What's New for 2002
Now into its third year of production, the Impala soldiers on as Chevrolet's bread-and-butter family sedan. Minor upgrades this year include standard dual-zone air conditioning, an AM/FM stereo and LATCH child seat tether anchors. A leather-accented 60/40 split bench seat will be available later this year on LS models, and two new exterior colors have been added.
Although designed to compete in the normally staid full-size sedan market, the Impala distinguishes itself with such notable design cues like smoked headlight lenses, large circular tail lamps and a shape that creates a "frown" both front and rear. Stylists looked to Impalas of the '60s for inspiration here, but its C-pillar badges mimic the surprisingly successful and often-mourned Impala SS of the '90s.
Available in base and LS trim levels, the 2002 Impala sedan holds six average -sized adults and 17.6 cubic feet of their luggage. The cabin is hardly what you would call opulent, but it gets the job done with a clean straightforward layout featuring large, easy-to-read gauges and simplified climate and radio controls.
The standard 3.4-liter V6 engine was borrowed from the Venture minivan, making 180 horsepower and 205 pound-feet of torque. Step up to LS trim, and you get a 3.8-liter V6 making 200 horsepower and 225 lb-ft of torque. Both models employ a responsive four-speed automatic transmission driving the front wheels.
Despite its modest weight, the Impala still suffers in the handling department. The way it floats and wallows through turns, you would think you were in one of the enormous land yachts of the'60s. Standard 16-inch wheels and tires do their best to keep the Impala in check, while standard four-wheel-disc brakes are on hand to bring it to a stop. Antilock brakes, a tire-inflation monitor and traction control are optional on base models and standard on LS.
Occupant safety is a big selling point for the Impala. Head-protection standards for 2003 were met well in advance, a side airbag is available, and rear-seat tether anchors will handle up to three child safety seats. Daytime running lights are also standard. Government crash tests gave the Impala a five-star rating in front impact collisions and a four star rating in side-impact crashes.
Other standard equipment includes air conditioning with dual front temperature controls, rear defogger, rear-seat headrests, power windows and locks and a Radio Data System (RDS) AM/FM stereo. The Impala's remote keyless entry fobs can be programmed with the preferences of two different drivers and the clock even automatically adjusts when you drive across time zones. The OnStar communication system that provides instant emergency service is standard on the LS and optional on base models.
Six-passenger sedans are few and far between these days, and the Impala delivers all that room in a safe and comfortable environment perfect for growing families. But with its sloppy suspension, poor build quality and low-buck interior, we would can't help but think that most families would prefer some of the more refined offerings from Chrysler, Ford and Toyota.