By on July 9, 2012

Two Chevrolets in a rental lot
And sorry I could not thrash ‘em both
And be one reviewer, but I got
The Cruze first, figuring I could not
Fail, given Impala fleet sale growth

To find one at another time and
Compare them, though GM liked it not,
Face to face and back to back and then
Perhaps a fleshly, fantastic end
To turn the stomach or stir the pot,

The Cruze I rented for four fab days,
The Impala I stretched out to five.
I raced in LeMons north of L.A.,
And stayed with my friend Melisa Mae,
Then to Quebec for a B-Spec drive.

That was getting a bit painful, but you get the idea, right? Over the past two weeks, I drove “New GM” — the Daewoo- world-engineered Cruze LS, complete with 1.8-liter four-cylinder — and “Old GM” — the recently-interred 2012 Impala avec direct-injection V-6 — back-to-back over two race weekends. I put 818 miles on the Cruze, running back and forth between my hideout in Burbank and the Buttonwillow race course near Bakersfield, CA. Three days later, I rented an Impala in Columbus, Ohio and drove it to Mont-Tremblant for the purpose of participating in Rounds 7 and 8 of the Canadian Touring Car Championship. Adding a side trip to Montreal brought my total mileage in that car to 1,787. The purpose of the two rentals, which I requested specifically and was able to arrange with the assistance of the nice people at Hertz, was to answer a simple question: Which car is best at being a Chevrolet?

 

Two years ago, I reviewed the Cruze for TTAC, concluding that

The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze is a good car, although at least part of its goodness comes from the fact that it isn’t really that small. It’s well-positioned against the Civic and Corolla. I believe that it beats both of those cars in significant, measurable ways. This is what it is: a good car, a bold car, a car for which no purchaser need make an excuse or feel any concern. This is what it might be: great. That’s for the buyer to decide. This is what it is not: American.

As has been the case each time I’ve encountered the Cruze since then, my first impressions in the Burbank airport lot were size and solidity. This car packs about 3,150 pounds into a shadow which is nearly identical to that of a 1995 Honda Accord, but if you’ve ever driven that ’95 Accord you will know that the Cruze feels like a tank in comparison. High beltlines, solid doors, a dashboard which exudes a certain upscale feel even in the poverty-spec LS trim. The Cruze, Malibu, Buick LaCrosse, and Cadillac CTS all feel like about the same car inside with different amounts of functional buttons.

Every other car in the segment except the moribund Corolla feels lithe, light, and eager compared to the Cruze. I once thought that this difference came from the Cruze’s Korean origins; after all, this is a big car in its home country. After driving the Elantra, which feels positively disposable by contrast, I realized that this time, Daewoo was following the global playbook. It’s a GM trick as old as the Citation, or perhaps the Nova: sell a big car as a small car.

This time, the trick works. On the brain-dead I-5 run from Burbank to Buttonwillow, the Cruze is flawless in its disposition. The road surfaces are smothered, the wind noise is minimal, the stereo is the proverbial loud and clear. A special slow-clap goes to the iPod integration — I have 15,465 songs on my 160GB Classic and the Cruze quick-selects between all of them via its multi-function knob without a hitch. Nor are the dynamics suspect. When a semi-trailer discharges a blown retread a few hundred feet from the Chevrolet’s nose, I effortlessly slow-hand my way around it without even lighting the ESC telltale. The air-conditioning just about handles the 108-degree dry heat, although I never feel cold.

Hmm… maybe it’s time to turn the A/C off. There’s a sign telling me to do so as the road rises into the Instagram-washed-out California sky. Well, that sign is probably from 1955. Nobody turns off the A/C on the hills nowadays. New cars are expected to handle extremes of temperature and load so we, the people, can concentrate on discussing The Hunger Games through our Samsung Galaxys. (Galaxies? Galaxians?)

Five minutes later, I’ve started to stir the faux-Tiptronic, wrong-way-oriented automatic in frustration. Under these conditions, the Cruze is, not to put too fine a point on it, fucking gutless. The market-mandatory sixth gear yields to fifth, then to fourth, then I have a brief moment of soul-searching considering that I am about to ask a mass-market automobile with one person and a carbon-fiber HANS device on board to drop to third for a major state highway, then I yield to necessity and we are in the Ecotec’s deeply unpleasant hornet’s hive of a midrange.

The reported fuel mileage, which had been a nice cheery “30.0″ during the first part of my trip, falls until it reports “26.5″. Then it’s time to fall back down the hill into the nowhere in particular of Bakersfield. Over the days to come, I repeat that trip three times and wind up using the Cruze as a base of operations, sleeping in the driver’s seat between stints and dehumidifying my Nomex suit in its open, sun-facing trunk.

At the end of eight hundred miles, I continue to rank the Cruze above the Corolla and Civic, below the frisky-fun Focus, and about level with the Elantra depending on one’s priorities in life. Nothing fell off during my test. The seat was comfortable enough. It feels like a twenty-thousand-dollar car. In order for me to honestly recommend it to anyone about whom I care, however, I will need to get into a time machine and read the Consumer Reports of July 2018 or thereabouts to see how it’s going to hold up. Buying an outsourced GM small car is a hit (Prizm) or miss (Spectrum) game. In this era, if you’re determined to deal with the General in any segment it’s worth seeing whether or not the soliders in your chosen regiment are leaving on their feet, or behind them.

The Impala, by contrast, is as proven as a modern GM vehicle comes, so when I step into my plain-white, fleet-trim-level 2012 model three days after returning my Cruze I’ve already put “reliability” on the positive side of the attributes sheet. This is a thoroughly-debugged vehicle, veteran of probably a billion-plus miles’ worth of uncaring public-sector service. The only new part is the 302-horsepower direct-injected V-6, about which more — a lot more — in a moment.

After the suave, segment-competitive interior of the Cruze, the Impala comes as a horrifying shock. The seats could have been standard equipment in a non-Eurosport Celebrity, and once perched on one you’re surveying perhaps \the most depressing-looking dashboard of the twenty-first century. The photograph of quilted maple which has been folded, spindled, and multilated over the plastic airbag cover doesn’t help matters. The floor-mounted shift is COMPLETELY UNMARKED and pressing the button on said shifter causes a magnetic “thunk” to resonate through the thin-rimmed steering wheel, presumably because there’s some sort of interlock at work. It’s so bad it feels like parody, like the “Mediocrity” that Subaru made out of the Kia Optima for marketing purposes right before the Optima tranformed into a sleek, more-Audi-than-Audi super-limo and publicly ripped the still-beating heart out of the Legacy’s weak, gender-ambigous chest while urinating deliberately into the shocked-open collective mouth of the long-suffering Subaru dealer body. Not a great car, and perhaps not worthy of my previous praises. This is going to be a long weekend.

It takes about, oh, ten seconds to permanently change my opinion of the 2012 Impala, because that’s how long it takes for me to get out of the parking lot and let the V-6 breathe fire all the way down the nearest eighth-mile. The “big” Chevy is well over a foot longer than the Cruze but only weighs about three hundred pounds more. This, more than anything else, explains why the Impy feels so light, floaty, fragile on the road by contrast. Combine that with the low beltline, which is probably a hard point dating back to the 1988 Cutlass Supreme or something like that, and it’s the Impala that feels like the smaller, less substantial car. To push that additional three hundred pounds, GM has given the Impala well over twice the power.

Let us take a moment now to praise the direct-injection, 3.6-liter, GM V-6. In the Camaro, it feels slightly overmatched. In the CTS, it feels somewhat coarse, and it’s the optional mill in a $35,000 wannabe-luxury car anyway. It never impressed me, not like the Mustang’s 3.7-liter Duratec did. I marked it down as an under-Achieva, if you will. Only now, at the end, as the V-6 arrives in its perfected destination, do I understand. It’s clear that this engine is so good that GM needs to keep it under wraps. I’ve always admired the way the company deliberately handicaps itself, and this is no exception. Are you in the market for a brand-new Cadillac ATS or Buick LaCrosse? Take this standard four-cylinder — right up your ass. Are you a local municipality looking to replace the meter-maid’s penalty box? Let’s give you a 302-horsepower monster mill and not say anything about it. You’re welcome. Please vote for the next bailout; we’re gonna need it.

The 2012 Impala leaps for the open spot in traffic like a BMW 550i minus the crap visibility and confused transmission. With a cultured, frenetic snarl, the V-6 instantly transports you and the Playskool dashboard ahead of you into any space you wish to occupy. You will simply never tire of surprising G35s and entry-level Germans from the tollbooth, from the off-ramp, away from the Main Street lights. The brakes, when you need them, are present, and the handling is perfectly predictable but not numerically excellent.

Down I-90 East the V-6 reports a staggering 33.5 miles per gallon cruising at a fixed 74 mph — and we don’t stop for fuel until 508 miles have run under the Impala’s energy-saving tires. The once-reviled seats have been proven to be perfectly comfortable, the stereo is loud enough and the 1/8″ input doesn’t seem to impede the clarity of my Nonesuch-generated MP3s from Pat Metheny’s newest trio record. It’s possible to see all the way around the car when on the roll, which is a feature slightly more difficult to obtain in a new sedan than a 600-horsepower engine.

Quebec’s Mont-Tremblant region has hills which rival California’s in grade if not overall height, but where the Cruze stumbled, the Impala surges. The observed economy never dips below an average 31mpg. In Montreal’s cut-and-thrust downtown, it’s impossible to beat the plain-white-wrapper Chevy to the next light. I have a strong urge to sneak it onto the Mont-Tremblant course itself; I’m pretty sure I can smoke the Touring-class cars up the back straight.

When my final race wraps up in near-perfect ignominy Sunday afternoon, I’m the second-to-last car off-course and I have nearly eight hundred miles to go before I’ll be permitted to close my eyes. While my traveling companion, the infamous Vodka McBigbra, sleeps across the wide velour back seat, I set the iPod to “John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman” on endless repeat, and the Impala takes me home with a single fuel stop. The wind isn’t troubled by the old W-body’s faux-Accord shape. The lighting is still Soviet-era but I’m no longer bothered by it. I am a dead-tired freeway warrior battling fatigue and white noise, crossing the featureless country like the traveling salesmen of America’s storied past, my hands light on the wheel. We never leave sixth gear, we never feel cramped, we never just stop to walk around. This country, this America, still exists, and the Impala is so much better at being an American car for this America than the Cruze, or anything else money can buy.

The new Impala is a pathetic attempt to engineer and sell an inferior copy of the old Hyundai Azera. If they build it for twenty years, they may eventually get it right, the same way that the Cruze may eventually come to be quite the respected nameplate if they don’t all lunch their transmissions or shed their brakes in the next five years. In the meanwhile, it gets no respect, because it hasn’t earned any. The old car with the brand-new heart continues to be the Chevrolet in which to see the U.S.A.

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110 Comments on “Avoidable Contact: Two Chevrolets enter, one leaves....”


  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Haven’t driven a Cruze but your impressions of the 2012 Impala match mine. If you are a road warrior who normally buys used full-size American sedans cheap and then runs them into the ground, the Impala is for you. Especially at the end of the model year when they’ll be trying to deep discount and make the suckers disappear.

    It’s clear that this engine is so good that GM needs to keep it under wraps. I’ve always admired the way the company deliberately handicaps itself, and this is no exception. Are you in the market for a brand-new Cadillac ATS or Buick LaCrosse? Take this standard four-cylinder — right up your ass. Are you a local municipality looking to replace the meter-maid’s penalty box? Let’s give you a 302-horsepower monster mill and not say anything about it. You’re welcome. Please vote for the next bailout; we’re gonna need it.

    While piloting the Director of Special Education’s new 2012 Impala at 85mph uphill on I-40 between Thoreau and Gallup I had precisely the same thoughts. BTW the reported price of that Impala once the fleet discounts were figured in was many thousands UNDER $20,000. I giggle now every time I see an Impala in traffic with dual exhausts and body color trim on the trunk lid. So much power in likely such unknowing hands.

    • 0 avatar
      musicalmcs8706

      I am glad I am not the only one who laughs when the dual exhausts and body color trim are seen! It makes me want to go test one of them before they’re gone. I bet it has a lot more power than my 05 Impala LS does… I know it does, but my 3.8 never has felt slow to me.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      I’m glad Jack (secretly) loves the Impala. I certainly do…

      It looks like we’re buying one next week or at least very soon – an LTZ complete with chrome door handles!

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Jack, when you get your writing mojo going you can write – awesome read.

    As you noted, the much maligned GM W-Bodies are about as reliable as the sunrise, but it is the end of the line.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      TTAC has the best lineup of non-sterile, non-molded, non-archetypal automotive writers, period (no matter how many pissing matches they inspire and regardless of how many readers strongly agree or vehemently disagree with their reviews, rants, tirades, reflections and observations).

      Lang, Schreiber, Lieberman, that new ‘kid’- Kreindler-, Alex, Bertel (with his magical abilities to get into places few others are allowed), Karesh, McAleer, Murilee, the Neidermeyers….and Jack ‘The Knife’ Baruth, the rebel with a cause who refuses to tweak his writings in order to remain in the good graces of any manufacturer (your loss, Porsche).

      As much as I bitch about certain aspects of certain articles (which isn’t that much), when I don’t want sterile writing or analysis, to read worn out cliches (**cough Motor Trend/Car&Driver cough***) or to pour over red or black circles, there’s no other place like TTAC.

      I know this sounds like I’m blowing smoke up TTAC’s ass, but I’m being very honest.

      Great review delving into those critical nuances with vivid color that few others can properly convey to an audience, Jack (once again).

      • 0 avatar
        TEXN3

        Totally agree DeadWeight. This type of style has kept me coming back here for just over 5 years now. There have been some trials and tribulations but this rag-tag team has done a great job.

      • 0 avatar
        semaj82

        Couldn’t have said it better myself. I’m more of a lurker than a poster here, but TTAC is by far my favorite car site.

  • avatar
    NN

    one of the best pieces of Jack’s writing I’d seen in awhile, thanks for taking the time to give a solid car the respect it is due, yet rarely shown.

  • avatar
    James2

    You know how, back in the 90s, someone cobbled together a Ford Festiva and a Taurus SHO engine…

  • avatar
    tresmonos

    When I worked at a major supplier for GM, the tooling for the GMX211 was nothing more than a resurface of some old dies we had absolutely blown out back when I was still in junior high school.

    When you have that much manufacturing ‘life’ in a part, you can trouble shoot issues in your sleep. And everything that could go wrong with the process has been worked out. Auto pilot money press with hourly personnel that can sense issues before they actually rear their ugly head. It was epic and I felt like I was a part of some sort of histrical significance that would be talked about decades from now. Then again, it was my first automotive gig.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    Jack,

    Greatest sentence masquerading as a paragraph I’ve seen in a while.

    “It’s so bad it feels like parody, like the “Mediocrity” that Subaru made out of the Kia Optima for marketing purposes right before the Optima tranformed into a sleek, more-Audi-than-Audi super-limo and publicly ripped the still-beating heart out of the Legacy’s weak, gender-ambigous chest while urinating deliberately into the shocked-open collective mouth of the long-suffering Subaru dealer body”

    I laughed so hard I almost peed myself.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    “I marked it down as an under-Achieva, if you will.”

    Jackie, I’m betting a room-temperature Guinness at Yesterday’s in Granger, IN: You’ve had that line in your brain for MONTHS waiting for the proper subject matter upon which to spring it.

    Some writers turn a phrase, you find its apex and carve the corner….

  • avatar
    200k-min

    Seriously?? Impala love on TTAC is just like the Panther love. What’s the deal with dated fleet vehicles? This cross comparison makes very little sense to me and reads more like some sort of national pride in the American sedan.

    Over the past several weeks I’ve had 2 Chevrolet rentals as well but I got the Malibu and Cruze. While the Impala might be “American” in some eyes the Malibu is what’s meant to compete with the volume leaders like the Camry and IMHO is much more of an important vehicle to the future of GM.

    Per the review I’m guessing my ’99 Accord is slightly larger than the Cruze but smaller than the Malibu. These are the EXACT vehicles GM should be trying to put me in and more fitting of a comparison that focuses on the quantative.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Yeah, but what did you think of the Chevies?

    • 0 avatar
      Robbie

      Love for Panthers and Impalas… I expect that Jack Baruth’s next article will describe the marvels of dating morbidly obese old chicks.

    • 0 avatar
      bkmurph

      “Impala love on TTAC is just like the Panther love. What’s the deal with dated fleet vehicles?”

      That the Impala is a dated fleet vehicle is the whole point (or counterpoint) of this comparison with the smaller, newer Cruze. You have old GM on one hand and new GM on the other. But it’s the outgoing Impala that offers better visibility, performance, fuel economy, and (probably) reliability than the Cruze. This comparison raises a troubling question about the direction of GM and the competitiveness of its new products.

      • 0 avatar
        28-cars-later

        Exactly, the “Impala love” and “Panther love” exist because sexy or not, those platforms work.

        “This comparison raises a troubling question about the direction of GM and the competitiveness of its new products.”

        I agree with your concern, but as many of their peers have done, GM is going to sell the sizzle and not the steak.

      • 0 avatar
        kokomokid

        Great article!!!

        This article very colorfully reminds us that the MOTOR is still a significant part of what makes a MOTORCAR work. A great powerplant can turn a very mediocre car like the Impala into something virtuous, while the Cruze suffers from its so-so powertrain.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        “Impala love on TTAC is just like the Panther love. What’s the deal with dated fleet vehicles?”

        Simple. These are the original, never get old or go out of style, American large-barges, the luxoliners, the Yank-Tanks. Jeremy Clarkson villifies them for being what’s wrong with American car culture while Richard Hammond and James May adore them for being quintessentially American. These platforms are solid, dependable, designed for the long highway and are easy to maintain, modify and always, ALWAYS have room for a small-block V8. Quite simply, they are apple pie, flag day, and baseball.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Outstanding read. Thanks for writing it. The 2014 Impala has the same 303-horsepower 3.6L V6 engine…but I’ll bet it’s put on a few (*cough*hundred) pounds, and the dashboard has gone from Preskool to Klimt’s ‘Golden Phase.’ We’ll see how it does doing what you did with the ’12.

    • 0 avatar
      MrGreenMan

      Don’t forget that new one is going to be a lot narrower. You can preview it in luxo-tart at your local Cadillac dealer, where the XTS will leave you dazed, confused, and disappointed about how it can possibly be the successor of “seats five adults and their luggage comfortably”.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    While it is true that the Impala has a better drive train than many near luxury cars from the Germans and Detroit, the fact is that most of the V6 family cars have engines that at least match the performance of the Impala while everything else about them is better. Try a V6 Accord or Camry to learn just how good the state of the American car really is.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      I’ve driven so many V-6 Accords (for my old day job) that I could find every dash button on a V-6 Accord with a blindfold on.

      It isn’t nearly as much fun as the V-6 Impala, it costs more in real money, and I bet it won’t last any longer, particularly in slushbox form.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        I’m making this post for the future so I can say, “well Jack Baruth says…” when the whole Camcord discussion comes up.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        I have no words to express how strongly I disagree with the idea that a 2012 Impala is more fun than a current Accord V6.

        So I’ll just observe that one has a competent suspension and the other doesn’t.

        I’ve driven way too many Impala rental cars. They manage horrible ride and handling at the same time. They wallow and yet they clomp over bumps. Understeer sets in at speeds where the Accord wouldn’t even realize it was turning. I can’t believe you describe the Impala as feeling “agile” — I think it obstinately refuses to change direction, and only works on arrow-straight, smooth freeways like you find in the parts of the Midwest that have cut the least highway funding.

        I agree with you that the 3.6 is marvelous (and I’ve always felt that way, in other cars too) but in every other respect the Impala is the worst car I drive on a regular basis.

        And I know agile full-size sedans — my own car is a G8.

      • 0 avatar
        Austin Greene

        The steering and suspension on the 2012 Impala was completely redesigned to reduce body roll and improve handling. I’ve driven two 2012 Impalas and they are completely transformed by the new engine / transmission / suspension combo.

        If you haven’t tried a 2012 out do yourself a favour and give one a whirl.

        You wont be disappointed by the driving dynamics.

      • 0 avatar
        28-cars-later

        I’ve heard good things too Austin, next rental will be a ’12 Impala. I wasn’t aware though anything beyond engine/transmission (and maybe exhaust) were new. So if they redid so much of this car then why the heck did they wait till the supposed final model year to do it? I feel Impala Classic coming on.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Pffft! Accord with a V6? It got dropped from Car & Driver “10 Best”. Camry V6 is same old, same old.

      Puts some premium 92 octane or higher in that Cruze and watch it come alive. I doubt most rental agencies would put premium in it let alone CA premium is piss-water!

  • avatar
    thesal

    It’s amazing what an engine can do for a car. I rented a 2011 Impala with the tired old 3.5V6 for 3 months. Over that time, I went from loathing to tolerating.

    Stepping into a 2012 this year had me worried of a similar experience, I was hoping for more since I did see the dual exhausts and assumed this was the 3.9. My first step on the highway told me this was no 240hp 3.9, soon confirmed my my trusty smartphone!

    The range, mileage combined with the highway manners are truly hard to beat. Especially at this price.

    PS. There are 2 buttons on the left side of the steering wheel, mirroring the volume buttons on the right. However, they have little gears drawn on them with a + & a -. Yes, stealth tiptronic for that 6spd!

  • avatar
    Neb

    The Chevy Impala – the next Panther Platform?

  • avatar
    George B

    Jack, if GM wasn’t chasing an EPA 40 mpg highway number using a mid-size car, what engine would transform the Cruze from gutless to acceptable? I’m thinking Malibu-class 2.4 or 2.5 Ecotec would fit.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      In fairness to the Cruze, the 1.4 Turbo is a much better powerplant than that horrible 1.8 Jack drove this time. I also think GM could turn up the boost in the 1.4 substantially to make it go even better.

      • 0 avatar
        THE_F0nz

        I just drove a 1.4 turbo for a week. I was a bit frightened by it’s on/off nature of power delivery with the air conditioning on. Pulling out into traffic was a bit nerve racking until that turbo spooled up. Leaving the pedal half way down would go result in a sudden rush of power from the late-spooling turbo. Smooth driving required me to let off just a bit when the power delivery started. I almost wished for the 1.8 liter just so I knew what to expect when driving around town.

        Solution: I used manual mode to hold 1st longer and threw it into “D” afterward.

        Note: It doesn’t help that my daily driver is a Volvo with a ridiculously aggressive throttle map. Two very different driving experiences.

        The Cruze was a great experience otherwise. The trunk was amazingly large. It held 4 LARGE pieces of luggage and a laptop bag without issue. A loaded LT model with 4-wheel discs, auto-start and leather seats that belong in a much more pricey car. Why did the Corvette have to wait until this year to get a nice pair of seats when the Cruz got these?

    • 0 avatar
      Rental Man

      @george B
      GM already answered that with the Buick Verano that is very similar to the Cruze. Standard 2.4 engine with 2.0 Turbo optional for 2013 IIRC.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Took the keystroke from my fingers.

        The 2.0 Turbo should be under $30K fully loaded by some back of the envelope math – going to be a damn good deal in its class.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Outstanding report.

    I’ve always been impressed with the real-world highway fuel economy of GM’s V6 engines, going back decades. For contrast, my 01 Elantra beater gets about 33 mpg on the highway, if you stick to the speed limit. It’s a tight buzzbox by comparison to the Impala.

    Most interesting to me, however, is that just yesterday I drove past that precise site in the photo, having visited CAN for a week – something I do annually – and returning home to western PA. Beautiful country to drive in.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @gslippy…..Thanks, It is indeed a beautiful part of our country.

    • 0 avatar
      Athos Nobile

      I am pretty impressed with the fuel economy of my 3800. And it earned my full respect after a road trip to Canberra. Below or at 10 lt/100 kms going up and down in the mountains.

      I’d love to try the ones that got one of the first HFV6 with PFI or the current ones with SIDI.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        I have a relative who has only owned Buick 3.8 liters as his current and prior two cars (he’s an older, died-in-the-wool Buick person).

        Whether a LeSabre or LaCrosse (last gen), I am pretty confident fuel economy is not one of the strengths of that motor- at least not in mixed driving – where he averages under 20 mpg.

        It’s not like he’s hammering it. He’s almost 70.

        The 3800 series is a very reliable motor, but unless it operates differently in vehicles other than Buicks, fuel economy doesn’t seem to be one of its strengths AFAIK.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        @Deadwieght

        The 3.8s can do very well on the highway, mostly because the General equiped them with intergalatically tall gear ratios. They are turning very low rpms at 70mph, and so it is quite easy to get 30+ mpg on a long trip with the cruise on. Say from Denver to Dodge City – BTDT. But they suck gas like it is going out of style around town.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        krhodes – that makes sense. He doesn’t do much freeway driving.

        He’s constantly bitching about having to fill up his tank way too frequently and swears he gets less than 20mpg.

        I do not like numb cars with numb steering, brakes and drivetrains, which most cars, including the Buicks, are, but I will grant that GM’s venerable pushrod 3800 series V6 is a reliable motor, even if it’s not a shining beacon of technology or output.

        p.s. – I could swear he has a 4-speed automatic (and if I’m right, that’s part of the problem. Even the recently departed Cadillac DTS and such had 4-speed autos which was pretty pitiful).

      • 0 avatar
        28-cars-later

        Deadweight – I have a Series III in my Pontiac, and having had Buicks, I can confirm the engine acts the same way in both models. I wouldn’t say it sucks down gas in city driving (around 19 and I don’t stomp it in town) but the highway is where it finds its mojo. Much like the Panthers, most of the models equipped with the 3800 are more at home on the road then in traffic. The 3800 is also a reliable platform to buy used without worry of serious repairs, generally speaking.

    • 0 avatar
      MrGreenMan

      I had a plain-jane, no-cupholder Enterprise auction special Impala that I drove when I had to go into downtown Detroit regularly. It was the perfect combination for this — always over 30 mpg, enough acceleration for Detroit highways, and it looked like I could be somehow affiliated with the government for that added sleeper effect…or maybe they realized I did not care about the car and thought that a man with nothing has indeed nothing to lose.

      Also, on the highway voyage: The comfort of the outgoing Impala seats grows on you as it was designed in an era to cheaply but comfortably cosset a wide Midwest posterior. Although a buzzbox can get a couple MPG better, it will never feel so comfortable rolling across broken and collapsing infrastructure.

  • avatar
    wsn

    “I will need to get into a time machine and read the Consumer Reports of July 2018 or thereabouts to see how it’s going to hold up”

    You don’t need to. There is plenty CR data on Cavalier and Cobalt. Given its consistency in the past 20 years, the 2018 CR marks will be very similar to that of 2012 for GM small cars.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      The Chevrolet Cruze is based on a 2008 Daewoo Lacetti Premiere while the Chevrolet Cobalt roots trace back to the Opel Astra. Completely different cars. Since the Daewoo Lacetti Cruze variants were introduced into other markets first, I’d study the oldest models sold in comparable markets like maybe Australia to see what breaks with age.

      • 0 avatar
        Glen.H

        So far they have a decent image here in Oz!

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Shhhhhh…don’t interrupt a good anti-GM rant based on legacy products.

        I heard the 78 Honda Accord was a steaming pile of crap too. Something about aluminum engines and self-destructing transmissions. Gee, I guess somethings never change, anyone with a 5-speed Honda automatic can tell you that!!!

        *ducking now*

      • 0 avatar
        semaj82

        The previous Daewoo Lacetti was known at the Suzuki Forenza here in the states. I don’t have a membership to CR; can someone pull up how well that one does? Or did GM/Suzuki sell enough of those to even have an appropriate amount of data? I know that TrueDelta does not.

        If we’re going to go back a bit further in the Cruze’s DNA – the Lacetti replaced the Nubira. I do remember reading that those cars were particularly known for eating timing belts at <60K, resulting in total demolition of the engine. Also – having been in both the Nubira and the Forenza, they were particularly awful cars.

        So – given that – is it fair to compare the Cruze to the Lacetti(Forenza) and the Nubira? Probably more so than it is to compare with the Cobalt/Cavalier. Neither comparison is particularly favorable, though.

      • 0 avatar
        Athos Nobile

        Last thing I heard the Cruze is based on the Opel Astra platform. They look quite similar underneath in the parts manuals.

        Compared with the old Lacetti/Forenza/Optra/etc… no.

  • avatar
    hgrunt

    A while back, a British friend of mine ended up with an Impala for a rental car. He was thoroughly impressed with it’s roominess, low price, power and fuel economy, and wanted to take it back with him.

    Seems like this car might be the FWD equivalent of a Panther. Roomy, not slow, great value and rarely looked at by anyone except bargain hunters.

    • 0 avatar
      kokomokid

      This Impala is a car that is content to be a Chevy, with no attempt at being a Buick, a Toyota, or anything else. It is a big, but basic car, and for its last couple years of this version, has a great power train. There is something to be said for an “honest” Chevy, or Ford, etc., if the reality is reflected in the price. In the case of “real world” price of the car, it is.

  • avatar
    Detroit-X

    A great read, Jack.
    GM often gets it right in the last year or two of production, and usually at this time Consumers Reports recommends it, JD Power acclaims it, and then POOF. It’s gone. Too bad. Me thinks GM rushes them out too fast when a new model comes out.

  • avatar
    dude500

    “Three days later, I rented an Impala in Columbus, Ohio and drove it to Mont-Tremblant for the purpose of participating in Rounds 7 and 8 of the Canadian Touring Car Championship. ”

    Great article, but after this sentence, I was expecting Jack to compete in the Canadian Touring Car Championship WITH the Impala. That he didn’t, left me a little disappointed!

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    Thanks for the reviews, Jack. The 2012 model year is at an end, and this is the first review that I’ve seen of the 2012 Chevrolet Impala. Part of that can be attributed to Chevrolet failing to make the vehicle available to reviewers. In my area, the Impala has $3500 in rebates on the hood. This makes it price-competitive to 4-cylinder mainstream midsize cars. If you are a GM employee or eligible family member, you can actually get an Impala cheaper than you can a Cruze thanks to additional employee rebates.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Something deep down…I don’t know where exactly, but it’s there…makes me actually like the old Impy. Haven’t rented one in a while, and most certainly not with the 302 HP under said staid hood. It’s simple, maybe that’s why. Doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not. And with a little extra “sleeper” cache, all the better. Sure would beat the dorky 2012 Nissan Versa I’m stuck with this week…ugh…

  • avatar
    JuniperBug

    Nice review.

    Jack, I’m a little bummed that you were in my neck of the woods and I didn’t know about it. Would’ve been cool to meet the man behind the words, or see you run around the Tremblant circuit.

    The roads around Tremblant really are great – the 327, 329, and 364 have enough curves to make you appreciate a well-fettled suspension, and there are enough lightly-patrolled straights to open the throttle, too. Unfortunately, the third-world-grade city streets of Montreal make me hate my Tokico adjustables and twice-stock spring rates as much as the hilly roads make me love them.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Great work Jack. I’ll bet your track experience came in handy driving through downtown Montreal.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    I just had a remarkably similar experience. I had a rental Cruze for a week until they had to switch it for something without a nail in the tire. (“No, I am not gonna find a Firestone store in a strange city and hang around to get it fixed. That’s your job.”) Being out of Cruzes they gave me an Impala for my second week.

    The Cruze is the only car I have ever driven that actually injured me while driving. The stitching on the leather wheel cover is raised and made of thread apparently similar to what steel belted tires are made of. It actually ground a gash in the side of my finger.

    I could not believe the lag on the 1.4 turbo motor. Hitting the pedal at a green light there was a solid 2 to 3 second wait before the car started to move at all. (Regular gas in Utah is only 85 octane so that may have been partly to blame.)

    The AC is totally incapable of cooling the car in 90 degree heat in under 20 miles of driving.

    Stupid car tricks: Do I really need a graphic on the radio display to confirm that I’ve just changed the fan speed? No sh!t Sherlock, that was my hand on the dial, I know what I did. And why do GM cars now default to recirculate mode every time you turn on the AC? Given that the system is as weak as it is, this is not how you want to try to cool a superheated interior when you get in.

    The Impala: excellent power, equally worthless AC, squishy seats. Non-abrasive steering wheel cover.

    • 0 avatar
      200k-min

      Ha! My rental Cruze was in Utah as well but I never thought about the low octane of mountain states gas. Turbo lag scared me a few times wondering when it would move. VERY hard to drive that vehicle smooth. I was impressed with fuel economy though. I didn’t flog the thing and got 40 MPG. Still a far FAR FAR cry from the new Focus I test drove, but better than any Cobalt IMO.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    The ironic thing is that one can probably buy a discounted Impala LT for less than the cost of a Cruze. The unmarked console shifter is stupid, all Impalas should have it on the column, where it belongs in this type of car.

  • avatar
    Dan

    The Impala isn’t as light as you think. The fleet LS is already 3,600 lbs. The LT as usually stocked with the sunroof and some more wheel and tire breaks 3,700.

    It feels floaty and fragile because it isn’t very polished and underneath that it isn’t very stiff.

  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    “Combine that with the low beltline, which is probably a hard point dating back to the 1988 Cutlass Supreme or something like that, and it’s the Impala that feels like the smaller, less substantial car.”

    Did you even drive this car, Jack? I had a 2011 last week and the rear visibility is as bad as anything. The cowl height is about on par with other sedans from the early ’00s. The first-gen W-bodies like the Cutlass Supreme had remarkably low belt lines.

    This article is ridiculous. The new Impala is an irrelevant knockoff of an irrelevant Hyundai, but a warmed-over 1989 Lumina with a new engine is somehow the embodiment of America? Please. This is just is just pandering to the old fogies, wannabe old fogies and GM retirees that still think the W-body was a real car that real people purchased.

    We just finally got over all that crap about the last Panthers and Rangers, too. At least those were the last of their breeds and reasonably compitent and competitive throughout their first 10-15 years (well, the early Panther was an under-tired, AOD-equipped piece of crap, but nevertheless). The W was none of these things. Over-budget and underperforming also-ran from day one, I’d be willing to bet GM never made a dime on these in 25 years. The only reason the Impala finally got the OHC 3.6 is because some bean counter got a clue and realized that it was cheaper than keeping the old 60 degree V6 line running for two more years.

    Lets not pretend this car is something its not. The sooner the W-Impala goes away, the sooner people won’t be remind of just how bad GM can be every time they go to the Enterprise counter.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      The beltline on the Impala isn’t just lower than that of the Cruze… it’s lower than that of my Town Car. I’ll measure one the next time I get the chance.

    • 0 avatar
      semaj82

      Far be it for me to argue with Mr. Baruth… but – I have to agree with your thoughts on the belt line. The first time I rented an Impala, I was struck with two thoughts.

      1.) What’s that smell? (I’ve continued to have that thought each time I’ve been in an Impala. There is something in that car that smells skunky to me – and my wife).

      2.) It feels like I’m sitting in a bathtub. I’m relatively tall at 6’1, and it just didn’t seem like the visibility was good at all.

      I echo Baruth’s comments though on the Cold War-Era dash lights and cheap-looking plood. At first they were irritating, but after being there a while, I just ignored and tuned them out.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Having rented a full airport lot of these things over the years, all I can say is that the latest with 300hp is just a turd with an afterburner. Cheap and nasty at best. Which is OK I guess if all you want is a big, cheap car to float away the highway miles in Iowa or something. And I agree, I am sure the only reason they updated the motor is that it didn’t make sense to keep the old one in production any longer.

      Not awful is not enough reason to buy a car.

    • 0 avatar
      84Cressida

      THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU. About time someone told it like is. I’ve driven several 2012 Impalas, it’s the same warmed over, 1988 crap it’s always been. The 3.6 is lethargic off the line and torque steer is ever present, just like in every GM FWD sedan of the last 25 years. The Impala has nothing on a 1995 Avalon except for space, forget about comparing it to the 2012 or the new 2013 Avalon.

      • 0 avatar
        28-cars-later

        Having driven 90s Avalons I ask whats the difference? Two boring pedestrian cars, both pretending to be more than they are. Having not driven a newer Toyota product I can’t really accurately compare, but the newest ones I have driven (00-04 model year timeframe) were all FWD gutless appliances. Granted until recently the Impala and Camry were tied for boring rides of the year, but at least the Impala got some cojones.

        Turd with an afterburner? Probably, but whats the great attraction to Camry? Now maybe if you stack it against a fine Cressida I’d see your point better because that was an automobile worth looking at back in the day.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        The Avalon has MUCH, MUCH, MUCH better build quality and materials compared to an Impala, it is very easy to see where the extra $15K was spent. They are not really competitors though. But just as uninspiring a place to be. The Camry is every bit as much a turd IMHO. I will say that the last Avalon I had as a rental probably had the most ridiculous excess of power over grip of any car I have ever driven. I think the tires were actually made out of recycled banana peels.

        The Impala truly is THE classic American car – a big, cheap and nasty, floaty boat, with more power than it has any need of. Just the thing to waft along in the square states, except the seats utterly suck. And as one who has driven one most of the way across MONTANA, I think I can have an opinion on that subject.

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      Fromabuick:
      You’re smoking crack if you think GM didn’t make money on this platform. It’s refreshes were minor and it’s substructure tooling was forged slightly before Napster came out. It is symbolic of the old GM, but if you believe this is the worst at the rental counter, you must not travel or you actually enjoy the crappy feel of a wheezy Optima.

      I’d take an Impala over the ‘new’ Malibu any day. Then again, I don’t like packing myself into xB sized econo boxes and am over 4’5″ in height.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    If they sold these with stickshifts they would be the modern ’95 Maximas. Seriously up till the G35 the VQ was a monster motor downright BEGGING for a decent chassis. But on the flip side, a highway monster really doesn’t need a chassis that can do much more than go straight and shut up.

    I can’t reconcile the looks of this thing, but it definitely has a soft spot in my heart. A snorting lump hooked up to a big radio flyer. Can’t beat it.

  • avatar
    spinjack

    Had an Impala as a rental during a family trip to the Disney parks in Orlando. I was extremely surprised. Solid, good handling, strong V-6, extremely roomy, big trunk (easily swallowed a rented side-by-side double jogging stroller and misc junk). Rather impressive car…except…for all those crappy little details or omissions.

    True to form, GM has produced in the Impala another car that is almost a great car. Could be a great car. Should be a great car. Another near miss.

  • avatar
    uihidden

    I’m a National Account Manager covering specific accounts across the country, so I travel a good bit. Being a Hertz/National/Enterprise regular, I drive a fair amount of Chevrolets.

    I have had three white Malibus in a row from Hertz, with the weak 4 cylinder and the six speed – this is a car that has no guts, shifts at the worst time, and is generally not class competitive. The 2013′s have to be better – there is no way they could be worse.

    Everything Jack has said about the Impala with the DI 3.6 is right on – driving through town it is almost impossible to not spin ‘em off the line. Even the sound is fantastic – a slightly deep growl with nice thrust.

    Everyone says that the fastest car is a rental car – there is nothing better than dropping the throttle on a 2012 Impala and toasting some kid in a 96 Mustang GT.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    Imagine that GM had done accomplished as much with as little as Chrysler did with its new interiors like on the Chrysler 200. If GM had freshened the interior of the Impala when it added the new engine and transmission, this discussion would have a lot different tone. I think Chevy would have sold twice as many cars with a lot less than $3,500 on the hood.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    Nice review there Jack on two Chevies, the Cruze and the Impala but sadly, neither impress me and for starters, both are SEDANS.

    I hate sedans with a passion, especially one that still sports a bench seat as it appears the Imp still does. Never mind that some of those bench seats are rather comfy, but only up to a point though because they don’t support you well laterally AT ALL, which means if you go any corner at anything but a crawl, you risk feeling like you have to hang on for dear life, even if belted. I know as my old Ford Ranger was like that in certain situations with its sporty semi bench seat that lacked any side bolstering of any kind.

    And so many of them look generic, no matter the color, but white just makes it worse IMO.

    That said, it looks like the Imp is the better car of the two in some respects due to its better HP to weight ratio, which seems to favor the motor despite its 3000+ pound curb weight, with the V6. It’s a crying shame that the Cruze is as heavy as the Imp in a car that is 2 sizes smaller than the imp as the 1.8L non turbo motor should be up to snuff, but with its curb weight, it appears to not be up to snuff, sad when you consider back in the day, 1800#’s was more than an adequate weight for the very modest hp of most 4 cylinder motors of the day as my ’83 Civic was,.1800# or so with a mere 67hp and it never felt slow, but definitely zippy in its own way and I often didn’t have to turn off the AC when going up any kind of an incline. About the only time I ever had to do so was if that incline was quite steep.

    I even drove that old Civic to Medford Or for a job interview back in ’95 and never felt wanting in hp on that trip, even when going up over the pass to Roseburg and down into the Rogue Valley where Medford was.

    Now if they’d improve the turbo lag or reduce the weight of the Cruze and bring over the hatchback body, I’d might consider it as a look-see at the very least. Right now, the Sonic looks more promising than either of these for my needs.

  • avatar
    tekdemon

    Alas, the Impala’s initially lousy looking seats actually feel really lousy to my back-the last time I took an Impala out for a driver longer than an hour my back ended up killing me, whereas I’ve driven up and down the California coast in the Cruze without issue (thankfully I did have the turbo’d LTZ which, though not a fast car at all, meant it handled the hills without issue).
    Perhaps if one could score a set of aftermarket Recaro seats on the cheap for this Impala it might still make a great cruiser though. Until then, the hideous ergonomics make it a poor cruiser in my mind.

    • 0 avatar
      campocaceres

      Interesting. My experience was actually the opposite of yours. I’ve rented both cars before and found the Impala to be very comfortable and the Cruze’s seats lacking. And I’m roughly the size of an average Asian man.

  • avatar
    Slare

    I’ve always had the feeling that people who hate on Impalas so much have never bought a new car with their own real money.

    When you consider the real world transaction prices on these things the value is really pretty outstanding. I don’t have one in the driveway but I can certainly understand why they remain so popular.

    It’s not pretty. You won’t LOVE driving it. But the functionality is there.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Except they are NOT popular. Except for fleets, who ONLY buy them because they are cheap. Even as cheap as they are, they hardly sell at all to real people with real cash money. And that is because they are obviously crap cars.

      • 0 avatar
        Conslaw

        They are more popular than you might think. The Impala is in the top 20, selling over 98,000 in the first six months of 2012, slightly ahead of the Hyundai Elantra. I’ll make a WAG that 30% of those were rental units and a portion of the remainder were non-rental fleet sales (company cars) that don’t harm resale value much. I suspect a couple years from now when you are looking at resale value, it will look bad as a % of MSRP but it will actually be pretty good as a % of actual price paid.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        According to Bloomberg, more than 70 percent of Impalas are sold to fleet customers, so that Top 20 ranking doesn’t mean all that much.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I’d drop the monster motor and pay about the same real-world price as an Impala for a four-cylinder Accord. Then at least I get basic competence in the non-motor-related areas.

      • 0 avatar
        28-cars-later

        I’m curious, define basic competence as you see it.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        GM manages basic competence fine in other products, just not the Impala. The Malibu, for example, has all of the below:

        A. A suspension that works. By this I mean:
        1) It has enough damping, so the wallow and clomp are both reduced.
        2) It is able to keep the front wheels in contact with the ground, so moderate midcorner bumps don’t lead to terminal understeer.

        B. Sufficient structural stiffness to avoid most squeaks.

        C. Confidence-inspiring brakes. A better suspension would help with this.

        D. Noise isolation comparable to that of the modern players in the class. The Impala is very noisy by today’s standards.

        E. Seats that are somewhat comfortable, with cloth (or leather) of reasonable grade. The Impala’s are flat and hard, and the leather especially may be the most terrible I’ve seen other than that in an Elantra Limited.

        F. Features now expected in this segment but unavailable on the Impala, particularly automatic climate control.

        Some of these are endemic to the W-body platform, but some are specific to the Impala and its relentless cheapness. The 3.6-liter first-gen LaCrosse CXS was an example of a W-body that was much more competent, with fewer huge flaws.

      • 0 avatar
        28-cars-later

        Excellent points, your a very detail oriented person. Personally these are details I generally overlook, but then again my priorities are power, relative comfort, and style… granted Impala lacks style but still :)

  • avatar
    niky

    Why buy one new instead of waiting for them secondhand or for end-of-the-line fire sale prices?

    Lovely work as always, Jack. Now I’m wishing they sold this bad boy here so I can get a crack at one.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    Cheap, large, and over-powered. That is what an American car has been since, well, the late 50′s ? There are no cars for sale here in Europe that can do any of the things this car can(could?) do Except maybe the maintenance nightmares of a incredibly expensive old S-Class or 7-series BMW, both of which aren’t really comparable at all. I miss big cheap cars…with or without ridiculous power :)

  • avatar
    nealashman

    The superior news is that the Chevrolets in point of fact is competent of speed up to 70 mph climbing. We were not convinced it had been talented to. But there is one bad thing about this. Can you help me to find Car Dealer license for this car?

  • avatar
    jonesdow

    Jack
    You were in Mt-Tremblant AND Montreal and didn’t give us a heads-up!
    I’m a big fan of your work… Would have gladly gone to Tremblant to say hello and grab a beer. Bonus: A chance to meet the now famous Ms.Vodka!
    Keep-up the very entertaining work.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      I wanted to announce the fact that I would be at Mont-Tremblant ahead of time. Unfortunately, I was racing the Mazda2 there in cooperation with Mazda. There is a person working at one of the print magazines who tirelessly calls and complains to the OEM every time he sees I am getting a press event or vehicle loan ahead of time. I figured I would save Mazda the call and not discuss the event until after it was over.

      This same person, by the way, also tried to get me fired from my day job, albeit without success. It’s amazing how loh some people will go .

      • 0 avatar
        jonesdow

        Just because he can’t get the job done doesn’t mean he has to ruin it for those more qualified to give us a real opinion.
        And why the heck are OEM listening to print rags?? Isn’t the ‘ad money’ flowing the other way? I mean, it’s not like TTAC had a fleet of L-Term cars or something really offensive like that to object to!
        I guess you take too much room at the press events insisting on really driving the cars. Anyway, sorry to hear he’s making this very personal (some lines should not be crossed)
        Unfortunately Toronto Motorsports Park is a little far from Montreal for a Sunday drive to catch you at the next video shoot so I’ll keep an eye on the Canadian Touring Car Championship schedule!

  • avatar
    Nick

    ‘The new Impala is a pathetic attempt to engineer and sell an inferior copy of the old Hyundai Azera’

    Indeed. GM would have been better off spending their money on a thorough redo of the interior. The exterior design, albeit unremarkable, is at least not overwrought and ugly like just about everything else on the road.

    ‘The old car with the brand-new heart continues to be the Chevrolet in which to see the U.S.A.’

    Couldn’t agree more. I’d be happy to tour the country in one of these…power, decent seats, and the almost extinct attribute of visibility are enough to sell me on it.

  • avatar
    darrinkaiser

    Darn it. It was hard enough after watching the movie “Drive” for me not to want a late model Impala for some reason. Now with Jack’s compelling article, I have to buy one. Option that column shifter for 195 dollars, throw in Cake’s “Stickshifts and Safetybelts”, slide the lady over to that center seat belt and go look for some BRZ/FR-S fanboys dust at the stoplight.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    I love the fact that my father in law has no idea what power he has under the hood of his 12 Impala. He’s a road warrior that puts 20-25k a year on his cars, which have been mostly Buick Lesabre or Lucerne, save for one Crown Vic. He never buys until he get’s at least 4 grand off sticker through the various rebates and discounts (GM Card, loyalty,etc.)

    Great article. So the Impala is a better economy car than the “economy” car? I know, that’s oversimplifying things, but it rings true. Real power, real space and great MPG from a large car. As usual, GM gets it right when the car as we know it dies and is replaced with a new version, which doesn’t have all the virtues of the old one. It may be all new, a better design, but it will probably have teething problems that won’t work out for at least 3 model years.

    The price of GM’s delayed progress. And I don’t get why the 1.4 T engine isn’t standard across the board in Cruze. Why build two engines for the same car, especially with minimal power differences?

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      The 1.4T is far more expensive to build than the 1.8. GM needs a cheaper-than-dirt base engine for the rental fleets.

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        Oh, I get that the 1.4 is more expensive to build. But I would think that offering one engine and building a lot of them would be more cost effective than building two engines.

        But I guess that’s kind of the heart of this article too. The 3.6 has been around since 2006 or 2007? But everything built with a 3800 and 4 spd auto lived on until the 3800 couldn’t meet emissions regs anymore. So why didn’t GM drop the 3.5, 3.8, 3.9 V6′s and just slap the 3.6 in everything? I know the numerous platforms would have need tweaked to deal with the 3.6, but that would have to be cheaper than building all those engines, having all that different tooling and paying all those people.

  • avatar
    hoss

    Too funny. This was exactly my experience with the 2012 Impala I just rented. I was in the midst of explaining to my passenger, “you see, GM likes to build 90% of the available throttle into the first 50% of pedal travel to make the car feel- wait a minute… WTH? The first time I merged onto the freeway I instinctively tried to nudge the shift selector back into D, figuring I was in a lower gear. This will be the next car I own, I just can’t decide whether to buy new, or take a chance (but with a huge discount!) on a ‘lightly’ used one. A 300hp grocery getter fits me like a glove – you can take your hip lunchbox styling – right up your ass! (love that)

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    Had a 2012 Impala with 3.6 as a rental. Only redeeming quality was the engine and transmission. Heavy, numb steering, terrible ride and bottom basement everything else. The Panther cars had more going for them in their final year then this thing. At least they were still RWD and had a comfortable if soft and wiggly ride.


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