2014 Chevrolet Impala, test drive in Hell, MichiganEnlarge Photo
And that’s likely to be an increasingly common characteristic of modern cars using smaller engines.
Car engines have to be sized for the most extreme power demand that the car may encounter. Consider hard acceleration along a short, uphill on-ramp into fast traffic in a heavily loaded car on a hot day with the air-conditioner running hard. That’s where peak power is demanded.
Just 15 hp for cruising
On the other hand, errands around town—and even more so steady-speed cruising—require just a tiny fraction of the engine’s peak power, perhaps no more than 15 to 50 hp.
Under increasingly stringent fuel-efficiency rules, engineers are now betting that the car will be fine in 90 percent of its usage even if that peak power isn’t there as it was in the days of standard V-6 engines and $2.50-per-gallon gasoline.
And the 2014 Impala four-cylinder is a perfect example of that. Would you accept less peak power in exchange for 25-mpg efficiency in such a large family sedan?
Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.
From $29K to $35K
For the record, our 2014 Impala test car was the 1LT model with a base price of $28,975. It came loaded up with options, though including a premium audio and sport wheel package ($1,140), a power sunroof with second-row skylight ($1,050), a premium seating package ($945), a convenience package ($940), and an advanced safety package ($890).
Adding those options and the mandatory $810 delivery fee brought the bottom-line sticker price to a more substantial $34,750. Chevrolet points out that the four-cylinder Impala is not “decontented” as are some competitors’ models with smaller engines: It retains full four-wheel disk brakes and a full range of trim levels, including the high-end choices.
Mild-hybrid coming too
A second four-cylinder Impala, this one fitted with a 2.4-liter engine and the eAssist mild-hybrid system already used in the Buick Lacrosse, will arrive at Chevy dealers before the end of the year.
That car is expected to earn EPA ratings of 25 mpg city, 35 mpg highway, for a likely combined rating of around 28 mpg.
Chevrolet provided airfare, lodging, and meals so High Gear Media could bring you this first-person test drive.