2004 Chevrolet Impala

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Change year or car

$21,735

starting MSRP

2004 Chevrolet Impala

Key specs

Base trim shown

Overview

The good:

  • Predictable FWD handling
  • Performance of SS
  • Automatic-transmission operation
  • Driving ease
  • Maneuverability

The bad:

  • Soft suspension on base model
  • Resale value
  • Engine noise at times

3 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2004 Chevrolet Impala trim comparison will help you decide.

Notable features

  • Three V-6s
  • Supercharged V-6 in SS
  • Sport-tuned suspension on SS
  • Five- or six-passenger capacity
  • Available XM Satellite Radio

2004 Chevrolet Impala review: Our expert's take

By

“Throw a blower on it!”

That’s what one of my pals says whenever she beholds a hot rod of any kind. It’s a pretty good cliche that zeroes in on the ultimate accessory for getting more power out of an engine: supercharging.

Drag racers know all about the benefits of a supercharger. Basically, it’s a belt-driven air pump that force-feeds air and fuel into an engine to boost horsepower and torque.

Supercharging is one of the key ingredients to the revival of a Chevrolet classic, the Impala SS. Taking the midsize, front-wheel-drive family sedan, Chevy boosts the 3.8-liter V-6 to 240 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, and adds a lowered performance suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels with speed-rated tires, twin chrome exhaust tips and a blacked-out monochromatic paint job.

The result is a quick, sinister-looking sport sedan. But muscle-car fanatics of a certain age will be quick to point out SS lacks the basics, the testosterone-pumping roar of a V-8 engine and asphalt-gripping rear-wheel drive.

This is a major issue, especially when compared with the last-generation Impala SS, a big, bad rear-drive and V-8-powered road warrior that became a popular collector’s item after its demise in 1996.

So does the new Impala SS cut it? As a strong sedan with plenty of power and finesse, pretty much. As a continuation of the SS line of hard-charging muscle cars, not really.

What it is

Impala SS harks back to the glory days of muscle cars, with the first Impala Super Sport hitting the streets in the 1961 model year. Chevy is bringing back a whole line of SS models, including a Silverado SS pickup truck, a supercharged Monte Carlo SS, the SSR retro pickup-truck roadster and, within the next couple of years, a stylish V-8 coupe called simply SS.

Engine and transmission

Chevrolet’s 3.8-liter V-6, a sturdy cast-iron engine that’s been around forever, gets the full-blown treatment with an Eaton supercharger. That boosts horsepower from 200 for the naturally aspirated engine to 240 for the supercharged version. Torque goes from 225 pound-feet to 280.

That beefy torque is available right from the get go, with the Impala SS sprinting away from stoplights and accelerating sharply in passing maneuvers. The 3,600-pound sedan feels fast under throttle, more so than such SS heavyweights as Silverado and SSR.

Still, what you expect from an Impala SS is that snorting Chevy V-8, and while the supercharged V-6 is strong, is just doesn’t deliver the same visceral impact. For many drivers, that won’t matter. For those muscle-car people, it’s critical.

Look at the knock taken by the Chrysler Prowler factory hot rod, which everyone agreed passed muster on exotic looks but failed to stir much enthusiasm for the V-6 under its pointy hood.

The Impala SS transmission is a four-speed automatic, a heavy-duty unit designed for the engine’s extra torque. It does the job well.

Handling and drivability

Impala SS handles sharply, much more so than the standard-issue Impala or Impala LS. The steering feels nicely weighted, responsive and precise, in contrast with the sometimes vague steering of the regular Impala.

Though it’s not likely to be mistaken for a European sports sedan, Impala SS feels quite maneuverable and sure-footed on winding roads and around urban street corners. The suspension is tight though not buffeting on rough surfaces.

Four-wheel disc brakes with antilock are standard and work well. Traction control keeps the front wheels from shrieking under hard throttle.

Front-wheel drive is also a sticking point for the performance seekers, though it’s barely noticeable in the SS. There’s some torque steer under throttle. Watch for a wholesale trend back to rear drive for sporty cars and luxury craft, at least among American manufacturers.

Styling

The lowered stance gives the SS a hot-rod look, especially with the big wheels and low-profile tires. I’ve never been all that crazy about Impala’s styling, which weakly evokes ’60s models, but the black-out treatment and suspension modifications give Impala SS a more interesting look.

Still, it does not compare well with the glowering look of the 1991-96 Impala SS.

Interior

Lots of SS badges and a more complete instrument cluster improve the look of this roomy interior. There are also bucket seats up front with a large console.

Impala SS comes standard with most desirable comfort and convenience features.

Pricing

At $27,335, the SS version is less than $3,000 more than the standard LS. For a car with a performance image and 240 horsepower, that’s not a bad price point.

The test car also came with a preferred-equipment package that includes such bits and pieces as a cargo net, upgraded stereo, heated mirrors, steering-wheel controls for audio, driver information center including trip computer, alarm and Homelink transmitter and OnStar communications system, $1,425; sunroof, $900; comfort package of power passenger seat (power driver seat is standard) and heated front seats, $445; XM satellite radio, $325; and shipping, $660.

Total came to $31,090, which is getting up there.

Bottom line

Though it misses the mark with the muscle-car crowd, the latest version of Impala SS has the quick performance, sharp handling and a hot-rod appearance to back up its sporty image. Watch for a V-8 version sometime in the near future.

Chevrolet Impala SS

Vehicle type: Five-passenger, four-door sedan, front-wheel drive.

Base price: $27,335.

Price as tested: $31,090.

Engine: 3.8-liter inline V-6, 240 horsepower at 5,200 rpm, 280 pound-feet of torque at 3,600 rpm.

Transmission: Four-speed automatic.

Wheelbase: 110.5 inches.

Curb weight: 3,606 pounds.

EPA mileage: 18 city, 28 highway.

Highs:

Supercharged power.

Crisp handling.

Sporty appearance.

Lows:

SS equates to V-8.

Expensive options.

Some torque steer.

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.6
  • Interior design 4.2
  • Performance 4.5
  • Value for the money 4.5
  • Exterior styling 4.3
  • Reliability 4.6

Most recent consumer reviews

4.7

Great kids car

Great car for learning to drive in. Safety, reasonable cost for repairs. Great daily driver. Insurance rates are great with a teenager. Design is nice enough.

4.3

This car has been well taken care of! Dependable!!

She's good on gas, has a huge trunk, plenty of space on inside. AC works great, heat works great, motor is clean. Very smooth ride, tires are good and aligned, speakers sound awesome.....etc.

5.0

Best vehicle I have seen on the market.

Excellent running vehicle. Has good suspension, looks nice and clean. Interior is very clean. Rides nice, radio & cd player work. Very roomy car, leg room in back seat.

See all 72 consumer reviews

Warranty

New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by Chevrolet
New car program benefits
Bumper-to-bumper
36 months/36,000 miles
Corrosion
72 months/100,000 miles
Powertrain
36 months/36,000 miles
Roadside assistance
36 months/36,000 miles
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
5 model years or newer/up to 75,000 miles
Basic warranty terms
12 months/12,000 miles bumper-to-bumper original warranty, then may continue to 6 years/100,000 miles limited (depending on variables)
Powertrain
6 years/100,000 miles
Dealer certification required
172-point inspection
Roadside assistance
Yes
View all cpo program details

Have questions about warranties or CPO programs?

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