Launched for the 2000 model year, the Canadian-built Impala took its name from Chevrolet’s heritage. It straddles the midsize and full-size segments. Two V-6 engines have been available in the four-door Impala: a 180-horsepower 3.4-liter and a 200-hp 3.8-liter. Chevrolet’s largest sedan shares its basic mechanical design with the 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 the 2004 model year. Available only in black, the SS will carry a supercharged V-6 engine that makes 240 hp. In the muscle-car era of the late 1960s and early 1970s, the SS (Super Sport) designation identified a large group of performance-packed models.
Sales begin in the summer of 2003. Details on 2004 changes to other Impala models have not yet been released.
From the front and sides, the Impala’s styling bears some resemblance to Chevrolet’s midsize Malibu sedan. The Impala’s rear, however, 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 Dodge Intrepid and a foot shorter than the Ford Crown Victoria, which are two key rivals. High-performance wheels and tires are installed on the new Impala SS, which features a sport-tuned four-wheel-independent suspension.
Ranked as a full-size car by the Environmental Protection Agency’s 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 has a split front bench seat to accommodate six occupants. The LS sedan is equipped with front bucket seats and a split rear seatback that folds down for additional cargo space. Large controls are well lit at night. Tall, wide doors permit easy entry and exit. An XM Satellite Radio is optional.
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 optional in the base sedan. Both engines drive a four-speed-automatic transmission. Chevrolet’s new SS gets a supercharged 3.8-liter V-6 that produces 240 hp.
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 Impala’s smaller engine provides decent acceleration. The 3.8-liter V-6 is quieter, delivers stronger performance from a standstill and 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 large car, and it feels more solidly built than some General Motors sedans. This Impala is easy to drive and maneuver, and it corners rather nimbly. The LS’s ride can’t be called soft, but its suspension cushions quite a bit of pavement roughness.