Next Impala set to complete transformation of Chevrolet passenger car lineup

Article by Christian Andrei, on May 1, 2011

General Motors North American President Mark Reuss’s claim last month that its next-generation Malibu is "the next step in a complete transformation of the Chevrolet passenger car lineup in less than two years” isn’t quite right. The Impala, for instance, has been overlooked.

Consumer Reports released its annual ratings in the spring and it cited GM's average test score to have improved from 65 to 67, making it rank 12th among 13 carmakers. GM’s score was dragged down by several “lackluster cars,” one of which is the Impala that’s built on a nearly 20-year-old platform.

Compared to the modern four-cylinder engine, the Impala’s V-6 pushrod engine has less power. The next-generation Impala is scheduled to arrive in 2014 at the earliest. This means that it will be eight years since it had last been given a restyling and re-engineering.

It also means that it will be 14 years before it gets a full redesign. On the other hand, a rival in the large-sedan segment, the Ford Taurus, will get a makeover for 2013 even if it had gotten a redesign less than four years ago.

Rick Scheidt, Chevy's vice president of marketing, said that it can’t be denied that the Impala is “longer in the tooth” than how GM traditionally plans for a model.

The obvious factor that has put a damper on things is GM's bankruptcy hangover. For the 2011 model year, a rear-drive version had been scheduled but this plan was dropped because of GM’s cost-cutting in 2008 and 2009.

GM prioritized the rest of the lineup before revising the front-drive version of the Impala. The Cruze compact and Malibu mid-sized sedan were prioritized since they’re offered globally and are higher volume vehicles. Amid, rising fuel prices, GM seemingly hit the jackpot when it worked on the subcompact Sonic, which is set to replace the subpar Aveo in late summer.

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