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Big Coup For One Of The Big Three: Impala Called Best Sedan

The 2014 Chevrolet Impala, which Consumer Reports says its better than its foreign rivals. i i

hide captionThe 2014 Chevrolet Impala, which Consumer Reports says its better than its foreign rivals.

Justin Lane /EPA /Landov
The 2014 Chevrolet Impala, which Consumer Reports says its better than its foreign rivals.

The 2014 Chevrolet Impala, which Consumer Reports says its better than its foreign rivals.

Justin Lane /EPA /Landov

The city of Detroit may be on the skids financially, but one of its traditional "big three" automakers just scored a big win.

For the first time since it began making such comparisons between sedans in 1992, Consumer Reports magazine has given its top rating to a model made by a U.S. automaker — not one made by a European or Japanese company.

The 2014 Chevrolet Impala "rides like a luxury sedan, with a cushy and controlled demeanor, while delivering surprisingly agile handling, capable acceleration, and excellent braking," writes Consumer Reports. "Inside, the spacious cabin sets a new standard for Chevrolet fit and finish, with generally high-quality materials and trim."

According to Jake Fisher, director of the magazine's automotive testing, "the Impala's performance is one more indicator of an emerging domestic renaissance. 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 Impala outscored not only sedans that are comparable to its "mid-range" price, but much more expensive models as well — such as the Acura RLX and Jaguar XF.

It was just four years ago, as Pro Publica's timeline reminds us, that:

"GM filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. As part of the restructuring, the U.S. government agreed to provide the company up to $30.1 billion [on top of earlier loans]. In exchange, the U.S. received a 60.8 percent stake in the company when it emerged from bankruptcy protection about a month later."

Now, as ABC News writes, "engineers at [Consumer Reports] couldn't find anything to criticize about the Impala." Among all the vehicles they tested, only two got higher grades — the Tesla Model S ultra-luxury hatchback and the BMW 1 Series coupe (97). Neither are sedans.

The magazine only offered one cautionary note about the Impala, which has been substantially redesigned for the 2014 model year: "This Impala is too new for Consumer Reports to have reliability data, so it can't be Recommended. To be Recommended, a vehicle must perform well in CR's battery of tests, have average or better reliability in CR's Annual Auto Survey, and perform well in government and industry crash tests."

Side note: Thursday's news reminds this blogger that he learned to drive on a 1972 Impala. Along with Two-Way readers' thoughts on the news from Consumer Reports, we're wondering this: What was the first car you drove? Feel free to tell us in the comments thread.

Another note: That's just a question, not a scientific survey of public opinion.

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