The first two things I saw at the Pocono Raceway were a fleet of brand new, Blue Ray Metallic Chevrolet Impalas and a man wearing a Perky Jerky suit. Sleek with rain, the cars teased us with sporty contours and freshly-mudded tires—grey skies or blue, they were eager for the open road. The Perky Jerky guy just seemed eager to be out of the rain. With me was Ricky Wood, President of Faulkner Chevrolet; we’d met that morning, shortly before boarding the Poconos-bound bus in Lancaster. Our shared mission was to experience the Chevy 400 preview party and drive back in one of the shiny new Impalas we’d glimpsed on the way in.
In the Raceway’s Chalet Village, dealers and journalists from the tri-state area were presented with the chance to get hands-on with Chevy’s impressive 2014 lineup of vehicles. There was the aerodynamically redesigned Impala, of course, as well as the SS sports sedan and the Silverado pickup truck. A new diesel-powered version of the Cruze turned heads—it boasted an enviable EPA-estimated fuel consumption of 46 mpg. Most of the attention, however, was riveted on two gorgeous Corvette Stingrays. The standard glowed a bright electric blue, while the convertible, in dark navy, looked like it would melt into the streets at night. Dealers and photographers flocked to them, many reaching out their hands to caress their glimmering hoods. The iconic sports cars were definitely the belles of the ball.
Following that, our group was taken for a special tour of the Pocono Raceway garage. It was uncrowded, due to the weather, but mechanical engineer Alba Colon explained some of what went on behind the scenes on the Chevy Racing team. Just a few yards away, Jimmie Johnson’s crew was finishing their work on his car, #48, a Chevrolet SS. As we exited the garage, we passed three NASCAR drivers signing autographs for fans.
It was raining harder by the time we reached the next event, the Silverado towing demonstration, and the field before us was a mud bath. Each truck had a double trailer loaded with 5000 lbs., and Chevrolet invited each of us to take the wheel. Ricky and I rode with another dealer and when they told him to floor it, he didn’t even hesitate. We tore through the mud for several seconds at high speed, but stopped surprisingly quickly, and without hitting the Porta-Potty like I expected. The driver remarked that it handled like it wasn’t towing anything at all.
Ricky and I decided it was time to pick up our Impala and see how it handled in the mud and rain. Getting in was like climbing into a cockpit, with wrap-around console controls and technology crammed into every available inch. An 8-inch touch screen on the center stack displayed the Chevy MyLink infotainment system, with audio controls and navigation, and also served as the rear vision monitor for backing up. We were both pretty chilled by then, so the heated seats were a very welcome feature. That was the most comfortable we’d been all day.
The drive home was smooth, quiet, luxurious, and over too soon. Wet roads were no match for this marvel of engineering—the Impala handled magnificently. I hardly even knew it was raining. We tested a dozen features–cruise control, rear park assist, Bluetooth linking and, quite inadvertently, the “lane departure” warning—yet for every one that we tested, I felt like there were two more waiting to be discovered. The drive marked a great ending to a great trip, courtesy of Faulkner Chevrolet, and my only regret was that I had to hand the keys over to Ricky when we got back.
I guess that’s the brakes.