Next year, the all-new Chevy Impala hits the streets. While you may know America’s best-selling full size sedan as ‘that rental car,’ Chevy is confident that mindset will soon dissipate, thanks to a sleek new overhaul inside and out. So what’s new for the Impala? John Cafaro, Director of Exterior Design for Chevy and Crystal Windham, Director of Interior Design walk us through their labor of love, the 2014 Chevrolet Impala.
BoldRide: What’s fresh about the exterior?
Cafaro: We’ve got an all-new exterior design that represents the next evolution of Chevrolet’s design vocabulary. It features a sleek proportion, sculpted body sides, standard 18-inch wheels and projector-beam headlamps, with HID headlamps and LED daytime running lamps standard on LTZ models.
Where do you start when you’re designing a car?
Cafaro: The Impala started with a front end sketch since front ends are easily identifiable. They’re successful if you instantly know what the car is that’s pulling up behind you from 100 yards back. We wanted something wide, away from overtly-stacked image that Chevy had been using. Instead we wanted full-width, low, and away from mesh-y style grills and use something more tailored with the bar.
Who’s the intended consumer of the new Impala?
Cafaro: Everyone asks me that. We really didn’t have one. We did some focus group stuff, but we really didn’t target one specific consumer. We just said we wanted to do a great Impala, one with a young spirit. All the people who worked on this car are in their late 20s or early 30s and we told them ‘we want you to do a car for yourselves; a car you could be proud of pulling up at the club or at the tennis club or at the gym. Not one you’re going to park in a back lot.’ Put it this way: if you’re going to rent this from Avis, you’re going to pay a lot more for it. [Laughs]
And on the inside of the car, what’s the most buzzworthy?
Windham: The instrument panel integrates a new instrument cluster with a standard 4.2-inch color display with reconfigurable features for the driver information center. The eight-inch touch screen with concealed storage behind it is matched with the available Chevrolet MyLink system.
What’s one area you focused on in particular?
Windham: Technology integration is the trend now. It’s how do we get all your buttons and dials and knobs and tech options included in a safe way? We took out some physical buttons, which means we could make the remaining ones bigger and easier to use and we put the ones removed on the touch screen interface. With an all-new steering wheel, we put a lot more buttons on there, so you can easily scroll through a menu or use your phone.
The look of the interior is more upscale than prior iterations of the Impala.
Windham: We used a Herringbone pattern, even though it’s physically made from plastic, to simulate metal. And we have suede inserts in the seat backs, which help keep you in the seat in addition to looking and feeling nice. What’s so fun is that we’re getting into various areas of color, too. We have brown and black motif still, but we warmed it up a bit.
How do you pick colors for a car’s interior?
Windham: We don’t clinic color to find out what our buyers want, per se. We go out with an overall theme, but we don’t clinic color. We look at different industries and trends within those to pick colors. We examine the fashion industry, the home furnishing industry and some others. We consider the car interior your second home, so we have different ways we can do that research, get inspired and then implement our take on it.
Lastly, there are a ton of cupholders in this car. Why is that?
Windham: [Laughs] Apparently we eat in our cars like no other country. We have two cupholders in the center console and provisions in front doors, so that’s two more. Two more in the rear doors, and two more in the rear armrests.
That’s eight cupholders for a five-passenger vehicle.
Windham: [Laughs] We hear our customers want more and we want to deliver.