GM: Improved Impala won't hurt LaCrosse
DETROIT -- The recently unveiled 2014 Chevrolet Impala is a large, stylish sedan with a nice interior and loads of technology, probably priced around $30,000.
That sounds a lot like the Buick LaCrosse.
When General Motors took the wraps off the redesigned Impala at this month's New York auto show, the car was praised as a big leap from the current rental-fleet staple. But observers wondered: How will GM differentiate it from the LaCrosse?
The sedans share the same platform, though the Impala is about 4 inches longer. There are plenty of styling similarities. The Impala will come with two of the same engine options: a 3.6-liter V-6 and a 2.4-liter four-cylinder paired with GM's eAssist mild hybrid system.
"If a consumer is looking for a large sedan, the only reason to opt for the LaCrosse over the Impala would be all-wheel drive," an option that won't be offered on the Impala, says Dave Sullivan, an analyst at automotive research company AutoPacific Inc. "The Impala is the fresher choice."
Reuss: No price overlap
Mark Reuss, president of GM North America, says there will be plenty to differentiate the two. "You'll get different equipment, different noise and vibration, different performance," he says. "We're doing this right. We're not going to price-overlap them."
GM executives have said the car will be priced in line with the Impala's chief rivals, such as the redesigned Hyundai Azera, which goes on sale this month with a starting price of $32,875, including shipping. The LaCrosse starts at $31,045, with shipping.
The LaCrosse, launched for the 2010 model year, is due for a freshening for the 2014 model year, when it likely will get additional safety and technology improvements and perhaps a bump in price. But GM planners already are thinking about how it can further distinguish the next-generation LaCrosse, which should arrive for the 2016 model year.
Longtime GM designer John Cafaro says the redesigned LaCrosse "will not fall into the prop wash" of the Impala. "I can guarantee you the next LaCrosse we do is going to be way out there, really expressive and premium," he says.
"We're talking about doing architecture and putting enablers in place that keep us different from Cadillac to Buick to Chevy," Cafaro says. "It's a trick, but we're good at it. Not like the old days where you couldn't tell the difference."
You can reach Mike Colias at firstname.lastname@example.org.