I have liked Chevrolet’s Lumina and Caprice, and ever since they removed the Lumina from the line up, there was a sense of something missing in the line up. The Impala isn’t directly a replacement as there shall be a newer Lumina but it did confuse me a little bit. Essentially as far as I could tell the Impala was placed under the Lumina but the new one seems to have changed. A lot!
At first glance, the car is huge! Might be bigger than the Lumina, and looks as big as the Caprice. The looks, I think, is fantastic! The front has design cues from the Camaro and a nice new look that Chevrolet is applying on their newer models. The hood has two bulges that implies a very sporty stance, and on the front the headlights are slim, sleek and modern. There are wide grills and lovely chrome accenting all round (even more chrome on the top of the range model).
The Impala comes in three trims (the one pictured and tested are both mid range) LS, LT and LTZ. They all come with the same 3.6 litre V6 engine driving the front wheels (I know!!!) and the differences are cosmetic and interior features.
The base model obviously does not have leather seats, sunroof, navigation, Xenon headlights, push to start, lane departure warning, interior lighting, etc and it climbs up with the trim lines. The top of the line model has a lot of chrome everywhere as well.
As you can see, this is a big car! It is 5.1 Meters long (Exactly the size of the Mercedes S Class, in standard wheelbase form).
The side profile of the car is a luxurious one, the looks are certainly evident and I have seen black ones that look absolutely fantastic! There is plenty of room inside but I will get to that in a bit. There are strong lines across the sides and especially the line over the rear fenders is my favorite, it gives a lot of sportiness to it, especially since the front is very aggressive.
The rear is a bit of a simpleton. With a lovely strong side stance and an aggressive front styling, I would expect the rear to scream anger, it does not.
There is a nice large boot to add to the spacious interior, there is no doubts about how practical this car is. The chrome trunk lip looks really good with darker colors. One touch that was nice was the straight cut boot lid, it gives a slight spoiler effect, which does make it look a bit sporty.
The interior was lovely too. This was the mid-level model and it had nice leather seats and a few toys. Fit and finish is good, not great, with fairly soft touch materials around with a few hard bits.
The interior layout is quite nice, everything seems within reach and clear. Interior lighting is quite decent, and everything has a nice backlighting. The seating position is quite nice and it is one of the very few cars where I would not have to pull the seat all the way back, it is spacious! The leather does not feel very soft, might be pleather (plastic leather) but the implementation with stitching does give off a good look.
Starting from the left are a few toggles and switches for the e-brake, instrument panel brightness, trunk lid and parking sensors with a glove compartment below that. Does anyone wear gloves anymore? The steering wheel is very light, not too light but just enough for an easy drive around tight spots. There are buttons on either side of the steering wheel to control the cruise control and driver information system.
I will discuss the center console in a bit, but there is one important flaw I could not get past, The car does not have paddle shifters, but there is a manual mode where the gears can be selected by the plus and minus buttons on top of the gear leaver. The problem is not that this isn’t the sportiest layout, but the fact is, when the car is in “P” those buttons are under your fingertips, but when the gear leaver is in “D” it is somewhere in the middle of your arm! So you’d have to pull your arm back in order to press them comfortably, which makes no sense and certainly kills any feeling of sportiness that I ever had.
The driver information system has a lot of settings, features and information for the driver, but I think the implementation is a bit too sloppy. I felt that they had implemented a color screen and they really wanted to utilize it to the max (which isn’t a bad thing) but the final result is a color upon color, window upon window approach which isn’t as intuitive or easy to use. On the plus side, it does cater to nearly everything the driver needs.
The center console is designed quite nicely I got to admit. Clean, simple design with some dark wood (or wood look alike) does have a nice appeal. From the top is the touch based navigation/media system with a few quick buttons, the rest are to be found on the screen itself. The system is fairly decent and straight forward, nothing to shout out about. The test model I tried did not have navigation so I could not take a glance at that.
There is an AMAZING party piece to brag about. See the screen and the little leather part that is split above it? The entire screen with that leather part raises at a touch of a button to reveal a secret little storage area for your music player/iPod. How cool is that? A friend asked how long would that work before it breaks, to which I did not know the answer obviously, but I hope that works beyond the warranty period.
Just a quick look at the interior space. That is the drivers seat nearly 95% back. Big enough for almost anyone I can think off but it gets better, if you would walk around the back with me..
I had not moved the seat any forward. So, in essence, if most people would adjust the driver seat nearly 60-70% all the way, the rear passengers have tons of rear legroom! with decent headroom. This is a big car indeed.
So enough of the car standing still, you want to know what it’s like to drive?
It drives alright. The steering is fairly light as I mentioned earlier but the car does have one fundamental factor that makes it not a drivers car. It has a 3.6 litre v6 pumping a respectable 305 HP but they are driving the front wheels! That is just too much power to put on the same wheels handling the steering of such a large heavy vehicle. It certainly is quick and snappy but it isn’t right. Surely, this isn’t targeting a race driver, but even in normal driving sometimes it felt a bit odd. Once, I took a hard turn and accelerated and even though the traction control was on, it lost some traction. The ride isn’t too soft nor too hard, it was decent as well.
The top of the range model has a ton of external sensors for nearby cars, an array of 10 airbags and gets one of the highest safety ratings in its range.
Considering this car is a family car that is spacious, practical, snappy and looks good, it is a good combination and certainly a good car. There is another factor that is important; the price of the Impala starts somewhere over 100’000 and the top of the range is about 130’000 Dhs. I know that the price might seem steep in general, but considering the increased prices of cars today (Altimas and Camrys going over 100’000), it seems fair. Chevrolet is doing a lot of efforts to give the best service packages and lower service costs, and that may influence people to give the Impala a shot, if they aren’t already sold seeing a dark colored one.