Pondering how to approach this 20,773 mile update, it occurred to me….General Motors may want to thank me. It’s their call of course, but my obtaining this Impala for work purposes has benefitted GM in a way I hadn’t realized until I sat down to put my various Impala thoughts and experiences into something cohesive.
Now aren’t you curious to learn what has prompted that statement?
This gray Impala came into my life with less than 200 miles on the odometer in October 2017, as revealed here. When first delivered it created a bit of stir around the office, a mild ruckus I didn’t mention in the previous article. The stir stemmed from it being so different in appearance, and “fancier”, than the decades old W-body Impalas that had been floating around forever.
One person was surprised this new car wasn’t one of the old W-bodies as they viewed them to be perfectly fine. My response was along the lines of how Henry Ford finally quit making the Model T due to times changing and GM likely didn’t want a 21st Century Model T.
The response was a blank, glassy eyed stare. Really, why would GM keep making a car that had been physically unchanged since 2006 with the chassis having been around since 1988? High profit margins are great but everything has to come to an end eventually.
A few people critiqued its “leather” seats. This is a profound yet uncredited success for somebody in marketing. When in the world did people start to confuse vinyl with leather? It quickly got to the point of my using Jim Klein’s statement of it being vegan leather, which worked great for prompting realizations. Nobody detected my sarcasm when stating it was leatherette or MB Tex.
The attention generated by this particular Impala has reaped benefits for General Motors as people were paying attention to it, a novel concept for a fleet vehicle. Soon after taking possession I was traveling around my eighteen county area to a series of employee meetings. A field supervisor had seen this Impala previously, commenting it was about time GM finally euthanized the old W-body. Telling him about the various reactions, I asked him to speculate how much fuss there would be among field personnel since I try to minimize rumors. He said the fuss would be one time so I may as well tackle it head-on.
On the day we met in his area a group of employees were standing by the front door of the facility. There was an open parking space adjacent to where they were standing.
I wheeled that Impala up to the front door and got out, smiling pleasantly and being chatty. Several of the people were quite complimentary of the car saying we had stepped up in the world as a business entity.
My current supervisor was at a different one of this series of meetings, having driven his W-body Impala to get there. He had been curious about my car and asked to take it for a spin on some local rural roads.
Arriving back a short time later his response was “Damn, I like that.” He then pulled out his phone to take a look at colors on the Chevrolet website and followed that up with an email to the fleet manager, telling him to order him a new Impala like mine, but in white.
So that’s one I sold for General Motors.
Incidentally, he had a new Ford Fusion about three years ago. He couldn’t stand it and it was shuffled away in exchange for a then-new W-body Impala, viewing it as an upgrade.
A few months later there was a meeting the fleet manager and I needed to attend. The meeting was twenty-five miles away, we were leaving well past lunchtime, and I had not yet eaten. Telling him I needed to swing by a drive-through, he offered to drive. Before we even left the parking lot he remarked about how this Impala drove so much better than any of the older ones in the fleet.
For me automotive styling is a superficial thing, much like clothing. Sure there are the hard points such as the cowl, but the same is true with the shoulders and waist of the human body. Clothing simply drapes off a person, much the same as sheetmetal drapes off a chassis. I view cars the same way I do people – I don’t care about the outside, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
And the 3.6 liter V6 in this Impala is an amazing engine. Adding to its allure is a transmission that is immune to the incessant gear hunting that seems to be in vogue these days. And did I mention the 3.6 is amazing?
Fuel economy has been admirable, with this Impala achieving 27.4 miles per gallon over its service life, with my having been the operator for well over 90% of those miles. This is quite near the EPA highway rating of 28 mpg, and it exceeds the city ratings of 19 mpg city and 22 mpg combined. But the real appeal of the 3.6 is what happens when a person tickles the happy pedal. For example….
I was in the Lake of the Ozarks area one day, Osage Beach to be exact.
As an aside, I have yet to see any episode of the television show “Ozark” which is set in Osage Beach. It’s too bad the show in filmed in Georgia.
Anyway, one day I was entering an onramp to go north/east on US 54. This particular onramp has a nearly 200 degree bend to it. Space to enter 54 was rapidly dwindling due to two eighteen-wheelers barreling down the road side-by-side. Sticking the spurs to that Impala at 40 miles per hour prompted the front wheels to start hopping as those 303 ponies were wanting to gallop. Letting off the throttle ever so slightly allowed me to slingshot onto the highway.
Did I mention this 3.6 is amazing?
Last December I took off the week between Christmas and New Year’s. A day or two before Christmas a contemporary came to my office asking if he could use my Impala one day. Telling him where I kept the key, I asked if he was up for a new car knowing his old W-body Impala was rather long in the tooth. He said he was and was test driving examples of what he could choose from.
When I returned in early January I asked him about what he thought. He said it was phenomenal and he was going to be choosing an Impala from his options.
So that’s two I’ve sold for General Motors.
With there now being a more diverse number of automotive offerings in a given price range due to the rapid acceptance of SUVs and CUVs in the market, our fleet at work has started to reflect this diversity.
For years there was a standard passenger car, with little to no choice offered or provided. When I started my career in the mid-90s, it was the Ford Taurus. Prior to that it was the Dodge Dynasty. After about 2003, the standard car migrated to being the Impala, where it stayed until just a few years ago.
Currently, for roughly the same amount of money (we don’t pay retail prices where I work), one can choose from an Impala, a Ford Fusion, a Ford Escape, or a Chevrolet Equinox. This new-found choice is also reflected in the parking garage at my district office where I am one of four people with a dedicated parking space. Two years ago there were four W-body Impalas parked there. Now, there are two Epsilon Impalas and two Chevrolet Equinii.
While the Impala I’m driving has consumed only about one-eighth of its likely service life, problems have been non-existent. In the interest of full-disclosure there was a bent wheel but that can happen to any car with the right pothole. Otherwise, it’s been delightfully boring.
All cars have their own particular quirks and I just discovered one the other day. A July heatwave with ambient temperatures of 98 degrees Fahrenheit revealed this quirk.
This Impala has bluetooth connectivity for voice and music. Does this mean it has Apple CarPlay or Android Auto? I neither know nor care. What I do know is using the bluetooth for the phone while the car is in motion (I was not driving at this particular time) significantly lowers the blower speed of the air-conditioning. The blower resumes the selected speed upon terminating the call.
This is a quirk that is easily managed and avoided, particularly since in many states cell phone use has become a more frequent cause of automobile wrecks than drunk driving.
Earlier this week another new Impala arrived. The service attendant had it and was transferring items from an old W-body Impala to the new one. He called me over and he was a pleasant combination of highly amused and mildly annoyed. His general demeanor always elevates my mood.
“Shafer,” he grinned, “you see all that shit on the floor of this new car?”
“I just wanted to let you know I put it there. Guy had it that way in the old one so I figured he must like it. He’s got all sorts of other shit piled up in this old car and I’m moving the whole son of a bitching mess over. I have to assume he likes it that way.”
Containing my laughter, I told him I would do the same thing. It’s ridiculous a brand new car had to be trashed to make a point but I suspect the point was taken.
This new Impala is assigned to somebody on the team of my contemporary who chose a new Impala after borrowing mine. So I’ll take (part of) the credit.
That’s now three Impalas I’ve sold for General Motors.
Perhaps a key question is what I would choose if my current Impala was rendered useless. If limited to the Impala, Fusion, Escape, or Equinox I would choose the Impala again without hesitation. I’ve driven the others and, while well suited for the job, they simply don’t possess the same degree of smoothness and comfort combined with feeling so well-planted to the road. Sure there may be a fuel economy advantage with one of the others but fuel economy isn’t everything. For the distances I drive comfort and smoothness mean a lot.
Writing an update at 20,773 miles may seem premature. I’d argue it isn’t. Any of us who have ever regretted our choice in automotive purchases likely realized the regret within 20,000 miles. For me, regret has never been a word that’s entered my mind in regard to this Impala. I hope to keep it assigned to me for years to come.
These cars do drive excellent – I rented one when they were first out in 2015. GM was still selling the older models side-by-side to rental companies and I was pleased to be a handed the fancy “new” version. I remember Consumer Reports rated them the highest scoring sedan they *ever* tested, which was unbelievable considering they usually hated most everything that GM came out with through the ’90s and ’00s.
I was shocked at how smoothly and quietly the Impala drove. Most modern sedans have overly firm rides to give a fake impression of “sportiness” (when in reality we are all just trying to cushion the horrendous potholes of our crumbling infrastructure on our commutes to work), but these cars are genuinely, actually smooth in that old-school Chevy Caprice type of way. It still handled well and felt planted though, unlike an old Caprice, making the velvet ride all the more impressive. The engine was smooth and powerful, the transmission shifted effortlessly and without the darting around a lot of newer automatics exhibit (Chrylser 200, Ford Fusion, etc). I couldn’t believe when I lifted the hood to see… a 4-cylinder in an Impala? You would never have never know by the exhuast note, power, and sheer quietness of the cabin. The driver’s door closed with a quiet, Volkwagen-like “whump” instead of that rattly, nasty door slam that the W-bodies had brand new. The interior was so light years ahead of the tupperware W-bodies it was hard to believe that it even came from GM. Truly a top notch effort through and through.
So Chevy finally makes a class-leading sedan, and what do they do? Cancel it in five years flat, because everyone is buying silly jacked-up Equinoxes instead of sedans. They literally sold over 330,000 of those things last year alone and the Impala is limping along at around 50,000. I get the reasoning from a corporate cost-cutting perspective, but it’s a sad end for a storied nameplate whose final iteration was (at last) a genuinely good car. I guess the Malibu is spared for now, but its sales aren’t much better. Meanwhile Toyota and Honda can still pump out sedans at high volumes due to their sheer reputation and decades-long momentum from that. I suppose the writing has been on the wall since (at least) the 1990s, and the Impala was never going to make it no matter how good the final product actually was.
My Mom has a fully loaded one in red and she loves it. I don’t. Sorry Jason, to me its just another big V6 sedan with typical FWD torque steer. Most Americans don’t notice (or care) but I do. It does feel like a better built car than the old W-bodys but for a big car, I demand RWD I would rather have the Holden-based Caprice/SS please.
If your choice among a Fusion, an Escape, an Equinox, all four-cylinders, or an Impala, would you be picking one of the others? Just curious.
It’s employer provided, so it isn’t like I was given x amount to get something off the dealers lot. That could have been a different story entirely.
And, yes, it does have a little torque steer but not the worst I’ve experienced. A Dodge Caravan at 6,000 rpm is much worse.
I would lobby very hard for a Charger, lol.
Given your choices, I would opt for the Impala as well, and I certainly wouldn’t kick any free car out of the driveway
Better yet, a 300S in whatever Chrysler is calling the F8 green. It’s a much better car when it comes to sedan duty—having a much more traditional roofline makes for a usable rear seat and its more confort-tuned suspension sounds like it lends itself better to the freeway bombing that Jason seems to be doing. The Charger seems to be aimed at someone who would really rather have a Challenger, but for whatever reason 4 doors are mandatory. I know from experience that rear seat is NOT a great place for a 6 foot plus guy.
It sounds like GM has made a very good transportation appliance. In this role it seems to hit the mark. Not something I would ever put a dime of my own money on, but much like any other company provided tool of the trade, it suits its purpose.
Yes, they owe you.
And I hope the buggers pay up, because if they were smart, they’d realize their previous mistreatment of buyers, combined with production of really mediocre fodder, means that lots of folk out there don’t even know they make some really good stuff, like this. From your slice of life, it’s getting rid of that perception which might just sell a pile more cars.
There was an “if” in that sentence, ofcourse.
I can’t fully agree with you about cars and clothes, despite at least some proof of what you say – it really isn’t silly to say the Aztek now looks mostly normal. I diverge from you in this, that a fine-looking car can sell well beyond its means. And I add the bias that I’ve always thought this was one, and still do.
That it’s good to pedal, has an engine that you seems at least mildly enthusiastic about, and even plays the modern MB-started game of Sell That Vinyl, all this needs to get out there too.
Send them an invoice.
You’ve hit upon what frustrates me so. The few others who have driven this car really like. How else would three others have been sold on it?
Variations of this have been said by others, but I’ve thought for a while the biggest liability this car has is the brand name. That’s sad. However humans do tend to have long memories and getting hosed by a car twenty years ago, or more, will stick with a person.
In my comment to BuzzDog I mentioned pockets of ownership. I live in an area that is mouth-foamingly pro-GM. How big that area is geographically I’m not sure, but I’ll put it this way….the local GM/Toyota dealership (which is still closed after a tornado hit it in May) had a rep on the radio one day last fall. He said one-third of their sales are Toyotas.
One’s reputation can proceed them. Sad, really, as one can change if one is so inclined. But it sure take a while to overcome that reputation.
I commented, could someone nice find it for me please?
Sure, It’s right above this one.
It wouldn’t surprise me if the quirk of the significantly lower air-conditioning blower speed while using Bluetooth is designed-in, and intended as a thoughtful touch on the part of the vehicle designers. My guess is that it does so to reduce background noise being picked up by the microphone, and making it easier for you to hear the other caller from the speakers.
You’re not the first person I’ve encountered who neither knows nor cares if their vehicle has Apple CarPlay/Android Auto capability, and frankly, being not-very-young but tech savvy I’m surprised that more people don’t take advantage of it. The Waze app is in many ways better than most factory nav systems, to the point that I sometimes use it when I know full well where I’m going, because it alerts me to traffic, road closures, other hazards and delays, and even police along the route (kind of a 21st century radar detector, if you will). And honestly, using any navigation app from a phone screen is even more dangerous than using a phone to talk or text.
I have to admit that I like the current Impala, but I’ve seen very few of these on the road just a few hours away from Jason’s stomping ground. It’s a modern-day version of what the Impala should have been when it was reintroduced for the 2000 model year.
The a/c slowing down does indeed limit background noise and I know it’s intentional. If it didn’t it would sound like the person was in a hurricane. I used the word quirk partly because of it being unusual (though well-thoughted).
In my travels around I do see pockets of Impalas and no Impalas. Not that long at work there were two privately owned Impalas like these and about three more privately owned W-body Impala. Either outnumbered the totality of Accords and Camrys by at least one, but this goes back to that pocket thing again.
Yeah the lowering of the blower speed is intentional and something that my modern Ford vehicles do too.
I’n thinking that your car’s “quirk” is actually by design.
The noise of the A/C fan on MAX can be very annoying when you are trying to hear whomever you are calling on the phone; I bet they did that on purpose as a convenience.
Yes, I know, it is. See my comment above. 🙂
Wow, what a glowing write-up!
I must say, I rented a high-end V6 Impala like yours for a week in 2013, when it was ‘new’, and I was (pleasantly) surprised how much I liked it. My experience echoed Max’ (1st comment).
I drove very well, and ‘felt’ like a pricey car (well, it was). It was room, but from the driver seat, felt ‘smaller’–nimble and great ride and handling, superb drivetrain. Great seats, quiet–it was as good as Consumer Reports said. And from GM…wow!
What I found amusing is that one of your co-workers preferred the W-body Impala (I’ve driven several of those–I think they are good cars) to the Fusion. I’ve never driven a Fusion, but people who have seem to love them. Just goes to show, the ‘consumer’ is not ‘universal’.
On ‘another website’, a commenters said his 2017 Lacrosse was a great car, “as in best FWD car I’ve ever had”.
It’s too bad GM is pulling the plug on their Impala. The Impala is an excellent car. Being excellent is not enough–and remember, this is GM here.
GM condemned the car from the outset. How? An outgoing W-car could be had, WITH the terrific 3.6 V6, for the low to mid $20s. The new Impala, with the same V6 was about $10k more. Way too much more…lost a lot of potential buyers. Had GM priced the car logically, say about $2k more, it would have sold more.
BUT, probably not enough to justify being in TWO assembly plants. How stupid. Now they are BOTH being closed.
So, the sad moral:
GM comes up with a winner. GM overprices it. Old car was built in one plant. New car, with HIGHER price (which reduces demand) is built in TWO plants.
New car fails to deliver on business case early on.
Knowing this, GM does not update new car, but lets it die.
GM will have no ‘larger car’ to offer. Toyota Avalon will get would-be Impala buyers, and also Chrysler 300/Challenger.
End of story….
Enjoy your Impala! If you can, get another one, or consider a Lacrosse. I bet they are all ‘good deals’ now, as discontinued cars.
Fusions are quite a bit more cramped inside and you sit closer to the floor. The W Impalas feel comfortably airy from the driver’s seat, while the Fusion feels a bit claustrophobic with an intrusive console, narrow seats, and high sills. In my opinion, anyway.
agree Phil. I really wanted to buy a Fusion Energi, as I enjoy the feeling of electric propulsion and wanted carpool lane stickers. I drove it and found it cramped with very poor views out the back. Got a 2017 Accord Hybrid instead. No carpool lane stickers, but its a much more airy design and the hybrid system is some slick engineering. Works amazingly well, I avg 42 mpg with lots of 70-75 mph commuting. If you are willing to go 60-65 you can get 50mpg. Around town is an easy 50+ mpg. Car drives nicely, Honda positioned their 2017 Hybrid as the “best Accord” so it has dual channel dampers as used in Acuras, a decent amount of sound deadening materials and a decent cabin. Really nice car.
As for the Impala, I liked it, but at 6’4″ with long torso, I fond it lacking in head room.
To answer your question..
YES! GM owes you a big thank you.
Has GM resolved the timing chain issues with the 3.6? I ran across a web series by the Car Wizard and he has worked on many of these. Just Google 3.6 timing chain issues.
He recommends avoiding any vehicle with the 3.6. Of course in your case it is a company car and under warranty so it is not an issue. However, the 2nd and 3rd buyers of this car may face expensive repairs they cannot afford.
I wonder about this myself, I’ve heard of timing chains issues on the V6 but I also know a few people who have owned a Traverse and related for years and they are dead reliable no complaints. Maybe this is a symptom of pricing a car by far the lowest in the segment, similar to Mitsubishi and Chrysler, you get people who don’t bother with maintenance, so reliability scores are low but real world experience not nearly as bad.
“Maybe this is a symptom of pricing a car by far the lowest in the segment” But the Impala isn’t the cheapest in the segment that goes to the Charger.
Have you priced a Charger R Dodge Charger RT or a Hellcat lately
I suspect he is referring to the standard/basic trims and not the high end sport models.
What is sad is GM’s neglect on advertising the Impala to let the world know it is here. I don’t think I’ve seen one single ad over the last three years. They don’t even show it in the sunday paper dealer ads, only the Malibu.
On the other hand, their foreign competitors keep making and advertising cars for sale. When will GM and the other domestic makers wake up?
Meanwhile, Ford announced a redesigned Escape an eternity ago and still as of this writing hasn’t shipped it or even put up the build-and-price. I wonder if that’ll be the next go-to at your office when the Impala ends its’ run.
The Fleet orders guides are up and open though. Unfortunately the Plug-in version is still not up and it says they will come on line in the 3rd quarter which the last I checked we were already in. I’m also annoyed that they still haven’t released the MPG on the standard Hybrid version.
Counterpoint, GM should have kept making the W-Body. Nobody takes sedans seriously anymore. Those who do shop sedans are not going to spend what Chevy was asking for to purchase this car in large numbers. If GM had put this Impala body on the W chassis and cut 10,000 to 15,000 off of the purchase price and offered 0-2.9% financing consistently GM would have had a car that would competed with the Altima and Accord for second and third best selling sedan in America. Sorry GM but its too late for you to out Avalon and Camry Toyota. You sold a few too many iron dukes, HT4100, and North Stars for that to happen.
Jason, I’ll have to admit I was initially turned off by your update. I automatically roll my eyes at reviews that border on hagiography.
Then I thought about it a bit. Some cars simply are that good. The Impala seems like one of those cars. I should try and get my hands on one so I can see what the fuss is all about.
I will say this though: I don’t think the Impala being a Chevy hurts it. All sedans are seeing their popularity fade. It’s just a sign of the times. The Impala starts at a pretty high MSRP, like all full size sedans do. A mid size can basically do the same job for a lot less coin. So can a compact crossover. And the new Blazer starts at the same price as an Impala. Does it offer the same ride and handling characteristics as its platform-mate? Maybe not, but all the reviews point to it offering a lively driving experience. That’s what all sedans are facing right now.
Sedans still offer a great experience, but so do modern crossovers. That may be hard to believe for a lot of people here, but as the saying goes “don’t knock it till you try it.”
While not a Pollyanna life has taught me emphasizing the positive is less repellent to others. Yet if one peruses my prior car reviews they would find I don’t mind stating when something irritates me. Just look for my review of a Nissan Sentra or my reminisces about my 2001 Taurus. Nothing angelic with either of those two.
I’ve driven crossovers but they simply don’t excite me. Have I driven every one? Nope. Could I see myself in one? Yes, but if choosing I’ll still take a sedan. It’s simply preference.
Yes, you need to drive one of these Impalas, preferably with the V6. Then you’ll understand why I say what I did.
Your statement about “lively driving experience” made me chuckle as I had a lively ride the other day. But then again riding in a tandem axle dump truck on a rough road might be lively in a different sense.
As others have alluded to, the Impala simply has too much baggage, whether real or perceived. After years of being dumped in rental and municipal fleets it would take decades to rehabilitate that image, no matter how good the car actually is. This is an instance where changing the nameplate might actually make sense, but with a name as hallowed as Impala that’d be a very tough decision, especially as the competition has generally built up a very good reputation over the last decade and a half to two decades. Charger certainly has no shortage of fleet placements but the overarching performance image helps to mitigate that. The Avalon is a standard bearer for a quality and serene vehicle. And the Impala hasn’t traded on performance in decades while being saddled (to many) with a Chevy/GM badge.
As with Malibu, Impala simply does not have a favorable reception amongst many of those weaned on Toyotas and Hondas etc. that did NOT drive or have heavy exposure to the historic vehicles that the names come from.
The Malibu had a brief flicker of hope two generations ago when it was a genuinely good car. Then that collapsed when the successor, rightly or wrongly, was roundly smeared as having too little rear seat room and the current vehicle never caught on for whatever reasons. The prior two generations of Impala simply hung on too long, freshness matters when it comes to actually making money while still increasing positive image as opposed to jut pumping out production numbers.
Still, the little touches are quite nice, such as the blower speed thing. My current vehicle, when placed in reverse, automatically reduces the audio system volume (not to zero, just lower), presumably to offer less of a distraction. Another interesting and thoughtful feature.
I’m glad you like it, it would be soul-crushing to have to spend much of one’s day in something you actively dislike. Objectively it does seem like a good car (as were the later of the last generation when I rented them). There’s only so much market space though, and with FCA still producing the Charger and 300 and Toyota the Avalon, the Impala is simply being squeezed out of contention.
No matter how good it is, it may just be too late. Sedans are going the way of newspapers, pop-music saxophone solos and common courtesy.
I am learning to stop worrying and love the SUV.
Now you are almost making me wish I would have taken the “upgrade” on the vehicle I’m renting next week as I could choose the Impala (or similar) and saved a few dollars vs the Expedition (or similar) I reserved. I was originally going to go with the F-150 SuperCrew as it was the cheapest car with enough interior room, but then I found the Expedition for a couple of dollars less.
What’s even sadder is GM’s treatment of their actual, money paying private customers. My GM product needs a new half front axle to solve a problem that appeared over 2 years ago and at around 36,000 miles. First dealer claimed not to hear the loud click. ( could be heard from outside the car), the second didn’t get around to checking it despite keeping me there 3(!) hours. The third dealer has now diagnosed it and surprise, surprise, it’s not covered as the car is now out of warranty by time, if not mileage. I asked for a good will payment towards cost of repair ( as this is obviously not normal and due to a bad part) with a resulting refusal from GM customer “support”. My colleagues with VWs and BMWs have been treated very well by their manufacturers in similar circumstances and when I mentioned this to GM was told that these were “premium” cars and a Chevy Volt was not, so I shouldn’t expect the same level of service. On being told that we will not be replacing the Volt as planned with a Bolt or our Jeep with a Tahoe, or buying any other GM products ever again the representative didn’t really seem too bothered and suggested buying a Cadillac(!).
They just do not seem to get it! Even a small amount of good will (I wasn’t suggesting 100% coverage) would have meant 2 more future sales to a customer who has bought 10 or more GM products over the years. The attitude that their own customers are second rate and should not expect to be treated like those of their competitors is what is killing GM and Ford (Focus/Fiesta gearbox fiasco) even though many of their current products are very competitive.
Huey, did you go the owner of the dealer you bought it from? They have leeway to make situations like yours good. I went thru it once and received satisfaction.
Thanks for the advice – I’ll try, but don’t hold out much hope as I didn’t buy it there. I have been shocked by the arrogant attitudes of the customer liaison people – basically they don’t seem to care much about repeat custom from a customer who has spent a a lot of money with them in the past ( bought several new high end Corvettes) and openly tell you that you can’t expect much because you only bought a Chevy. Saying that VW was a premium product made me laugh, too. Audi maybe… They also said that these issues are decided “randomly” by computer – no humans involved in the decision – as if that would console me. After I said I would not consider another GM vehicle ever again the guy suggested I look at a Cadillac – I explained that that was still GM….I worked in GM design for 13 years and left because I could see that our arrogance towards customers would destroy the company, which it did. It’s sad that a company now making some really good products ( I loved my Volt and Z06 ‘Vette), has staff that communicate their utter disdain for me as a customer. And they wonder why they are struggling?
So we’re now probably looking to wait for the coming Grand Wagoneer rather than purchase a Tahoe and replace the Volt with a Tesla.
It’s weird that even my enthusiasm for my C2 Split Window is a little less now than before this….
I worked for Porsche for many years and it was striking that there was none of the arrogance shown by GM – we sincerely respected our customers and strove to offer them the best we could do….
I almost pulled the trigger on a pre-owned Impala last month.
But my wife, who would be driving it most often, had issues with side/rear visibility and getting in/out of it – which in all fairness she would say about ANY vehicle in which you climb DOWN instead of INto…hence her preference for crossovers – and she loves her Equinox.
For me, the Impala feIt like a high-class sleeper. Even the 4-cyl is quick, but the 3.6 V6 is, well…AMAZING. Put a smile on my face EVERY time I hit the gas.
GM did this to themselves. Roger Freakin’ Smith…the Procter & Gamble guys who thought cars were tubes of toothpaste on wheels…the accountants who gained the upper hand too many times. What the sexy-but-flawed Vega didn’t do, the half-baked X-cars did. Too bad there wasn’t an automotive Gordon Ramsey inside GM at the time screaming… “It’s RAWWW! PUT IT BACK IN!!!” The doctored test mules the magazines got proved the ultimate issue was the execution.
And then by the time they started improving popular lines of the time like compact and mid-size, the damage had already been done.
It’s only because Chevy ran deep in the hearts of enough people that GM has survived, period. Just enough decent to good rides have come out of the factories to offset the bad ones.
But the 2010s have seen a much-improved GM…yet, the industry as a whole has improved.
Those of us of a certain age can recall when GM stood for the Best America Had To Offer. EVERY THING THEY OFFER NOW MUST SATISFY LIKE THE CURRENT IMPALA IF THE GENERAL IS TO ERASE THE MEMORIES OF PAST MEDIOCRITIES. And although there’s reason for hope, there’s still some distance to go.
As for me, Lord willing, my Tahoe will be replaced by a Avalanche. Those 2012-2013 Black Diamond Editions are starting to get reasonable. 100k or even 150k on that platform doesn’t bother me, especially if it’s been regularly serviced.
Then again, those little Sonics are a BALL to drive. And my wife, amazingly, can get in and out of one.
Then again, those little Sonics are a BALL to drive. And my wife, amazingly, can get in and out of one.
I was sniffing around at Sonics as a candidate for an in-town car. With the 2017 update, they got rid of the early instrument cluster for one with proper analog tach and speedo, and the RS interior in the hatchbacks is rather handsome.
I checked stock at the three nearest Chevy dealers. Only 1 had any Sonics at all, two of them. The cheapest, an LT with several options, was north of $18000 with all rebates applied. Every one of the dealers had about 60 Trax on the lot, with several examples of front drive LSs offered at $16000. And GM cries “no-one wants a Sonic”.
Too bad there wasn’t an automotive Gordon Ramsey inside GM at the time screaming… “It’s RAWWW! PUT IT BACK IN!!!”
GM had just such a person in the 80s, Ross Perot. GM paid him quite handsomely to go away and stop criticizing GM Management.
Ah, the net is a wonderful thing.
GM Buys Perot Out for $750M; He Calls It ‘Morally Wrong’
In recent weeks, however, Perot has become increasingly vocal in his criticism of what he has said is GM’s sluggishness, inefficiency and top-heavy management.
“We’ve got to nuke the GM system,” he said at one point.
Among Perot’s criticisms of GM were that the world’s largest auto maker was too bureaucratic and that its management was out of touch with its workers.
While this is a great review and certainly a vehicle worthy of consideration for some, GM burning hella many bridges with the crap they produced 70s-90s. With the exception of the occasional Corvette or Denali, I know of no one who aspires to a GM. They’re with Mitsubishi and have replaced Hyundai/Kia as the low credit rating company of choice.
Will you ever see any gratitude from GM, for selling Impys? You have about as much chance of that as i do being reimbursed by my Doctor for my time in pointing out his billing errors, and researching Medicare billing codes so that he could bill out an office visit correctly and be paid.
Knowing how the US corporate mind works, your promotion of a model that GM has decided to kill implies that Management was wrong. GM Management is never wrong, they say, so, if anything, they will send a wetwork team after you, so you can’t sell any more Impys.
Maybe gm owes you a job Jason, ever consider selling cars once you retire from your department?
I won’t say never, but it would still take quite a bit for me to consider any gm vehicle 😕
Yes, the Impala is a good car. (Disclosure: I work for a Chevy dealership.)
I have driven many, and have taken a few on cross states errands. They are my ride of choice at the dealership. The 3.6 V6 is, or rather was, pretty ubiquitous in the Chevy lineup. They also powered the old W-body from 2012 until the demise of the Impala Limited (a fleet-only model) in 2017(?). Very, very fast. Those cars will scoot. I owned for a couple of years a 2008 Impala with the 3.5 V6, another very capable sedan, as I’m sure Jason is aware. My take? The newer Epsilon model has a taller trunk area necessitating a higher rear package shelf which reduces rear vision.. I don’t like that. The dashboard has excessive levels and curves to it, giving it a busy, look. Also, the interior can only be configured with a console shifter. One of the reasons I got my ‘08 was the column shift, but I do think that was the last year for that configuration.
I’m not in anyway dissing the ‘14 up Impala, but those are my peeves, however minor they are. If I were to be in the market for a sedan, I’d buy one rather than any foreign nameplate, or a Taurus. To be fair, Taurus does offer AWD, which Impala does not; but I’m not in snow country. And I wouldn’t even consider a Charger.
Out of several hundred new vehicles in stock, we have fewer than 5 Impalas available. However, we have about 30 2020’s in transit. Considering they’re slow sellers, the inventory manager is stocking up to use in dealer-trade leverage.
I was very impressed by the Impala as well, and tried to purchase a slightly used example that was a daily rental. Like the US, these tend to go to fleets and are dealer buy-backs with about 15-20K on them. Try as I could, the dealer wouldn’t budge any more than $300, so I walked. A very nice driving car.
A few weeks later, I was trying to negotiate on a similar example, and happened to notice a very low mileage Malibu with the 3.6 for about half the price, and that was the one that followed me home.
That ‘Bu with the 3.6 should be a rocket! My kid had a 2007 Saturn Aura XR with the 3.6/6 speed… Dad (me) borrowed it early and often!
I think that performance was pretty similar. The Malibu has the earlier 3.6 variant of about 250hp, and the Impala around 300. The extra weight of the Impala evened things up. My only complaint with the Impala was that there seemed to be excessive tire noise on concrete roads. This might be more of a tire issue that anything to do with insulation. The depreciation on the Impala makes it a used car bargain compared to new, unless they stick a lot of cash on the hood.
That Malibu is by far the best looking GM car since the ’82 Firebird in my opinion.
It is in Audi territory as far as style. Almost perfect.
It felt good to like a Chevy again. Heartbeat of America and all that.
Then it was replaced by a typically ugly GM thing again.
Somehow the ’08 was an aberration instead of the norm.
Funny how they never sold well. The General never advertised than, they never seemed to have good incentives, and at least in the Boston area were never well stocked. Where a Honda dealer may have 60 Accords to choose from (in gray) the Chevy dealers might have an Impala or two.
actually this generation Impala bombed so monumentally that GM refused to reveal how poorly they did – coupling the old and new Impala sales to hide the failure
styling played a big part – the Impala has way too high a beltline and that weird rear bulge – plus it has been very overpriced for what it is
Yes, Impala sales are down from years ago. So is the rest of the segment. Last year, Impala sales (and this excludes the Impala Limited, which left the market after MY2016), were 56,557.
For context, the Avalon did 33,580 (also down around half what it was doing just a few years ago)
Taurus did 40,341 with heavy fleet sales (potentially heavier than the Impala)
Maxima did 42,337.
300 did 46,593.
Monumental bomb? Hardly. That left it the second best-selling sedan in a shrinking segment, behind only the Charger.
yes, by every measure this latest Impala was a monumental bomb, never coming close to sales expectations and doing vastly worse than the model it was meant to replace – which is why GM hid how poorly it did by refusing to publish separate sale figures for years into the new model – the flop.
it would be interesting to know what the fleet sales were for all these models, but it doubtful if the Impala did much better than the others among retail buyers
I rented an Impala for 10 days back in 2016 for our summer vacation. Dark blue with the 3.6. A great driving and handling car – smooth, fast, quiet and great on gas. Driving north in Ontario on Highway 69, it would blow past trucks with a slight tap and I went way past the speed limit more than a few times without realizing it. I smiled every second I drove that car, and I was sad to take it back. When GM gets it right, they really get it right, and then they stop making the great cars. I’m picking up a rental next Friday for our vacation – I’ve got my fingers crossed that it’s another Impala. Might as well get some quality seat time in while I still can. And yes, they owe you a thank you.
It’s remarkable how much acclaim the Impala receives. Consumer Reports, Car & Driver, everyone seems to be in agreement how good it is.
My only experience with one was sitting in an LTZ at NYIAS ’14. And I was impressed with the material quality and the size.
Frankly, Chevy should just keep the Impala around and ditch the Malibu. Reposition the Impala like they’re doing with the ATS->CT4 switcheroo and see how it goes against the remaining mid-sizers.
WRT to the switcheroo, it may work out well. If they sold the Impy against the other mid-sizers, the Impy would be the value play.
But, I’d hate to lose the Malibu…
not really – both the Camry and Accord are nearly as large inside – sometimes listed as “large ” cars depending on trim – and rated as much better cars. They are faster, better handling, more economical and better made.
the Impala never made any C&D 10 Best list and Consumers Reports is famous for its misfires
the Impala is rental fodder for a reason – it’s not competitive w/ either of those two models and is vastly overpriced
So, why does the current Gen Impala have terrible resale value?
One of our salesmen has a new (latest gen) Accord. That thing is immense. I haven’t spent real seat time in the latest gen Camry yet, but it looks a lot like the old Camry to me. But the Impys and LaCrosses I have been in seem HUGE, especially compared to my Epsilon 1 G6…
FWIW, C&D isn’t half of what it used to be. Their 10 Best lists have had some stinkers as bad as the Motor Trend COTY lists. Like so many other things, folks will decide for themselves of what works or not.
But, there seem to be a lot of fans of the Impala, regardless of what magazines and websites say.
Funny then that used 2017/2018 Impala’s are selling for thousands more that same year Camry’s with roughly the same mileage at 3 dealers I visited yesterday. The same year Malibu’s were priced identically. Sedan sales are soft everywhere!
Great review, Jason. I’ve been a fan of these cars since they were released.
As I get older, I get more conservative with my options choices on cars. I love the setup you have on this one: The biggest motor, no sunroof, the nicer infotainment system, vinyl interior (cloth would be about perfect), steel wheels with covers… A midwestern boy’s dream!
Lucky (or unlucky) for me, my old cars keep going without many problems, so I will have to put off getting a new car… When the time comes maybe there will still be a few sedans for me…
The other thing the Impala has going for it is that it’s SO much better looking than its Ford competitor, the latest version of the Taurus.
I just remembered I did ride in a neighbor’s new Impala in late 2014. It looked very nice, but I was surprised at the firm ride. Maybe the tires were too inflated or something, but it was just too jarring over a bumpy road. It didn’t have very good visibility, and had kind of a high beltline if I recall correctly. I realized I was in a new car model and tried to absorb as much of the experience as I could so I could have an opinion on it.
I guess I like my big GM cars to have big cushy seats and a cushy ride. It reminded me of a bigger Fusion. Which should be good but somehow wasn’t. My feelings would probably be different had I been the one driving.
When both you and Paul Niedermeyer sing the praises of a new car it is time to sit up and take notice. I have read virtually nothing but good things about these, but have never had the opportunity to drive one.
I really like the looks of the exterior and from what you describe the powertrain and the solidity of the body would be big plusses for me as well.
It saddens me that these have not been selling all that well and that they will be discontinued. The bad part is that in this car Chevrolet may have come closest in decades to replicating the formula that made them successful – a mix of quality, performance, looks and value. But now nobody seems to be paying attention.
I’ve had these a few times are rentals, sadly I’ve always ended up with the 2.5L base models. Despite that, I was left with largely positive impressions. First a few minuses: the view out the back is abysmal, worse than most already-marginal modern sedans. The start-stop is better than early implementations, but I still find it obtrusive.
Positives: excellent ride/handling balance, excellent NVH isolation, great seats. A fantastic car to knock down some serious highway miles in, very low fatigue factor. The interior on my rental LTs has been a mixed bag of decent and lower end materials, not any different than any other midsize/full size sedan foreign or domestic these days.
The 2.5L gets 32-33mpg on the open road going 75-77mph with a bit of city driving thrown in, not bad but a few less than most current midsizers with similar sized engine. It’s a bit more sluggish than a lighter midsizer with a similar motor, but at least it is very well muted and you can rev it to 4-5k and barely notice. An aside, this same motor in a new Acadia SLE(?) rental sounds absolutely tortured.
I think the 3.6L totally changes the perception of the vehicle to something more than “yeah it’s pretty decent,” but even with the 2.5L it’s not a bad car at all.
I bought my 2017 Impala LT last April with 13K miles with the 2.5 in Pepperdust exterior and the black interior and haven’t regretted it once. Sure I wish the interior at least had some contrasting lighter interior colors or that mine came with the Titanium interior color which makes it look airier. And sure rear visibility isn’t the best. Otherwise it has been a pure pleasure owning it the past 1.5 years and 20K miles. We just took it on a 7.5 hour trip to Ohio to visit a friend and it averaged 36 MPG on the open road going around 74 MPH and went over 500 miles straight without any gas fill ups. And we still had enough for another 120 miles!
The 2.5 is smooth and quiet and has more than enough power to keep up with fast moving traffic with 2 aboard, the A/C blasting and all of our luggage. And the best part- zero nada no issues at all. She still drives just as perfect as the day I picked it up. No brake warpage or squeaks. No weird issues with the excellent infotainment system and bluetooth. The drivetrain has been flawless and I rarely even notice the stop/start system.
If the clueless CEO at GM would keep making this car with a nice mid cycle upgrade to the drivetrain, interior and a few exterior tweaks I would gladly have bought another one in a heartbeat 4 years from now. As I don’t want a hulking guzzler pickup truck that will send me to the poorhouse or an overpriced tall riding wagon it looks like my next purchase will have to be with another car company.
I wager this POS will remind you that it is a GM sometime soon. GM is still GM, after all.
Nice article Jason.
You could almost do a hypothetical on GM replacing the Commodore with the Impala instead of the Regal/Insignia, however the well over 5 metre length would stretch many friendships (or at least cost many sales), being 5.8″ longer than the Commodore. As stated by others, midsize cars have grown enough to make these no longer worthwhile.
Rear seat head room and rear visibility have been sacrificed in the name of style (and trunk capacity), and while I suppose a practical sedan would not to be ‘dorky’ – but perhaps the 300 shows it can be done?
It could still be worth a try the Peugeot Commodore doesnt seem very popular except for law enforcement here at least would the Impala sell any worse, Just slap a Holden Lion on the grille and leave the bowtie in the glovebox.