An XM Satellite Radio will be available for the 2003 model year in Chevrolets largest sedan, which also gets standard remote keyless entry and new 16-inch aluminum wheels. Four new body colors will be offered on the Impala this season.
Launched for the 2000 model year, the Canadian-built Impala took its name from Chevrolets heritage for a sedan that straddles the region between midsize and full-size and is far smaller than the big Impalas of the 1990s and earlier.
Two V-6 engines are available: a 180-horsepower 3.4-liter and a 200-hp 3.8-liter. The four-door Impala shares its basic mechanical design and engines with the automakers midsize Monte Carlo coupe, which flaunts a sportier appearance.
At the Chicago Auto Show in February 2003, Chevrolet announced that an Impala SS will join the lineup for 2004. It will be available only in black and will carry a supercharged V-6 engine that makes 240 hp. Chevrolet last offered a high-performance Impala SS in 1996, based on the rear-wheel-drive (RWD) Caprice of that era.
From the front and sides, 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, where a full-width panel encloses four round taillights.
At 200 inches long overall, the Impala is nearly 4 inches shorter than the front-wheel-drive Dodge Intrepid and a full foot shorter than the RWD Ford Crown Victoria, both of which are key rivals.
Ranked as a full-size car by the Environmental Protection Agencys spaciousness standard, the Impala has an interior volume of 104 cubic feet. Its trunk holds 18.6 cubic feet of cargo.
In base form, the Impala is equipped with a split, front bench seat to accommodate six occupants. The LS sedan comes with front bucket seats and a split, rear seatback that folds down for additional cargo space. Large, easy-to-use controls are well lit at night. Tall, wide doors permit easy entry and exit.
Under the Hood
A 180-hp, 3.4-liter V-6 engine powers the base Impala. A 200-hp, 3.8-liter V-6 is standard in the upscale LS version and is optional in the base sedan. Both engines drive a four-speed-automatic transmission.
Antilock brakes, all-speed traction control and a tire-inflation monitor are standard in the LS sedan and in the base sedan equipped with the 3.8-liter engine. A side-impact airbag for the driver is optional. Daytime running lights and LATCH child-safety seat tethers are installed.
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 unleashes more enthusiastic passing power on the highway. The automatic transmission operates with excellence and produces barely noticeable shifts.
The LS steers with a relatively light touch for a big car, and it feels more solidly built than some other General Motors sedans. The Impala is easy to drive and maneuver, and it corners rather nimbly, suffers no stability woes on the highway and copes well enough in curves. The LSs ride cannot be called soft, but its suspension cushions quite a bit of pavement roughness.
Space is abundant up front, and the sedan offers excellent thigh support and good back support. Even the base model 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 by taking bumps without overreacting.
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