By on January 2, 2007

x07ch_im004.jpgI bet you didn’t know there’s a torque steer conspiracy afoot. Several mainstream manufacturers have decided to boost their front wheel-drive models’ fuel efficiency by throwing their drivers at solid objects each and every time they dare to accelerate with authority. Thankfully, not all carmakers have joined the secret scheme; many wrong wheel-drivers maintain manageable directional stability under maximum thrust. Of course, these vehicles aren’t powered by a 5.3-liter can of whoop ass, like Chevrolet's latest Impala SS. If ever there was a front wheel-drive car that discourages hoonery, this is it. 

Even before you fire it up, the Impala SS wards off G-force jockeys with its milquetoast styling. I’m not saying that the SS’ lines are restrained, but if this car were a politician it'd be too conservative for the Neocons. The usual hot car performance cues– aggressive front air dam, rear wing, bling wheels and twin pipes– are subtle to the point of existential angst. Only the 18” hoops sing a siren song to adrenalin seekers (courtesy of The Ramones): “Ba-ba-bamp-ba ba-ba-ba-bamp-ba, I wanna be sedated.”

x06ch_im021.jpgInside, if it’s good enough for Avis, it’s good enough for you. Although the SS’ cabin is large and accommodating, the mock luxurious surfaces are as unyielding as a Kim Jong Il. Even the one place where the car’s designers showed their soft side– the door inserts– are blue light special. Parts bin? More like rubbish bin. The flash casting on the shift knob is bad enough. The fact that it lacks gear change information on its flimsy façade is worse. For a company that’s been promising world class interiors for the better part of a decade, the SS’ interior quality is nothing short of inexcusable.

And then there's the bean-counted icing on the rental car cake: the $31k Impala SS uses the same bulky steering column, bus-sized steering wheel and counterintuitive dash-mounted gear indicator as its column-shifted counterpart. But hey, the panel gaps are tight and uniform and the MP3-compatible, XM-ready eight-speaker BOSE audio has mad flava. If you like a traditional American big car vibe, the Impala SS is a nice place to visit– provided you keep your eyes closed and your hands to yourself.

x07ch_im003.jpg The Super Sport allure (such as it is) rests solely upon the Impala's Corvette-based pushrod V8. This small block mill generates so much horsepower (303hp @ 5600rpm) and torque (323 ft.-lbs. @ 4400rpm) that it launches the 3711 pound Impala like a ball of flaming garbage in a catapult. Zero to sixty arrives in a shocking 5.6 seconds. The Impala SS has more than enough grunt to put a smile on your  face– just like the one found on a septuagenarian moments after his last Viagra.

For a motor this beefy, you could even say the Impala's four-speed slushbox holsters one too many gears in its arsenal. Its quick-witted mannerisms also make part throttle acceleration more impressive than its cylinder deactivated fuel economy figures (19/27). Make no mistake: this is a well-executed powertrain. Well, aside from the fact that it’s off the mark by exactly 90 degrees.

x07ch_im005.jpgNow I know I said the front wheel-drive SS is a torque steer demon. Clued-in readers will know that’s not strictly true. The Bowtie Boys have programmed the SS’ traction control system to counter the inevitable loss of grip at the prow by braking the left and right wheel sequentially, sending torque back and forth. The result is just as annoying as genuine torque steer, only slightly more bearable. If you want REAL torque steer, simply disengage the traction control and hang on.   

The SS’ ride is wonderfully compliant and utterly non-sporting. Throw this floaty drifty heavyweight into a corner and the chassis tilts precipitously, violently hurling its unsupported driver towards one door or  the other. Luckily, twin piston front brake calipers slow the bruiser’s rapid pace with ease and grace. The Impala SS is fine and dandy in a straight line, at 3/5ths. Push any harder and there’s no question whatsoever it’s gonna hurt. With its raucous intake tenor, accelerative restraint requires Pavlovian conditioning– which the SS’ handling provides at no extra charge.

In short, this dog won’t hunt. Someone in GM's marketing department should have had a word with the company’s engineers. Even a shade tree hot rodder knows an Impala SS requires strong styling, an upscale interior and a world class chassis. Rumor has it the next generation Impala will have a proper rear-wheel drive layout. Let’s hope so. 

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145 Comments on “Chevrolet Impala SS Review...”


  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Good job, Mehta. I wonder how many people were clamoring for a front-drive soft-mobile with bland styling and an ancient drivetrain?

    GM and Ford are really beginning to irritate me. As you point out, they’ve been promising upgraded interiors for 10 years….only on occasion do I see evidence of that happening.

  • avatar
    jazbo123

    Sajeev,

    Having driven one of these on a recent weekend (and not bought, BTW), I can say that the admittedly uninspired interior is not as bad as you say and a definite improvement for Chevy (yeah, lots of qualifiers there).

    It is fun to drive however and since the saleasman was not along I did note your concerns about handling at the edge. I never felt threatened however. Having had a couple of earlier-gen Luminas and Impalas for company cars, I found the handling pretty predictable and not scary. For those brought up and sold on FWD sedans this car is OK.

    Yet, FWD is why I wouldn’t and didn’t buy one.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    I thought this was the truth about cars? Is there anything you guys like about American iron? This is a decent car. At real world transaction prices, they will sell. My weekend sojourn with one in Canada was uneventful, passed quickly (as in 160 kph), and lightened my gas card about as much as the Accord I was forced into last month. I admit, the domestic auto industry has paid my way since I was 7, so I will always look for the best side of them, just as I do with my 20 years married wife. But, I am not stupid, know how to get around PIR in 1:30, and give no one a pass for sentiment. Just once, look at a car without your preconceived notions, please. They say optimists live longer, too.

  • avatar
    ash78

    olddavid
    In Sajeev’s defense, this review is easily the most positive thing I’ve read about this car on TTAC. The whole idea of a FWD 300+ hp car is universally derided, and for good reason. Besides, the whole thing screams “quick fix” from the styling to the interior.

    I would applaud this if it were a DIY effort from some Impala fanatic (do they exist for this particular iteration of the car?). But this is a corporate effort, so the bar is raised and the car still seems to hit its forehead on it.

  • avatar
    philbailey

    This site is infested with driving enthusiasts, just like me. The problem is that most of these cars will be sold to people who have no idea what Sajeev is talking about. And so long as it doesn’t break, they’ll tell you they’re quite happy with the thing.

  • avatar

    I disagree on the number of ratios. The gap between first and second is HUGE. The car needs another ratio in there. Yes, it pulls strongly even at 2,500 rpm in second, but it’d be even stronger at 4,000+.

    I also slightly disagree on the amount of torque steer. It’s there, but not abundant. There’s only one car I’ve driven in the last few years with so much torque steer that the car’s handling was ruined: the Sentra SE-R Spec V.

    Finally, GM makes a much better fast front-driver for enthusiasts: the Grand Prix GXP is far more fun to drive than the Impala SS. Unlike the Chevy, it’s one of those cars that actually feels better the harder you push it. Sure, it’s far from perfect, but it’s a lot of fun. Could be a bargain as a nearly new car.

    My site’s page for the Grand Prix:

    http://www.truedelta.com/models/Prix.php

  • avatar
    Ed S.

    I think this is further evidence that GM needs to put Magnaride standard in everything with an MSRP over $30K and optional on everything else.

  • avatar
    thx_zetec

    Mr. Mehta;

    You are too critical of the Impala’s “milquetoast” styling.

    “The usual hot car performance cues– aggressive front air dam, rear wing, bling wheels and twin pipes– are subtle to the point of existential angst.”

    OK automotive aesthetics are subjective, but I think Chevy should get a medal for this design – many other performance models are encrusted with copious amounts of “Aero AIDS” – useless and ugly rear spoiler, chin spoilers that won’t clear a gum wrapper, and giant wheels optimized for fashion not function. This stuff if the vinyl roof of the 90’s and early millenium.

    I would like to propose an annual award from TTAC: “the performance model least be-spoiled by stupid plastic junk” or “the annual award for restraint in mounting giant stupid wheels”. I am disappointed GM had to attach *any* junk to this car, but better less than more.

    Finally remember there is a market niche for this type of car. It is called a “sleeper” or “Q Ship” and is designed to surprise other drivers.

  • avatar
    k0an

    “it launches the 3711 pound Impala like a ball of flaming garbage in a catapult.”

    That cheered me up out of my post-holiday blues. The very idea of this car is sad and embarrassing.

    I’m only 30 so I won’t claim to have witnessed all the ups and downs in the auto industry but I have to comment on this whole FWD vs. RWD thing. I remember in the late 80s or early 90s when Honda put out a commercial making fun of RWD. They showed a dog sled being pushed by dogs versus one being pulled by them. Their argument was that in terms of wet/icy traction it is more efficient to pull rather than push. That clever analogy combined with Honda’s reputation for long-lasting and efficient engines made me subscribe to the FWD camp.

    I owned a ’95 Civic Si and I loved everything about it. After that I started a family and needed a larger version of the Si but Honda didn’t bring the 5-door to America so I bought a ’03 Matrix XRS. I figured that I was getting exactly what I wanted, an efficient and sporty hatchback that can hold a small family. Unfortunately I found out that the ~180HP didn’t route well through the front wheels. Accelerating from a dead stop felt like an arm wrestling match sometimes and I learned to stop accelerating at all in turns. It’s not to say that I don’t like the car, I just realized that I found the limitations of FWD.

    First, I live in California and wet/icy traction problems occur about 8 or 9 days out of the year for me.

    Second, FWD is great for vehicles with less than 150 HP. Those vehicles are efficient and handle well.

    We are in the middle of a second horsepower war which is cool for car enthusiasts (not so much for environmentalists). Right now if you want the big HP you need to forget about FWD. However, if you want efficiency then get a light-weight vehicle with FWD. Choose the right tool for the job.

    It’s kind of sad because I know that GM and Ford were shocked by the FWD success of the Japanese cars in the late 80’s and they decided to change everything to FWD. However they never made a good small FWD car and they took their mediocre medium and large cars and ruined them with FWD.

  • avatar
    ash78

    The big question that needs to be asked is “who really wants to buy this?” My extended family is pretty evenly split between the Europhiles and the the muscle car crowd, and I can’t think of anyone who would really be interested.

    1. You’ve already stated there will be a rear-drive Impala soon.
    2. You are priced dangerously close to the class leaders in the segment.
    3. You have added nothing appreciable except some straight-line speed (esp. lacking in visual cues). Overly-subtle visual changes are usually the territory of the Germans, but even they make their hi-po models more obvious compared to this SS.

    The fuel economy is commendable, as it is with the Vette. I’m very impressed with that element, which might be the only real saving grace from a marketability perspective (ie, V8 power on demand, with V6 economy).

  • avatar
    mdanda

    I want to buy it because I need a fast car that will fit three kids in the back with a transaction cost of under $26K. The Impala SS fits that need. I also prefer front wheel drive because, like I said, I have 3 kids in the back and snow days are pretty freakin scary in my neck of the woods.

    I’m intrigued by the new AWD Fusion, for about the same cash, but it ain’t no 300HP V8.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    jazbo123: The interior is a LOT better than the last Impala, but that’s certainly not good enough for me. At this price point, its still one of the worst interiors (Chrysler 300 too) in its class, and there is simply no excuse for that.

    olddavid: I’d be in a Crown Victoria Sport (17″ wheels, monochrome) well before the Impala SS. That’s actually an American car to be proud of, even though its slooooow. Unlike the Impala, the Crown Vic is better than the rumors about it.

    How’s that for objectivity?

    Michael Karesh: I’ll have to drive that Sentra. I just can’t imagine a high revving four-pot messing up handling as well as the LS1-series motor turned sideways.

    And yes, I heard the GXP was better at managing the power. For another road test, I guess.

    Ed S.: Magnaride wouldn’t fix the torque steer problem, but the handling would be a lot more controlled.

    thx_zetec: Ok, I’ll admit it makes a nice Q-ship from the understatement route. But I’d still like an American car with American car styling cues, not the bland curves and generic lighting pods. You should be able to have your cake and eat it too.

    mdanda: It goes fast in a straight line, not fast in the corners. Depending on the roads you travel, that’s an important distinction.

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    I’ve driven the car, and much like the powerful torque steer laden V8 Caddies of the last decade, it is a bit of a handful under acceleration.

    This can be viewed as a huge negative, but I prefer to look at it as an interesting quirk. The car may look bland, but the LS4 V8 gives it tons of character that no other (non Chrysler) car in its class can match. Add to this tons of room, good economy, and dealers willing to deal on them, and you have an interesting alternative to the vanilla sedans that dominate the segment. Being able to smell your own burnouts is just an added bonus. ;-)

    As a hotrodder, it bears mentioning that the tuning on these cars is extremely conservative, in deference to the transaxle. The motor is basically a 6 liter Corvette motor with a smaller bore and a slightly shortened crankshaft due to space limitations. It even uses the same cylinder head castings as the Vette.

    Given how well these new-age GM V8s respond to modifications, it will be interesting to see a 500+ HP tuner version with ported heads and a lumpy cam. Now that would be some FWD “hoonery,” as you put it.

    I wonder just how strong that 4T65 transaxle really is.

  • avatar
    CSJohnston

    I have not driven an Impala SS but have driven the GP GXP. I liked it but was unhappy the interior (except for the front seats which were very comfortable and reasonably supportive in my opinion). It is amazing that the Impala (which is built in the same plant) fails on the handling front given an extra year of development time versus the GXP. Looking at both units from a base MSRP standpoint, there is not that much difference.

    I am also surprised that both of these vehicles have so much torque steer given the knowledge GM has on eliminating it on FWD vehicles with V8’s it garnered from the Cadillac Sevilles from the 90’s. I understand that the small block V8 has more torque than a 90’s era Northstar but really!

    I disagree with you Sajeev on the exterior styling of the SS. I like the fact that it has a certain amount of stealthiness (is that a word?) about it. The world has its share of “look at me, ticket me” sedans such as the Charger, M5, TL, etc. Like the late, unlamented Marauder, the SS has enough visual cues to set it apart but not enough to attract unwanted attention.

    Maybe GM will do us all a favour the next time around and offer the next-gen Impala and GP with all-wheel drive.

    Happy New Year!

  • avatar
    jthorner

    I cannot imagine why anyone would buy this car instead of a loaded 300C. Get yourself a set of four good snow tires for the winter. All of the hype about the superiority of front wheel drive in the snow doesn’t make sense. You still have to be able to stop and turn corners, and powering the front wheels does little for that problem.

    Don’t you wonder how those people in their Volvos got around Sweden for all those years?

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    I read that Chevy decided to call the more powerful Equinox a “sport”, rather than “SS”. Maybe if Chevy had called this a “sport” and saved the SS moniker for actual sports sedans, they woudn’t have built expectations they couldn’t meet.

    I guess this is the time to say ‘wait 2 years and the 09 Impala will be class leading,’ but I think I’ll pass. Judge GM by its products, not its promises.

    Sajeev’s review is honest and well written. As usual.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    It may not be obvious at first glance, but this car illustrates what is really wrong at GM:

    -Whether or not this version is better than the last is not the point. The objective should be to be superior to the competition, which itself is also improving with every iteration. GM aspires for improvement, instead of victory, and falls short of the mark; in the marketplace, it is superiority that counts.

    -The General’s one-size-fits-all solution to all of its ills invariably leads back to the same cure-all — a pushrod V-8. While it’s fun to have a 300 hp sedan every once in a while, you don’t need to be an enthusiast to know that ponies and FWD don’t go together, and that 300 hp is going to burn a lot of fuel that may be too costly for your typical would-be Impala driver to afford.

    It leads back to the inevitable questions — why do the more modestly powered versions of these GM vehicles end up being so miserable, and why is more attention not paid to those cars? Those who shop for the likes of Accords and Camrys have come to expect that ALL versions of the car have their virtues, and that even the slower one offers acceptable performance — with GM, anything that lacks a V-8 is almost assured of being subpar. It’s high time that Wagoner et. al. focused on building a car that is worth $25,000, rather than just $25 per day.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Like the late, unlamented Marauder, the SS has enough visual cues to set it apart but not enough to attract unwanted attention.

    CSJ: Yeah, kinda. But the Grand Marquis was a better looking (more American) canvas to start with. The Impala isn’t a bad looking car in respect to Camrys, its just not appealing as a Chevrolet.

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    CSJohnston,

    Every FWD V8 Caddy I ever drove, both the Northstar and it’s torquier 4.9L pushrod predecessor, torque steered plenty…enough to change lanes on their own when the throttle was matted on the highway. I suspect the new LS4 Impala’s output is being artificially held back to limit this, but I found the torque steer to be about the same.

    It’s funny how TS makes the Acura TL and Altima feel cheap and econocarlike to me, but when accompanied by a muscular V8 rumble, it is an interesting contrast that is far less objectionable.

    But I agree with the others…..I’ll wait for the RWD version.

  • avatar
    nweaver

    jthorner:

    There are two BIG BIG advantages for FWD in the snow:

    a: A lot more weight over just the drive wheel helps traction. On old RWD cars, there was the trick of putting a couple hundred pounds of sand in the back when driving in snowy conditions.

    b: A FWD actually does handle better in snow and ice, becaues the drive wheels pull you through a turn, and the turning wheels have more weight over them for better traction.

    It’s amazing what a FWD Saturn Hamstermobile with snow chains will do in a blizzard. Crossed Echo Summit (Highway 50 in the sierras) just before it was closed for avalanche control. Easy-peasy-no-problemo.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    nweaver: question for you. Some people say that RWD with modern day winter tires and sandbags is better than FWD because its easier to control understeer in the snow. Thoughts?

  • avatar
    dhathewa

    “… Volvos … Swedes…”

    My RWD Volvos were actually very good in the snow with all-seasons. With real snow tires at all 4 corners, they were awesome. My current FWD Toyotas are also very good in snow with all-seasons. They do behave differently but they’re still good.

    It seems to me that the keys to success on snow are less which end has the drive wheels and more due to reasonably light weight, limited power(*), limited-slip differentials, good balance and good ground clearance. Both vehicles shared these qualities.

    (*) it’s easier to modulate takeoffs to match the traction limits of icy conditions if you only have 114hp (Volvo) or 120hp (Toyota) on tap!

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    Talk about an answer to a question no one asked.

    What GM could bring in is the car that the Monaro was based on; the australian Commodore

  • avatar
    dolo54

    I usually like to champion the underdog fwds on here, but this is ridiculous. fwd only makes sense in a compact, and even then it takes a lot of good engineering to do it right. these things are not sleepers. everybody knows they have hp, but everybody also knows that these cars are a total joke. the styling is only slightly better than the previous fugly model and it’s still pretty awful stuff. not to mention the terrible handling. if anything this review is too soft on this ill-conceived crapmobile.

  • avatar
    Johnson

    GM and Ford are really beginning to irritate me. As you point out, they’ve been promising upgraded interiors for 10 years….only on occasion do I see evidence of that happening.

    Beginning to see a pattern? GM, mainly with loud-mouth Lutz doing the talking, is trying hard to hype up the interior of every new car it has coming out. What’s the problem? Most of the interiors are still a step or two behind Toyota and Honda, and a lot of them share obvious parts like radio units.

  • avatar
    blautens

    SherbornSean is right – this should be badged something other than a SuperSport. LTZ, Sport, Z7, whatever. Just not SS.

    As a former 1996 Impala SS owner (just recently parted with) and a current TBSS owner, it’s just plain wrong to drop in a V8 in this platform and call it an SS. I’m even iffy on my TBSS, but 13.5 second quarter mile times tend to sway me.

    The SS badging on the Impala disappoints everyone involved, and dilutes the SS badge, for what little it means any longer.

    At least the Cobalt SS is a fine track car for its class, when prepped correctly. And I don’t think it should be an SS, either.

    Why didn’t GM use the torque steer reducing tricks from the GXP on this car? What, so Pontiac can make it exclusive? Stupid. It’s no miracle cure, but for once they didn’t share crap across brands for the same platform? Idiots.

  • avatar

    Sajeev: No one does a better job of extracting torque steer from a four cylinder than Nissan. Track down a Spec V, and don’t touch the gas in a turn unless your hands are VERY firmly on the wheel.

    As for the 300C someone else mentioned, the Impala doesn’t hold up well, but the GP GXP is actually much more fun to drive than the Chrysler. The softer suspension settings in the Impala make torque steer worse, as the nose rises up more in hard acceleration, further distorting the halfshaft angles.

  • avatar
    FunkyD

    Another former “real” Impala SS owner (1995) here.

    This current “Impala” (can’t even bear to type it out the full name!) actually will outrun my old SS (6.6 to 60/14.9 ¼ was the fastest I ever did with it. However there is no way that it can compare with it in handling, room, or comfort. The RWD 90s Impalas never knew what “torque steer” meant either!

    Y’all are exactly right–FWD does not belong on this size a car, nor does it work with anything capable of more than 200 HP. If Nissan can’t conquer torque steer with their otherwise fine Altima SE-R, then it’s probably a hopeless task.

    The current body’s Toyota-lite generic styling earns it 0 points. Neither does the too-cramped driving position. The instrumentation is a pale Honda-wannabe style, and the wheels look like they came off an AMT model kit.

    However, I will stand up and defend big pushrod engines. GM has proved that they can work and work very well. Can someone possibly explain the advantage of the overly bulky Ford DOHC V8s? No real advantage over the LS1, let alone the LS2.

    If GM would’ve called this thing a Super Lumina, I doubt anyone would complain, or care.

  • avatar
    jazbo123

    Another former “real” Impala SS owner (1995) here.

    This current “Impala” (can’t even bear to type it out the full name!) actually will outrun my old SS (6.6 to 60/14.9 ¼ was the fastest I ever did with it. However there is no way that it can compare with it in handling, room, or comfort. The RWD 90s Impalas never knew what “torque steer” meant either!

    As another “real” Impala SS owner (a 96) I will point out that a fast corner on a bumpy road would let you go tail out faster than you could believe. I never got into trouble, but the solid rear axle wasn’t world-class and is the main reason I sold it (with very little depreciation after 40k and 4 years).

    If nothing else, the 94-96 Impalas showed that GM could actually build cars that don’t depreciate like lead shot thrown into a well.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    seems to me that a little torque steer is a good trade off for lots more space – and if u don’t need space, why buy a sedan this big? and better snow and wet performance.

  • avatar
    blautens

    Our 1996 Impalas didn’t really depreciate much (mine only had 44K miles on it when I sold it, too, recently) but I don’t see how GM could apply that “knowledge” across the board. Because quite frankly, it was sort of luck, if you ask me. They were limited appeal models, the last of what we thought was a dying breed (well, considering it and the Maurader died, I think I’m right). Then DCX made the 300/Charger with a Hemi, and revived the genre, so to speak. Leave it to GM to bring a knife to a gunfight.

    Honestly, the 94-96 Impala SS did have all the limitations of a rear drive live axle beast (and then some). Which is why it wasn’t my daily driver, thereby increasing the resale value (and decreasing my chances to be disappointed with it). I drove my Honda every day – the SS was mostly for fun.

    As much as it pains me to say it, GM doesn’t NEED another Impala SS. That does little for their bottom line. They NEED the base Impala to compete well in the mainstream market. They need Camry/Accord type sales without whoring this car out with Bleeding Red Tag prices.

    It merely pisses me off that they’ll badge this car this way for the sake of selling a few more, I suppose. I look at it like this – if BMW applies the M badge to EVERY 3 series made, or Mercedes applies the AMG badge to even the lowest 230, they might increase sales slightly and/or briefly. But long term that erodes value across the entire brand, and specifically to that badge. Rant over.

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    They need Camry/Accord type sales without whoring this car out with Bleeding Red Tag prices.

    Isn’t the current sales drive better known as a Toe Tag Sale?

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    also, i wanna buy a cruiser that had really comfortable rear seats suitable for adults. I wish y’all would sit in them for a bit, and let us know what it feels like. I hear the rear seats on this one and the GP are uncomfortable.

  • avatar
    ronin

    All-in-all, not a bad package, but certainly not for everyone. Certainly not for those scared off by a little non-unexpected torque steer. And definitely not for those who like to flick about quickly around beckoning s-curves.

    It is a good package for those wanting a daily highway cruiser with lots and lots of storage room- not just a big trunk, but with well-thought out storage in the fold down seats.

    It’s a good package for those wanting to haul humans, and do so in winter weather without having to resort to doing by extra effort what FWD can do without trying.

    From a practicality standpoint, the GPX scares me away in that no spare tire is provided by Pontiac, and the ability to do a four corner tire rotation is gone. Not to mention the GPX’s back seat is scrunched down, compared to the Impala, in an effort to get coupe lines out of a sedan.

    What bugs me about the Impala is the crazy pricing extremes. Does it really make sense for one model to range from $20,000 to $34,000 (70% MSRP uplift over base price)? I say nay nay. I think that’s trying to make too much out of trim levels and 2 cylinders.

    Not to mention, at Impala SS pricing you’re also courting the G35 and such.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    also, i wanna buy a cruiser that had really comfortable rear seats suitable for adults. I wish y’all would sit in them for a bit, and let us know what it feels like. I hear the rear seats on this one and the GP are uncomfortable.

    The seats are pretty comfy front and back. The leather was more like rubber, though. I had no other complaints, unlike my time with a Chrysler 300.

    The rear seat bottoms also fold forward for carrying extra cargo. Not sure if its needed, but its a neat idea.

  • avatar
    Sid Vicious

    In order to be a “real” Impala shouldn’t it have 2 doors, not 4? In other words, don’t you mean 94-96 Caprice? (SS)

  • avatar
    ash78

    ronin,

    I think a single car can effectively sell with massive price differences between. There was roughly 100% increase for the VW R32 over the base Golf (based on what they actually sold for, not just sticker). And to think people said the R32 was not distinctive enough from it’s base cousin. Same with the W8 Passat (as a market “tester” for the Phaeton), which ultimately died an early death and soon saw a lot of used demand.

    The WRX and moreso the Mitsu Evo both pull it off pretty well, too (obviously with a lot more differentiation from base). Of course, it’s been said on this site many times that some manufacturers have the same build quality and ethic from top to bottom, while others–namely domestic–feel that market stratification should be more pronounced and based heavily on size. In other words, no matter how much you dress up a Cobalt, I could never see a version commanding $25k+

  • avatar
    nweaver

    Sajeev:

    Well, on ski trips, I’ve been the passanger in a LS400 which did a 90 degree skidout into a snowbank on a suprisingly clean road, while the Hamstermobile has plowed through some incredible crap, with just chains on (but no traction control or ABS).

    If you have dedicated snow tires, it might be different, but for generic 4-season tires, I’d MUCH rather have FWD, it really is pretty easy to control at the speeds you should actually be going.

    You screw up and give the FWD too much gas, and the wheels just spin. You screw up on the RWD, and it can slide around on you so easily.

    Likewise, watching that SL500 get stuck in the snow just behind where we pulled out with the Hamstermobile over the christmas holiday was just a sad statement of what good an overpowered RWD beast can be in the snow….

    Also, IMO, fold down seats are USEFUL. Cars which don’t have them should be pointed out: I think its one of the huge weaknesses of both the RX-8 and MazdaSpeed6.

  • avatar
    nweaver

    Oh, you mean the seatcushons fold forward? Clever. Not as clever as the fit’s seats (the cargo area alone was enough for my sister to buy one), but seems a good idea to me.

  • avatar
    CSJohnston

    Every FWD V8 Caddy I ever drove, both the Northstar and it’s torquier 4.9L pushrod predecessor, torque steered plenty…enough to change lanes on their own when the throttle was matted on the highway. I suspect the new LS4 Impala’s output is being artificially held back to limit this, but I found the torque steer to be about the same.

    Hi Doc,

    I don’t know. I never remember either the Seville or the Deville I spent time with having the same level of TS that the GXP I drove had. This is all based on an admittedly hazy memory but I don’t remember it being as pronounced or as violent.

    Then again, once I learned to expect it, the TS in the Pontiac was no big deal. All it meant is I can get a bit of a workout while driving!

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    nweaver: if I ever live up north (I hope I never do, no offense ) I will have to try out a RWD car with a set of Blizzaks and compare it to a FWD car. Everyone raves about those Blizzaks in snow.

    Yeah, the cushions fold forward and there’s a hole in there to keep stuff. Makes a good place for tools,gloves, etc or to hold extra shopping bags. I had more important business to discuss in the review (this is a Super Sport, not a rental car) but that’s what the comments section is for.

  • avatar
    KingElvis

    Sajeev:

    I’ve been driving in the snow since I was a lad.
    FWD is 1000x better than RWD. FWD is nearly as good as 4×4 on flat surfaces – I suppose the steeper grades would bring out the all wheel drive advantage.

    FWD: You hit the throttle and steer where you want to go.

    RWD: wheels spin, tail wags, flailing arms counter-steering.

    You can love rwd – I do. Still doesn’t mean it’s not for crap in the snow.

    As for the Chevy, if they put the V8 in any model, I might just have bought an LS. In fact, gimme the bench seat, soft suspension and 4 on the tree. Charge me $23K and I’m a happy Chevy owner.

    In fact, spreading the V8 around might be wise considering next year’s Malibu will have a DOHC V6 and be about as big as the current Impala, not to mention that the V8 rates higher mileage than the 3.9L.

    But if you must spend $30G, you might as well go Charger RT.

  • avatar
    airglow

    dhathewa: Wrote:

    It seems to me that the keys to success on snow are less which end has the drive wheels and more due to reasonably light weight, limited power(*), limited-slip differentials, good balance and good ground clearance. Both vehicles shared these qualities.

    As someone who drives in snow very often (most recently yesterday in a 2003 Impala) and who has logged lots of miles in the snow in both FWD and RWD vehicles, I strongly disagree with several of your points.

    First FWD is better than RWD mainly because the car goes where you point it, period. You don’t have to go up hills sideways, constantly steering into the skids as the rear end fishtails in RWD vehicles. When the front tires spin, they spin where you want to go. When rear tires spin, they cause the rear end to slide sideways, which is very, very bad on public roads. Traction control has helped RWD cars become more manageable in the snow, but when you need to turn off the traction control to make good progress (in slush, wet snow or to get up a hill); FWD is far, far superior to RWD. Unless forced to by circumstances, I will never drive a RWD car in snowy conditions again.

    Second, the best FWD snow car I ever drove was an 87 Bonneville, with about 70% of its weight over the front wheels. I never got stuck, and on many occasions drove around many different cars and trucks stuck on steep hills in the snow. The worst FWD car I remember was an 89 Sable wagon. The Sable handled great in the dry, but wandered and tracked poorly in the snow due to it’s more even weight distribution. I’d bet the Impala SS with winter tires or even plain old all season tires would be very good in the snow due to the extra V-8 weight in the front. With FWD cars, weight, and more importantly more weight in front makes for a far better winter car. Other people I’ve talked to have agreed with me that the GM B and C bodies were arguably the best winter 2WD cars ever made.

  • avatar
    ash78

    Why are we debating the relevance of the drivetrain layout as it pertains to about 1/3 of the US population for 3-5 months of the year? I guess you could argue that auto safety needs to cater to the lowest common denominator to achieve universal acceptance. Then again, it might be the perfect analogy for Detroit’s myopia.

    “Are marketplace conditions favorable for this car, Mr. Wagner?”
    *looks out window*
    “I believe so. It’s still snowing.”

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    ash78:

    Nevertheless, a rwd car is a snowstorm is way more dangerous than a fwd car. I will never buy a rwd car ever again – i mean NEVER – it breaks my heart too – i love rwd beemers. But one sideways trip up a snowy on ramp, and I’m a beleiver. At least GM got this right – the fwd part i mean – and now they are changing that! Damn. Why would you not have the best of both worlds – FWD for traction and cabin space, AND a cool V8? Beats me. Its like having your cake and eating it too!

  • avatar
    dhathewa

    “Why are we debating … drivetrain… ?” – ash78

    Because if you live in that third of the country, winter capability is an essential part of vehicle capability, unless you are willing to store the vehicle for a few months and drive something else. I don’t have that kind of money.

    “FWD is better than RWD… Going up hill…” – airglow

    Going up hill brings out the worst in both.

    In FWD, the incline transfers the CG a little bit towards the rear, reducing your traction advantage, albeit slightly. If you give it too much gas and the road is crowned or sloped, you begin to head for the ditch.

    RWD can get you fishtailing but the cure is to let up on the gas and your slight rearward CG transfer helps a bit.

    I don’t think there’s a hill you’ll climb with FWD that you can’t climb with RWD unless your front/rear weight distribution imbalance is extreme. And I don’t think that I’d want such a car for normal driving, anyway.

    By the bye, are you sure the ’89 Sable was RWD? The ’90 was FWD, per Edmunds.

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    By the bye, are you sure the ‘89 Sable was RWD? The ‘90 was FWD, per Edmunds.

    Airglow never said the Sable was RWD. All 20 years of Taurus/Sable production were indeed front drivers.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    FWD v. RWD is a worthwhile discussion, but this is a piece of crap because it looks like piece of crap and handles like a piece of crap. When it comes to car design, I’m vein and so are all of us. We should be. So why can’t GM make something other than rolling abortion of a car?

    The same suspension as the base model?? Give me a F–in’ break. I drove one of these and it handled worse than a ’98 Civic.

    All we get are excuses as to why GM can’t build a desirable sedan and promises of better products in the future. What a joke. I want to buy American, I really do, but I refuse to do so long as GM, Ford and DCX turn out garbage. We know they can do better…. cars like the European Focus prove it.

    Lutz was quoted in the WSJ today that the new Malibu due out next year is a car he hopes people will rent and then say, “Holy smokes, it’s fabulous”. It looks better than any Chevy product, save the ‘Vette, but $20 and my left nut say it’s just another half attempt to catch up to where VW was 6 years ago. Looking forward to seeing that hunk of waste taking up space in the rental fleet’s parking lots.

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    Lets hope its cheaper and easier to fix than a VW – Its got to have some pluses.
    It might even rent better than a sebring

  • avatar
    mdanda

    Every time it snows in Kansas I see 740s and E-class MBs stuck all over the place. EVERY TIME!!!!

  • avatar
    dhathewa

    “Airglow never said…”

    Right. My mistake. Sorry; I must get to the optometrist sometime soon.

    However, my takeaway from Airglow’s post then is: FWD can, indeed, can handle very badly on snow.

    We’ve had other cars that were fairly good on snow and all shared the characteristics of reasonably light weight, reasonably good balance and modest power, whether they were FWD or RWD. The ones with limited-slip had an extra advantage.

    Our current ’01 Sienna is, in fact, very bad on snow. I’m not sure what the F/R weight distribution is but the understeer is horrible. Will it brake on snow? Probably. Will it steer on snow? Maybe. Will it steer and brake together on snow? Never. I suspect the thing is front-heavy because tire wear on the front is much greater than tire wear on the rear.

    And my sample size is small enough that this could all be due to different tires (although I’ve tried several on the Sienna with poor results for all).

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    wasn’t the 740 the first fwd volvo? I would suggest that snow drivability depends on tyres and the type of snow –

    On the only heavy snow in WI before Xmas the first car I spotted in the ditch….Subaru Impreza in Rally Blue hahaha

  • avatar
    1967dodgeman

    I agree with Ash78. For the people who live in snow country, debate all you want. But for the remainder of the US, there is no practical benefit at all to FWD. I live in south Texas and will never see a benefit to it. What I do see is a much more cramped engine compartment, higher maintenance costs, more tire wear (stearing and driving on only two tires), and poorer handling overall. For only marginally greater passenger room, I’ll pass. Give me RWD and a well balanced chassis.

  • avatar
    Ryan

    HEATHROI, the 850 (the replacement for the 740) was FWD.

    As for FWD vs RWD, I’m not entirely sure that RWD is as bad as it’s made out to be. FWD is just better at compensating for a stupid move on the driver’s part. Last winter, I spent a fair amount of time driving a Chevette and an Astro, both of which are RWD, and both had bad tires. I managed to spin the Chevette once, and it wasn’t for lack of trying (I couldn’t resist the hoon potential). As for this winter, we’ve only had one snowy night in Toronto, and again, despite my attempts at hoonery (I currently drive a RWD F150), I mostly had to deal with understeer. It’s limited experience, but at the same time, I suspect that any problem RWD has, can mostly be taken care of by good winter tires, a good traction control system, and a sensible driver.

    And the Impala? It seems like it mostly exists because of GM’s need to try and build a car for every single person, to fill every market. I don’t think it’s a great car (typical GM mediocrity), but there’s something interesting about a large V8 sedan that still gets reasonable fuel economy. As a stopgap until GM can bring over the entire Holden lineup, they could do worse (it’s one hell of a Q-ship). On the other hand, when I tried to ask the people at the Chevy booth at the auto show, about what had been done to quell torque steer, they just told me the torque numbers.

  • avatar
    dhathewa

    Heathroi, the 740 was RWD. I believe the first FWD Volvo (of the modern era) was the 850, which debuted in ’93 or so. The 9x0s were RWD. The 850 morphed into the S-70. I think they’re all FWD or AWD, now. For some of us, the 850, the S-70 and all the current Volvos, while they are very nice cars, aren’t “real” Volvos.

  • avatar
    ronin

    Interesting discussion, and now that I think of it, driving in the snow is an art, and a valid measure of the driver’s skill in operating an automobile as, I don’t know, yaddying through a slalom.

    Until you’ve managed to pilot your vehicle to work and back day in and day out through one cussed snowstorm after another, winter after winter, you’ve only acquired a portion of the skill of pushing the limits of your short.

    After finally arriving at your destination, you can pause and bask in the sheer sense of satisfaction in besting a bad situation. You take pride in the accomplishment of a task 2/3 of the country could not imagine doing. And you close your eyes and smile as the four fingers of scotch you just poured is going down.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    1967dodgeman:

    -the difference is space in a fwd car and a rwd car is not slight – it is huge.

    -cramped engine compartment? not really. this is a design issue, not endemic to fwd cars.

    -bad handling? been in a new GTI? wow.

    Ryan:

    Yes, perhaps with a good traction system, rwd would be OK in winter, but really, why take the chance if u dont have to? when it snows here, its really easy to see which wheels power the various vehicles. RWD cars are sideways, all and 4 wd drive SUV’s are in ditches (from over-enthusiastic drivers) and FWD cars are driving around them very carefully. Its kinda funny to watch.

  • avatar
    Mo

    Toyotas are soul-less? Look at this Impala…another completely boring looking car. Especially if you put it beside the new Camry.

  • avatar
    finger

    Excellent review! I on’t know of any other source that gives such a detailed review. The Impala has “milquetoast styling”, it’s parts were picked from the “rubbish bin”, and it is described as “a ball of flaming garbage”. And of course, the review has the mandatory “notice me” line-
    “The Impala SS has more than enough grunt to put a smile on your face– just like the one found on a septuagenarian moments after his last Viagra.”

    Really well done.

  • avatar
    Ryan

    jerseydevil, the point is more that FWD isn’t that much better that RWD isn’t an acceptable alternative. Front wheel drive may be marginally better in poor weather, but rear wheel drive is marginally more entertaining. All I’m saying is that for the average person who doesn’t live in the boonies, RWD is a capable choice, when driven with a bit of sense and moderation.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    Ryan:

    well if it does not matter, then we should choose fuel and packaging efficeincy, and better traction in bad weather.

    seems to me

  • avatar
    jthorner

    300+ HP has no business being trapped in a FWD platform.

    I once had a ’96 Seville STS, and there was plenty to like about it. However, driving the thing at full throttle was more of a challenge than it was fun.

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

    Tom Sumners, a pal of mine who has owned six Cords (the first production, front-wheel drive American car, with a supercharged 190 horsepower, 288.6 cubic-inch V8 in 1937) now owns a 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado – the next production front-wheel drive American car, after the Cord. The Toronado for that year – it lasted into the Nineties, in various stages of tune and design – produced 385 horsepower, normally aspirated, from 425 cubic-inches of V8 engine. Tom tells me there’s not a trace of torque steer. And as I recall, Oldsmobile had some privateer who successfully competed with a Toronado in the Pikes Peak Hill Climb, in succeeding years. The Toronado had a wheelbase of 119 inches. That’s likely why it handled, as it did, years before traction control. As Theodore Roosevelt noted, it’s easy to critique and harder to “stand in the arena.” However, I think the General’s engineers might need to look back to the future, in a manner of speaking.

  • avatar
    fozone

    in a cosmic coincidence, when i showed up at the avis counter this morning, they had given away my POS ion, and instead (be still my beating heart) put me into a month-old Impala with less than 2k miles on the odo. It wasn’t an SS, but was a decked-out V6, with leather, suspicious wood trim, upgraded stereo, etc…

    I think most of what sajeev wrote is valid. The interior is a nice attempt, but has some serious issues at this price-point.

    As he noted, the shift column has NO LABELS. You have to look at the dash to see what gear you’re putting her into. In 20 years of driving, i’ve never seen another car with this “feature”. Either it is:

    * A radical styling statement
    * Someone forgot to apply the label to the console on both my car and sajeevs or…
    * GM is just cutting corners in crazily-visible places.

    The arm rests and basically every surface that you can touch are hard.. they look OK in photos, but feel cheap. The trunk has a thin layer of carpet, and some sheet metal was clearly visible thru gaps.

    There’s a surprising amount of road noise (ie, more than a late-model malibu that i recently rented.) Maybe GM thinks that road noise = sporty.

    Overall the car isn’t all that objectionable… for a rental. The leather seats are comfortable, the ride is floaty, steering has little feel. It’s got a massive trunk. The higher-end stereo doesn’t have the Wargames-Vintage green LED display like most GMs I’ve rented.

    But I cannot for the life of me see anyone paying $26k for one, which is what edmunds says you can expect to pay. Depreciation must be crushing, and I don’t have to mention to readers of this blog what else this kind of money can buy.

    Who exactly was this car made for?

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    The 1966 Toro also weighed well over 2 tons, and had a longitudinal engine layout under that long hood. Big difference.

  • avatar
    mikey

    The Impala ss is great looking,fun to drive and will beat the crap out of any import in the price range.
    I don’t think the reference to flaming garbage was called for,
    but all and all,not a bad review
    37 years of driving in southern ont,has taught me that FWD IS 1000 x better in snow ice slush and every thing else.
    RWD is more fun and handles better in clear dry conditions.
    In the spring FWD Grand Am goes in the garage,RWD Firebird
    comes out,and we reverse the process in the fall.
    RWD drive in the snow very scary

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Someone forgot to apply the label to the console on both my car and sajeevs or…

    fozone: I’m glad someone else noticed that. All the nickel and diming just adds up and makes for one pathetic interior.

    Nevermind the Toyotas and Hondas, even a $20k Taurus had the proper markings on its floor shifter, and the Taurus was/is the rental car darling of this decade. GM just really made the conversion to an SS as cheaply as possible. Its shameful for fans of the Super Sport.

    All that talk of higher quality GM interiors is a joke, but maybe in the next model year something will change. Course, I am not holding my breath.

  • avatar
    fozone

    fozone: I’m glad someone else noticed that. All the nickel and diming just adds up and makes for one pathetic interior.

    Yes, it does. This car really makes me angry. The more I drive it, the more annoyed I get.

    And not because I “hate” domestics, but because I know GM could do so much more, but for whatever reason, they choose not to. Management can blame the unions all they want, but unless the UAW guy who puts the stickers on the console was drunk or asleep, the fact that its missing in this car had everything to do with management & the engineers that thought it would be a good idea to delete it from the design.

    Why not put another $1k into the interior and raise the base price of the car? Sure, the “price” will be higher, but building a car that people actually want takes the bite out of depreciation, so owners get the money out of it on the back-end.

    GM chooses failure, just like Hyundai chooses to succeed (it wasn’t that long ago that they were the bottom-feeders of the automotive fleet, now look at them…)

    It really pisses me off. Maybe Chapter 11 would be the best thing to shake them out of this stupor, i really don’t know.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    Re. the Toronado, I suspect the reason it didn’t exhibit torque steer is that it had equal-length axles. Torque steer is basically the result of unequal-length axles, which is what you typically have with a lateral-engine configuration.

    Oh, and another neat thing about FWD, though it’s really only useful getting up long, steep driveways (like mine): all smart Saab owners know that if you turn the 99/900 around and back up, you have a _huge_ rearward weight transfer. Traction up the ass, literally.

    Stephan

  • avatar
    mikey

    Fozone
    The Impala was made in Canada buy the CAW.
    I can asure you the brother or sister was niether drunk nor asleep.
    Whatever short comings your Impala may or may not have
    are not the fault of hourly rated worker who built it.

  • avatar
    fozone

    Whatever short comings your Impala may or may not have
    are not the fault of hourly rated worker who built it.

    understood. the issues i’ve experienced so far are systemic and the result of hundreds of small choices made during the design process.

    Another interesting flaw (?) i just discovered — when you release the turn signal stalk (like after making a turn), the turn signals will flash for an additional 1-2 times before stopping. Doesn’t give me much confidence in the design of the electrical system…

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    the turn signals will flash for an additional 1-2 times before stopping. Doesn’t give me much confidence in the design of the electrical system…

    It was designed that way. IIRC, several German automakers do the same thing.

  • avatar
    1967dodgeman

    Jerseydevil – –bad handling? been in a new GTI? wow.

    Nope. Been in a Camry? A slightly different “wow” factor. I think we can agree there’s good and bad handling in both types. For a larger family sedan, I think RWD has better odds of behaving well.

    As for cramped engine compartment, you got the engine turned sideways, and have the transmission tucked up under it, all within the confines of the front two wheels. All the FWD’s I’ve have in the past decade (4 total) have been more cramped under the hood than the older RWD vehicles I’ve owned (and worked on) in the past. Also, I’ve read about and experienced more frequent accessory failure (such as alternators) due to higher heat due to more cramped quarters. Yeah, it’s a design issue. A design issue inherent to FWD.

    As for Why risk it? It’s not a risk where I live. Maybe if I lived up north, but thank God I don’t (anymore). As I said in my original post, if you have zero percent chance of snow year round, then FWD has no allure at all. Your situation may be different.

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    Yup…all new BMW’s, Benzes, and Corvettes blink 3 times with a light touch on the turn signal stalk.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    As I said in my original post, if you have zero percent chance of snow year round, then FWD has no allure at all. Your situation may be different.

    1967dodgeman: and yet FWD is most everywhere I look on the streets of Houston. I feel the car makers (Domestic and Asian) are dead-set on keeping and refining their FWD platforms/powertrains even though the “its-not-1985-anymore” size makes them rather pointless. But hey, most people don’t care anyway!

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Enthusiasts make a big deal out of the FWD/RWD/ AWD troika, but Average Joe and Jane just don’t care. (Point the car, hit the gas, the car goes, and that’s it.) I doubt that the average car buyer in North America knows the difference between front-wheel drive and a frontal lobotomy.

    There are plenty of Camrys, Accords, Corolllas, Civics, Jettas and other FWD cars cruising the streets of sunny California and elsewhere outside the Snow Belt. I don’t see much evidence that drivetrain configuration influences a lot of car purchases in places where weather isn’t a factor.

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    All I need to do is leave my pickup in 2wd on a snowy day to realize how lousy RWD is in the snow. As much as i baby it, it’s awful hard to ascend a hill without the rear end trying to become the front end. That’s Pennsylvania, but if I lived in Tampa or San Diego, I would have RWD. I dont think Ii would see many RWD Impala’s around here after November.

  • avatar
    tentacles

    We can argue about the technical merits of FWD vs RWD all day, but the bottom line is that making a FWD Impala is a marketing disaster, in the same way that making a FWD BMW would be. Any reasonably competent driver can drive either car effectively even under slippery conditions as long as he isn't pushing the envelope, but perception matters.

  • avatar
    svensk

    mikey:
    My wife loves gand ams. She has an ’05 gt coup one of the last off the line. The torque steer isn’t very noticeable and it handles good in the winter, but we need to get some winter tires because the RSA tires are crap in the snow. Plus with fairly short 3.29 gears she can scoot. It wasvery sad when we got this one because the dealer was practically giving these away because of the G6.

  • avatar
    ash78

    jerseydevil

    The GTI is probably the best example of how to do FWD the right way (I’m no fahrvergn00b, a MkIII was my first ride). But most manufacturers don’t quite execute it perfectly as VW does in that car. Still, I wouldn’t want a heavily modded 1.8t or 2.0t without an LSD up front to control wheelspin. You can only go so far… (hey, some people have 400+ hp on the 1.8t, over 500hp on the 2.0t)

  • avatar
    mikey

    Tentacles the Impala a marketing disaster?
    Believe me if every G.M. vehicle sold like Impalas,R.F.would hafta retire the DW series
    Svensk, the Grand Am GT with 3.29 gears FWD is very quick around town.
    Most folks think its just another tired old plastic clad Pontiac.
    Its not the most pretty car but the rear end styling is top notch.I finished the rear styling with a licence braket reading
    BUY DOMESTIC KEEP YOUR JOB.
    I don”t think I shocked the regular TTAC readers with that little piece of information

  • avatar
    mdanda

    I meant BMW 740, not Volvo 740. Last time it snowed 4 inches in Kansas City I saw a beautiful 740iL stuck in the middle of the road on a very gentle hill. RWD with high performance tires is disasterous in snow, traction control be dam#ed

    Snow tires are not a good option in KC because we have too many 50+ degree days in the winter that fry the rubber off snow tires.

    So a FWD performance car is not such a bad thing. It’s getting tiresome to read so many complaints about the Impala’s drivetrain.

  • avatar
    seldomawake

    There’s several folks who’ve commented on how nice the car is, in apparent reponse to Mr. Metha’s review.

    Has anyone noticed that it sells for $31k?

    Cross-shop this thing. What else could one buy? Now, why would anyone buy this?

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    Well, i will need to buy a new daily driver soon. The Golf is coming to the end of its life. Im older now, have fat friends, and need a larger car, one that is quieter on the highway and has more comfortable back seats, gets superior milage, is a fun to drive. I hope the domestics have something to offer when im ready.

    Everyone else does.

  • avatar
    finger

    Cross-shop this thing. What else could one buy? Now, why would anyone buy this?
    Yeah. Did that.
    I could buy a Toyota Avalon- 35 less horsepower, 75 lbs less torque, and absolutely no eye appeal. And all for another $1,000 +.
    Or an Infiniti G35- closer in hp and torque but still significantly less. A V6 that does not do as well on gas as the Chevy’s V8, and another $7,000! No thanks.

  • avatar
    mikey

    I don’t know US pricing. In Canada the Impala is a bargain.
    I spent a couple of hours pricing imports just for research
    I found the sales people and the dealers very pleasant.
    G.M could learn a lesson in this area.
    I don’t see a big difference in the product.In fact Toyotas have some of the worst styling of any car including the other non dometics IMO.
    Even when I try and be objective.[wich is hard]I think the Impala SS is hard to beat its a nice car for the money.
    On the down side the trade in value of my mint low, klm,
    very clean Grand AM was an insult.The salesman justifys this
    by telling me and I quote Were giving ya your employee discount and everything else you guys think you deserve.
    And now ya want top dollar fer your trade.
    I replied yeah your right.As I drove off I thought to myself
    no wonder people buy Toyotas

  • avatar
    finger

    Well, I’m glad a lot of the “contributors” here have put the Impala under their respective microscopes. I’ve seen that the location of the gear selector is a major problem. I see that it is digitally displayed right in your eye’s view on the dash. Right where you should be looking. But no! Let’s kill the car because there is no redundant markings. And lets not forget to manufacture problems as well. (See comment regarding turn signal indicator).

  • avatar
    finger

    C’mon. What else can we come up with? It’s got too much horsepower? Or not enough? It is too understated? Or too garish? It needs cladding maybe? The warranty is too long?

  • avatar
    jet_silver

    “…should have had a word with the engineers….”

    The problem is probably that the marketroids told the engineers what to do in such mind-boggling and dreary detail that there were few ways left to do the job, all of them ugly. I’m sure you’ve read The Reckoning and my comment would have been true twenty years ago. The evidence suggests this situation hasn’t been fixed in an entire generation of personnel.

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    If I was looking for a ~ $30k brand new family sedan, this one would be high on my list. I suspect I’m in the minority here, but while it’s hardly a world beating car, the combination of a basic FWD sedan, roomy, with decent build quality and plenty of comfort/convenience features, along with that ass kicking yet fuel efficient 5.3L LS4 is an interesting alternative to all the torque challenged competitors.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Please no plastic cladding!If you push the gas in this baby and you think it aint got enough H.P. Go buy a Vette!
    I am very tempted to buy this beast.Thank you Sajeev if you hadn’t wrote the review I wouldn’t taken the time to look at one.outside of the plant.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    “… Cross-shop …”

    Don’t be so quick to dismiss the Avalon, it has two certain performance advantages over the Impals. It weighs 200 and some pounds less and it’s got an extra gear.

    It’s also my impression that Toyota motors develop surprising torque at lower RPMs. The Impala might best it at the strip (like I’d care) but the extra gear in the transmission might give the Avalon an edge in real-world acceleration tests like passing on a two-lane road or merging by putting the engine right into the heart of the powerband just when you need it.

    The Avalon will also be easier to park. You might buy the Impala for the V8 but it will spend more time at the shopping mall than at the drag strip.

    For similar money, I might get a Lexus IS-250. Smaller and not as much power, sure, but you get RWD and you get to shift for yourself. Leather is standard.

    Of course, another way to look at how much you’re spending is to look at expense (purchase less depreciation). For similar expense, I could probably get a Lexus IS-350. No stick on that but the BACK wheels spin and scream when you hit the exhilarator. The Lexus IS-x50’s will be MUCH easier to park.

    Or, for similar money, I could probably buy a Miata, maybe even with the disappearing hard top, and a decent used Volvo for winter duty.

  • avatar
    finger

    And the Avalon is easier to park because it is a whole 3 inches shorter in length and a whopping one tenth of an inch narrower I assume?

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the Avalon takes the Impala on the highway because of the two extra gears. The ES350 I tested was insanely fast after you waited 1-2 seconds for the 6-3 downshift.

    In the city the Impala would cream it. But you need an even firmer grip on the wheel. Whether that is fun or simply a challenge worth undertaking is up to you. I got tired of it after the first second or so.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Finger: “And the Avalon is easier to park because it is a whole 3 inches shorter in length and a whopping one tenth of an inch narrower I assume?”

    You assume wrongly… The Avalon will be easier to park because its turning radius is about 4 feet smaller than the Impala’s. The IS-x50’s have turning radiuses about 7 feet smaller than the Impala.

  • avatar
    blautens

    Sajeev is right – a 6 speed auto gives the Avalon more effective gearing most of the time, keeping the Avalon in it’s power band. It’s a smooth shifter, too. The Impala tranny is probably smooth (GM has notoriously smooth shifting transmissions), but 4 speeds versus 6 – it’s an uphill battle.

    And without even driving an Avalon, just spend 5 minutes in the front and rear seat, poke around the controls, fiddle in the trunk, and then do the same to the Impala. Fit and finish are excellent in the Avalon. Driving dynamics aside. I can’t compare the two because I haven’t driven the Impala, only sat in it. The Avalon I drove, and it was a fine sedan for it’s purpose (a no-fuss people carrier, a swollen Camry, if you will).

    The new Avalon really intrudes on what had previously been lower end Lexus territory – I quite often get a ES350 as a loaner when getting my car serviced, and I thought the top of the line Avalon made the ES350 superfluous, were it not for the better service at Lexus dealerships.

    Published quarter mile times for the Impala SS and Avalon are similar enough that no one will quibble about power. At least no one in the market for a FWD sedan.

    finger – if the price difference between cars in the $30K range is only $1000, that’s not enough to make me blink – I buy the better car every time. But I do have a feeling that Avalons don’t get discounted much, and Impalas probably come with a wheelbarrow full of cash, so comparing MSRPs would be wrong.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    do the rear seats go down in this car?

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    I need to jump in and defend Sajeev.

    I took one of these around an autocross track.

    It was horrible and horrifying.

    I plowed through more cones with the SS than I did a Viper.

    Lousy car

  • avatar
    finger

    I plowed through more cones with the SS than I did a Viper.

    Yes. And I understand you are a home brewer. Were you involved in brewing/consuming prior to cone plowing? Just wondering.

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    No offense, JL, but WTF would anyone interested in autocrossing be doing in an Impala, or an Avalon for that matter? That hardly makes it a “lousy” car. In the occasional spirited maneuver, it is entirely adequate.

    Unless you consider a Ford GT a “lousy car” because it won’t carry any luggage.

    The Impala is a mainstream, practical, roomy, efficient sedan that actually drives quite nicely…and just happens to have near Corvette power under the hood.

  • avatar
    fozone

    I dont’ think I (or anyone else) was looking for reasons to dislike this car. I’ve been driving it now for two days, it does some things well, but certainly not good enough for a near-$30k car. The fit and finish is nowhere near that of the Avalon, period.

    GM thinks most people don’t notice. Unfortunately, they do. See you in bankruptcy court….

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Finger,

    No, I was plowing because the SS is a lousy, awful, pitiful handling car. The understeer is insane. And the brakes are too weak to slow it effectively, so, you plow.

    And if you are not on a track, you kill/die.

    Dr. V8,

    Please — for that money, get an STI or an EVO. Or, the Pontiac GXP which has the same engine AND a chassis designed to handle all the power (plus the different width wheels)

  • avatar
    finger

    Whatever. I drove one and do admit that you can’t put your foot into it without repercussions. IMO, the 3.9 L LTZ version may be more practical. You still get 233 horses and a more manageable package for under $28K.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Sajeev is right – a 6 speed auto gives the Avalon more effective gearing most of the time, keeping the Avalon in it’s power band.

    Except the Avalon (unless its different from the ES) has terribly slow gear changes and will let the Impala get the jump on it. The Impala’s transmission is quick and responsive. Other than that, it’ll be a entertaining competition.

    do the rear seats go down in this car?

    Sure do. That’s a strong point of the design, GM actually spent the $$$ to make the seat bottoms fold up so the back can fold flat. Way easier to load cargo without an “uphill battle” and its something many (all?) of its competition lacks.

    But the car is still too dynamically challenged to be enjoyable and has a low-rent interior.

    There’s better in the market at this price point, even when you factor in the Red Tag sales. Unless you’re one of those nuts who wants a 4dr Corvette to scare the crap out of your kids/in-laws. If so, shame on you. :-)

  • avatar
    blue adidas

    Now I haven’t driven the SS, but I suspect that nearly everyone here is just an armchair analyst too. I have rented many Impalas and Camrys and the base Camry is no better than a base Impala. Actually, as a rental, the Chevy comes across as a more substantial car. Although I’d never pay good money to own either, I find the looks of the Chevy to be a lot smarter and more appealing and the green plastic “leaded crystal” on the Camry dash to be chintzy. The new Impala interior is very competitive, although not a clear leader in this class. To compare this car to an Evo or an STi is dumb. Would a 300hp car be better as RWD? Obviously, but you can opt for a FWD Passat with nearly the same output. The hyperbole in this place is completely silly.

  • avatar
    ash78

    I love this website. Where else on the web can you discuss the theoretical merits of an Impala vs. Avalon drag race with a straight face? :D

    blue adidas: Passat? If you’re making mention of the 280hp V6 model, it is only available in AWD.

    I very nearly bought a supercharger for my FWD car to get it up to 270+hp, but then I changed my mind and will save the money for a car meant to handle that kind of power later–not through the front wheels.

  • avatar
    blue adidas

    “Passat? If you’re making mention of the 280hp V6 model, it is only available in AWD.”

    ash78m

    Actually, no. It’t available as FWD and AWD as an option. I suspect that the FWD power is applied to the ground better than the Impala though.

  • avatar
    oboylepr

    Svensk, the Grand Am GT with 3.29 gears FWD is very quick around town.
    Most folks think its just another tired old plastic clad Pontiac.
    Its not the most pretty car but the rear end styling is top notch.I finished the rear styling with a licence braket reading
    BUY DOMESTIC KEEP YOUR JOB.

    The Pontiac Grand Am is not a domestic (Canada) car.

    What you guys mean is BUY UNION KEEP YOUR JOB!!!!

    No thanks, I’ll stick to domestic vehicles!!

  • avatar
    KingElvis

    All wheel drive ImpalaSS:

    Torque steer and understeer…solved.

    I wonder if it would’ve been wiser to invest in a 4×4 drivetrain instead of the ‘zeta’ chassis. Then again, the Ford 500 has an AWD option, and no one seems to care much. Then again, it isn’t ‘overpowered’ like the SS.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    If it was possible to put the 5.3L in the Ford Five Hundred AWD (6-spd or CVT) you’d have a winner. Man, that would be sick.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    I’d be happy with the 3.5L making 265hp out of the MKZ and Edge

  • avatar
    mikey

    oboylepr
    Yeah your right the Grand Am was made in Lansing Michigan.
    And I’m damn proud to drive a car made in the USA.
    In Oshawa ont. Canada plant#1 we produce1500 Impalas and Monte Carlos Plant#2 970 Grand Prix and Buick allure/Lacrosse a day.Truck plant runs around 1300 a day
    95% are shipped to the USA
    9600 hourly employees plus salary and contract people
    5000 jobs in first tier suppliers.and who knows how many ripple out from there.
    Its called free trade my friend
    Yes the big 2.5 are American companys that have spent Billions in our province.Do you think Honda Alilston and Toyota in Cambridge could match those numbers.
    Yes indeed I am damn proud to work for an American company.And hopefully our GOOD friends south or the border feel that way when they drive Canadian built cars.
    Michael H Browne
    shipper/reciever Oshawa Metal Center
    Oshawa ont. Canada

  • avatar
    Mechie

    As the proud Canadian owner of one of these great beasts (black ’06 purchased Sept ’06), I have to jump in.

    This car keeps me grinning ear-to-ear on an otherwise boring daily commute like no other vehicle I’ve owned.

    Like any powerful vehicle, you use common sense as to when and where you apply the power.

    WOT maneuvers while carrying out quick passes on back-country roads (in the dry) are quick and predictable – with the traction control doing its job.

    FWD, with light throttle, gets you through the deepest snow on the OEM rubber. I’m old enough to remember late 70’s RWD sedans with snow tires and would never want to go back to that fishtailing.

    Getting about 9 l/100 km in highway cruising – very respectable with the available power in this beast.

    Combined with Chev dealers who are ‘motivated’ on pricing, and insurers who haven’t caught on to any special ‘surcharges’ – the SS is the ultimate bargain-priced sleeper.

    So keep dissin’ the SS – the less attentin, the better ;)

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    WOT maneuvers while carrying out quick passes on back-country roads (in the dry) are quick and predictable – with the traction control doing its job.

    It does the job, but its workin’ overtime and makes sure you’re aware of that fact. Not my cup of tea.

    Combined with Chev dealers who are ‘motivated’ on pricing, and insurers who haven’t caught on to any special ’surcharges’ – the SS is the ultimate bargain-priced sleeper.

    Even if I lived up north where FWD traction is a huge plus over a Charger/Crown Vic, the Impala SS isn’t up to its full potential as a car…which is why dealers are so motivated (good word) to get them off their lots.

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    JL,

    I doubt most of our significant others would choose the noisy, harsh rice burners over a smooth, quiet Impala. Their mothers would be much more comfy in the back seat of the Chevy. I haven’t driven the GXP (yet), but the chances of anyone cross shopping an Impala with an EVO is about as likely as doing so with a BMW 335i with a Ford GT500. Just not gonna happen!

  • avatar
    oboylepr

    Yes the big 2.5 are American companys that have spent Billions in our province.Do you think Honda Alilston and Toyota in Cambridge could match those numbers.

    I think they will better them.
    An American made car is a foreign car in Canada. Just as Canadian or Mexican Made cars are not considered American made in the U.S.
    I work for a company which makes interior parts for the Impala; so I know a little about free trade. I still would Not buy one at half the price. I see those’ Buy Domestic” license plate Frames all the time in Oshawa . Most of them are on foreign vehicles. The auto workers in AListon and Cambridge are every bit as good as the ones in Oshawa and can be just as proud of the vehicles they build.

  • avatar
    Mechie

    Just some thoughts on the GP GXP, which I looked at before getting the Impala SS.

    – Yes, it’s noticeably more cramped in the back of the GXP compared to the SS – and I do carry adult passengers in the backseat. Combination of shorter distance between the front and rear seats – and more steeply raked rear window.

    – Staggered tire sizing on the GXP precludes front-to-rear tire rotations. The SS is my daily driver and I want to maximize tire life. Lack of spare tire in the GXP is another ‘back-of-the-mind’ worry if stranded (the ‘official’ can of tire sealer and electric air compressor in the trunk of GXP won’t cut it for me). Run-flat tires are another can of worms from those who have ’em in other vehicles. The W-rated Goodyears on the SS are ‘plenty sticky’.

    – Direct reading of air pressure in the SS via individual wheel sensors is more modern than the older wheelspeed method used in the GXP.

    – Fold-up feature of the rear seat cushion (60-40) arrangement is unique to the Impala.

    – ‘Boy racer’ appearance of GXP (even though the GP has been liberated of much plastic cladding from previous generations) is just not my style. The SS is ‘discrete’. I’ve run across a second black SS locally, but this one outfitted with winter tires & steel rims – an even more low-key appearance.

    – Pricing. Locally, Pontiac dealers did not appear to be as ‘motivated’. There was a ‘significantly’ lower as-delivered cost to the SS over the GXP. Their loss.

  • avatar
    allen5h

    I am no fan of GM, but to be fair to GM I have to say that it is not as if they made a promise for nice interiors and then broke it. The promise was never made.

    I have from time to time in the past 10 years or so read in the print media a GM exec being quoted on “must have” items that drive people to trade-in like “updated interiors.” But it was always in the context of their trucks and Cadillacs, not in the context of their sedans and coupes in their Chevy division.

    However, in the long run, what was said or not said by GM in the past decade does not really matter. What matters is the fact that every participant competing to sell a product eventually gets what they deserve. If it is a good enough competing product then the people will buy it in large enough numbers to pay you a fair profit. If it is not a good enough competing product then you either have to change what you are doing or go out of business.

    In the end, every competing producer gets what they deserve.

  • avatar
    Toxie2725

    Is the honda or toyota available with a V8? No? Well untill they do then they are playing catch up. Ide rather a rental-car with a V8 then JUST a rental-car.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Toxie2725 wrote, “…V8…”

    Maybe there’s hope the General will survive by catering to this hard core who favor some sort of uniquely American image over substance.

    Toxie, I go by results and the Avalon with its inferior cylinder count (OMG! Only 6!) is competitive, performance-wise, with the Impala with its full load of V8 power and is faster than the Buick Lucerne with the NorthStar engine. Much better fuel economy, too.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    The V8 (even in wrong wheel drive) resonates with a lot of Americans and you see it here in the comments section. That’s a good thing. Hell, I admitted the Impala put a smile on my face, even if it wasn’t nearly as satisfying as proper yank-tanks like the Crown Vic/300.

    But go back and read the comments from 94-96 Impala SS owners here: if those guys can’t rally around the new SS, you really see just how badly GM screwed up this brand.

    The old bubble Impalas were far from perfect, but its hard to fault their dynamic performance…they are everything the new Impala is supposed to be.

  • avatar
    willbodine

    I’ve rented several of these 06 Impalas. I could find little to like. For a V6 it performs about like a 4cyl Camcord, and may even be noisier. All in all, it’s about at the level of the Japanese 3 generations back. Benchmarking clearly isn’t working; serious leapfrogging is the only thing that might save the General.

  • avatar
    nino

    Maybe, unlike some others, I have driven the SS Impala. While I like the looks of the Impala and the car overall, the V8 powertrain makes absolutely no sense. This car with a 3.6 V6 and six speed auto trans would be the way to go, but you can’t get that combo.

    Frankly, I don’t understand the need for a V8 family hauler even IF performance were a priority. It just seems to me that many feel, “Just add a V8 and everything will be fine”. Well, it’s not fine. Maybe instead of going nuts trying to teach an old dog a new trick (variable displacement V8), that money could be spent on truly increasing the quality and desirability of the product by installing a modern and EFFICIENT powertrain and a quality interior.

  • avatar

    Man I’m sorry but I just HAD to step in. You guys MUST be professional race car drivers or something. All of you. Right?

    After falling in love with just the sheer external LOOK of this car (and also reading all this “it’s a crap car” stuff) I went out and drove one for myself. I fell in love with it and bought it. I have a black one and you should see it in my garage. Unrivalled. Give me the link to one you think looks better for 27k and I’ll buy you lunch.

    It’s time to get our heads out of our arses and get stuff that we like sometimes because of how it looks (that’s why people buy Dalmations). I have gotta say that this cars LOOKS great. I tire of the preppy crunchy Jettas, Hondas, Nissans, Toyotas (insert your favorite foreign car here). I just couldn’t believe that this entire forum with all the informed and aligned blasted this car only giving it props for its fold down rear seats. Safe to say I must be WAAY in over my head and after reading a few replies probably won’t bother to bookmark it.

    A couple of points here.

    1. I have always owned the SuperSports/GTPs/high output type models and in all my years of driving have NEVER EVER had a monster or maniac after me where I had to accelerate while maintaining precision steering nor do 75 in an S curve.

    2. I live Alabama (Birmingham to be exact). The last snow I saw was in ’92. We had about 3 inches which lasted all of 3 days and shut the entire city down.

    3. I like the way the car looks and drives. Simple city driving. Not drafting. Not S-curving. Not 0 to 60. Just friggin driving the friggin car to work or out on the town. The wheels. The simplicity. the implied devilish power that’s there even though I never use it.

    Unbelievable that this car gets the shaft as it has here. Again, maybe if I were trying to enter it into the next amatuer series event then it’s warranted. But because they put a V8 on the front end simply doesn’t do it for me. Feels great. I’m happy. And evidently GM is doing something right. They’re still around.

  • avatar
    Mechie

    Welcome to the club, d1rtysouth. I am in the Toronto, Ontario area and firmly believe my SS is the best “grins per dollar” I’ve ever had in a vehicle.

    After you’ve broken in your SS – Just for fun – in case you havent tried it yet- check out the 4-2 kickdown on wide open throttle when you’re cruising at about 40 mph. Truly awe-inspiring.

    We’ve also got an example of some additional ‘hoonery’ with the Impala SS on this video clip:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jlUrhnBzkrE

    (It’s likely an 06 Impala SS given the top speed of 150+ mi/hr – the old mid-90’s RWD V8’s topped out at about 140 mph)

  • avatar

    Thanks Mechie

    I’m really having fun driving this thing and haven’t even had it three whole days yet. Won’t even read the manual ’til 2morrow.

    Wow, that video says it all. Let’s see the “experts” on this board pull away from police whirlies like that in their Nissans and Hondas. LOL

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Let’s see the “experts” on this board pull away from police whirlies like that in their Nissans and Hondas.

    Except that’s not why people buy Nissans and Hondas in mass quanitites, without incentives and Red Tag events either.

    But hey, I’m glad you like your new ride.

  • avatar
    dhathewa

    Mechie, so what did that genius “Jayrock” do about 5 minutes after the tape stopped, when he ran out of toll road?

    There’s a very fine line between “hoonery” and “idiocy” and “Jayrock” crossed it, for sure.

  • avatar
    Mechie

    Just my point, dhathewas –

    This vehicle has such a high limit (in this measure) that only an idiot/hoon would actually explore it.

    For the rest of us, it’s bragging rights – knowing we have that capability should we ever have to outrun a 150 mi/hr funnel cloud ;-)

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    This vehicle has such a high limit (in this measure) that only an idiot/hoon would actually explore it.

    It has the top end for sure, but 70-100mph (where normal people break the law) between an Impala and a V6 Camry/Avalon/ES 350 is gonna be close.

  • avatar
    Mechie

    Kinda hard to convince a dealer to let you ramp things up to 100 mi/hr on a test drive – this leaves us dependent on published performance numbers.

    As well, I found it hard to find published 70-100 mi/hr numbers, but could find 0-100 mi/hr acceleration tests using several sources.

    Car and Driver lists a 0-100 time of 13.9 s for the Impala SS:

    http://www.caranddriver.com/features/12242/2007-chevrolet-impala-ss.html

    While Motor Trend lists 15.3 s for the 268-hp Camry and 15.9 s for the 268-hp Avalon:

    http://www.motortrend.com/oftheyear/car/112_0701_2007_coty_2007_toyota_camry/specs_pricing.html
    – and –
    http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/sedan/112_0603_fullsize_sedan_comparison/specs_pricing.html

    (Yes, I woulda liked to use a common published source for all three numbers, but couldn’t find one).

    On paper, at least, this most-overpowered of three ‘wrong-wheel drivers’ would certainly provide a measurable ‘margin’ of safety’ as the funnel cloud begins to bear down from the horizon ;-)

  • avatar
    jim1126

    I read this review with interest as I recently purchased a gently used (4,600 mi) 2006 Impala SS and for the most part am quite satisfied. I liked the idea of having the V8 in a large sedan, I felt the build quality had improved greatly over previous GM products (my 1999 Alero was awful), and the price was certainly right.

    I’m not a performace-oriented driver by any means, so I’m very satisfied with the Impala SS handling, and I’ve found the car really easy to manage, with little to no torque steer, even with that much power underhood. (My brother, on the other hand, floored the thing from zero once and it bucked like a bronco.)

    Yes, I agree that Chevy could have done much more with the interior — it’s basically the same as any other Impala. And they sure do ration that leather carefully — if you aren’t sitting directly on it, it’s vinyl. I’m sure that’s how it is with other cars but it irks me. Still, it’s a comfy ride and I’ve arrived refreshed after many a 3-4 hour drive in it.

    A RWD Impala coming soon? I’m very interested! But for now, my 2006 is actually very rewarding and I know that low-mileage 2006 Impala SSs are out there right now, and are a great bargain at $21-22K.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    As well, I found it hard to find published 70-100 mi/hr numbers, but could find 0-100 mi/hr acceleration tests using several sources.

    Those factor in acceleration from a standstill, where the SS’ massive low end torque helps it out. The Toyota(s) are slow to react off the line. (no surprise there) But on a 70mph roll the Toyota(s) have a fat enough powerband and a close ratio 6-speed. Its scary how fast both of these wrong wheel drivers are at that speed.

    A RWD Impala coming soon? I’m very interested!

    jim1126: that’s the going rumor. Maybe if we allllll keep our fingers crossed. :-)

  • avatar
    john h

    I have to agree with d1rtysouth….. I have 3 children under the age of 4, and therefore needed a car that would accommodate 3 car seats. You would be surprised at the lack of 4-door sedans that can do this.

    I bought my 06′ SS in November 05′. I now how 10,000 miles of problem free driving on the odometer.

    Here are my thoughts:

    1: Any of the Chrysler products (charger, 300C, magnum) would have cost about $4000 more with the same equipment.

    2: If you buy this car hoping to autocross it, you’re an idiot!

    3: The handling is a little sloppy, but in my opinion the car is still fun to drive for a large 4-door. Even after 14 months I still look for excuses to go out for a drive.

    4: I’m sorry, but the torque-steer isn’t anywhere near as bad as some of you have made it out to be. Properly launched, this car is very quick and stable off the line. And no, I’m not talking about perfectly smooth asphalt, simply normal roads.

    5: The interior isn’t as refined as an accord or camary, but it’s not that bad. I have no problems with mine.

    6: My car doesn’t get near the claimed mileage. I typically get about 15 around town and 24 on the highway.

    To all of you who complained about the looks of the SS: Maybe you should visit dictionary.com and look up the word subjective. I don’t think the car is the best looking car on the planet, but I think it looks pretty good.

    If you need to get a car that will hold 3 car seats, and you also like to drive, there aren’t too many cars out there in that category. If I didn’t need to fit the kids in the back, I probably would have purchased something else, but I still feel that the Impala SS is a great car in its proper context.

    Just my opinions!

    John

  • avatar
    Lamborghini48907

    Thank you thank you thank you so very much for an actually unbiased look at this heap of junk. So many people say that it’s “a perfectly fine car” because it is better than the last generation, but that hardly makes it “perfectly fine”, in fact it’s still trash. Thanks for being objective

  • avatar
    Lamborghini48907

    john h: Having “no problems” with the interior isn’t the point, the point is how it is still years behind those in the foreign competition. The interior design is cloned in literally a dozen or more other GM vehicles, and like Sajeev says it’s not even coming close to touching any of the competition. Having “no problems” with it is the main issue here and is what makes GM still produce ratty, 3rd rate interiors

  • avatar
    T.Vlasopoulos

    Funny how many of these comments come from people who have never driven an Impala SS. I have owned one for over a year and have no complaints, and, yeah, it’s alot of fun to drive. You guys can keep your Hondas with their supposed Formula 1 inspired engines which couldn’t hold a candle to my SS. Pushrod V-8’s rule.

  • avatar
    john h

    Lamborghini48907:

    Your statement, “Thank you thank you thank you so very much for an actually unbiased look at this heap of junk” in itself is a contradiction and shows a complete bias. I agree 100% with T.Vlasopoulos!

  • avatar
    Konaking1

    > The big question that needs to be asked is “who >really wants to buy this?”

    I’ve put about 7K on my ’07 SS. Nice car.
    I needed to upgrade my transportation (got rid of a 360HP 429 71 TBird, 12 mpg and 300HP ’72 El Camino SS) in order to haul my two kids around. Being able to run autocross was not high on my list of requirments. I needed something that had plenty of room for passengers and stuff, reasonably good on gas mileage, and was dependable. I drove Hondas, Toyotas, Nissans, Pontiacs. Drove a Mustang. In that time I drove a Nissan Altima 3.4 on a 2000 mile trip. Didn’t really feel like “me” in any of them. But when I drove the SS I knew it was what I was looking for.
    The things I like about it are:
    1. Asphalt eating acceleration.
    2. Very comfortable, simply stated interior with plenty of room. Coming out of the old hot rods this is very enjoyable to me. I still can’t believe I have something with heated seats.
    3. DOD – I love looking down and seeing that I’m in 4cyl mode. My average mpg is a little over 20 and I drive it fairly hard.
    4.Trunk/folding rear seats – the trunk if huge. I took my SS on a 1500 mile trip with my family and had room left over after we had crammed all our stuff in the trunk. I fish a lot and can fold down the rear seats to accomodate my poles which is a big plus to me. I have also hauled 8′ 2×4’s with no problems. If I needed to, I could fold down the seats and sleep in the thing.
    4. Understated styling – everything I’ve ever had screamed “give me a ticket!”. I am rolling very discretely in this car. With that said, a very handsome car imho. I could do without the rear spoiler – all it does is block your view out the back but no big deal to me.
    There is no doubt that with 303 hp in a FWD car, there is some torgue steer. News flash – you have to steer it. I have yet to need a shift indicator on the console – the indicator is located exactly where it needs to be in your line of sight.
    I got mine for $27,000+ and don’t regret it for a second. I haven’t stopped grinning yet.
    So, I guess, I’m the kind of person who really wants to buy this kind of car.

  • avatar
    lonewolf_75

    I bought a new Impala SS last week and absolutely love it. It's a great car for what it is: a large, powerful, well handling SLEEPER. This car is not a plastic looking Mitsubishi Evo, nor is it supposed to be. The interior is simple, clean looking and spacious. Though I prefer RWD myself, this car accelerates and handles great. The burnouts aren't as fun as they were in the 91' Camaro I had years ago, but with a proper launch the Impala is quicker. The suspension does very well in the corners while still providing a comfortable ride. If you want a large car with low key styling that can regularly eat rice for breakfast at a stoplight, you could do worse than an Impala SS.

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    Hey lonewolf,

    I see your comments about Sajeev have been edited, but I guarantee you that not only is he familiar with the concept of a sleeper, but he drives a bigger, better sleeper than an Impala SS…one with a V8 driving the correct wheels, too. Just thought you oughta know before casting stones.

  • avatar
    ind1gep

    I currently own a 2006 Impala SS… A few Observations.

    1. Very Quick to 60
    2. Poor Handling
    3. Poor MPG if you drive like most people do, IE 4 cyl mode only works if you drive slow, real slow.(My Duruamx get better MPG)
    4. I like the looks inside and out, but needs another gear in the tranny.
    5. Good car for someone who wants alot of power but either lives in the snow belt, or had no skill to drive hard. Because all you have to do is floor it and forget it.
    6. Handling, I would compare it to my 1993 Taurus SHO I still own in the pole barn, in another word, its does not handle very good. Which is dangerous for a car the will go over 140mph
    7. I worry about these cars when they get some age on them and young 16 and 17 years olds get ahold of them….We had better watch out!!!!!
    Hope this helps anybody who is thinking of buying one.

  • avatar
    MaineRhino

    I also own a 2006 Impala SS.

    Lots of safe power for me. It feels very tight and handles well, especially at higher speeds.

    Torque steer is there, but not overwhelming.

    I drive on lots of dirt roads which are quite bumpy for the SS. The suspension is not made for back roads in Maine!!

    20.6 mpg avg. over the last 5000 miles or so.

    Tire monitor system rebuilt 3 times. It works….for now.

    It is parked from December to May. Those tires are not for winter!! LOL

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    Even though this reply is WAY after the last posted date, there have to be a few TTAC readers considering this car!

    I just got my hands on one from Hertz – Gold points were going to expire, there was an unfortunate funeral coming up, airport runs were coming, and the weather was going downhill with snow, ice, fog, and then rain…so they hand me the keys to what I thought was a plain-Jane Impala until I noticed the “SS” on the door. (Total cost of rental = $2.77 after fees.)

    Now, I knew the concept of a 5.3L V8 over the front wheels with front wheel drive was going to be a challenge, but I’m really wondering how some of the people here have said the torque steer isn’t that bad. I’ve driven the Mazdaspeed3, RSX Type-S, Civic Si, and a few other front drive 200+ hp cars and this torque steer was scary at times…and others in the car felt it each time I touched the gas pedal. It makes sense about having the ABS modulate the brakes to control the torque steer as you felt this side-to-side rocking motion under anything more than 1/2 throttle.

    The family and funeral were deep in Ohio farm country – straight roads, no traffic and fewer cops! The straight line 0-60+ is amazing in a car that can hold 5 people easily. I’m in the camp that a 5-speed auto would help greatly, but the 4-speed did a decent job of keeping the power flowing. When we were loading the trunk with the engine idling, we all liked the low but sweet sound of a (non-SUV) V8 rumble. (BTW – the trunk is huge.)

    Other likes:
    Lots of room for people and cargo.
    Decent quality leather and seats.
    The plastics on the dash didn’t feel as cheap as other cars in the class…or GM is getting better at texturing them to make them feel better.
    Liked the stereo quality and easy to find iPod hookup.
    Near instant heated seats (hey…snow and ice insured they got heavy use!)
    Fairly quiet on the inside – only engine noise was the roar under throttle and some wind noise.

    Other dislikes:
    The person who thought the thumb-switches for the driver and pass. temps should be fired ASAP. They are of very poor quality and it is near impossible to change things a degree or two while driving.
    It’s minor, but the information message display on the IP was distracting and if a new message appeared (like AUTO LIGHT CONTROL TURNED OFF), it would not return to your previous setting.
    If the “Active Fuel Management” performed as poorly as it did in a 3700lb car, I cannot fathom how poorly it works in a 5,000lb SUV. At the slightest blip of the throttle (like going from 65 to 68mph) at nowhere near 1/4 throttle position, it went from 4-to-8-mode just like that when it wasn’t needed. Gas mileage suffered as a result. I’ll admit to testing the top speed on the farm roads, but with the weather being poor most of the time and people and luggage in the car the other times, speed limits were followed and I never got above 21 mpg. At least it works quite well with regular unleaded.
    I thought the gauges looked rather childish and “boy-racerish” with the too-large italic font and somewhat garish colors. Others in the car noted the same thing.

    Overall, for those who want a very powerful sedan for under $30,000 (if, say, an Infiniti or BMW is too expensive), this is a car to consider especially for those who want a domestic car. However it still screams of GM’s inability to fine-tune a car once it has been released. If they redid some of the interior plastics and gauges, and maybe reprogrammed the engine systems to handle the power better, the car would be even better. I would have no problem with many GM products if they followed the ideas of constant upgrades instead of the scrap and introduce something new that they do all of the time…there’s no loyality if that keeps happening.

  • avatar
    KillabeezRE

    Gee…gotta go back to that horrible Impala SS review. I drive one…a 2007 model, just like the one pictured. I’d like to know what car you are driving, but, you must have, if it were in fact an Impala, got a bad one. My car has been nothing but great. Smooth, comfortable ride, the car is gorgeous, everyone likes the way it looks. And, it gets me through this horrible WV winter we are having this year and I live up several big hills with a less than stellar road crew on hand. She gets me where I am going and back home. I’ve read this bunch of triffle. And, guess what? If I were told I could have another car tomorrow, guess what I would pick????? I’d still be driving along in an Impala SS. Maybe, dear Mr. Mehta, you just cannot handle the machine? You know, scooters are really popular again.


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