You may want to sit down if you haven’t already heard this.
The Chevy Impala has been named the luxury car of the year by Consumer Reports. To earn that award, the Impala scored 95 out of 100.
An American car hasn’t pulled off such a feat for two decades — much less an American car that is best known as a staple of corporate fleets and rental car options.
So what’s different?
“The new Impala is 180 degrees different than the old Impala,” says Mike Wall, an analyst with consulting firm IHS Automotive. “The design is much fresher, the power train is better,” and he says the roomy and redesigned interior especially is what sets it apart from its predecessor. “Gone is the hard plastic you’re talking much more of a soft touch feel, leather feel.”
The new car is likely to attract buyers who wouldn’t have considered it before — buyers who might otherwise go for a Lexus or a Jaguar, but would prefer to pay thousands less.
This isn’t simply about rolling out a nicer model, it’s about moving to greener pastures in the market. Fleets and rental car companies buy in bulk and get discounts. The big money is in selling to individuals, says Wall.
The new model — and its new reputation — represents the re-emergence of the domestic carmakers, according to analyst Karl Brauer with the car pricing company Kelley Blue Book.
“The domestics have really come back from where they were, which was on the brink,” he says. “The near death experience of almost going away and having to very publicly rely on help from government to get their house in order has made a lot of change for the better within the companies.”
The fruit of the Big 3 Detroit carmakers labor over the past two years is a burst of new models. GM has offered more new models than any other brand, says Brauer.
Still, don’t forget that the Impala averages just 22 miles to the gallon. On the other hand, its new owners can now get plenty of mileage out of their new bragging rights.