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Up until this model year, the Chevrolet Impala felt in some ways like it was operating in a time warp. Chevy's largest sedan hadn't seen significant design or styling upgrades in years; GM hadn't kept its interior updated with modern tech extras or nav systems; and its powertrains--pushrod V-6s and four-speed automatics--were more than a little behind the times.
But this year, GM is giving the 2012 Chevrolet Impala a very significant upgrade: a 300-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 (that's right, the overhead-cam one) and a six-speed automatic transmission. While we haven't yet driven the 2012 Impala, we expect performance and responsiveness to be much-improved.
Unfortunately, not much else has changed about the Impala--which might to some shoppers make this feel like an effort of, too little, too late. Chevy's big front-wheel-drive sedan looks bland from the outside (GM has added a new grille and dual exhaust for 2012), and inside, the plain, plasticky dash isn't any better--a reminder of how the company's interiors used to be, before the much more stylish Malibu and Cruze hit the market.
The Impala's plentiful interior space and huge trunk are hard to argue with, but the front seats are wide, flat, soft, and springy, in the way that seats used to be--good for Interstate drives but not corners. Most models get folding rear seats that bring out impressive cargo versatility.
All Impala models include Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, plus satellite radio, steering-wheel controls, a trip computer, and keyless entry. That's basically a feature set designed to make fleets happy (they're still a big portion of Impala customers). You can get things like Bose sound, remote start, fancier wheels, leather seats, and dual-zone climate control in upper trims, but you won't find a USB port or iPod interface, let alone a navigation system or media hub.