small "French fry" cubby behind the two cupholders on the center console.
In the armrest cubby was a light, a 12-volt outlet, dual USB ports, a card reader and an auxiliary input jack. There was a surprise cubby for an umbrella at the top of the door pocket, and a hidden storage area with a USB port behind the powered pop-up infotainment touch screen. A button under the screen raised or lowered it to give access to the cubby, a perfect place to store smartphones or iPods for security.
Controls for the heated/cooled front seats were between the cupholders and the fry cubby. But I had to hunt for them, and I didn't like that they could so easily be accidentally turned on.
The well-crafted cabin had lots of small touches of chrome trim on cupholders, control knobs/buttons, instrument cluster, steering wheel ring, doors, shifter knob, dash, start button, and lights/wiper stalks. There was a padded leather dash, gray faux-wood trim on the dash, console and doors, ice-blue ambient lighting, and accent piping on the top-stitched seats.
Thanks to double-pane acoustic glass for the windshield and front side windows and plenty of acoustic baffles elsewhere in the body structure, the cabin was also very quiet.
The latest version of Chevrolet's optional MyLink infotainment system had an 8-inch touch screen and natural voice recognition. MyLink has not impressed me, though, and even the newer version is not intuitive, with some functions not clearly marked or easily located.
Audio, navigation, some climate functions and rearview camera share the touch screen. There were audio controls on the back of the steering wheel, which I located as I turned the wheel and accidentally touched the station next/previous button.
The audio system was quite decent, with 11-speaker Bose centerpoint surround sound in the LTZ premium audio package. The Impala comes with three months of satellite radio service and six months of OnStar Directions and Connections with automatic crash response and turn-by-turn navigation.
There were controls on the steering wheel for cruise, steering wheel heat, forward collision alert on/off, and the driver-information center. The controls for the driver-information center were not marked, though, meaning a trip to the owner's manual to study their use.
Forward collision alert and collision-avoiding brakes, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, blind-spot alert and rear cross-traffic alerts are new technology for the Impala.
The car also has battery-rundown protection, theft deterrent, passive entry and keyless start. Ten airbags are now standard, along with a domed hood to help reduce injury to unfortunate pedestrians.
My Impala had a cavernous, wide-open trunk with hidden storage under the floor, along with a compact spare and tools. The lid was easy to raise and lower, and the lip was low enough for easy loading of groceries, luggage, stroller or DIY supplies. The rear seatback folded flat to accommodate even larger items _ a storm door or plywood, perhaps.
The Impala handles well, with little to no leaning in curves, practically imperceptible gear shifting, and quick, smooth acceleration. The factory specs say it can go from zero-60 mph in 6.8 seconds.
With the V-6, the EPA ratings are 19 mpg in the city and 29 on the highway. In mostly rush-hour slow-and-go traffic during our test, we managed 22.1 mpg on average, according to the onboard computer.
2014 CHEVROLET IMPALA:
_Base price: $26,725
_Price as tested, including destination charge: $39,505
ABOUT THE WRITER:
Emma Jayne Williams' auto reviews appear in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. She can be reached at email@example.com.
(c)2013 Fort Worth Star-Telegram
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