It’s probably safe to say that the biggest difference between a full-size sedan such as the 2014 Chevy Impala and smaller vehicles such as the Malibu and Cruze is the increased amount of space in the cabin. And to really deliver on the single biggest differentiating factor, GM engineers responsible for the 2014 Impala utilized the latest high-tech tools to create more leg and head room, along with larger storage areas for Chevy’s new full-size flagship sedan. Some of the tools they used is a spaciousness calculator, and a tool kit that includes advanced computer modeling tools, digital human ergonomics models and 3D Cave Automated Virtual Environment (CAVE).
The spaciousness calculator, a GM-exclusive instrument, was used to analyze how customers perceive the vehicles’s spaciousness, while using virtual human models to make the most of vehicle interiors based on an extensive database of driver sizes and postures. The 3D CAVE assisted in evaluating design concepts for blind spots, reflections and visibility of objects inside and outside the car.
“Using various advanced technologies, we were able to make dimensional and design modifications in a virtual environment before locking down on a final architecture,” said Crystal Windham, director, Chevrolet passenger car interior design. “These steps are necessary to develop a solid foundation to build on to achieve the best spaciousness, comfort and overall design that will impress our customers.”
Some of the updates to the sedan through the use of GM’s new tools include:
- Adding nearly two inches of driver legroom by increasing the range of fore/aft adjustment for the front seats
- A telescoping steering wheel that allows drivers of varying sizes to reach it comfortably
- Redesigning the center console with a low instrument panel to increase knee spread, which adds comfort on long drives and enhances the sense of roominess while keeping controls within easy reach
- Expanding rear-seat legroom more than two inches, enabled by the 1.2-inch increased wheelbase and thinner profile front seats
- Nearly 19 cubic feet of trunk space – ample room for four golf bags and more space than many full-size sedans
Outward visibility from the cabin is improved thanks to the use of high-strength steel in the A-pillars, which allows them to be twisted slightly in such a way so as to increase the driver’s field of view. Rear headrests that can be folded down, along with a thin profile rear center-mounted LED brake lamp in the headliner and an available rear backup camera further improve the visibility.
“These new tools, the latest in automotive design, allowed us to make improvements more quickly and efficiently than on previous Impala models – improvements we’re sure Impala customers will appreciate,” said George Madjeric, General Motors engineering group manager for Vehicle Architecture.
The GM Authority Take
This is GM engineering and ingenuity at its finest — adding great features and attributes to what is otherwise a gorgeous design.
Outside of the compliments that are due in the general direction of GM for the 2014 Impala, we’re sure some will ask something along the lines of, “Couldn’t they have used these tools when engineering the 2013 Malibu?” We’re not sure of that answer, but have been told that most of the tools described here — especially the spaciousness calculator — are new to The General.
Lastly, notice GM’s reference to the thinner seat-backs of the front seats in the Impala; something tells us that we will see these units used in the refreshed 2014 Malibu to increase the rear seat legroom for those who think that second-row space is cramped.