2001 Chevrolet Impala Review
Pros & Cons
- Six-passenger seating availability, big brakes, torquey V6 engines.
- So-so styling, no V8, wallowy suspension, big front-drive cars rarely sell as well as big rear-drivers.
Edmunds' Expert Review
It may be called the Impala, but this dreadful front-wheel-drive family sedan has little in common with the V8-powered rear-drive models of the past. Skip it in favor of the more refined offerings from Ford, Chrysler and Toyota.
The Chevy Impala returned last year, this time as a front-wheel-drive, V6-powered spin-off of the Lumina chassis, which left rear-drive Impala purists aching for the previous generation model. Designed to compete in the full-size market, the Impala is more aggressive-looking than its Lumina sister, with 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 2001 Impala sedan holds six good-sized adults and 17.6 cubic feet of their luggage. Inside, a clean, straightforward layout features large, easy-to-find controls and gauges.
The standard 3.4-liter V6 engine was borrowed from the Venture minivan, making 180 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 205 foot-pounds of torque at 4,000 rpm. Step up to LS trim and you get a 3.8-liter V6 making 200 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 225 foot-pounds of torque at 4,000 rpm. Weighing just less than 3,400 pounds, Impala should move along with verve with either engine. A four-speed automatic is the only available transmission.
Structural enhancements make for a stiffer body, which allowed the engineers to reduce noise, vibration and harshness. It also allowed a more precisely tuned suspension to maximize both ride comfort and handling prowess. Standard 16-inch wheels and tires do much to help with both ride and grip, while Impala's standard four-wheel-disc brakes are rated for heavy-duty service in a new Impala police package. Antilock brakes, a tire inflation monitor and traction control are optional on base models and standard on LS.
Occupant safety will be a big selling point for the Impala. Head protection standards for 2003 were met three years in advance, a side airbag is available, and rear-seat tethers will handle up to three child safety seats. Daytime running lights are standard.
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. Plus, the clock automatically adjusts when you drive across time zones, and Impala's remote keyless entry fobs can be programmed with the preferences of two different drivers. While OnStar is an option for the base sedan, it's now standard on the LS.
Although it's still too early to tell from last year's model run, Chevrolet promises improved reliability over the last-generation Impala, thanks to a simplified electrical system and fewer parts used in the assembly process. A coolant loss-protection system keeps the Impala moving even if all the coolant has been lost - just make sure to stop before you've traveled 50 miles. And, if you do get stranded, the OnStar mobile communications system can help rescue you.