|Mike Colias covers General Motors for Automotive News|
DETROIT -- It's hard to think of a recent vehicle that took a bigger leap to the next generation than the upcoming Chevrolet Impala.
The 2014 Impala is sleek and sculpted, its plush interior loaded with technology. The lone redeeming quality of the outgoing '13 Impala, built on a platform that dates back to the '90s, is its cavernous trunk, Consumer Reports says.
So I did a double take last week when GM announced that the base next-gen Impala, due out this spring, will be priced at less than a grand more the '13 version.
A closer look at the trim levels, though, shows that the redesigned Impala is far pricier than its predecessor. And it shows that GM believes the car's transformation makes it good enough to command top dollar in the big-sedan market and appeal to retail buyers rather than fleet managers.
Sure, the base price of the 2014 Impala is just 850 bucks more than the outgoing '13, at $27,535, including shipping.
But consider that the base '14 Impala comes with a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine. To get the same 3.6-liter V-6 found in the outgoing Impala, the sticker rises to $30,760 -- or $2,550 more than the comparable '13 model.
Jump up to the six banger in the '14 Impala's top trim level, the LTZ, and the price rises to $36,580 -- or $5,355 more than the same trim on the outgoing Impala.
Now, those price hikes don't put the car out of whack with its big-sedan competitors. They're generally in line with the Toyota Avalon, Nissan Maxima and Hyundai Azera, while higher than the Ford Taurus.
But it's a bold statement for a tired nameplate that has become synonymous with rental cars and seniors who prefer bench seats.