When Chevrolet sent the first Impala off the assembly line in 1958, it was meant to be "a prestige car within the reach of the average American citizen." It would seem that the company was successful; five decades on, the Chevrolet Impala has gone on to become one of America's most well-known nameplates.
Since the new millennium, the modern Impala has served as Chevrolet's main full-size sedan, capable of transporting up to six people. With front-wheel drive and V6 power, the current Impala isn't exactly a tribute to the past, but it does continue the tradition of large, affordable Chevrolet family sedans. Nevertheless, we think buyers can do better than this aging, full-size Chevy.
Current Chevrolet Impala
The Chevrolet Impala is a full-size family sedan that comes in three trim levels: entry-level LS, midgrade LT and loaded LTZ. Antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front seat side airbags and side curtain airbags are standard on all Impala trims. With its front bench seat available on the LS and LT, the Impala can accommodate six passengers in a pinch.
Every Impala comes standard with a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 300 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. Unlike past Impalas, this is class-competitive power, and its six-speed automatic transmission helps achieve strong fuel economy as well.
Despite its advanced powertrain, however, the Chevy Impala continues to lag behind its newer full-size sedan competitors. Its smooth ride and simple controls are commendable, but rivals offer various advantages such as more luxury (Chrysler 300, Hyundai Azera, Toyota Avalon), more passenger and cargo space (Ford Taurus) and a more nimble, athletic personality (Dodge Charger, Honda Accord). These competitors all boast nicer, higher-quality cabins, usually with additional features not available on this aging Chevy.
Used Chevrolet Impala Models
The latest-generation Chevrolet Impala has been available since the 2006 model year. Improvements on this model compared to the previous-generation Impala included new engines, more composed handling, a higher-quality interior and updated styling. Changes have largely been restricted to the engine bay and features list.
Until 2012, the LS and LT came with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produced 211 hp. Standard on the LTZ was a 3.9-liter V6 good for 230 hp. All Chevy Impalas come with a four-speed automatic transmission. Either engine/transmission combo was behind the times for the segment, and made the Impala even less appealing than the current car.
From 2006-'09, the Chevy Impala SS model was offered that included a 303-hp 5.3-liter V8 and a sport-tuned suspension. Though sportier than the regular Impala, it paled in comparison to Chrysler and Dodge's rear-drive sedans in terms of both performance and handling.
Shoppers looking for a less expensive Impala will most likely want to check out the previous-generation model, which was offered from 2000-'05 with minimal changes. Its basic dimensions are very similar to those of the current generation, but it lacks that model's significant updates. For this generation, there were two main trim levels -- base and LS. In 2004, Chevy added the SS trim.
Base-model Chevy Impalas were powered by a 3.4-liter V6 engine that produced 180 hp. Stepping up to LS trim got you a 200-hp, 3.8-liter V6. The SS had a supercharged version of the 3.8-liter V6 making 240 hp. Though popular in terms of sales, this Impala did not fare well in reviews conducted by Edmunds.com editors. Noted downsides included bland interior and exterior design, vague steering and a soggy suspension on base and LS models.
Previous to this, there was a short-lived Chevrolet Impala SS. Offered from 1994-'96, it was based on the rear-drive Caprice. The SS featured a 260-hp, 5.7-liter V8 derived from the Corvette, large 17-inch wheels and tires, a sport tuned suspension, a monochromatic exterior (black only in its first year) and many hardware upgrades normally fitted to law enforcement vehicles. Today, the '90s Impala SS's have taken on a "collectible" quality.
There are also plenty of Impalas left from earlier decades. Those early Impalas were often America's most popular car, and they still hold significance today. Throughout the 1960s, the Chevy Impala dominated the sales charts, culminating in 1965 when more than 1 million were sold. Though the popularity of smaller, midsize muscle cars slowly ate away at sales of the Impala, it continued to sell in big numbers, registering as the best-selling car in America in 1973. The Impala nameplate languished in the early 1980s, eventually getting dropped in 1986 in favor of the Caprice designation.
Read the most recent 2014 Chevrolet Impala review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Chevrolet Impala page.