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. While "prestige car" isn't really an apt descriptor anymore, the Impala has offered a roomy interior (with available six-passenger seating) and strong and fuel-efficient engines. In our opinion, older, used Impalas from this time period aren't likely going to be the best choice for a large sedan, as they suffer from substandard interior quality and forgettable driving dynamics. But the newest Impala, thanks to its many improvements, is certainly worth considering.
Current Chevrolet Impala
The current Chevrolet Impala represents the nameplate's 10th generation, which was introduced in the 2014 model year. Mechanically, it's related to the latest Buick LaCrosse and Cadillac XTS. The new Impala is more stylish, with bigger curves, bolder lines and a bit more length. Inside, there's a modern design, higher-quality materials and up-to-date electronics.
Available engines include a standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 195 horsepower 187 pound-feet of torque. An optional 3.6-liter V6 is also available and makes 305 hp and 264 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission that drives the front wheels. Also planned is a mild hybrid Impala "eAssist" powertrain that combines a 182-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder with a small 15-hp electric motor to provide the best fuel economy of the Impala lineup.
The full-size, five-passenger Impala sedan is offered in LS, LT and LTZ trim levels. Standard feature highlights for the LS include 18-inch steel wheels, keyless entry, air-conditioning, a power-adjustable driver seat, full power accessories, OnStar, Bluetooth, satellite radio, USB/iPod connectivity and a color display. Rear parking sensors are optional.
The LT adds alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control and the MyLink infotainment interface with an 8-inch touchscreen display. Most options are bundled into packages and include such items as a sunroof, a rearview camera, heated seats, keyless ignition/entry and extra safety features. The LTZ gets the LT's optional items as standard, along with leather upholstery. Navigation and premium audio are optional on LT and LTZ trims. Twenty-inch wheels, adaptive cruise control, ventilated front seats and auto-dimming mirrors are optional on the LTZ.
This latest Impala marks a huge improvement over the previous generation, with class-competitive features, build quality, performance and comfort. It distinguishes itself from other large sedans with sharp styling and a capacious trunk, but loses points for some flimsy interior plastics, a fussy MyLink interface and middling fuel economy figures. Overall, though, we find it to be worthy of your consideration if you're shopping for a large sedan.
Used Chevrolet Impala Models
The previous ninth-generation Chevrolet Impala was produced for the 2006-'13 model years. Improvements on this model compared to the previous-generation Impala included new engines, more composed handling, a higher-quality interior and updated styling. Even so, we generally regarded this Impala as pretty forgettable and outclassed by any of its contemporaries.
Impalas of this generation were offered in three main trim levels: entry-level LS, midgrade LT and range-topping LTZ. From 2006-'09, there was also an Impala SS.
Typical features for the LS models included 16-inch wheels, a front bench seat, air-conditioning, full power accessories, a tilt steering wheel, a power driver seat, a single-CD audio system with an MP3 jack, and keyless entry. Moving up to the LT model added alloy wheels and a few more features, while the LTZ included 17-inch (later 18-inch) alloys, heated leather seats and a Bose audio system. The SS came with monochromatic exterior paint, a performance-tuned suspension, 18-inch wheels and a rear spoiler. LS and LT models could be optioned with a front bench seat, which increased passenger capacity to six.
Until 2012, the LS and LT came with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produced 211 hp. Standard on the LTZ of the same period was a 3.9-liter V6 good for 230 hp. All of these Chevy Impalas came with a four-speed automatic transmission. The Chevy Impala SS model of this period had a 303-hp 5.3-liter V8 and the four-speed auto. For 2012 and 2013, all Impalas received a new 300-hp 3.6-liter V6 and a six-speed automatic transmission. This engine provided quicker acceleration and better fuel economy to boot.
In reviews of the time, we found this generation Impala met all the basic requirements to compete in this category, including a smooth ride, quiet interior, seating for six, decent crash test ratings and a generously sized trunk. The problem was that the Impala didn't excel in any of these areas and was hamstrung by underwhelming performance for most model years, bland styling, cheap-looking interior materials and a lack of feature availability. In general, models like a Dodge Charger, Hyundai Azera or Toyota Avalon are better choices.
Prior to this was the eighth-generation Impala, which was offered from 2000-'05 with minimal changes. Its basic dimensions are very similar to those of its successor, but it lacked 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.