Tim Higgins
Bloomberg News

General Motors’ Chevrolet Impala sedan, long relegated to the rental car lot, is making a surprising U-turn back to relevance thanks to a racy redesign that borrows from sports car stablemates ­Camaro and Corvette.

The 2014 Impala debuting soon is everything its predecessor is not. The early buzz among car reviewers is that the reincarnated Impala is exciting to the eye, upscale to the touch and a good value starting at $27,535.

With a face lifted from the Camaro and a dual-seat cockpit copied from the Corvette, the Impala promises to bring the big sedan back to its halcyon days when it ruled the American road.

“The car looks expensive,” said John Wolkonowicz, an independent auto analyst based in Boston. “There’s a little Camaro in the V-shape of the front end that looks proud and a little menacing. And it has a nicely crafted interior.”

GM is counting on the makeover to restore the Impala’s status as Chevy’s flagship, allowing it to exit the rental lot and enter more American garages. The big cruiser is emblematic of GM’s effort to reinvent itself as a legitimate contender in cars, a category it had short-changed for years in favor of pickups and sport-utility vehicles.

Since coming out of a government-backed bankruptcy in 2009, GM has found success with Chevy small cars, the Cruze and Sonic, drawing a new generation of buyers to American sedans that had long been rejected by baby boomers.

The Malibu has been an exception. The Camry has outsold the Malibu by more than two-to-one this year.

Introduced as a concept at GM’s 1956 Motorama traveling car show, the Impala embodied the power and grace of the speedy African antelope for which it was named. With winged tailfins and teardrop taillights, the Impala became the top selling car in America in the 1960s, peaking at more than 1 million in 1965, Wolkonowicz said.