Chevy Impala Makes Historic Leap in CR Ratings

Mark Reuss, President of General Motors North America, introduces the newly unveiled 2014 Chevrolet Impala at the New York International Auto Show, April 4, 2012, in New York. Getty Images

The new 2014 Chevrolet Impala has won the best overall score for sedans in Consumer Reports ratings, the first time a U.S. brand has taken top honors in the category in two decades.

The top rating marks a turnaround for General Motors, which filed for bankruptcy during the financial crisis and might have closed down without a government bailout. Other U.S. brands are getting top ratings, as well.

"The Impala's performance is one more indicator of an emerging domestic renaissance," Jake Fisher, director of Consumer Reports automotive testing, said in a statement. "We've seen a number of redesigned American models - including the Chrysler 300, Ford Escape and Fusion and Jeep Grand Cherokee - deliver world-class performance in our tests."

The nonprofit testing group noted that the redesigned Impala shot from a mediocre test score of 63 to an "excellent" 95, making it tops among large sedans. Just two vehicles overall won a higher test score in the group's ratings: the Tesla Model S hatchback and the BMW 135i coupe.

The engineers at CR couldn't find anything to criticize about the Impala, and much to praise, although it doesn't yet have reliability ratings for the car because it's too new. They liked the car's ride, like a luxury sedan, with a cushy and controlled demeanor, while delivering surprisingly agile handling, capable acceleration and excellent braking."

"The Impala corners quite well for a large car, with prompt turn-in response and controlled body lean. Steering is nicely weighted; it's light enough for parking maneuvers and provides decent feedback. When pushed to its handling limits, the Impala proved secure, responsive, balanced, and easy to control," the magazine reported.

Gone are the cheap interiors that GM cars of old had sported. Instead, "the Impala's spacious cabin sets a new standard for Chevrolet fit and finish, with generally high-quality materials and trim. The backseat is roomy and comfortable, the trunk is huge, and controls are refreshingly intuitive and easy to use."

Test results for the Impala and five competing sedans can be found at today, and in the September issue of Consumer Reports.