In a development that marks the resurgence of American automakers almost as much as the huge profits they announced this week, Consumer Reports said that the new Chevrolet Impala is one of the best cars it has ever tested.
The consumer magazine, known for its influential car reviews, said the 2014 Impala earned its top rating for all sedans, grabbing a ranking that has been held by Japanese and European models for at least two decades.
“The Impala’s performance is one more indicator of an emerging domestic renaissance,” said Jake Fisher, director of Consumer Reports automotive testing. “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.”
That’s one reason why the Detroit automakers are posting big profit numbers. On Wednesday, Ford Motor Co. said its second-quarter profit rose 18.5% to a $1.2 billion. Revenue rose 14.4% to $38.1 billion. Its North American sales were the biggest contribution to the rosy numbers.
On Thursday, Impala-builder General Motors Co. said it also earned $1.2 billion in the second quarter, helped by North American sales. But that was down from $1.5 billion in the same period a year earlier because of losses in Europe.
Before its complete redesign, the Impala earned a test score of just 63 points. The new model scored 95, among the top-rated vehicles Consumer Reports has tested. Only the Tesla Model S hatchback and the BMW 135i coupe have scored higher.
“The Impala rides like a luxury sedan, with a cushy and controlled demeanor, while delivering surprisingly agile handling, capable acceleration, and excellent braking,” Consumer Reports said in its evaluation.
“The Impala corners quite well for a large car, with prompt turn-in response and controlled body lean,” the magazine said. “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.”
Consumer Reports said the Impala which starts at about $27,000, and was competitive with much more expensive cars, including the Audi A6, Lexus LS460L, Acura RLX and Jaguar XF. Consumer Reports tested a fully loaded model that sells for about $39,000.
However, a review by Times auto critic David Undercoffler says the Impala still drives like it belongs in the retirement community.
And despite all the praise, the Impala still lacks the one attribute that is probably the most coveted portion of the Consumer Reports evaluations, a “recommended” rating. The magazine said it does not yet have enough reliability data to give the Impala its full stamp of approval.
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