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September 15, 2013

Consumer Reports: Domestic car tops ratings

With a phoenixlike turnaround, the revamped 2014 Chevrolet Impala has changed the landscape of Consumer Reports ratings by earning the top spot overall for all sedans — and taking a position that has been held by Japanese and European models for at least the last 20 years.

The Impala has gone from the bottom of its class in Consumer Reports ratings, with a mediocre test score of 63 — too low to be CR Recommended — to an Excellent 95 that places it not only at the top of the Large Sedan category, but also among the top-rated vehicles Consumer Reports has tested. Only two vehicles have a higher test score: the Tesla Model S hatchback and the BMW 135i coupe.

Consumer Reports’ engineers found the Impala rides like a luxury sedan, with a cushy and controlled demeanor, while delivering surprisingly agile handling, capable acceleration and excellent braking. The Impala corners quite well for a large car, with prompt turn-in response and controlled body lean. Steering is nicely weighted; it’s light enough for parking maneuvers and provides decent feedback. When pushed to its handling limits, the Impala proved secure, responsive, balanced and easy to control.

Inside, the spacious cabin sets a new standard for Chevrolet fit and finish, with generally high-quality materials and trim. The backseat is roomy and comfortable, the trunk is huge and controls are refreshingly intuitive and easy to use. The 22 mpg overall Consumer Reports measured with the Impala’s 3.6-liter V-6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission is competitive, but it’s not the best in its class.

Despite its high test score, this Impala is too new for Consumer Reports to have reliability data, so it can’t be Recommended. To be Recommended, a vehicle must perform well in CR’s battery of tests, have average or better reliability in CR’s Annual Auto Survey and perform well in government and industry crash tests.

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