. Since then, it has fought a stigma of being outdated, its structure engineered in the mid 1980s and updated every so often to keep fresh. It has also been pushed into rental fleets in excess.

Now Chevrolet wants to make it a car that customers will buy, not just rent for a weekend special. Will it succeed? If our First Drive of the 2014 Chevrolet Impala is any indication, we’d say there’s a chance.

Source: Detroit Free Press

Chevrolet, Luxury Car, News, Sedan

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