Video: 2014 Chevrolet Impala declares the lackluster days are over

The last two generations of Chevrolet Impala—once a classic piece of proud Detroit history—devolved into an outdated, rental fleet filler. It truly became a car that renters would wisely pass on if offered a free upgrade. Now, with the redesigned 2014 Impala, things have changed in a big way.

Sharing underpinnings with the Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac XTS, and Chevrolet Malibu, the Impala is vastly improved. But it ain't cheap.

Prices start at $26,725 and rise into luxury-car territory when dipping into the ample options list. We recently bought a Chevrolet Impala 2LZ with all the trimmings for $39,110.

Engine choices include a 3.6-liter V6, a 2.5-liter four-cylinder, and a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with eAssist. All are paired with a six-speed automatic. We went with the big, 305-hp V6.

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Richly appointed, our tester features Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system with navigation and premium audio, heated/ventilated seats, memory driver's seat, leather upholstery and trim, heated steering wheel, and keyless start. The safety gear is likewise generous, with forward-collision alert, cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, and blind-spot detection.

This all adds up to a large, roomy sedan that looks good on paper and impresses on the road. While we're still logging break-in miles before formal testing begins, we can say the Impala is reasonably athletic, with good steering. It's also quiet and rides well—in fact, it rides better than the recently tested Toyota Avalon. (Watch our initial Avalon video.)

Inside, the Impala sets new standards for Chevrolet fit and finish. We're also pleased to see that the touch-screen controls are augmented by traditional buttons and knobs. How novel!

We'll know in a few weeks how the Impala stacks up against the Avalon, as well as large-scale competitors such as the Hyundai Azera and Kia Cadenza, once we've had an opportunity to complete our track and road evaluations. Until then, check-out initial highlights in the video below.

—Jeff Bartlett

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