- A smashing redesign
- Infotainment is on point
- No SS badge, but the V-6 feels like it
- Ride and handling are top-notch
- Manual-shift mode is at arm's length
- Too many cooks in the cockpit design kitchen
- Back-seat head room and support need attention
- Gas mileage is middling
The 2017 Chevrolet Impala hits the big-car target with handsome lines, composed handling, and on-point connectivity.
The Chevy Impala of today is the inverse of the last car to wear the badge. Before 2014, the Impala had been left off almost every shopping list not connected to a line-item budget.
A massive redo brought the Impala up to a much higher standard. Today's Impala is sexy, engaging to drive, easy on gas, very comfortable, and well-connected—everything its predecessor was not.
We give the 2017 Impala a 6.5 out of 10. It's good-looking and has ample room for five people and their stuff, but safety gear and features aren't where they should be, not at this price. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Chevy Impala styling and performance
The Impala bears a slight resemblance to the Buick LaCrosse and Cadillac XTS, mostly because the trio share some underpinnings—the proportions are similar. The crisp styling work on the Impala sets it apart in the Chevy lineup. There's a bit of Mercedes CLS in its rear quarters, a sophisticated profile, and a less busy front end than that on other Chevys. Inside, ambition gets the better of things. The dash has a lovely sweep, but it's covered in too many trim types and pieces. The chorus of lines and textures and materials needs a more muted approach.
A 2.5-liter inline-4 with 196 hp powers the base Impala. It's fine for commuter duty, but under hard acceleration—on-ramps, highway passing—it lacks the power reserve to make things happen quickly. The optional V-6 cures those ills, with its 305 hp shuffling through a 6-speed automatic in sporty-sedan territory.
On the road, the Impala is a sleek, athletic performer. Handling and comfort balance at just the right point for a car of this size. The ride's damped extremely well, even on the biggest 20-inch wheels and tires, and the Impala's electric steering never feels overly heavy or slow to react.
The Impala isn't tops among its class for fuel economy, but it manages respectable numbers—up to 25 mpg combined with the 4-cylinder, a more middling 18 mpg for 6-cylinder cars.
Chevy Impala comfort, safety, and features
The Impala offers up more space than some rivals, Azera and Avalon included. Its front seats give better support than all comers, but the back seat has Passat syndrome—it's wide, but the cushion is low, flat, and still, it could use an inch or two more of head room. The trunk almost makes up for it, and almost matches the Taurus cubic foot for cubic foot.
The Impala doesn't have all its crash-test scores, and the good ones from the NHTSA are offset by missing standard features—you'll pay more for Bluetooth and a rearview camera. The Impala comes with 10 airbags and can be fitted with adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, and parking sensors.
The Impala comes in LS, LT and Premier trims. Prices range from about $28,000 for the base model all the way to $41,000 if you're not careful—but a well-equipped V-6-powered Impala LT with a rearview camera and MyLink audio will run about $32,000.
All versions have power features, cruise control, and air conditioning. Chevy's MyLink system controls the secondary features via an 8.0-inch touchscreen LCD—features like space for 60 favorites (radio stations, destinations, whatever) and a thousand personal contacts, connections for up to 10 Bluetooth devices, and a swipey interface that lets you choose where the icons rest, or which of four graphic skins you want it to wear. Apple CarPlay and wireless smartphone charging are available.
For 2017, Chevy makes its V-6 available in the base Impala, and adds Android Auto to the existing infotainment offerings.
2017 Chevrolet Impala
The cockpit looks busy, but the Chevy Impala sports muscular, chiseled sheet metal.
When it redesigned the Impala in 2014, GM sent the old, dull body to the scrap heap. The Impala you see before you today is one of GM's best big-car efforts. It's muscular where it needs to be, chiseled without looking too busy, a cut above its class.
It gets an 7 out of 10 for its sharp sheet metal. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Inside, the Impala gets a bit hyperactive. The ebb and flow of the dash move the eye around constantly. Chevy uses two or three more trim types and cuts it up more often than it needs to. The basic shapes look great, but the execution is just too busy, especially when compared to the spare, elegant look of the latest Avalon. There's a way to pull off a look as dramatic as this one, with less drama.
The Impala's sheet metal makes up for those excesses. It's a gorgeous collection of panels. The lines are crisp and attractive, getting right what vehicles before it had gotten wrong. The grille evokes a Honda's front end; the headlights should wear Saab trademarks. Despite all the ribs and lines stamped into the hood, it looks exciting and even clean.
The shape catapults into overdrive at the rear door, where a complex, Mercedes CLS-like intersection of surfaces echoes the rear quarters on the Buick LaCrosse, until it darts off at the shoulder line into a new and smartly pressed crease. It's one of GM's best efforts at mingling looks while keeping the brands distinct.
2017 Chevrolet Impala
If you want a responsive big four-door, look no further: the Impala has quick steering, a well-controlled ride, and vivid V-6 acceleration.
The Chevy Impala has some of the best big-car road manners in its premium niche. In the greater universe of all cars, its ride earns a point above average, but its Avalon-besting steering and acceleration are just average. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Chevy installs 4- and 6-cylinder engines in the Impala, and guess which one feels better? Base cars get a 2.5-liter inline-4 with 196 hp, coupled to a 6-speed automatic, both pushing power to the front wheels. This is the plebeian Impala, with better mid-pace pull than off-the-line acceleration. Active noise cancellation quells its 4-cylinder bangs. It's the kind of drivetrain that wants for more gears, more torque, more of everything when pulling from 30 mph to 60 mph—it revs sweetly up to 6,500 rpm, but doesn't gather speed as swiftly as its badge implies.
The 3.6-liter V-6 you'll find in most Impalas has the strong, smooth power we'd want in a pricey mass-market four-door. With a good exhaust rap and a 0-60 mph time of about 6.8 seconds, the 6-cylinder Impala sports 305 hp, a big flat torque band and throttle response without the hair-trigger responses of some of the other big sedans in its class.
All Impalas get a 6-speed automatic transmission with a manual-shift mode activated by a click switch on the shift lever—where no one will use it, since the tall console makes it an awkward motion. It's also not a "sport" mode, in that the timing of the shift doesn't change. The transmission isn't as seamless as the GM benchmarks of the past. Because the torque converter's set up to lock up more often in the name of fuel economy, a jumpy foot can trigger what feels like half-shifts as the converter unlocks. It's still ready to react quickly to the right amount of pedal.
It wasn't too long ago that full-size sedans touted plush over perky, with a focus in floating their passengers down the road in soft, smothering, velour-wrapped comfort. Not the latest Impala. Its premium setup lays out front struts and a multi-link rear end with digressive damping that's stiffer against small bumps, more relaxed against larger ones, with body lean put on a leash through rebound springs.
What that means is an Impala completely unlike the one just before it. The control over ride motions is subtle and exceptional given where it's come from, whether you're on the stock 18-inch wheels and tires or the optional, more noisy 20-inchers shod with Bridgestone Potenzas. Belt-driven electric steering complements the ride with accurate tracking and without gratuitous, artificial weight. The Impala has balance and all-around composure that the Taurus, Avalon and Azera miss by a factor here and there. It's comfortable, without lapsing into lazy.
2017 Chevrolet Impala
Comfort & Quality
The Impala has great front seats and good room, but back-seat head room can seem tight.
The Impala is a large car by the numbers, but it certainly doesn't drive big. It doesn't suffer the claustrophobic feel of some other premium four-doors.
We give it an 8 for comfort and utility. It can seat five passengers, and has good storage space, though back-seaters might want for more head room. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
According to the spec sheet, the Impala rides on a 111.7-inch wheelbase, and checks in at 201.3 inches long. That's much bigger than some three-row SUVs like the Kia Sorento, but not much bigger than, say, a VW Passat or Toyota Avalon.
Inside, the Impala cues up plenty of room for four adults, and five will fit. Leg room is very good all around, but in the back seat there's a bit of skimping.
Open the wide, tall doors, and the Impala V-6's nicely shaped seats aren't too deep a knee-bend away. At least five different seats are specified across the lineup, but that's mostly because of optional seat heating and ventilation—only the base versions are cloth, while mid-grade seats mix synthetic leather and cloth. Leather Premier seats feel better than the cloth/vinyl seats, and have lumbar adjustment.
Up front, head room and leg room are more than enough for even 99th-percentile types; the Impala's one of the rare new cars where you can power the driver seat too low and too high.
The rear seats aren't quite as close to premium, but leg room is only an inch or two short of limousine status. The bottom cushion lays almost flat, and it's a bit short for the car's size—and still, head room isn't extraordinary. Two adults will have enough space for a pre-teen between, and the seats can be fitted with bite-sized head rests shaped like old-school car bumpers.
Even with five passengers, filling the Impala's cargo bins will take some work. The trunk's 18.8 cubic feet, second only to the Taurus' 20-cubic-foot whopper. It's a little shallow, but the trunk floor is flat and extends deeply beneath the rear glass. The doors all have long bins with bottle holders; the center console can swallow a shoe box, a smartphone in either a rubberized tray or a bin hidden under a lid, and two drinks.
If you're in an LT or a Premier, the MyLink LCD touchscreen covers a hidden storage bin; tap a button and the screen rises so you can stow goodies, then lock it out in a valet mode with a code you can enter and change.
In terms of fit and finish, the Impala will benefit from a mid-life update in a year or so. The busy-looking cockpit has a lot going on, visually. The twin-cowl dash is a Waffle House order waiting to happen: it's covered, studded, paneled, and draped in so many different materials and textures, it's almost a parlor game to find and name them all. The seat-heater surround is a glitzy, flecked black plastic; the door caps are soft to the touch but openly grained.
Chevy has tuned the Impala's interior for quieter rolling ambiance. Four-cylinder models sport active noise cancellation, like Chevy's Equinox, and the plusher versions get thicker glass and more sound deadening. The impression of noise control is a good one.
2017 Chevrolet Impala
Crash-test scores are offset by the Chevy Impala's incomplete set of standard safety gear.
The Chevrolet Impala has only partially complete crash test scores. We give it a 5 for safety; its results are good so far, but it lacks some equipment we think should be standard. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The NHTSA gives the Impala a five-star overall rating. Its only slight blemish in federal tests is a four-star performance in rollover resistance.
The IIHS has only released results for a couple of tests with the Impala. In those, it earns "Good" scores for front- and side-impact tests, but lacks critical results for tests such as small-overlap impacts.
The Impala comes with 10 airbags and GM's OnStar system, but Bluetooth and a rearview camera aren't offered at all on the base, fleet-duty Impala LS. A rearview camera is an option on the Impala LT, and only standard once you've moved up to the Premier. It's well past time when a $30,000 sedan buyer should have to pay extra for either of those features.
Outward vision in the Impala is good, but the surround- and side-view cameras offered on rivals are a worthwhile step up.
The Impala can be ordered with a suite of advanced safety features including blind-spot monitors; a lane-departure warning system; adaptive cruise control; and a forward-collision warning system with automatic emergency braking.
2017 Chevrolet Impala
It's the best-equipped Chevy Impala ever, but this big sedan lacks some features in base trim.
The Chevy Impala comes in LS, LT, and Premier trims. All of them can be fitted with the available V-6; all are front-wheel drive.
For 2017 the Impala adds Android Auto to LT and Premier models, and makes leather seats available on the LT.
We give the big Chevy a 7 out of 10 in the features category. It offers a good array of options and has an easily understood infotainment interface. Its standard equipment list in base trim is missing some major items, and even its options lack anything out of the ordinary. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
All Impala sedans have power features; air conditioning; cruise control; and 18-inch wheels. Chevy doesn't offer many options on the Impala LS, which helps keep the price under $30,000. Buyers can add a cargo net, rear parking sensors, and rear headrests—but not Bluetooth or a rearview camera.
With the LS trimmed out with fleet duty in mind, most shoppers will start at the Impala LT. It adds an AM/FM/XM/CD player with hidden storage behind the LCD audio screen. Its seats are a combination of cloth and vinyl upholstery; the driver seat has full power adjustment, but the passenger seat only has power height (but manual fore-aft) adjustment.
Major options include microfiber/vinyl seats; 19-inch wheels; a power passenger seat; keyless ignition; rear parking sensors and a rearview camera; Bose audio with 11 speakers; a sunroof; remote start; and navigation.
At the top of the Impala range, the Premier brings with it standard leather seats; a power passenger seat; 19-inch wheels; ambient lighting; parking sensors and a rearview camera; a sunroof; keyless ignition; and a bundle of safety features optional on the LT, including forward-collision warning, blind-spot monitors, and a lane-departure warning system.
With all the options—power tilt/telescoping steering; navigation; 20-inch wheels; Bose audio; adaptive cruise control; and ventilated seats—an Impala Premier can cost more than $40,000.
The LT and Premier come standard with MyLink, Chevy's infotainment controller, essentially a version of the Cadillac CUE system without the haptic feedback. The touchscreen's brightly colored icons are gateways to a range of connectivity and streaming features that might be out of the Impala's demographic ballpark. The touchscreen slides to expose a covered storage bin with USB power.
MyLink offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality—it can mirror some smartphone functions on the car's touchscreen—and wireless charging for cell phones, as an option.
2017 Chevrolet Impala
The Impala earns average fuel economy ratings, with the 4-cylinder leading the way.
The Chevy Impala is almost a large sedan according to the EPA, but its fuel economy doesn't suffer the usual big-car fate. It doesn't lead its class—not with the Avalon Hybrid's amazing 40-mpg combined numbers—but the Impala is at least competitive.
We give it a 6 for fuel economy, based on the EPA ratings for both its 4- and 6-cylinder models. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The agency puts the 4-cylinder Impala at 22 mpg city, 30 highway, 25 combined. A flex-fuel version of its V-6 is pegged at 19/28/22 mpg, and the standard V-6 is rated at 18/28/22 mpg.
The V-6's combined ratings have been lower than its direct rivals, such as the Toyota Avalon, Hyundai Azera, and 6-cylinder Dodge Charger.
In our drives, the Impala has hit up to 20 mpg in V-6 trim, and 25 mpg in 4-cylinder models.