By on August 22, 2014

2014 Chevrolet ImpalaWe knew the Chevrolet Impala was going to suffer, volume-wise, with the introduction of the tenth-generation model.

No matter how positive its review was in Consumer Reports, no matter how attractive its front end, GM insisted they weren’t going to chase fleet sales. Moreover, the car’s more upmarket positioning and the slow death of its category weren’t going to produce improved sales.

Perhaps what some didn’t realize, however, was that the Impala’s decline was long since underway.

In 2007, when the U.S. auto market was last clicking along at the rate it is now, General Motors sold more than 300,000 Impalas. As the market crashed two years later, falling 35% compared with 2007, 2009 sales of the Impala had fallen 47%. A slight improvement in 2010 was followed up by consecutive declines in 2011, 2012, and 2013.

After averaging more than 278,000 annual U.S. Impala sales between 2003 and 2007, the Impala has averaged fewer than 165,000 annual U.S. sales (including an estimate for 151,000 sales in 2014) since 2010.

We’re quick to point to the loss of numerous brands to help explain much of GM’s lost market share over the last decade. 27.5% of the new vehicles sold in 2004 were GM products; GM’s market share through the first seven months of 2014 is down to 17.8%. (GM’s four current brands owned 22.9% of the U.S. market in 2004.)

16.8% of the GM vehicles sold in 2004 were Hummers, Oldsmobiles, Pontiacs, Saturns, and Saabs. Of the 3.78 million vehicles sold by GM in 2004 by brands that still exist today, 7.7% were Impalas.

Only 5.1% of the new vehicles sold by GM this year have been Impalas. Is the loss of nearly 783,000 Hummer, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Saturn and Saab sales meaningful? Undoubtedly, that loss is significant, at least from a strictly volume perspective, if not a profit-centric one.

Also significant: the loss of 140,000 Impala sales.

Yet what can GM do when they build a vastly improved car and send that car into a gauntlet that’s choking off the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, Ford Taurus, Hyundai Azera, and Toyota Avalon, all of which have seen their sales decline on a year-over-year basis in 2014?

Chrysler sold more than 120,000 300s in 2007 and will struggle to crest the 50K barrier in 2014. Taurus sales climbed to a seven-year high in 2013, but 70,000 total sales is about the max for 2014. Hyundai won’t likely sell much more than 9000 Azeras in 2014, having sold 21,948 in pre-Genesis 2007. Toyota averaged nearly 86,000 annual Avalon sales in the three-year period ending in 2007 but the Avalon isn’t likely to top 70,000 in 2014.

The Impala is suffering from a contagious disease, one that’s long been making its way through the whole category. In 2012 PR parlance, it’s gone viral. Consumers want their upmarket cars to wear upmarket badges. They may also not want their upmarket cars to actually be cars.

So does GM’s car division look to the Malibu for solace? In some ways, yes. Chevrolet has sold more than 200,000 Malibus in each of the last three years, having not previously done so since 2005. Malibu volume is down 5% in 2014.

In 2013, Chevrolet compact car volume (248,224 Cruzes) climbed to the highest level since 2003, when 256,550 Cavaliers were sold. Cruze sales are up 4.5% in 2014, although they’ve tumbled in each of the last two months after surging in May. Never were more than 68,085 Aveos sold in a single calendar year, but Chevrolet sold 85,646 Sonics in 2013. Sonic sales are up 11.5% in 2014 in a subcompact category that’s risen less than 3%.

GM would presumably prefer to sell 300,000 Impalas with or without a Sonic increase. But those days are gone.

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90 Comments on “The Chevrolet Impala’s Decline Isn’t Recent...”


  • avatar
    petezeiss

    The Impala is a sedan. Sedans suck for old people. Old people buy the most cars.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      3 box sedans suck in general. They are only good for carrying people, and not very many people at that. Minivans are better at carrying more people. C/SUVs are easier to get in and out of, though it is not necessarily the height above the ground – it is the shape and height of the door openings. The current fad that all sedans must have swoopy coupe rooflines makes the back seats very hard to get in and out of, something 2-box designs mostly don’t have a problem with. Look at how LOW the rear edge of the back door opening on the Impala above is! Go and look at the back doors and roofline of something like a Volvo 740 or an ’85 Olds 98. And of course any 2-box design is going to be better at carrying things other than people.

      And add to the above that for what these now more upmarket but non-premium brands charge, you can get a slightly smaller premium brand car, and it is easy to see why sales are declining rapidly. We are seeing an end of cars by the pound in the US. My Great Aunt’s loaded Impala was within spitting distance of what I paid for my BMW for example, when historically such a car would have been 1/2 the price or less. She’s 86 years old, so the car is appropriate for her, but hardly anyone my age looks twice at something like this.

      • 0 avatar
        petezeiss

        “it is not necessarily the height above the ground – it is the shape and height of the door openings.”

        Had that vividly illustrated yesterday. Tried to access the driver’s seat of a new Cherokee, plenty tall, and could barely get in due to my left hip having limited flex. But I don’t even muss my hair getting in to drive my sister’s Fit.

        The highest point of the Fit’s roof is where your head passes upon entry, forward of where your head is when already seated. Brilliant.

        • 0 avatar
          MrGreenMan

          GM just particularly sucks at making cars you can get in and out of; they lost it with the H-body’s retirement.

          The W-Body Impala was higher off the ground than the H-body Olds 88. I have relatives with hip problems. There was never a complaint with the H-body back seat. I got active friction with the Impala to the point that they preferred my Uglibu.

          If you look at the wheel placement, there’s just something insane about where GM put the wheel in relation to the back door on the W-body that made it hard to get in and out of. Further, they had really high door sills by comparison, which made stepping up then down a real pain.

          Similarly, CUV/SUV was not quite a winner unless it was the cute-ute variety. Make the CUV/SUV too big, too high, and you have yet another impediment.

          A car where the step-in is not that deep is pretty good. I think I’m known for liking the D3 cars, at least in Ford’s first two rounds on those, just for this reason – they are really easy to get in and out of. There was a particular generation of Maxima/Altima that I remember being good at this recently, too.

          As to the new Impala? Who cares. I’m not going to try it. The W-Body was around so long, that, unless Ford really screws up, GM’s lost a buyer in their large car segment. All I need to know is that they put a four cylinder in it to protect the grotesquely-proportioned XTS and it’s going to be a compromised car. I imagine they could have kept some of the advantages of the Epsilon II that I saw with my Malibu, but, the W-body drove me away from Impalas.

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        Hey krhodes,

        I agree and disagree with you simultaneously. FYI I generally find your posts very well reasoned.

        I agree that minivans are better at moving n>2 amounts of people, and that CUVs (generally) have easier ingress and egress, and that 2 box hatchbacks generally have more usable openings, AND that modern sedans tend to have low roofs that limit practicality.

        But sometimes a 3 box sedan may fit someones needs well, and then they don’t suck. My 3 box sedan has a more formal roofline, and is perfect for 2 people, 2 people and our camping gear, or 4 people going to lunch. So I think usage case makes a difference.

        • 0 avatar
          Mandalorian

          Agreed. Today’s sedans have been lowered so much in the name of aerodynamics, getting in and out of them is a chore, even for the young and healthy. Now just think about people with 50-60+ years of wear and tear on their joints. Not fun

        • 0 avatar
          thornmark

          For most people and in most circumstances sedans and their wagon variants are superior -in ride, handling and mpg. Most of the time vehicles have one or two occupants.

          People think they need awd and women especially like the imposing seating positions suv and cuvs offer.

          It’s a shame that Americans don’t know that sedans w/ high tech snows and winter wheels outperform awd trucklets w/ compromised all season tires in ice and snow while achieving much greater fuel economy. Weight and high center of gravity are not advantages for stopping or cornering.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            Most people don’t know that AWD is not magic and get themselves in trouble. People are now going through the same learning experience as when ABS was new, and people thought they could drive fast because with ABS they could stop in time.

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            “Weight and high center of gravity are not advantages for stopping or cornering.”

            True, but driving more slowly magically corrects for both, especially on snow and ice.

        • 0 avatar

          Agree. Mark me up among those that appreciate a sedan. For a family of four or even 5, some modern compact sedans are the ticket. And by compact I mean smaller than a Civic or Corolla. In other parts of the world , these new compact sedans while shorter in overall length than a Civic or Corolla, have trunks that carry 500L (a Civic has under 450 IIRC) while cars like the Focus hatch carry around 320-360L. Difference is big and they cost of fraction of Corolla-Focus cars that are considered midsizers in much the rest of the world. So sedans are the family car still in lots of developing world and is a very hot segment worldwide. Plus there is that factor, for people growing up in hatches, a sedan adds a grown up and nore successful image to the owner than the equivalent hatch.

          • 0 avatar
            Vipul Singh

            I thought sedans being more prestigious than hatches was an India-only thing. Somewhat surprised that the same is true of Brazil. In India, even an INR 500000 compact sedan (under 4 meters) is considered a big car while, say, a fit / jazz is a small car by most people’s thinking. And the jazz cost INR 700000 when it was last on sale here and bigger overall

          • 0 avatar

            Yep, very similar. And the market for sedans is just growing. The other day I saw the split in Etios hatch and sedan sales, and it just boogled my mind the number of sedans (though it confirmed what I see on the streets). Out of every 10, nearly 4 is a sedan. From one or two competitors (compact sedans) there are now at least 10 big names (more surely).

            BTW, have you seen the new Ford Ka for India? So beautiful, really reminds me of an Escort. Better than the hatch or sedan we get here in design. Designed specifically for India because of the 4 meter law.

          • 0 avatar
            Vipul Singh

            Yes, the KA / new Figo has one of the better integrated boots in the sub-4 meter sedan segment. Saw it at the 2014 Auto Expo in Delhi. The only angle I did not especially like was the front overhang combined with the pedestrian-friendly bonnet hump.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          @Davefromcalgary

          But what does a sedan do better than anything else? Especially a relatively SMALL sedan. Nothing. A wagon is always more useful, and these days, a wagon gets you out of most of the rear door issues. It is about all I can do to get into and out of the back seat of a 3-series sedan for example, because the edge of the door opening is where my head needs to be. No such issue in the wagon. If you are only carrying two people and a little bit of stuff, anything will work. But fundamentally a modern sedan is a pretty useless device – you might as well get a coupe and have decent size doors for better access the front and usually a prettier look to go with the impracticality. Every time I have owned a sedan I have regretted it, too compromised.

          • 0 avatar
            George B

            “But what does a sedan do better than anything else? Especially a relatively SMALL sedan.”

            krhodes1, a sedan (or coupe) puts property in a separate area, the trunk, where it’s 1) not visible to potential thieves and 2) noise from that property rattling is much less audible to the driver while driving. The low, long, wide car configuration allows for a more aerodynamic shape that’s useful where highway driving distances are measured in hours. However, I do agree that the styling trend of the coupe roofline has made the rear doors of sedan less useful while the pedestrian-friendly tall hood has compromised potential aerodynamic advantages.

      • 0 avatar
        dtremit

        The ingress/egress issue for current sedans isn’t helped any by the fact that B-pillars are now the size of giant redwoods. That’s the same for sedans and CUVs, but the lower seating position of a sedan means that a person of any given height is going to sit further back in the sedan.

  • avatar
    mike978

    If they do sell 151000 Impala’s (without excessive fleet sales) this year then that is a good achievement compared to the competition that in some cases won`t break four figures.

    The shift in the market place to “premium vehicles” at this price point occurred 20 plus years ago in Europe. I recall living in the UK back in the 1990′s as people shifted from Ford Granada’s and Vauxhall Senators to a BMW 3 series or equivalent. The US is just following that trend.

  • avatar
    mikey

    I’m 60, and I traded my “mid life crisis” 2SS Camaro for a 14 Impala LT.

    I have to agree with Tim on this one. The people, that are still buying big sedans, are fading fast. We “Boomers” grew up with large 6 passenger, huge trunk sedans. I don’t like CUV’s, I won’t buy a CUV. I’m quite happy to drive my Impala for a long time.

    I’m also aware that I’m part of a shrinking demographic.

    • 0 avatar
      50merc

      Whole lotta shrinking going on here too, Mikey, ’cause I’ve got ten years on you, which makes me suitable for a Park Avenue. To my mind, the decline in sedan sales is due in large part to the torpedo-like, gunslit-windowed shape. Many CUVs are bought because they provide a higher seating position and easier ingress and egress. The Five Hundred was an attempt to provide those benefits, but it suffered from too many other deficiencies. The current Taurus with the squashed roof and huge console puts front occupants into side-by-side coffins.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Well, Mikey, you have 10 years on me, but I’m with you – give me a good sedan over a CUV any day. And on the rare occasions that I’d need to haul something, there’s always Enterprise.

  • avatar
    mcarr

    Also, most of the previous gen Impala’s went out the door for just a tick over $20k. A great deal for that type of car. Not sure how much cash is on the hood of the new version, but the spec you want stickers at over $30k. There’s a LOT of other options at that price point and below, including some near luxury mid sized cars and CUV’s.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      My Great Aunt’s car stickered for over *$40K*, and while she won’t tell me exactly what she paid, she did not get any huge discount on it, maybe $2-3K. It really is a nice car, all the toys you could ever want, but it is still just a Chevy. It drives just like every other big, soft, fwd boat on the road.

      At these prices GM has to be making plenty of money on them, even at the lower volumes. As opposed to the “lose a little on every one and make it up in volume” approach of the past. I really don’t understand the overriding focus on sales – profit is what counts.

    • 0 avatar
      bomberpete

      I don’t think it’s the Chevy label per se, because Vettes, Camaros, Suburbans, etc. go for more. Still, when I saw one tested with a $39K sticker, I knew that no matter how good it was there was no way Impala would succeed the way GM expects. Well, what does for that matter?

      Too bad because it sounds like a fine machine. But at a time when loaded Fusions and Camrys are discounted to $25K, it’s just hard to justify a freakin’ Chevy FWD sedan with a somewhat-roomier back seat for over $30K.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I dunno, I really like having a nice, big car, and that’s coming from someone who had owned nothing but sporty compacts his whole life (Civic 1500S, twincam Protege, Focus ST). I have an ’03 Buick LeSabre, and it’s boring as hell, but it’s awfully nice gliding that big old thang down I-25 at 85 in dead silence. Fusions and Camcords are OK too, but I think next time around, I’m going to stick with a big car – maybe a Hemi 300 or an Impala.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    The Epsilon Impala isn’t the same as the W Impala. Asking and transaction prices are much higher, where the W Impala was the definition of car by the pound. Also, during the last run of the W Impala, the Malibu literally moved in on it’s turf, so naturally sales were split.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Exactly its apples and oranges, the article is using data of two completely different models (W-Impala and Epsilon Impala) and again when comparing Malibu data (LWB Epsilon Malibu vs SWB Epsilon II Malibu). Heck other than all models are sedans and share the same names, they are all vastly different from each other.

      Even the Epsilon IIs between divisions aren’t quite the same:

      http://www.gminsidenews.com/forums/f39/epsilon-ii-platform-comparison-119358/

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        They’re now producing both cars simultaneously. The deliveries data combines the two.

        As noted below, I am willing to bet that the old model comprises much of the current production. YTD deliveries are down, and a lot of that loss is probably from retail. I will be quite surprised if retail ends up on the right side of 50k units for the calendar year.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I suspect you are correct. Curious GM chooses to combine sales figures of two completely different models, no matter their names. Yet I don’t see them mixing Cruze and Verano figures, or in the case of fleet only, Captiva and Equinox.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          My point was that it wouldn’t be at all suprising to see the Epsilon II version sell at a lower rate than the W because of the higher price and lower fleet allocations.

          As for overall volume, I wouldn’t be surprised if more than half of the total was comprised of Epsilons though. There are only so many fleet sales to be had by the Limited W body model, even when rentals are considered.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I can’t speak for anyone else, but I think GM is deliberately mixing the two together in order to hide lower than expected Epsilon II sales. Why, I don’t quite understand. I also think W-Impala demand is higher than you might expect. My two cents.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            My guess would be they combine the two because together they can claim the “best selling” nameplate in the segment, which they have.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Perhaps Danio, perhaps. Might also be a face saving thing as well internal to the company.

            Here are US/Canadian Lacrosse sales 2010 to present, perhaps Epi Impala sales were projected to be much more and they are essentially the same or less?

            2010

            61,178
            3947

            2011

            58,474
            2839

            2012

            57,076
            2377

            2013

            48,798
            1156

            2014 YTD *

            29,200
            704

            http://www.goodcarbadcar.net/2011/01/buick-lacrosse-sales-figures.html

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    I think a key loss from fleet sales isn’t just the rental companies (I still see a lot of Impalas in rental fleets here in Orlando), but the lack of a police package. Here in Central Florida, the Impala basically took over the police market. Many agencies, including the largest here, Orange County Sheriff’s Office, who’s vehicle fleet numbers in the thousands, are gonna be faced with some difficult decisions about what to replace their Impalas with (OCSO jumped on the first generation FWD 9C1 Impala almost as soon as it became available, so they’ve been using the type a long time).

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Government sales are a relatively small part of the car market, and police vehicles are only a fraction of that.

      Impala government sales did fall during that timeframe, but that accounted for only one of every eight units lost. About three-quarters of the hit came from lost retail and corporate fleet; for whatever reason, the bottom dropped out of the Impala’s corporate fleet business.

  • avatar
    Dan

    Flawed analysis. The old Impala wasn’t a big car. The last big Impala died in 1996. The one they sold 300,000 copies a year of, 400,000 counting the Grand Prix was GM’s Camcord. It didn’t fall off throughout the 00s because America got sick of big cars, it fell off because it was old and neglected and America outside of Hertz bought other brand’s Camcords instead.

    The new Impala has nothing in common with the old one but the name. Coming out of nowhere to sell 150,000 big expensive cars shows the big car is dying? The big car was already well and truly dead. If anything this shows the big car might be coming back to life.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I too saw the old Impala as a Camcord for people who didn’t care about quality or technology. 151,000 barge-model Impalas is an interesting number from that perspective. Have they really resisted the fleet temptation? I’ve yet to see an owner-driven one. Seems to me that the sales could be shifted from other large offerings, whether it be due to Buick’s absence of repeat customers, Pontiac and Mercury’s demises, Panther extinction, or Fiat’s inability to create an LX successor without access Mercedes-Benz’s salvage pile. So while the Impala might now be a big car selling in non-niche numbers, that doesn’t mean the big car market is growing.

      • 0 avatar
        IHateCars

        “I too saw the old Impala as a Camcord for people who didn’t care about quality or technology.”

        Uh-oh….now you’ve done it. Queue Zackman in 3…2…1…

        • 0 avatar
          Zackman

          Here I am! A bit late, but…

          First of all, IMHO, the 2014 Impala is the most beautiful Impala since the 1972 model. Having said that, I’d be hard-pressed to buy one simply because the price is in Buick territory, especially in the LTZ trim.

          My 2012 is an LTZ, which would equal an LT in the latest model.

          As for the comment about those who don’t care about quality or technology, well… my current ride is excellent and my old 2004 had outstanding reliability, so that comment is nonsense. There is a reason so many bought CamCords and Impalas – they do their job very well!

          Technology-wise? I don’t know. My Impala doesn’t have a touch screen, so what? It has just about everything else and is twice the car of my old one, even if on the same platform.

          It is unfortunate I don’t see more new Impalas on the road, but they’re seriously over-priced – far beyond what a Chevy should cost.

          Truth be told, if I ever replace my ride, I’d probably go Malibu, but the field may be by that time wide open.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        In my experience there are far fewer Epsilon Impalas than W Impalas in rental fleets. The W Impala is a mainstay of the fleet and was at one time what you were most likely to get by default as a frequent renter. The Epsilon Impala is being considered “premium” and is more or less for VIP customers or those paying for a “premium” car only. These days the default choices are Altimas, Chrysler 200s, and Camries.

        • 0 avatar
          bomberpete

          In my last rental from Budget – a Fusion “full-size” instead of the “mid-size” (i.e. Corolla) I paid for – the Epsilon Impala was in the Premium aisle next to a Caddy ATS and ironically, Lincoln MKZ. With the latter, I think I got the better deal.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      ” Coming out of nowhere to sell 150,000 big expensive cars shows the big car is dying?”

      Most of that is fleet. Big, but not expensive.

      YTD deliveries are down 8.5%. It’s a safe bet that almost all of that decline comes from lost retail. This is a dying segment. GM doesn’t break out the difference between the “classic” old car and the new one, but it’s easy to surmise that the old rentalmobile is seeing much of the action.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        That entire YTD number doesn’t mean anything, the new Impala didn’t go on sale until April last year.

        April through July, the Impala is flat year on year. I don’t know the exact breakdown between new models and the old W body but there were retail W bodies being cleared out last year and they’re all gone now, so sales of the new model are up at least a hair.

        And even fleet sales are surely more expensive than the old car was.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          Some folks are hooked on wishful thinking.

          Fine, let’s slice and dice it another way:

          August 2012 – July 2013: 157,794 units
          August 2013 – July 2014: 148,635 units

          That’s a decline of 5.8% in a rising market.

          For the 2013 calendar year, the Impala was 66% fleet. That includes several months of the new Epsilon platform model.

          You can spin that like a top, and it still doesn’t look anything that you’d like to think that it does. This nameplate is losing sales in a rising market, and the fleet percentages were high to begin with.

          • 0 avatar
            Dan

            A medium sized $20,000 car outsells a big $33,000 car. So what? They’re not a continuation of each other.

            CY 2012, the Impala was 78% fleet. They don’t make police cars out of the new one either.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            PCH,
            You convinced me. That said, I don’t look at the new Impala as a failure. It leads in sales among full size cars, and commands a much higher price than the previous version. It’s just a tough category.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            ” So what? They’re not a continuation of each other.”

            The point is that much of the volume probably consists of bargain rental cars of the older body style, not of higher-end retail sales of the new car.

            The percentage of cars that comprise this $30k+ pricing that you’re referencing is probably a minority of those sales. Your choice to mix the high price figure with the total volume shows that you are either confused or else disingenuous.

          • 0 avatar
            FormerFF

            The market for vehicles is rising, the market for sedans is shrinking.

      • 0 avatar

        “YTD deliveries are down 8.5%. It’s a safe bet that almost all of that decline comes from lost retail. This is a dying segment. GM doesn’t break out the difference between the “classic” old car and the new one, but it’s easy to surmise that the old rentalmobile is seeing much of the action.”

        If YTD deliveries were down 8.5% and retail sales were up 113% in Q1 and assuming retail sales were up a pessimistic 70% in Q2, how is the old rentmobile seeing all the action?

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          “If YTD deliveries were down 8.5% and retail sales were up 113% in Q1…”

          That would suggest that (a) 1Q2013 retail Impala sales were lousy and (b) the competitors had a bad first quarter of 2014.

          I realize that you are a GM fanboy through and through, but you should begin to appreciate the level of parsing that goes into a GM press release.

          If the retail sales figures were good, then they would simply state what they were, instead of just sticking to percentages.

          GM makes a point in its press release of not reporting the retail unit count. You really ought to ask yourself why the company chose to omit the key statistic.

          • 0 avatar

            Personal attacks and name calling: When you have nothing credible to say and you have lost the argument.

            Your words – “YTD deliveries are down 8.5%. It’s a safe bet that almost all of that decline comes from lost retail.”

            For someone who loves to call other poeple out, you make up your own ‘facts’ a lot. The data is from JD Power, not GM. A 113% increase in retail is the exact opposite of “a safe bet that almost all of that decline comes from lost retail.”.

            GM doesn’t have to report jack if can do math. Total sales averaged 165,000 in the last four years or 13,000 a month. It is a known fact that less than 25% were retail, 3000 to 3250 a month. If retail sales doubled in q1 then it is safe to assume the new one sold 5000 to 6000/month to retail or more than the entire scion brand. Not great but not too shabby either. GM doesnt break out the numbers because they want to hide the fact that 50% are still going to retail. They were too optimistic predicting 75% retail for the 2014 model.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “A 113% increase in retail is the exact opposite of “a safe bet that almost all of that decline comes from lost retail.”.

            You need to sharpen up your reading skills. Let’s try again, shall we?

            The GM press release says that retail ***MARKET SHARE*** increased by 113% for the quarter.

            http://media.gm.com/media/us/en/gm/news.detail.html/content/Pages/news/us/en/2014/May/0505-impala.html

            That is not an absolute measure (the number of units) but a relative measure (the percentage of the retail market.) Retail share increased from 6.9% to 14.7%, a difference of 113%.

            If the 1Q2013 retail sales figure was exceptionally low (which it should have been, given that the old car was being phased out of retail) and the rivals took a hit, then retail share can grow for one quarter without the absolute number of units being anything to write home about.

            As I noted, you can’t just read a GM press release at face value. You need to figure out what isn’t being included.

            There was relevant information that GM specifically did not provide here, namely the number of units. I can think of two possible reasons for that glaring omission:

            -Somebody forgot to include it
            -The number wasn’t so impressive

            Something tells me that it wasn’t the former.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            We may as well turn this into a teachable moment.

            If someone is going to throw around figures, then it would be helpful to put those figures into perspective.

            Among that field of seven cars cited in the GM press release, here are the last three years of the Impala’s retail market share:

            2011: 24.3%
            2012: 15.2%
            2013: 17.2%

            If Q12013 market share was only 6.9%, then that would be an pretty miserable quarter compared to the annual averages.

            An increase in share to 14.7% would be at the lower end of normal, not anything to be excited about.

            During the first quarter of 2014, the Impala had overall market share (retail and fleet) of about 31%. Since 31% share is considerably higher than the 14.7% retail share for the same period, we can easily surmise that the first quarter was dominated by fleet sales.

            Again, there is a reason why GM didn’t simply spell out how many retail sales that there were for the quarter. The 1Q2013 was so miserable that it wouldn’t have been difficult to improve upon it.

  • avatar
    TorontoSkeptic

    There are just some basic realities leading to the decline of full-size sedans, Impalas included:

    - Gas is much more expensive than it used to be, and seems to be staying that way. The Impala gets pretty bad gas mileage, roughly on par with AWD mid-sized SUVS (Murano, Sorrento, etc).
    - On a related notes, mid-size cars get much better fuel economy, and downsize their engines considerably
    - mid-sized (and compacts) are much larger than they used to be, so the marginal benefit of a full-size is diminished
    - I would argue the overall quality of smaller cars has improved a ton. The difference between a Cruze and Cobalt/Sunfire/Cavalier is massive. Ditto the difference between the current-generation focus and the last-generation.

    I also think pricing is kind of out of whack for most full-size cars. I drove and loved the new Avalon, but there is zero chance I would ever pay $40k+ for it.

    As pointed out by MCarr the previous-gen Impala was as cheap as most compacts. When that’s the case full-size is attractive, more car for the same money. But the current situation is a very, very tough sell.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Segments come and go because they become favored by a generation of people whose tastes aren’t inherited by their kids. Those buyers eventually age out of the segment or die (literally) and they are not replaced by younger consumers, so demand fades.

      This segment faded at least two decades ago. Those who were really fond of it are much older than they were, are dying or are already dead.

      The Millennials have acquired a taste for crossovers, so I expect that the CUV will be the body style that dominates for the next couple of decades before it is eventually replaced by something else.

      • 0 avatar
        TW5

        Fullsize sedan sales were crippled by onerous CAFE regulations, along with the American auto manufacturers. CUVs will probably suffer the same fate, if CAFE 2025 remains in tact.

        Generational preference has little to do with it.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          Right. There are jackbooted CAFE Gestapo standing guard outside of the Chevy dealerships who abduct would-be customers at gunpoint to Honda and Toyota stores, where they are forced to buy Accords and Camrys and CR-Vs when they would prefer to buy Impalas, instead.

          The customers who are spending the money on other cars are hapless victims with no choice in the matter. It’s not as if they have preferences or anything…

          • 0 avatar
            TW5

            If you were banned from this website, you’d find somewhere else to post, but your new choice would not reflect an absence of regulatory influence. Obviously, you understand the unintended consequences of regulation. I don’t know why you pretend otherwise.

            CAFE essentially killed the V8 family sedan. A relatively small group went to Honda and Toyota. A relatively large group bought V8 trucks and SUVs with worse fuel economy than V8 sedans. CAFE 2025 will probably have similar unintended consequences, if it remains unchanged.

            Jeep Wrangler will have to achieve 37mpg by 2025. You think that’s going to happen? CR-V et al will need around 35mpg combined. When these vehicles disappear or the sales numbers plummet due to expensive hybrid equipment, generational trends in consumer choice will not be the cause.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            I have two words for all those who blame CAFE for killing the V8 sedan: Hellcat Charger.

            So much whining about the EPA and CAFE (both enacted by Republican presidents, BTW) – if you are so desperate for a V8 sedan, go buy a 300C.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Which is a high priced limited edition model of the Charger. Cadillac would sell you a limited edition model of the CTS-V sporting a V8. Chevrolet its SS, Jaguar its XJ, Mercedes its S-class V8s and so on. The common theme here is none of those are mainstream cars. Every one is a limited edition, niche, or exotic product.

            Part of the reason is the mainstream cars are all transverse FWDs and in the past ten years few models have attempted a transverse V8 and of those few were sales successes (of the top of my head: W-body GP/Monte/Impy, G-body Lucerne/Deville, Volvo XC90). None of those offered the V8 as a standard option. Chrysler is the only OEM offering a V8 option for cars in its lineup of any mainstream marque, which is something to lament. People who truly want this V8 configuration are forced into pickup trucks and waste more fuel hauling air around than they would if more V8 capable sedans were available.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            People have a tendency to buy the vehicles that they want, rather than the ones that they don’t.

            Today’s Camry and Accord blow away the barges of yesteryear. They’re quicker and more fuel efficient; they don’t need eight cylinders to provide reasonable performance.

            In the 70s, there was an oil crisis that motivated many to downsize. Some of them switched to the Japanese, realized that the imports were better, and stayed with them. Those early adopters would influence others to do the same.

            People who forget the OPEC crisis and who don’t realize that American cars weren’t particularly good will miss the obvious. The domestic fanboys don’t want to believe that their favored products were rejected because they deserved to be rejected.

            If you have other preferences, then go buy an Impala. Nobody, except possibly your banker and/or spouse, is stopping you.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @TW5
          You have hit the nail on the head.

          CAFE and other regulatory constraints/fuel pricing is what is killing the large sedan.

          For anyone to state CAFE has little or no effect are playing with their p’nus.

          CAFE and other barriers (poulet impot) is why the full size pickup market still exists. As full size cars become prohibitive to buy due to CAFE ‘fines’ like the Chev SS endures the market will change to reflect regulatory and economic influences.

          But for how long? like you suggested regarding future changes to CAFE regulations.

          Don’t worry the UAW types (Pch101) will defend CAFE and disregard it’s impact on the vehicle market. He has to, that’s what he’s paid to do.

          The US vehicle market as a whole will see a large transformation and the quickest transformation in it’s history over the next 10-15 years.

          But, the nay sayers will argue their pathetic point to protect whom they represent.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    Well…I didn’t like the remark ” Consumers want their upmarket cars to wear upmarket badges. They may also not want their upmarket cars to actually be cars.”
    First, that isn’t what is going on here. It is my belief people really see the Impala as a Buick…only the Buick is better looking and receiving better praise.
    Second…I like these big cars and feel pound for dollar I am getting a better “car” than a premium. Long term cost included.
    Last, the big mftrs are building fantastic cars just a bit smaller and THIS is what is eating these sales.
    And what is wrong with having a group of cars that isn’t breaking records but fills a need as long as another segment is picking up the sales slack and keeping the entire company growing?
    ALL your segments can’t be THE sales leaders!
    It is all good.

    This being said, I am disappointed with the new Impala look. I would rather drive a Buick. Sorry.

  • avatar
    impala

    The branding issue I think can be mitigated over time if the quality of the cars is there. Sadly, the Impala, at least for me, ceased to be a quality car post the mid-sixties. I grew up riding in my Dad’s ’66 Impala of which I have very fond memories and always wanted to own an Impala. Until the 2014 Impala hit the showrooms, the car had pretty poor CR reviews which kept me from buying one. I went and bought a 2014 as soon as CR put their stamp of approval on it and have not been disappointed with the experience so far (reliability is still an open question). It is everything a modern Impala should be IMO. Chevrolet now needs to replicate the new Impala’s best qualities across their lineup and in time I think buyers will find their way to the brand, badge or no badge!

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      While attending MLB Spring Training in Phoenix, AZ, during March-April 2014, one of the brothers-in-law had a 2014 Impala rental some of us climbed into to get to the games and restaurants.

      Over the weeks we were there,I had a chance to sit in all passenger seating positions and I was not impressed. The Impala was hard to get into and out of, all the doors slammed and sounded tinny, and even with the V6, it was a dog with five people on board when trying to merge with Interstate traffic.

      I found the Venza owned by a friend of mine to be a lot easier to get into and out of, and IMO the Venza V6 rides better, is more quiet inside when on the road, and the doors shut with a solid thunk, without slamming or sounding tinny.

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah, but the Impala looks better than a Venza!

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          I can’t see myself buying either one. Neither fits my needs or wants.

          My observation was truly objective since I had no dog in this fight, nor a favorite in this discussion.

          If I ever needed a large sedan, or vehicle of that type, I believe that the Chrysler 300 with the Pentastar V6 would probably be the best all-around choice. The 5.7 makes it too nose-heavy on twisty mountain roads.

          People I know who own a 300-series sedan of any and all configurations absolutely love them. And the 300s are easy to get into and out of, at least for me at 6ft and 185 pounds, and my wife at 5’9″ and 125 pounds.

  • avatar
    JaySeis

    My wife’s hip issues had us trade in the Mustang GT for an Edge because the latter’s sit in height was perfect for her and higher than the GT and lower than my truck. We are also part of the demographic that grew up with station wagons, big sedans, farm/1/2 ton & 3/4 ton farm trucks. Not surprising that our vehicles trend towards utility. Contrast that with my son-in-law who picks up a low miles loaded Taurus that my step daughter drives, they love it. Go figure.

  • avatar

    The new Impala IMO is the best passenger car ever made by Chevy. I think it looks stunning in any color but as usual GM is five years too late. Even if the full size segment is shrinking there is a valuable lesson here for GM. Go all out or go home. No more conservative refreshes.

    The new Impala is $10K pricier for a V6. The 2014 4cyl is priced $5K more than a 2012 6 cyl. It shouldn’t surprise anyone if a car that is 30 to 35% more expensive than it’s predecessor will sell in lower numbers. What is a surprise is retail sales were up more than 100% in Q1 (independent third party data). Q2 data is not out yet but I doubt it is too far off Q1 numbers.

    http://media.gm.com/media/us/en/gm/news.detail.html/content/Pages/news/us/en/2014/May/0505-impala.html

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Preference for large sedans dates to the time when families were much larger and safety concerns were small and assuaged by the size of the vehicle (i.e. more metal to keep you safe). I remember piling into the 1966 Impala sedan owned by the coach of my YMCA league team with about 9 other team members for a trip to the neighboring school’s gymnasium without a thought in the world about wearing seatbelts. Today you would be arrested for child abuse unless you provide a vehicle equipped with individual 3 point belts and airbags for each member of the family (or basketball team), thus a sedan just cannot do the heavy hauling like they did in the old days. There are also a lot more vehicle choices today with SUVs, CUVs, Vans, Minivans, and 4 door pickups for those that still have a need for heavy hauling, and a whole lot of excellent midsize and smaller vehicles for those that don’t need to carry around a lot of people or stuff. Thus large sedans tend to be favored by senior citizens with nostalgia for the old days when they hauled around their 5 kids in an Impala, Galaxie or Fury, but even many of these people end up with something else when they find the modern versions of their favored full-sizers have difficult entry/exit and poor visibility.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      ^This. With the wide range of vehicles available today, full-size sedans just aren’t the most efficient/effective people movers than they were back in the day when they were the only game in town. Minivans wiped-out station wagons in short order, and large sedans are just following that trend.

      I suspect there are only a few reasons sedans (of any size) are still around. I think a sedan is less prone to flexing, quieter, and rides better, than a vehicle with an open cargo area. Likewise, a car with a trunk is more secure in the ability to conceal its contents to thieves. Evidently, they’re cheaper to build and sell, too.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    They were out of my car category at the rental counter, so for my upgrade, based on CR’s glowing assessment, I picked a new 2014 Impala.

    I must concede, CR was right! The ride and handling were great, the seats were superb, it was quiet, and….it had great visibility (for a new car) and felt ‘smaller’ than it was.

    It was a high-end Impala, MSRP probably $35-40k. But, I felt rich driving it.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Dull as dry toast the ninth gen may have been, but it was a lot more honest and well-proportioned than this car.

    I initially liked the Impala a great deal, because it was clear GM put a lot of work into making it look more upscale and special. But it has far too many odd creases and awkward angles, and the rear overhang reminds me of a school bus.

    For the record, the best-proportioned car out of GM in the last decade, IMO, was the still-gorgeous (though not as gorgeous as the concept) Saturn Aura, with the last-gen Malibu a relatively close second.

  • avatar
    Sky_Render

    The chart of the day you linked to has a grievous error: the Ford Taurus was a *midsize* car until 2010. Your chart should instead show sales numbers for the Ford Five Hundred.

    Interestingly, the sales figure for the Taurus on that chart are rather consistent year-to-year.

    And if the number of Fusions I see driving around locally (and parked in my driveway) are any indication, the successor to the midsize Taurus is selling quite well.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I had a 2008 LTZ ‘bu as a rental – and was absolutely impressed – as were my coworkers in it. We were really pleasantly surprised.

    I had a 2013 LT ‘bu as a rental last year – a big step backwards (Jack wrote a review of a 2013 ‘bu for TTAC and I agree with everything he wrote good and bad – minus the climate control, which I had no issues with).

    The new Impala (not the W-Body fleet only) is an amazing car. I think it goes beyond people want luxury badges on near luxury cars, people just don’t want “boats” anymore. I’m more shocked that the very sexy Azera sells so pathetically bad. The couple I’ve seen in the wild immediately stand out, and they are priced well.

    The Impala also likely suffers from riding a price point in the upper trims very close to the Buick LaCrosse, which Buick now has right (see Jack’s recent review). The Avalon probably is hurt that in upper trims you’re better off getting the Lexus ES, and the heavily discounted Camry can be loaded up for a bargain.

    At least at the Chevy dealer when someone sits in a ‘bu versus an Impala, the differences and value between the two are blatantly obvious.

    The Charger and 300 are suffering from a general walking away from big, four door RWD quasi-muscle cars (ya I know they come in AWD, but how many buyers opt for that versus the SUV sitting next to them). The Taurus – well Ford just seemed to do everything they could to screw that mark up since the early 2000s.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @Hypnotoad: The Hyundai Azera is something of a mystery to me. I also think it’s a good looking car (I’ve only ever seen a few in the wild), but I think it suffers from “middle child syndrome”. You have the far-better known Sonata below and the far better regarded Genesis Sedan above. What it the Azera’s purpose in the lineup? It seems the Sonata and the Genesis combined would have whatever niche the Azera occupies covered with their higher and lower priced models, respectively.

  • avatar
    BiturboS4

    If selling this car under an upmarket brand is the answer, then GM should have a Buick version. The whole Buick lineup is FWD already anyway. Selling this car as an XTS under the Cadillac brand makes no sense and only undermines the hard-won brand equity established through the RWD ATS and CTS.

  • avatar
    stuki

    Aside from other factors, Impalas always were middle class cars. Now suffering from the hollowing out and disappearance of the middle class.

    When disposable income grew over ones career, people who started out with a cheap Chevy, would often buy a fancier Chevy when they got older.

    We are moving towards a world where one either drives a Bentley and a Tesla; or a used Sonic. Where the used Sonic divers are being called out for polluting too much by not taking the bus. All intermediate priced cars are being bought by Bentley owning parents for their kids. Or mistresses. And who wold want his mistress to be driving an Impala?

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    The Charger and 300 are both pretty popular, so I wouldn’t say the market is dying for these things, but it’s certainly not expanding.

    Chevy needs to pack an LS engine under the hood and make something like an SS version, but not called that, you know because of the SS Sedan.

  • avatar
    dont.fit.in.cars

    Replaced my 02 V6 SE Camry(190K)and still have, with a 2014 Impala LT (5K miles). Traveling 30-40K miles annually, I’m 6’6″ and the Imp is the ONLY car I can stretch my legs out…seriously a bark-o-lounger. Wanted a truck but couldn’t justify the mpg. Set cruise at 65, turn 1600 rpm and get 32 mpg. Spy a gap, ease throttle add a bit more and big hips hustles where you point it and get the giggles every squirt. Stayed with a vette in traffic today and one can roll 80 before you know it. Has a speed warning, mind is set at 78. Nit picks are angle of the the CUE screen (sunlight washout) and shinny chrome strip reflecting sunlight as well. Not going to pour JB love on it but it works well and I’m comfortable.

  • avatar
    slingshot

    I rented one two months ago for the same price as a compact car. After reading the CR review I was very interested in driving it. I don’t know the model but when I got up to 75 MPH the handling was terrible, just like the old days. Very disappointing. My 08 Accord V-6 runs circles around this car.

    • 0 avatar
      MK

      Yep after all the praise heaped on this car (and it does look MUCH better than the last generation) I and a good rental experience with a new model LTZ Malibu, I decided to pick one of these over my preferred Charger for the family vacation in July.

      What a disappointment.

      This was a 4-banger with LT trim and it couldn’t get out of its own way, turned generally poor mileage and sounded thrashy the whole time. Other minor annoyances were the the LCD touchscreen had a lot of glare due to its angle, the chrome dash line that looked so good in the LTZ Malibu was not only unilluminated at night in the Impala but also reflected hella-glare in the Florida sun. Rearview in the car was non-existent.
      That said, it did look great and the Chevy fixed the location of the parking brake from the last gen that would scuff your shoe every time you got out of the car.. Damn that was annoying in a rental!

      Yes it got slightly better mileage but I was very happy to come back home to my F150 Supercrew 4×4 as the family hauler and road trip machine. I suspect that’s the conclusion a lot of folks come to.

  • avatar
    JEFFSHADOW

    I have been driving a 2001 Buick Park Avenue that I purchased a year ago August with only 27,000 miles. Now it has just over 30,000 trouble free 27 MPG miles. It has the room inside and the classic Buick shape from 1997 (essentially a four-door Riviera) looks stunning today.
    The 3800 Series III is perfect for the weight of the car and the build quality is evident during every drive.
    It is the rare Titanium color and stands out among the sea of black, white and silver Camcords.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Series III did not come out until 2004, and was only used in Grand Prix, Lucerne, and Lacrosse. Your Park Avenue most likely is an L36 Series II 3800. Enjoy it.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buick_V6_engine

  • avatar
    amca

    Yes, sales may be down. And the segment is down.

    But Impala is averaging something like 11 days’ supply on dealer lots lately. Only American car on the low inventory hot list. And that means transaction prices are high and profits are tasty. Probably far exceeding what they made on the last car, despite vastly more sales.

    In short, the last generation Impala is hardly something for Chevrolet to be nostalgic about. Not financially, and definitely not from the standpoint of design, engineering, styling . . . you name it.


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