New & Used Chevrolet Impala: In Depth
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The Chevrolet Impala is a large, four-door sedan that has been in the GM product line for more than fifty years.Fresh off a 2014 revamp, the excellent new Impala shares its underpinnings with the Cadillac XTS and Buick LaCrosse, and it's better in every way than the fleet-rental special that preceded it, that GM still sells to rental-car companies.
MORE: Read our 2015 Chevrolet Impala review
With a new range of four- and six-cylinder engines, excellent big-car handling, and a well-fitted interior, the front-drive Impala is a rival for the Toyota Avalon, Ford Taurus, and Hyundai Azera in the full-size and mid-size segments.
Chevy Impala: The early years
Originally introduced in 1958, the Chevrolet Impala has seen nine generations over its lifespan, but the last generation has lived a particularly long life. From finned land yacht to clean rectilinear cruiser, wire wheels to steel hubcaps, the Impala was at the leading edge of sedan design through the late 1950s and all through the 1960s—with some of the most memorable, timeless designs—while the 1970s and 1980s were some of the more forgettable.
The seventh-generation car remains one of the most easily recognized cars of that era, its smooth and rounded shape at once unassuming and completely unique. After a hiatus at the end of the seventh generation in 1996, the 2000-2005 eighth generation introduced the front-wheel-drive layout and a more restrained look.
Chevrolet Impala, 2006-2013
The ninth-generation Impala first hit the roads in 2006, offering a 211-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine in the standard car and a 5.3-liter V-8 engine in the Impala SS. Later in the 2006 model year, a new 3.9-liter V-6 was added to the range. In 2007, flex-fuel capability was added for the 3.5-liter engine, and in 2009, the Impala SS was discontinued.
In its waning years, three trim levels were available: LS, LT and LTZ. The LS and LT came standard with a six-speaker audio system, cruise control, OnStar, power driver's seat, sixteen-inch steel (LS) or alloy (LT) wheels, and more. The LTZ added 18-inch alloy wheels, power heated front seats, auto dimming rearview mirror, universal home remote and more. Through 2011, the Impala used a four-speed automatic transmission, with the LS and LT getting power from the 3.5-liter V-6 standard (the LT could be upgraded to the 3.9-liter V-6 engine, which was standard on the LTZ).
Standard safety features included front and side-impact, curtain and rear side airbags, plus front safety belt pretensioners, stability control, and four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes.
For 2012, the Impala soldiered along with the same underpinnings and configuration, but received a number of minor cosmetic improvements, newly standard alloy wheels and Bluetooth. The bigger news was its new 302-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 and six-speed automatic transmission, with much improved performance, paired with EPA ratings of 18 mpg city, 30 highway. It's this model that lived on in fleet sales even as Chevy prepared to launch today's Impala.
The new Chevy Impala
The 2014 Chevrolet Impala, shown for the first time at the 2012 New York Auto Show, went on sale in spring of 2013. This model is related mechanically to the Cadillac XTS and Buick LaCrosse, and it makes a tremendous leap on all fronts versus the Chevy sedan it replaces.
In its first year on the market, the new Impala offered a choice of three powertrains. The base version was a 2.5-liter four rated at 195 horsepower, teamed with a six-speed automatic transmission sending power to the front wheels. GM's eAssist mild-hybrid technology appeared in a gas-saving model, with a 182-hp, 2.4-liter gas four-cylinder and electrical assist in some operating conditions. The most powerful Impala featured the carryover 303-hp, 3.6-liter V-6.
For the 2015 model year, the Impala Eco version has been deleted--in its place, stop/start has been added to the four-cylinder only. Combined ratings for the four-cylinder are 25 mpg, down from the Eco's 29 mpg.
The current Impala is one of our highest-rated four-doors. It's a spacious, sleek, athletic performer in its V-6 guise. Handling and comfort are balanced well here, and the new Impala has earned some great crash-test scores thus far. It should, with all the safety gear it has on board: ten airbags in all, standard OnStar, and a suite of available advanced features like blind-spot monitors; lane-departure warning system; adaptive cruise control; rearview camera; rear parking assists; and forward collision alerts.
Along with the safety technology, the Impala's infotainment systems have been thoroughly upgraded. Bluetooth audio streaming is now offered, as is navigation. Chevy's MyLink system controls the secondary features via an eight-inch touchscreen LCD.