Tweaks to Chevy Design Basics Amplify Interior Spaciousness of ’14 Impala


DETROIT – The new-for-’14 Chevrolet Impala arrives at dealers next year as a large sedan with interior styling that newly interprets the brand’s signature dual-cockpit design approach.

The Impala rides on the same Epsilon midsize car platform as its Malibu stablemate, which also receives a fresh take on Chevy’s approach to interiors with its ’13 redesign.

However, the Impala’s wheelbase stretches some 4 ins. (10 cm) longer than the Malibu, to 111.7 ins. (284 cm), giving General Motors’s interior designers the flexibility to achieve spaciousness beyond what the larger dimensions provide.

Consumers more than ever are making buying decisions based on a vehicle’s interior. The exterior styling draws them and the interior design seals the deal, industry experts say.

“We wanted to make sure the interior felt big,” says Crystal Wyndham, who led development of the 10th-generation Impala’s interior styling. GM wants to reposition the car in the retail market after years as a rental-fleet special.

Wyndham says her team started by pushing the end of the instrument panel outward, a departure from Chevrolet’s traditional approach of wrapping the IP into the doors to achieve the dual-cockpit feel. The old method sometimes affected ingress and egress.

“So we pushed it forward,” she tells WardsAuto during a recent preview of the new Impala here. “We went the opposite way.”

The shape of the dashboard nestles into the doors to complete the dual-cockpit feel.

“What we were able to do on the upper areas of the IP and the doors was have that seamless approach, and graphically we were able to play it up so the signature dual-cockpit design comes across,” Wyndham says.

Pushing the IP and dashboard forward also eliminated the potential for any unsightly gaps where they meet the door, enhancing the impression of craftsmanship. Ambient lighting, leather seats with stitched seams, and other premium materials soft to the touch further enhance the cabin’s appearance.

Wyndham says her team punctuated the Impala’s dual-cockpit design by pulling the surface of the center stack rearward and pulling the dashboard’s decorative trim down further than usual.

That also brings the Impala’s standard 4.2-in. (11-cm) color touchscreen for the information center closer to the driver.

“So when you sit naturally, you don’t have to lean (in) to use the screen, and we were able to achieve that for most of the screen,” she says, noting people of all shapes and sizes were seated behind the wheel during testing of the new design.

Finally, Wyndham’s team created an offset between the IP and the center console to give the driver and passenger extra knee room that pulling the center stack rearward might have compromised.

“It gives you knee clearance, it’s more spacious and it gives you more cross-car clearance,” she says. “What we put together with our new form approach is a larger interior.”

The new Chevy Impala goes on sale in early 2013, featuring an exterior design with sleeker proportions and a more contemporary look.

GM will make available a range of three gasoline direct-injection engines that include its workhorse 3.6L V-6, an all-new 2.5L 4-cyl. and a 2.4L 4-cyl. mated to the auto maker’s eAssist mild hybrid system.

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