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.