What's New for 2007
Changes are few on the 2007 Chevrolet Impala. The 3900 V6 adopts Active Fuel Management cylinder-deactivation technology, and a non-E85 version of the 3500 V6 becomes standard for California-level emissions states.
There are a few constants in life that are oddly comforting -- a hot fudge sundae, a fall day spent at a baseball game, cruising on the highway in a big American sedan. The last example is something Chevrolet has provided for nearly 50 years with its Impala model. In addition to a spacious cabin, the Impala has excelled at providing reliable and peppy performance, a quiet cabin and a soft ride at a price most moms and dads could easily handle. And so it is with the 2007 Chevrolet Impala.
Switching to an all-new front-drive platform in the 2000 model year after a four-year hiatus (and after decades as a rear-driver), the Impala was downsized and found itself battling Ford's Taurus instead of its previous, long-standing arch rival, the Ford Crown Victoria. This generation ran through 2005 and we never warmed up to it, as the styling was somewhat quirky and the cabin left us cold with its abundance of hard plastics. Last year, Chevy polished up the Impala's act inside and out, giving the car a stiffer platform, more powerful engines, cleaner styling and a much improved cabin in terms of materials and build quality.
Granted, with front-wheel-drive the current Chevy Impala isn't exactly a tribute to the past, but it does continue the tradition of large, affordable Chevrolet family sedans. A pair of fuel-efficient V6 power plants provides plenty of power along with respectable fuel mileage -- never one of the Impala's strong points in previous generations. The fact that the base Impala can seat six in a pinch makes it a rarity, as even the largest cars of today have front buckets and a console, limiting passenger capacity to five. Should you desire something a little less practical and a lot more exciting, the bowtie boys have you covered with the Impala SS, which sports a powerful V8, big wheels, a tighter suspension and the requisite bucket seats with a console-mounted shifter.
Though still not quite as refined as the Toyota Avalon, or as nimble and stylish as the rear-drive Chrysler 300, the 2007 Chevrolet Impala should remain a popular choice for those in need of an affordable sedan with a big, comforting interior.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2007 Chevrolet Impala large sedan comes in four trim levels: LS, LT, LTZ and SS. LS models include 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 adds alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control and remote vehicle start. The LTZ includes 17-inch alloys, heated leather bucket seats, a Bose audio system and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The SS comes with monochromatic exterior paint, a performance-tuned suspension, 18-inch wheels and a rear spoiler.
Options for the Impala LS consist of a package that bundles traction control, antilock brakes and floor mats. Choosing an LT opens the way to various packages (called 1LT, 2LT and 3LT) that include features such as leather seating, a six-disc CD changer, XM satellite radio, heated front seats and 17-inch alloy wheels. The LTZ is so well-equipped it has no options apart from a CD changer and a sunroof (which is optional on all trims), while the SS has a handful, including heated seats, a power front-passenger seat, Homelink transmitter and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
Powertrains and Performance
The LS comes with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 211 horsepower and 214 pound-feet of torque. The standard 3.5 is E85-compatible in all states, except in the five California-standards emissions states, although it is optionally available there as well. Available on the LT and standard on the LTZ is a 3.9-liter V6 (233 hp and 240 lb-ft), which is now fitted with Active Fuel Management technology, which deactivates half the cylinders while cruising to save fuel. The SS has a 5.3-liter V8 making an impressive 303 hp and 323 lb-ft of torque. All models employ a responsive four-speed automatic transmission (heavy-duty on the SS) that sends the power through the front wheels. The V6 engines offer an agreeable blend of power and fuel-efficiency (up to 31 mpg on the freeway with the 3.5 E85), while the V8 offers serious off-the-line thrust. An Impala SS we tested did the 0-60-mph drill in just 6.4 seconds and ran through the quarter-mile in 14.5 seconds.
Antilock brakes and traction control are standard on the LTZ and SS, and optional on other models. Full-length side curtain airbags, OnStar and a tire-pressure monitor are standard on all Impalas, but stability control is not available. In frontal crash tests conducted by the NHTSA, the 2007 Chevrolet Impala earned five stars (out of five) for driver and front-passenger protection in frontal impacts. In side-impact testing, an Impala equipped with the side airbags scored five stars for front passengers and four stars for those seated in the rear. In IIHS frontal offset crash testing, the Impala scored an "Acceptable" rating (second highest out of four), while side-impact tests by that agency resulted in a "Good" rating, the highest possible.
Interior Design and Special Features
As one of the few sedans on the market capable of seating six passengers, the Chevy Impala does have an edge on the competition when it comes to interior space. The SS model has metallic interior trim, while all other models feature wood-grain trim. Fit and finish is vastly improved over previous models, and the Impala offers contemporary features like available dual-zone climate control, a Bose audio system and an input jack for portable music players. Trunk capacity is a generous 18.6 cubic feet.
Apart from the Impala SS model, handling is not among the Impala's strengths due to its soft suspension, though the car does feel solid and substantial. Plenty of people will appreciate the big sedan's compliant ride quality. Also a composed cruiser, the SS is much more agile thanks to firmer suspension tuning and 18-inch performance tires. Although the fact remains that this is a big, heavy car, dive the SS into a corner and it pulls through with dignity and thrust. While the SS model may be tempting to power-hungry buyers, be forewarned that dipping into its formidable reserves quickly brings fuel mileage down to around 17 mpg, despite ratings of 18 city and 27 highway. Our recommendation? Stick with the better-balanced LTZ and its plenty powerful 3.9-liter V6.