Chevy is shaking up urban centers around the country with their latest shining star, an icon in a sense, the all-new Chevy Impala. Like in the late 50s, when the Impala first hit the scene as a 2-door coupe evoking style and passion, the 2014 full-size sedan returns with a sentiment and excitement that hasn’t been seen in decades.
Unlike previous Impalas, the 2014 has a sense of heritage, paying tribute to Chevy's past while not discounting the future. From the Camaro-like front end, which is high-lighted by the optional LED daytime running lights, to the athletic side profile taken from the big body Impalas of the 50s and 60s, to the rear end showcasing the dual exhaust pipes, the head-turner is like a futuristic throwback.
Not only does the Impala borrow from Chevys of yesteryear, the 2014 Impala is heavily influenced by some of today’s hottest urban trendsetters from the world of fashion, design and music.
Inside the vehicle, Crystal Windham, head of interior design for the Chevy brand, made her mark on the car's upscale interior. Windham, who is the first sister and the only one in the male-dominated auto industry to lead a design team, used her keen eye for fashion and creativity to evolve the previous ‘Plain Jane’ Impala into a true work of art.
Windham and her team transformed the brand’s flagship sedan, which many would consider to be the heart and the soul of the vehicle. They worked diligently to make this a driver-centric vehicle, while not forgetting about the four passengers the vehicle can easily accommodate in its spacious cabin.
To do this, first Wyndham’s team incorporated a dual cockpit, which smoothly integrated the latest technology by using an 8-inch color-coded touchscreen to accommodate the smartphone-like audio/infotainment system known as MyLink. Next they offered soft touches using a splash of leather, burnished woodgrain trim and chrome accents to surround the interior cabin, while complimenting the optional leather seat surfaces. Lastly, the team of interior designers thoughtfully surrounded the cabin with storage areas. Inside the vehicle, an automatic sliding hidden storage area to accommodate phones and other valuables can be found neatly placed in the center of the instrument panel, and tucked inside the front doors, there is storage for umbrellas (!)— just like what you find in a Rolls or a Bentley.
Ed Welburn, a graduate of Howard University, is the mastermind behind the swanky Impala. In fact, every vehicle that is designed by GM both domestically and globally has Welburn’s fingerprints all over of them.
Welburn, the first African-American designer to be hired by GM four decades ago, has been a true change agent for the automotive giant. At the time Welburn joined GM in the seventies, he was one of two African-Americans to work in the auto design field. Welburn, who currently serves as the vice president of Global Design, has been responsible for the past seven years for leading a team of over 2,000 designers to use their creative juices to develop an abundance of must-have standout vehicles.
Some of those standouts under Welburn’s leadership include everything from the retro-styled Chevy Camaro to the BMW-fighter Cadillac ATS to the soon-to-be-released much-anticipated Chevy Corvette Stingray. And just like the economy rides on the back of President Obama, every vehicle that is designed by GM literally rides on the back of a soft spoken brother who has empowered his team to design some of the best vehicles in automotive giant history (and in the history of the auto industry). And, as we all know, great designs lead to cash in the bank for the automaker and literally everyone associated with GM. It’s literally a domino effect.
In addition to the great designs coming out of GM, the Impala incorporates the latest high-tech safety features, too. Some of the features that can be found in the road-ready, voluptuous big body sedan are a radar-activated cruise control system, a forward collision alert system, a lane-change departure warning system, an electronic blind spot system, a rear-traffic cross alert back up system, a rear back-up camera and a rear-park audio activated assist system.
Yes, this time the Impala moves from being a bland family sedan, which was better suited for rental car fleets up until recently, to one that exudes a sense of coolness, class and style just like its latest spokesperson Grammy award-winning singer and humanitarian John Legend.
It’s no wonder Legend signed on as the new pitchperson for the Impala. Legend has a connection to Chevy unlike none other, as it relates to high-profile personalities. His connection is truly authentic. Legend grew up in the Ohio, where Chevys, Fords and Chryslers ruled as of result of binding ties to the auto manufacturing industry. Like Legend, most folks who grew up in the Midwest had a relative or two who made a living working in the auto industry. His first ride happened to be a Chevy.
Yes, the Impala has the heat, beat, soul, style and flair that truly have a strong hint of an urban influence. It is obvious when the vehicle is outfitted with such optional features as the 11-speaker premium-class Bose audio system, the dual panel roof, the ventilated front seats, the 20-inch aluminum wheels, the 305-horsepower, 6-cylinder engine or the hybrid-like 4-cylinder, which will achieve upwards of 36-mpg on the highway.
Today’s urban trendsetters are helping the Impala invoke a feeling, a passion, an excitement level in the large car segment again, that hasn’t been seen, since the gangster-like Chrysler 300 hit the scene under the design cues of Haitian-born Ralph Gilles, who is the vice president of design for the Chrysler Group, several years ago.
Chevy is counting on the infusion of Black tastemakers to resurrect the Impala and to find new roads, while attracting new customers along the way. This is all at a starting price of about $27,000, before adding options, as it goes head-to-head with the curvaceous Toyota Avalon, the high-tech Ford Taurus and the stylish Hyundai Azera. Just like the Impala and the 300, all of the noted rides have been highly influenced by some of today’s hottest African-American designers and engineers. The Impala definitely has off of the underpinnings, making this a true competitor in the large car segment.
Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and the editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new Impala or other vehicles, drive on over to JeffCars.com. Follow him @ Twitter/JeffCars.