Chevrolet Impala is first Detroit 3 car to top Consumer Reports’ sedan rankings

The Chevrolet Impala, a former General Motors top seller that degenerated into a lackluster staple of airport car-rental lots, has morphed into the best sedan on the U.S. market with its latest redesign, Consumer Reports said.

The magazine, which has long tended to prefer offerings from Toyota and Honda over anything from the Detroit 3, awarded the 2014 Impala a road test score of 95 out of 100, tied with the Infiniti G37 for third-highest of any current vehicle. The outgoing Impala received a 63.

It’s the first time since Consumer Reports began awarding cars and light trucks numerical scores in 1992 that a domestic car is the top-scoring sedan.

“The domestic automakers, they do a lot right but there’s often something that’s holding them back,” Jake Fisher, director of Consumer Reports‘ automotive testing, told Automotive News. “This car just kind of gets it all right. They really have a winner here.”

A Japanese model has held the top-scoring sedan spot 12 times and a European model has had it on nine occasions, according to the magazine.

In its September issue, which goes on sale Aug. 1, Consumer Reports says the Impala “rides like a luxury sedan, with a cushy and controlled demeanor,” and “is competitive with cars that cost $20,000 more, including the Audi A6 and Lexus LS 460 L,” along with the Acura RLX and Jaguar XF.

It praises the car’s “solid, almost vaultlike atmosphere” and the Chevrolet MyLink control system while dinging the car for limited rear visibility and fuel economy that isn’t quite best in its class.

“It has been transformed from a woefully uncompetitive and outdated model that was to be avoided even as a free upgrade at the rental-car counter into a thoroughly modern and remarkably enjoyable vehicle,” the magazine said.

The 2014 Impala has also been widely praised by other publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Car and Driver, and Autoweek

On a conference call with analysts today to discuss GM’s second-quarter financial results, CEO Dan Akerson said the company has product momentum, citing the Impala rating from Consumer Reports and GM’s strong showing in recent J.D. Power and Associates rankings of initial quality and new-vehicle appeal.

“Results like these are changing perceptions about our brands for the better,” Akerson said.

In years past, Consumer Reports found little to like about the Impala beyond its large trunk. “The dated and unimpressive Impala falls short of modern standards in most key areas,” it said in its April 2012 automotive issue.

The magazine’s highest-rated large sedans are now the Impala, Hyundai Genesis, Toyota Avalon, the Chrysler 300 equipped with a V-6 engine and Nissan Maxima (tie), and the Hyundai Azera and Lincoln MKZ with 2.0-liter Ecoboost engine (tie).

Peak performance
How Consumers Reports rates large sedans
   
Make and model Overall road-test score
Chevrolet Impala 95
Hyundai Genesis 92
Toyota Avalon 85
Chrysler 300 83
Nissan Maxima 83
Hyundai Azera 81
Lincoln MKZ 81
Buick LaCrosse 78
Dodge Charger 75
Buick LaCrosse Touring 74
Ford Taurus 64
 
Source: Consumer Reports

Only the Tesla Model S, which received a rare 99 out of 100, and BMW 135i coupe, which received a score of 97, rate better than the 2014 Impala.

A Consumer Reports spokesman said engineers at the magazine consider the Tesla Model S a hatchback.

The Audi A6 with the premium plus package and Infiniti M37 previously tied as the highest ranking sedans, the magazine said.

Still, Consumer Reports isn’t giving the Impala its coveted “recommended” label because it said the latest version is too new to have enough reliability data. The Genesis, Avalon, 300, and Maxima are the only large sedans recommended by the magazine.

Although the outgoing Impala sold in large numbers — 169,351 in 2012 — fleet buyers accounted for about 70 percent of that volume. GM has said it wants no more than 30 percent of the new version to be fleet.

The Impala scored significantly better than its two GM platform siblings — the new Cadillac XTS and Buick LaCrosse. The magazine gave a 79 to the XTS, sixth-worst among luxury sedans, and 74 to the LaCrosse, sixth-worst among upscale sedans.

Fisher said XTS was hurt by its confusing touch screen control system, the Cadillac User Experience, and the LaCrosse was not roomy enough, among other shortcomings.

“GM’s really put it all on the line,” he said. “Gone are the days when GM said, ‘We can’t make the Chevy too nice because we have to sell Cadillacs.’ They didn’t hold back at all.”

Mike Colias and Bloomberg contributed to this report.

Originally Posted By: Automotive News

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