This week, we’re driving the impressive 2015 Chevrolet Impala, a roomy five passenger sedan featuring Chevy’s new 4G internet WI-FI hotspot. The WI-FI connectivity comes standard on all Impalas, be it entry level or top class. WI-FI is free for three months of 3G usage after which the owner must decide to continue the service or cancel.
Up front, you’re probably wondering why someone would pay General Motors for a WI-FI Hotspot versus a Smartphone, which I first thought, too. However, if you read on, you’ll find out the advantages of Chevy WI-FI.
Starting at $27,060, the full-size Impala is a fine representation of General Motors’ modern-day sedan building abilities. It delivers roomy surroundings, a long list of standard equipment and a legacy that dates back to 1958. Back then, Impala shared Chevrolet showrooms with full size but lesser equipped Belairs, Biscaynes and still fairly new Corvettes. Other than that and with Chevy trucks usually parked outside, that’s all Chevy had to offer as midsize and compact Chevys were at least two or more years away.
Today, Impala is an evolutionary masterpiece on the receiving end of numerous top automotive “Best Buy” nods. Available in LS, LT and LTZ trims, (the Eco Hybrid version is dropped for 2015), our 2LT sedan came with a 305-horsepower V6 engine producing 264 lb. ft. of torque and lots of pep. Entry LS models feature a 2.5-liter Inline-4 that delivers 196 horses and 186 lb. ft. of torque. Both engines are coupled to six-speed automatics with EPA numbers of 19 city and 29 highway for the V6 and 24 and 33 for the Inline-4. (Try the Inline-4 first, and then decide.)
Built in Detroit, every Impala features 10 air bags and strong “capsule like” occupant protection. This results in perfect “5 Star” government crash ratings.
As for the WI-FI Hotspot, owners can connect up to seven notebooks, laptops or other devices (like a Kindle) and then enjoy up to 50-feet of strong WI-FI signaling. With a 50-foot radius, your Hotspot device will deliver up to 3G of data easily. After the three month free trial, pricing ranges from $5.00 (200MB) to $30.00 (30GB) per month or receive a best buy 10GB for $150 for 12 months.
Thus, to answer the aforementioned question comparing Smartphones, Chevy stresses it utilizes a much stronger antenna and there’s never a worry about battery life. Of course, you can charge your Smartphone in the Impala, but the signal strength from Chevy’s WI-FI Hotspot will always be stronger, especially if you have seven devices attached.
Our Impala LT2 arrived with 19-inch Goodyear tires on nice alloys, Mylink HD radio with eight-inch color screen, 11-speaker Bose surround stereo and much more. I especially like Impala’s use of “turning knobs” for radio and air conditioning instead of cumbersome “touch screen” controls found in so many cars today. This allows drivers to keep their eyes on the road instead of fumbling around making sure you are “touching properly.”
Our tester featured five options totaling $4,695. One of them, a $1,045 Convenience Package, includes a rear back-up safety camera. One would think by this time all manufacturers have gotten the message that the back-up safety camera is a vital part of automobile safety and should be standard.
The other options included a $1,090 Premium Audio package; $890 Advanced Safety Package with rear forward collision and lane departure; and a $790 LT Advanced Mylink Navigation package and keyless start. Your Chevrolet dealer awaits your visit to explain all features and options.
On the road, Impala’s fully independent suspension and powerful 305 horse engine propels our tester from zero to 60 MPH in 6.8 seconds, so there’s lots of power on tap.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 111.7 inches, 3,845 lb. curb weight, 18.8 cu. ft. of cargo space and an 18.5 gal. fuel tank.
To end on a high note, Consumer Reports magazine rated the new 2014 Impala as the very best of all American sedans, regardless of price. Consumer Reports said, “With the release of our latest road tests, the 2014 Chevrolet Impala becomes the highest-scoring sedan in Consumer Reports’ ratings. No other domestic car has topped the sedans ratings since we began tracking scores in that fashion over 20 years ago.”
Test Drive, not surprisingly, also bestows similar top billing to 2014/2015 Chevy Impala as an “Overall Best Buy.” In ending, although the 2014 leftovers do not feature WI-FI availability, now may be the best time of the year to check out the new Impalas.
Likes: Power, handling, interior, safety, Bowtie legend.
Dislikes: Optional back-up camera an option, large B-Pillar hinders sight.
(Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist.)