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Auto blogFri, 15 Mar 2013 11:57:00 EST
Can A Fleet Queen Become a Fullsize King?
On paper, the Chevrolet Impala is a pretty strong seller, posting annual sales that have hovered right around 170,000 units for the last two years, but it only takes one trip to practically any rental car agency to discover where the majority of those sales have come from. In fact, General Motors told Autoblog that a full 70 percent of Impala sales last year went to fleet companies for things like rental cars and government vehicles. Logic tells us that this is neither good for resale values nor name equity, so Chevrolet is getting ready to roll out an all-new Impala with improved comfort, styling and technology, hoping to turn the tables on its retail-to-fleet ratio.
Chevrolet's sedans have come on quite strong in the last few months with the introduction of the Cruze diesel and the SS sedan, but while these will likely be low-volume sellers, there's more pressure for the new Impala to perform well as GM looks to slash fleet sales and compete with the wide variety of full-size sub-luxury sedans. Riding on a platform shared with the Buick LaCrosse and Cadillac XTS, the 2014 Impala will compete against the Hyundai Azera, Ford Taurus and Toyota Avalon on the more traditional side, while also looking to take a bite out of somewhat sportier models like the Chrysler 300/Dodge Charger twins and the Nissan Maxima. We headed to sunny San Diego to see if this totally new Impala can stand on its own without the assistance of fleet companies and rental agencies. [w/video
Ward's Auto has taken an interesting look at the renewed focus General Motors is showing towards Cadillac in Europe. Susan Docherty, president and managing director of Chevrolet and Cadillac in Europe (pictured), says in order for the luxury brand to thrive in China, it first needs to succeed in the old country. The reason? Chinese buyers look to Europe for cues as to what's deemed worthy of the term "luxury." There are hurdles to the plan, however. In addition to the fact that the EU is flooded with high-end nameplates, GM doesn't necessarily have the distribution network in place to put buyers behind the wheel.
Combine that with persistent economic woes and Cadillac's checkered past marred by a lack of diesel engine options and a bankrupt distributor, and the road ahead for the brand looks like less of an uphill climb and more like a straight-up cliff face. But Docherty is optimistic and says she has a plan for the brand. We recommend heading over to Ward's for a closer look at the full read.
Chevrolet has thrown down the next hand in the pickup truck poker wars and revealed at least a couple of potential aces - depending on which numbers matter most to you. The 2014 2014 Silverado 1500 with its 5.3-liter EcoTec3 V8 gets 335 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque, is mated to a six-speed automatic, can tow 11,500 pounds with the optional Max Trailer Package and costs the same as the outgoing Silverado, $24,585 (*including $995 destination fee). Chevy says the Silverado also stands atop the fuel economy charts when comparing any competitor with a V8 engine - and some competitors with V6 engines. The two-wheel drive model returns 16 miles per gallon city, 23 mpg highway, 19 mpg combined in two-wheel drive guise and 16 mpg city, 22 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined as a four-wheel drive.
For context around those numbers, the most fuel efficient V8-powered 2013 Ford F-150 pickups lose about two mpg in every metric compared to the Silverado, the 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost returning 16 city, 18 highway and 22 combined in two-wheel drive. However, that EcoBoost does have 365 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. You can get a Ram 1500 with a 3.6-liter V6 that gets 25 mpg highway, but it has 305 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. The 2013 Ram with the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 and its 395 hp and 407 lb-ft drops one mpg in every category to the Silverado. Its tow rating is 200 pounds beyond its nearest competitor, the F-150 with the Max Trailer Tow Package.
Elsewhere, the new Silverado gets a quieter cab with a redesigned interior, a new bed with improved load-management possibilities, disc brakes all around, tweaked steering and suspension, along with free standard scheduled maintenance for two years or 24,000 miles.