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‘Consumer Reports’ Says ’14 Impala Is Best in Class

Consumer Reports, not known for gushing reviews of domestic cars, calls the 2014 Chevrolet Impala the best in its class, the best sedan you can buy among those tested — and says the mid-priced car is better than some luxury sedans that cost far more.

It’s a stunning endorsement for a car that has been on the market only a few months, and it’s the first time a domestic sedan has topped CR’s charts in at least 20 years.

“It performs well in so many different ways,” said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ director of automotive testing. “It really fires on all cylinders.”

The rave review stands as another key victory for General Motors, which for the first time in its history last month was the best-performing major auto manufacturer in the key J.D. Power’s initial quality consumer survey, thrashing stalwarts like Toyota and Honda.

As Detroit navigates the first parts of its bankruptcy, GM, its largest and most-famous corporate denizen, continues to shed its past reputation as wasteful and lumbering — unable to best its Asian and European competition.

The Impala’s transformation from bland fleet car to CR’s overall top-rated sedan punctuates GM’s broader turnaround, including a new profitability, rising stock price and growing reputation for quality just a few years removed from its own near-death.

Consumer Reports road tests vehicles against its peers. It’s widely considered the most trusted resource when many shoppers research a new car. A positive review can attract buyers who wouldn’t consider a car or a brand otherwise. Because the car is so new, the magazine wouldn’t officially recommend it without a longer history of reliability data.

“The impact of a review like this is tremendous,” said Edmunds.com senior analyst Michelle Krebs. “This will make an impression on buyers.”

The Impala racked up a class-leading 95 points in Consumer Reports magazine’s road test, beating all others in its peer group, including the Toyota Avalon, Ford Taurus, Chrysler 300, Buick LaCrosse, Nissan Maxima, Lincoln MKZ, Dodge Charger and Hyundai Genesis and Azera.

The score “places it not only at the top of its category but also among the top-rated vehicles we’ve tested overall,” CR wrote in its September issue.

In addition, “the new Chevy outscores luxury sedans costing $20,000 more,” including the Acura RLX and Jaguar LX, the magazine said. The 2014 Impala’s base price ranges from $26,725 to $35,770, excluding destination charges.

The model has been in dealerships only since mid-May, but the early numbers are encouraging. The car is selling for higher prices to buyers 10 or more years younger than the mid-60s set who bought the old Impala.

“We’ve had people come in who owned Mercedes and BMWs before,” said Kevin Cassidy, sales manager at Al Serra Chevrolet in Grand Blanc. “People love the way it drives: sporty, but luxurious. It’s bringing in younger buyers because of its looks and technology.”