Chevrolet rejoins the full-size sedan market after a four-year hiatus with the 2000 Impala, resurrecting an old name on a new front-drive model. The Monte Carlo, a two-door coupe built from the same platform but with sportier styling, also joins the lineup this year.
Chevy exited the full-size segment at the end of the 1996 model year when it stopped selling the rear-drive Caprice and performance-oriented Impala SS models. That left the midsize Lumina sedan as Chevy's largest car until the new Impala arrived in summer 1999.
At 200 inches from bumper to bumper, the Impala is actually an inch shorter than the Lumina. However, it is 3 inches longer in wheelbase at 110.5, giving the Impala a roomier interior. The Impala is nearly 4 inches shorter than the front-drive Dodge Intrepid and about a foot shorter than the rear-drive Ford Crown Victoria, two full-size rivals.
Styling on the Impala bears some resemblance to Chevy's midsize Malibu sedan from the front and side. The rear has a more dramatic appearance from a full-width panel that encloses round taillamps, an Impala styling touch from years ago.
With interior volume of 104.5 cubic feet and a 17.6-cubic-foot trunk, the Impala qualifies for full-size status under the EPA's measurements. The Lumina, by comparison, has 100.5 cubic feet of interior space and a 15.5-cubic-foot trunk.
The base Impala comes with a split front bench seat for six-passenger capacity. The LS model adds front bucket seats and a split rear seatback that folds for additional cargo room. Both models have large, easy to use controls that are well lit at night, and wide, tall doors that allow easy entry and exit.
Under the Hood
Base Impalas use a 180-horsepower, 3.4-liter V-6 engine that provides decent acceleration, and the LS has a 200-horsepower 3.8-liter V-6 that is quieter and delivers brisk acceleration and prompt passing power. Both engines team with a smooth-shifting four-speed automatic transmission.
Among safety features standard on the LS and optional on the base Impala are a side-impact airbag for the driver, anti-lock brakes, all-speed traction control and a tire inflation monitor. Daytime running lamps are standard on both.