Two Behemoth Full-Size Cruisers from Detroit Battle it out for Road Warrior Supremacy.
For years, the Chevrolet Impala has been the most boring, highest selling passenger car on the market. Rental companies loved its low sticker price for a flagship sedan. GM really loved making money on a frame that was created in 1988. Yes, 1988, the last year of the Reagan Presidency. The W-Body has been a great money maker for the General and this cash cow will continue to be produced as the 2014 Impala Limited, so don’t expect anything different at your local rent-a-car anytime soon.
However, the retail version of the Impala is all-new for 2014. This full-size sedan has finally differentiated itself from its smaller sibling, the Chevrolet Malibu. The 10th generation of this large car is bolder and more tech-oriented than any Impala before. The cabin is massive, with over five inches of legroom increase from previous models. The trunk also features almost 19 ft3 of cargo space. If that isn’t enough, it has folding rear seats that give even more cargo space. The next gen MyLink system in this big Chevy is similar to the Cadillac CUE system, with the most glaring difference being that the Impala has more physical buttons than the Caddy. The Impala carries the tried and tested 3.6L V6 that can hit 30+ MPG while still keeping over 300 horsepower when you need it.
A major domestic competitor for the Impala is the Chrysler 300. This classy sedan is the flagship of the new, smaller Chrysler that is trying to shed its image of being the company that made your mom’s minivan (even though they still make it). Commercials for the 300 include captains of industry like Quincy Jones and John Varvatos, and feature the tagline “Imported from Detroit.” Chrysler’s Uconnect infotainment system is regarded as one of the best in the industry, and is loaded with similar features to the Impala. The 300 has a very refined stance and a long wheelbase, at over 120 inches. The 300 also features a 3.6L V6 but is paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission (Impala has a 6-speed auto gearbox), and gets over 30 MPG on the highway.
I tested the 2014 Chevrolet Impala LTZ vs. the 2013 Chrysler 300C. Here are the results. All judgments are completely subjective.
The 300C I tested included the 363hp 5.7L V8, so it easily out powered the 3.6L V6 on the Impala. The Chrysler had a noticeable punch in 1st and went through its paces very well. It felt like driving something similar to a Camaro or Mustang while lavishing in the interior room that a full-size provides. The Impala accelerated properly, but just didn’t have the kick of the 300C. Advantage: Chrysler 300C
RIDE AND HANDLING
The Impala LTZ is quiet. With its double pane windows and active noise cancellation, you only hear what you want while driving. The 300C had very low wind noise, but the engine was a constantly droning, so much so that I had to turn up the radio to compensate. The 300C glided down the road like a Cadillac DTS, but the Impala LTZ really gave an experience that made me feel like I was a part of the vehicle. This more modern style suspension, coupled with the pin-drop quiet interior gives the Impala the leg up. Advantage: Impala LTZ
Being the top-of-the line trims of each respective brand, there were many non-infotainment goodies to be had. Both vehicles had passive entry with push button start, as well as standard remote starters. The cars also shared 2-position driver memory that included seat, mirror and steering wheel control. Both had heated and cooled seats and a heated steering wheel. The edge here is based on the standard rear sunshade offered by the 300C and its classier interior. The Impala has a very modern dual-cockpit interior with soft-touch leather surfaces. It is not, however, more luxurious than the wood imbued steering wheel and dash/door inserts. The old-world feel of the 300C, coupled with the more modern touches like heated and cooled cup holders give the 300C another win. Advantage: 300C
For a sedan guy like me, this is the hardest category to pick a winner in. Both vehicles are beautifully engineered, with the wind-tunnel crafted line of the Impala LTZ and the boxy-yet-supple lines of the 300C. These executive vehicles are dripping in chrome, from mirrors to grilles and everything in-between. The LED lighting trend is in full display here, with similar configurations of bright white LEDs around the head lamps. The win here goes the vehicle with the biggest change from its predecessor. The previous model of the 300 was already beautiful. The 2013 Impala was downright gross. The 2014 Impala LTZ is the best looking entry-level car in the world and is an exponential improvement on the 9th generation. Advantage: Impala LTZ
As mentioned earlier, the technology in these vehicles is the latest and greatest. Chevrolet has their all-new MyLink system, while Chrysler’s Uconnect has been very well received by the public. The 300C has a larger 8.4” touch screen that controls everything in the vehicle. This might seem convenient, but is problematic when trying to quickly change a heated seat or climate setting. The Impala LTZ shares many of the same features with the 300C, but displays them in a way that is similar to a Smartphone. Both vehicles have extensive voice commands, but GM has taken the voice recognition to another level. The familiar code words used in voice recognition are only optional here, as well as the ability of Impala LTZ to easier understand my slight Okie twang. The 300C seemed clunky in comparison, with the ‘HELP’ command being the most useful. Advantage: Impala LTZ
The final category to be considered is pricing, as that will likely be among a prospective shoppers’ main concerns. Both Sedans are over $40K, which is a car payment of around $800 with $0 down. That’s a bit steep, but understandable for the features included. In order to bring it to a more likely purchase arena, let’s look at the incentivized 36-month leases for both vehicles. The 300C comes in with a strong lease special. With $3000 down, well-qualified lessees could drive away for $299 per month. This lease has a mileage limit of 12k/year. The same mileage and down payment give a well-qualified lessee a prospective payment of $279 on the Impala LTZ. Twenty dollars isn’t enough to give either a win here. Advantage: PUSH
The American full-size sedan, once thought to be dead during the height of the SUV craze, is alive and roaring. This could be the dawning of a new age in vehicle design and technology in an ever more competitive marketplace. Flagship sedans (and more importantly for this car über-nationalist, Detroit sedans) are back, and the Chevrolet Impala LTZ and Chrysler 300C are two of the best on the road today. However, in a head-to-head matchup, the 2014 Chevrolet Impala reigns supreme, winning 3-2 against its rival with the wings on the front. Overall: Impala LTZ – 3, Chrysler 300C – 2
2014 Chevrolet Impala LTZ Score: 9.5/10
2013 Chrysler 300C Score: 9/10