Chevrolet Impala takes on the world

Published: July 2013

America’s comeback kid, the Chevrolet Impala, shined so bright in our extensive test program that it stands as the highest-scoring sedan in our road tests. No qualifiers needed.

Key to the success of the Impala is that it delivers well-rounded performance and has a driving experience that rivals luxury sedans costing $20,000 more.

We tested the Impala 2LTZ ($39,110) with the 3.6-liter V6 engine and a long roster of amenities. So-equipped, the Impala truly holds its own against prestige-branded cars. The Impala range covers a broad price range, adding to its ability to cover a broad slice of the sedan market. To show how it measures up to models it would typically be cross-shopped against, we assembled a list of large sedans, presented below in rank order of overall score.

To help put the sedan range into perspective, we included the retail price range as well as the Bottom Line Price range which reflects the adjustment to MSRP from potential savings based on available discounts. The third column reflects the average savings off MSRP that users of our Build & Buy program have received in the past month. You can learn more about the following models, read the complete Road Tests, and gain access to detailed pricing by visiting their respective model pages.

As the list shows the Impala stands as not just the best American-branded model, but one that can truly take on the world.

Hyundai Genesis

The story of the Hyundai Genesis reminds of the Impala, being an upscale sedan that compares well against models costing $10,000 more. Starting in the mid-$30s, the Genesis sedan is quick, responsive, and roomy, providing a viable alternative to the established, rear-drive European and Japanese prestige sedans. Ride quality, however, hasn’t been outstanding although it has improved in recent versions.  

Brand: South Korean. Factory: Ulsan, South Korea.

  Retail price range Bottom Line Price range

Average savings off MSRP

2013 Hyundai Genesis
$35,095-$47,695 $29,939-$40,811 $3,215

Toyota Avalon

The Avalon has long defined the front-drive large sedan category, offering a natural step-up for drivers seeking more comfort, luxury, and space than typically found in mainstream midsized sedans (i.e. Camry). Toyota sought to redefine the Avalon with the 2013 redesign, making it more stylish and engaging to drive. It impresses with a spacious interior, improved handling, and powerful-yet-efficient powertrains. But some of the changes eroded the car's luxurious and easy-going nature. It no longer has the pillow-soft ride of its predecessor. Plus, rear-seat room has been reduced, visibility limited, and flush-mounted controls frustrate.

Brand: Japanese. Factory: Georgetown, Kentucky.

  Retail price range Bottom Line Price range Average savings off MSRP
2013 Toyota Avalon $31,785-$40,445 $28,067-$35,688 $697

Chrysler 300

Bringing Detroit muscle to a category known for conformity, the Chrysler 300 is a solid, roomy, powerful and stately sedan that exudes Motown mojo and adds a dash of Euro sophistication. The 300 has a comfortable ride, handles responsively, and has a very quiet cabin. The V6 with the eight-speed automatic is the best powertrain (although the V8’s sound and feel is alluring). The interior is nicely appointed, with good fit and finish, and it is packed with features and amenities, including a well-designed center control touchscreen. Weaknesses are few, highlighted by fuel economy (for the V8), poor low-beam headlamps, and a fussy shifter. The 300 is distinguished in this group with standard rear-drive and available all-wheel drive. Due to below-average V8 reliability, only the V6 version is CR Recommended.

Brand: American. Factory: Ontario, Canada.

  Retail price range Bottom Line Price range Average savings off MSRP
2013 Chrysler 300 $31,340-$50,445 $26,752-$46,317 $3,467

Volkswagen Passat

From a brand known for its small cars comes a spacious sedan that has elbowed its way into the large car category. The Passat is quiet and rides comfortably, and it has responsive handling, but the car falls short on grip when pushed to its limits.  The cabin has a very roomy rear seat, but fit and finish took a step back with the recent redesign. Fortunately,  the lackluster 170-hp, five-cylinder base engine is being replaced with a 1.8-liter turbo for 2014. Where the Passat stands out is with its frugal turbodiesel, which returned 37 mpg overall and 51 mpg highway in our fuel economy tests. The powerful V6 version is also compelling.

Brand: German. Factory: Chattanooga, Tenn.

  Retail price range Bottom Line Price range Average savings off MSRP
2013 Volkwagen Passat $21,640-$34,320 $18,368-$30,267 $2,549

Ford Taurus

Considered the most natural competitor to the Impala, the Taurus is the other American large sedan. Yet, these crosstown rivals are quite different, separated by more than their 31-point difference in overall score. The Taurus is lackluster to drive and lacks refinement. It also puts styling ahead of interior comfort, driver visibility, and ease of use, and the addition of the convoluted MyFord Touch control system makes matters worse. The Taurus delivers a quiet, smooth ride and is packed to the gills with features, but otherwise it's not as accommodating as a large sedan should be.

 Brand: American. Factory: Chicago, Ill.

  Retail price range Bottom Line Price range Average savings off MSRP
2014 Ford Taurus
$27,495-$40,695 $24,625-$36,406 $984

Jeff Bartlett

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