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.
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.
If you are looking for newer years, visit our new Chevrolet Impala page.