Chevrolet rejoined the full-size sedan market for the 2000 model year with the Impala, putting one of its old model names on a new front-drive design. The Impala sedan is a carryover for 2001.
The Monte Carlo shares the Impalas mechanical design and engines but comes in sportier two-door styling. Chevy dropped out of the full-size segment when it stopped selling the rear-drive Caprice and Impala SS models at the end of the 1996 model year. The midsize Lumina sedan now sold only to fleet buyers was Chevys 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 midsize Lumina. However, it is 3 inches longer in wheelbase at 110.5, making it a full-size car by cars.com standards. 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 key rivals.
Styling on the Impala bears some resemblance to Chevys midsize Malibu sedan from the front and side. The Impalas rear has a more dramatic appearance from a full-width panel that encloses round taillamps, a styling touch from years ago.
With an interior volume of 104.5 cubic feet and a 17.6-cubic-foot trunk, the Impala ranks as a full-size car under the EPAs 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-hp 3.8-liter V-6 that is quieter and delivers stronger acceleration and more enthusiastic passing power. Both engines team with a smooth-shifting four-speed automatic transmission.
Standard safety features include a side-impact airbag for the driver, antilock brakes, all-speed traction control and a tire-inflation monitor. Daytime running lamps also are standard.
The Impala LS comes with a strong engine, athletic handling (and a ride that might be too firm for some), and a comprehensive list of convenience and safety features. The base model is softer, not as quick and more basically furnished. Both are roomy, competent and reasonably priced, but the abundance of flimsy plastic trim makes the interiors feel chintzy.