A new Sport Appearance Package for Chevrolets largest passenger car includes different taillights, special gauges and 16-inch pace-car aluminum wheels. A cassette stereo with Radio Data System (RDS) operation and driver/passenger temperature controls are standard for 2002. New LATCH child-seat tethers also are installed.
Launched for the 2000 model year, the Impala took a name from Chevrolets heritage for a four-door front-drive sedan that ranks as a full-size vehicle by cars.com standards but is far smaller than the big Impalas of the past. Chevrolet had abandoned the full-size segment when it stopped selling the rear-drive Caprice and the high-performance Impala SS models after the 1996 model year. The four-door Impala shares its basic mechanical design and engines with the two-door Monte Carlo coupe, which flaunts a sportier appearance.
From the front and side, the Impalas styling bears some resemblance to Chevrolets midsize Malibu sedan, which sells in considerably greater numbers. But at the rear, the Impala has a more dramatic appearance, centered on a full-width panel that encloses round taillights. Back-end design elements echo a styling touch used on Impalas of the distant past.
At 200 inches long overall, the Impala is nearly 4 inches shorter than the front-drive Dodge Intrepid and a full foot shorter than the rear-drive Ford Crown Victoria, both of which are key rivals. With a wheelbase of 110.5 inches, the Impala is a full-size car by cars.com standards but is considered a midsize car in other circles. It is 73 inches wide and stands 57.3 inches tall.
Also ranked as a full-size car by the EPAs spaciousness standard, the Impala has an interior volume of 104 cubic feet. Its trunk holds 18.6 cubic feet of cargo.
The base Impala is equipped with a split, front bench seat to accommodate six passengers. The LS sedan comes with front bucket seats and a split, rear seatback that folds down for additional cargo space. Both models have large, easy-to-use controls that are well lit at night. Tall, wide doors permit easy entry and exit.
Under the Hood
The base Impala is powered by a 180-horsepower, 3.4-liter V-6 engine, while the LS uses a 200-hp, 3.8-liter V-6. Both engines drive a four-speed-automatic transmission.
The Impala has standard antilock brakes, all-speed traction control, daytime running lamps and a tire-inflation monitor. A side-impact airbag for the driver is standard only in the LS sedan.
Even the Impalas smaller engine provides decent acceleration. The 3.8-liter V-6 is quieter and delivers stronger performance from a standstill, and it has more enthusiastic passing power on the highway. The automatic transmission operates with excellence and produces barely noticeable shifts.
Steering with a relatively light touch for a big car, the LS feels more solidly built than some other sedans by General Motors. The Impala is easy to drive and maneuver, and it corners rather nimbly. It suffers no stability woes on the highway and copes well enough in curves. Though the LSs ride cant be called soft, its suspension cushions quite a bit of pavement roughness without a notable loss in handling prowess. Still, some buyers might prefer a little more softness.
Both versions are roomy, competent, reasonably priced, and come with an ample list of safety and convenience features, though flimsy plastic trim detracts from the interiors appearance. Space is abundant up front, with excellent thigh support and good back support. Even the base Impala is a highly pleasing, if not exactly distinguished, family sedan that promises reasonably brisk performance. The ride quality of the base models suspension is a strong point, taking bumps without overreacting.