By on July 28, 2009

[thanks to segfault for the link]

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46 Comments on “Here’s One for GM Marketing Czar Bob Lutz...”


  • avatar
    gcmustanglx

    That’s funny. I see no mention of fleet queen anywhere in it.

  • avatar
    carguy

    It would have been in 1989.

  • avatar

    I had one of these as a rental car over the past week. Smooth, quiet ride. I was expecting it to float like an old Buick, so I was pleasantly surprised in that department. But “sport sedan” is not part of the nomenclature for the Impala. It doesn’t like to be pushed hard, that’s not what it was built for. It was built to be a rental car. And there are several design flaws that get in the way of that mission.

    The climate control is manual and is absolutely infuriating to use. The temperature control knobs are large scroll wheels with a short travel, and they’re impossible to adjust with any precision. Why not use a knob? When I visited the above website, I discovered that the Impala does not offer an automatic climate control, not even on the range-topping, $29k LTZ version, nor the now-defunct SS version. Also, the climate control restarts itself in “recirculate” mode every time the car is restarted.

    The 12 volt outlets are hidden, which eliminates an eyesore, but given that this car’s intended market is the Enterprise rental lot at the airport, this situation will confuse the poor sap who is rents one and is unfamiliar with the Impala’s anatomy. The plastic body kit (piece of flair?) that sticks out below the doors is perfect for getting dirt on pant legs. The trunk is very deep, and my example had no net and no folding seat. I had to climb into the trunk to retrieve items that had shifted to the front when I braked.

    The front seatbelt buckles don’t pivot in towards the seats—I guess Chevrolet figured that the average American is so fat, they’ll take up the entire seat. Members of the population with a healthy BMI will find that the seatbelt feels slack, even when it’s not.

    On a rainy day, I had occasion to override the “automatic” headlamps when I manually turned them on. I was cautioned by a dashboard message that I had overridden the automatic headlamps. This caution didn’t disappear until I pressed a button on the trip computer.

    A mass-market rental car shouldn’t have this many irritating features. My 2009 example had 39,000 miles, nothing was broken, and the panel gaps were even. I guess that’s a success by some measures.

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    Luxury – LMAO

    Sport Sedan – Only in a straight line, with strong arms and massive FWD wheel spin….otherwise, LMAO.

  • avatar
    superbadd75

    Luxury car? No.
    Sport Sedan? Hell no.
    Competent but boring family sedan with plenty of room? Yes.

  • avatar
    Samuel L. Bronkowitz

    I’ve rented a couple of these over the years.

    The seats are just awful. Uncomfortable, no lateral support at all – the complete opposite of what a sports sedan would have.

    The other big problem: steering. hat is it with GM and the over-boosted power steering? Do they think this defines luxury? Every GM vehicle I’ve rented for the last 20 years had this same feel (lack of feel!) in the steering.

    I’m reminded of the movie “Crazy People”, where the ad people have lied so much that they’re simply incapable of telling the truth.

  • avatar
    gossard267

    This is brilliant. Through aggressive, relentless application of words and phrases to objects to which they clearly do not apply, GM will first obfuscate and, eventually, eradicate the currently accepted meanings of said words and phrases. While demonstrating a rather belligerent or, at very least, cavalier*, attitude towards the English language, such a strategy might eliminate competitors’ ability to effectively utilize ‘luxury’ and ‘sports sedan’ as product differentiators. It’s perhaps the ultimate expression of the ‘If I can’t have it, then no one will’ philosophy.

    * pun intended

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Of course, it’s a sports sedan.

    (Horseshoes and bridge are sports, aren’t they?)

  • avatar
    John R

    Kick-ass, a double-edge insult. An insult to a knowledgeable person’s intelligence and while at the same time an insult onto itself. If the Impala is where luxury car meets sport sedan then my ’07 Sonata is where G37 meets A4 2.0t. Man, what a riot.

    Antics like these have people write off GM completely . It’s as if to say, “You’re stupid so I’ll call it something you’ll like and you’ll fall for it, and take your money.” How is a consumer supposed to react to something like this? I know. Not buy their goods because they think you think they’re stupid.

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    Here comes the wave of old Celebrity Eurosport owners looking for a new car.

  • avatar
    sean362880

    I honestly thought this was a joke, but there it is on Chevy’s website.

    http://www.chevrolet.com/vehicles/2009/impala/overview.do

    The Aveo one is pretty good too, “More to Love”.

    http://www.chevrolet.com/vehicles/2009/aveo/overview.do

  • avatar
    dean

    Shouldn’t this be in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

  • avatar
    spyspeed

    What Lutz meant to say all along is that with the G8 dead, the sports sedan label is “too good to waste.” The lipstick has found its pig.

  • avatar
    Marla_3.9

    Hilarious. This actually made my day. The choice to produce this POS over the G8/Caprice is the reason I’ve given up hope for GM, especially with the death of the SS.

  • avatar
    Joe Chiaramonte

    Shoulda been:

    “Where Merely Adequate Iron Meets Bailout Bait.”

  • avatar
    Shogun

    Well.. I don’t think GM would be perverse enough to tell the truth, such as “Family car meets boring sedan”.

    Okay, so their marketing is fine (in my opinion). Now they need to improve their products so that people wouldn’t think GM is lying.. oh wait.

  • avatar
    Lokkii

    I had one of these as a rental in Canada last summer. My first impression was “Not Bad”. Fit and finish were pretty good, and in general the car seemed competent. On the flat straight highway heading west from Calgary the car was quiet and spacious. No fuss, no hassles, no complaints.

    However, my trip soon took me into the Canadian Rockies. Once there, it quickly became apparent that there isn’t much substance – the car has ‘just enough’ of everything to get by under ‘normal’ circumstances.

    The brakes overheated quickly, and the transmission too. The steering was overboosted and it was hard to figure out how much to turn the wheel for anything other than gentle turns.

    To be fair, my daily driver is a 3 Series, so I may have expected too much, but I wasn’t trying to drive it like a 3 Series.

    So, my final conclusion was that if you live in someplace in the midwest where the land is flat, and the roads are gridded out in straight lines, you would probably be perfectly happy.

    On either one of the coasts – not so much.

    As for the Ad – Hell, when was the last time you paid any attention to something that General Motors said? These are the people who thought that a Duck was a good icon for a luxury car (sic) – the Catera. (However, in an effort to be fair once again, perhaps they were originally trying to be honest, and simply made a typo – slipping one key to the right from “S” to “D”. THAT would have been an honest descriptio of the Catera. )

  • avatar
    salguod

    Luxury car meets sport sedan – where? Oh, I see, somewhere back in those trees, past the Impala.

  • avatar
    Runfromcheney

    I had one as a rental and it was nice. But that is all it was, a rental. Like I told my friend when we sat in one at NAIAS, it doesn’t have anything that really sticks out to make people remember it. It doesn’t have the (2010) Taurus’ styling or technology, nor the Accord’s sportiness, nor the Camry and Sonata’s quality and value.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Lokii,
    Even then, if GM had been able to be consistent in their use of the keyboard (substituting D for S), this Impala would be a “Dport Dedan” (actually, it is, and the target audience – all 12 of them – probably think it is blessed with some kind of French élan.)

  • avatar
    conswirloo

    It could still be where luxury car meets sports sedan, its just that everyone assumes they took all the good bits of both.

    The bad bits were much cheaper to get.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Someone over at GM must be inhaling can after can of compressed air keyboard cleaner to think this is true.

    I took a rental Impala with low miles around an exit ramp and the damn thing fought with me the whole time.

    Just keep ‘er straight and you’re golden.

    The Hyundai Genesis is a world more of a sport sedan than the Impala.

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    THIS is your Father’s Oldsmobile.

    But seriously, I have a teenager who just finished a drivers ed stint in one of these. He spent a week telling me how much he hated it. What, you ask, are his points of reference? Howabout a 93 Crown Victoria and a 96 Odyssey. Sad but true.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    The ad copy was actually meant to go along with Chevy rebadged version of the Pontiac G8, but the car was axed.

  • avatar
    dcdriver

    I rented one a year ago I found the back seat a little small for a full-size car.

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    I’m still amazed that this design disaster get a pass as “roomy”.

    Yah, it’s fairly wide, but the rear seat leg and head room are not first rate in the compact class. Way behind the much critized 2nd gen Prius.

    And CR’s mileage for it was about identical to the Sienna which is heavier and IIRC faster.

    Other than fleets this tub has no reason to exist.

    As for the ad, it’s an ad, and a GM ad at that…you were expecting truth?

    Stay groovy,

    Bunter

  • avatar
    mikey

    Lets see, where do I start? First off I own the clone of that very car. I thought it was the biggest bang possible using my GM retirement vehicle voucher. Though the Malibu ran a close second.

    @segfault…Yeah.. thats a pretty good appraisal. Oh, and the seat belt does feel a little slack, I
    feel better now that I don’t have to call Jenny Craig. FYI.. I thought Valerie Bertenelli was hot before she lost the lbs.

    Luxury meets Sport Sedan? Hmmmm? yeah… thats a bit of a reach. Hey, it ain’t no BMW or a Mercedes,but for the cost of a BMW I could of had two Impalas.

    @jpcavanaugh Celebrity to an Impala? Come on now,how about a 85 Accord to a 2004 Accord? The Celebrity was no prize,the Accord was a rust bucket.

    @pch 101… whoa! Horseshoes is not a sport? Yeah, your pobably right. I’ve been at TTAC long enough to not take you on in a debate. So I guess I’m not an athlete after all.

    OK so marla-3.9 refers to my pride and joy Impala as a POS. Well I can’t knock that. I use the same 3 letters to identify any vehicle not produced by GM,Ford or Chrysler IMHO.

    Some facts here Marla-3.9 The Impala is produced on a FWD line about 5 miles from where I sit. The G8 is a rebadged Holden RWD produced in Austraila..So maybe GM should re..rebadge the G8 and move production to the other side of the world?

    I’ve heard it all,rental queen,bland mobile POS,craptastic is my favorite though.

    Once my wife joins me in retirement we plan on spending five to ten years touring every nook and cranny to be found in North America. And yes we will be driving our beautiful black Impala.

  • avatar
    mikey610

    BTW – This exact vehicle is around for THREE MORE YEARS (next major~MY2013)…

  • avatar
    50merc

    Why oh why does GM not listen to constructive criticism from people such as segfault? It appears designers and engineers get only one chance to get things right. If there’s a screwup (e.g., the Impala’s climate control scroll wheels) the attitude is “well, it seemed like a good idea at the time, and damned if we’ll fix it during the many years the model will be in production.”

    Continuous improvement? No, sporadic if that. And so, little irritations steadily erode owner satisfaction to the point s/he looks elsewhere the next time. In contrast is Lexus’ great slogan “The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection.”

    Chrysler deserves to be mentioned, too. For many years they have made door checks that are virtually useless, gas pedals with misplaced pivot points, and seat backs with no more lumbar support than a catcher’s mitt. Do they ever drive the cars they make? Do they give a damn?

  • avatar
    njoneer

    Good luck, Lutz.

    This ad is bad on so many levels. The ad people clearly don’t know anything about the product they are selling. The text matches the BMW 3-series, but not the Impala.

    And they don’t know anything about their customers. Impala buyers are not cross-shopping sport sedans or luxury cars. Their second choice would have been a Malibu.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Luxury meets Sport Sedan? Hmmmm? yeah… thats a bit of a reach.

    The problem here is with delivering a car that doesn’t match the hype. You end up irritating those who investigate it based upon the hype, while missing the market that might actually want to own one for what it is.

    It’s a big, roomy family car that, as far as I can tell, is pretty dependable. They might have more luck with it if they marketed it as one of those, which it is, instead of being something more teutonic, which it isn’t.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Paint it white, and the few who buy that line, won’t.

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    Mikey:
    Celebrity to an Impala?

    My point was that calling the Celebrity a “Eurosport” was classic GM then and calling the new Impala a sport sedan is more of the same now. GM makes some genuine sport sedans (G8 and CTS-V come to mind), so why on earth would you cheapen the term by applying it to the Impala? I hope this was already in stone before Lutz got involved.

    I agree with you that it is a good value. I am partial to Crown Vics and Grand Marquis’ for the same reason. And I’m happy that you are happy with your car. Call it a good sedan that’s a great value, call it the heartbeat of America, or start singing about baseball, hotdogs and all the rest. But ferkryinoutloud, GM, DON’T call it a sport sedan!

  • avatar
    DeadEd

    I too had one of these as a rental this year on a trip through the Texas hill country (LT trim). I agree with the opinion that this is definitely NOT a sports sedan. No way. No how. My points of reference are a 3 series and a 39 year-old Cadillac drop top.

    The good: a) forget the sticker, you can get one cheap; b) no squeeks or rattles; c) decent gas mileage; d) climate control is effective; e) huge trunk; f) brakes are reasonably effective, but I didn’t do alot to heat them; g) good big mirrors.

    The not so good: a) the A pillars are thick enough to blind you in a sweeper; b) the aforementioned crappy climate controls; c) no steering feel; d) horrible front seats (the old worn bench on my Caddy is far better); e) begs for the 6-speed; f) absurdly boosted throttle tip-in; g) didn’t really track all that well (needed constant steering correction).

    Overall assessment: If you need a cheap family hauler, and you get one heck of a deal on it, consider it. It felt sturdy and reliable, but it’s no sport sedan. If my gripes are things that matter to you, look elsewhere.

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    Once my wife joins me in retirement we plan on spending five to ten years touring every nook and cranny to be found in North America. And yes we will be driving our beautiful black Impala.

    Don’t rush into that. My in laws drove from florida to Illinois – they won’t be doing that again. The Impala may not be completely responsible. the GPS may cop some of that (in my father in laws opinion)

    however getting to the point they have a 2003 with 43000 miles on it but you’d think thousands more had been done on it overheating hvac/ice and all
    it had less urge to move than my focus.

  • avatar
    akear

    The sad truth the Impala is the only GM sedan selling in respectable numbers. The rental mule Malibu is not even close in retail sales.

  • avatar
    mikey

    @HETHROI…With only 43000 on the clock,I’m thinking it needs to see a good and honest mechanic. I did a lot of research before I settled on the Impala. Long term, lots of miles and low cost repairs was my goal. I talked to many owners,my own mechanic,and a couple of cabbies that own thier own cars.

    The Impala like any vehicle has its quirks but nothing serious. I figure no matter where I go,if it breaks,somebody will know how to fix it. Parts will be cheap and easy to find.

    IMHO we are entering an era where folks keep thier cars for a long time. Long term dependability and repair costs are going to be a huge factor.

    The Impala,while far from a luxury sport sedan, I expect it will serve my purpose quite well.

    I guess I will find out eh?

    @ akear I was still in the plant when the Malibu launched. The folks on the Impala line were scared that the Bu would kill us. When I compared car to car, the Impala, older design and all won out. I found the Malibu a little cramped and awkward to get in and out of.

  • avatar
    50merc

    Mikey makes a good case for the Impala. I also agree that it’s attractive. It really is a shame that GM won’t devote some attention to correcting the weak points.

  • avatar
    Dangerous Dave

    When you go to this page on their web site and click on the “owner’s” tab you are greeted with the headline: Chevrolet is focused on being your car company. That’s the problem, they want to be my car company via my tax dollars, not an independant, profitable company. I wouldn’t even consider a GM car untill they are not my car company.

  • avatar
    mtypex

    luxury … sporty … it doesn’t really look like an Infiniti. Maybe it’s wearing a disguise?

  • avatar
    john.fritz

    Another GM half-assed uni-body POS with, wait for it,

    Fake Dual Exhaust.

    *sigh* Thanks Ed P.

  • avatar
    mattstairs

    You can’t spit where I live without hitting an Impala. You see far more of them than Malibus.

    The comments are spot on. It looks a little sporty with the right wheels and spoiler, but it is a family car, not a sports car. It is not a luxury car either.

    It really has that value family sedan thing nailed. That is how it should be marketed.

  • avatar
    nevets248

    wow!
    It looks as if Susan Docherty has managed to ‘contaminate” the Chevy nameplate too!

  • avatar
    Aloysius Vampa

    Cobalt Coupe: BRAGGING RIGHTS ARE A GIVEN.

    Oh, yeah. I remember all the kids at school who had Cobalts bragging about their awesome cars.

    Cobalt Sedan: STREET-SMART. FUEL-SAVVY.

    I’m not sure what street-smart means in relation to a car, but whatever. I can at least be content with the fact that my car is very knowledgeable about fuel!

    Corvette: PLAY BY YOUR RULES

    Or play by ours, as we control your shifting.

    Avalanche: THE MOST FLEXIBLE VEHICLE OUT THERE(3)

    Yes, it actually has the “(3)” at the end. At the bottom of the page, 3 says: “Based on GM Large Pickup segment and latest available competitive information. Excludes other GM vehicles.”

    This vehicle is the most flexible vehicle out there, if you exclude certain vehicles. Wow.

    Suburban: EVERY BIG FAMILY WILL WANT ONE.

    Totally.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    I rented one of those Impalas too…ok for straight roads in Nevada where the game is to see how many miles it is before the next curve in the road. Very reminiscent of the 09 Camry we rented last year in that respect.

    And, you have to remember that these manufacturers think you make a sport model by printing the word SPORT on the sides and putting a body-color grille on it.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    I don’t know what is worse – a company willing to apply that statement to that car, or a company so unaware of what it makes, it believes that statement could somehow be correct.

    The ad does damage to GM. It shows them to be liars or naive, or just plain stupid.


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