- Smooth, comfortable ride
- Impressive acceleration with the SS V-8
- Roomy interior, with plenty of backseat and trunk space
- Coarse-sounding V-6 engine
- Drab styling
- Uncomfortable seats during long trips
- No true nav-system option
If you’re in the market for a comfortable sedan with lots of space at a reasonable price, the 2009 Chevrolet Impala is a practical but not exciting choice.
The Impala is the large, front-wheel-drive sedan in Chevrolet’s lineup; it offers a very roomy interior and good ride but isn’t completely up to the standards of handling or refinement that some shoppers have come to expect.
The Impala is available with two engine configurations; the standard 3.5-liter V-6 can be found in base models, while the SS continues to come with a 5.3-liter V-8 producing 303 horsepower. All engines are mated to a four-speed automatic transmission.
The 3.5- and 3.9-liter V-6 engines powering the standard Impala are smooth when cruising but coarse under acceleration. Both engines provide enough authority for most buyers' needs, but the 3.9-liter offers noticeably more torque off the line, which may be more useful with a full load. The SS's 5.3-liter V-8 transforms the Impala to a more sophisticated performance sedan—capable of reaching 60 mph in well under six seconds—with an ever-torquey character and responsiveness at any speed. The only downside is that torque steer (a pull to the side) can be an issue coming fast out of tight corners. All three engines run smoothly through four-speed automatic transmissions. To aid fuel economy, the V-8 has GM's Active Fuel Management system to produce figures almost as good as those for the V-6.
Unique styling isn’t the 2009 Chevrolet Impala’s strong point, but the vehicle does offer lots of comfort and a large, accommodating passenger cabin with a configuration that’s more useful than that of many other sedans. The backseat has ample headroom and legroom, along with a flip-and-fold rear seat that allows access to a covered storage area.
The Impala’s front seats are soft and cushy but lack support during long trips. The instrument panel is cleanly designed; the interior trim feels plain and a bit behind the curve in styling and materials, but it does the job. The Impala's ride definitely skews toward comfort, but the tighter tuning of the SS model's FE3 suspension, and the FE1 suspension that's included with the 3.9-liter engine, brings crisp handling without much of a ride sacrifice. The interior of the 2009 Chevrolet Impala is quite hushed and well isolated from road noise.
The Impala is neither at the top or bottom of its class for crash-test protection, with five-star frontal ratings and a mix of four- and five-star ratings in side protection from the federal government, plus an "acceptable" frontal rating, a "good" side-impact rating, and a "marginal" rear-impact rating. Impalas are fitted with safety equipment, including anti-lock brakes, stability control, and side curtain airbags, all for an affordable price. With regard to safety features, the 2009 Chevrolet Impala is strictly middle-of-the-road. Thorax side-impact airbags and anti-lock brakes are now standard across the line, but electronic stability control (StabiliTrak) isn’t available with the more economical 3.5-liter engine.
The 2009 Chevrolet Impala LS comes with keyless entry, cruise control, air conditioning, and a CD sound system. Bluetooth cell phone connectivity is now also standard on the entire model line. The LT model is next up and adds more popular comfort and convenience equipment. The top LTZ comes with many of the same features as the LT, plus dual-zone climate control, upgraded Bose speakers, and an alarm system. The LTZ also gets a standard FE3 suspension package. Almost all versions get more attractive new wheels for 2009: 17-inchers on some LTs and 18-inchers on LTZ and SS models. XM Satellite Radio and OnStar turn-by-turn navigation are standard on all models for 2009, but a screen-based navigation system is not offered.