I don’t know if its the CC Effect or whatever you want to call it, but after Jason’s article on his company car last week, where I admit I beat up on it a little bit for being a modern FWD blob, I found this modern Chevy sedan parked next to my ancient Chevy sedan after coming out of the gym yesterday.
I have to admit, I wasn’t exactly sure what it was at first and had to verify with the lettering on the trunk.
I made a couple of quick observations and I’ll let you all do the rest. The door openings are much larger in the new car, which is a consideration for my 6’2″/270-lb self, but the windows, especially the rear window, are much smaller. Modern sedans are notorious for terrible blind spots and this one is no different, although it doesn’t look as bad as the modern Charger I drive at work. The interior in the Impala is cavernous compared the G-Body Malibu. I realize the Impala is the next car up the rung in size from a modern Malibu so naturally its bigger but I imagine even the current Malibu interior is larger by a considerable margin. I’m sure the Impala has heated and air conditioned seats, an internet hotspot, a remote start, zoned climate control, and power everything (and if it doesn’t, its available)
My car has a vinyl bench seat and rear windows that don’t open.
There are visible sensors (though not in the pictures) on the Impala’s bumpers and sides, as well as its back-up camera, and just the sheer bulk of its rear end and drooped front end tell the tale of its safety mission. All of that is absent on the Malibu, a design that goes back to the Carter administration where safety design considerations were still in their infancy in Detroit.
I know the V6s in the new Impalas are quite impressive. Im sure someone here knows the power and economy numbers for them and Im too lazy to look them up, so feel free to post them. Back in the day, the Malibu would have had an underpowered, emissions choked V6 or small block V8 that might have pulled a high 17 second quarter mile on a good day. (Luckily, I remedied that with a 383 small block and a TH700 OD transmission-once you desmog these cars, they are quite fun)
So the Impala is indeed the much better car. For the 95% of the population that doesn’t care about cars, it is indeed the better choice of appliance. Safety, reliability, features and overall driving capabilities; the old world Malibu couldn’t compare, even when it was new.
But I’m in the 5% and it was nice to hear the carbureted small block roar to life when I turned the key. Oh, and the Malibu has been immortalized in a Monogram scale model, so there’s that.
I love my G Body El Camino. It’s so odd to see it parked next to my Mazda and to know the world of difference between them. I drive the Mazda so l can earn money… to fix the old car I’d rather be driving! 😀
I love the way that we’re all willing to live with a clearly inferior automobile because it has more class, more soul, more . . . . Well it isn’t what the 95% drive. And I’ll freely admit to being worse than most. In my world, 1947 or 48 is the newest you can go in having a worthwhile automobile. And 8 cylinder engines were meant to be in-line, not in a V, Henry Ford be damned.
Oh yeah, they all look the same, and you can’t tell the brand of a car at 40 feet? They had that same problem in 1938-42, with the exception of the Graham Sharknose. And we all knew how well that sold. Actually, I find I can still tell the make and model of a vintage car at 40 feet, up until around 1970, at which point a lot of them all blob together. Probably has something to do with priorities changing as I closed in on my twentieth year, and suddenly living, eating, sleeping cars wasn’t that important anymore. However I did get this inexplicable mass of knowledge regarding 70’s French racing bicycles in its place. Wonder how that happened?
Most technology is like this. Compare an iPhone 3G to the early Droids, an iMac to a Gateway Profile, a cheap Philips LCD TV to a Pioneer Elite plasma, a 90’s Vette to 90’s Viper. Now all this stuff looks the same. Usually its GM who caves rather than trying to set themselves apart. Compare the original Chevy Cruze to the Civic, Chevy went for a little bigger and a little quieter, and it worked, its second generation is now an outright Civic knockoff, with the NVH to match, and it has no reason to exist or make anyone buy it.
Get a new Impala with the 3.6 and it doesn’t drive anything like an appliance.
Latter-day Chevy cars in general have been noted in multiple places as offering 90% of the level of engagement found in a comparable Mazda – only with a much better ride.
But with that said, Chevy driveability, even decades ago, was usually pretty good, especially when the Chevy was equipped with the F-41 sway bar package and depending on model, quick ratio steering.
I can think of a lot worse places to be than a GM A/G-body.
Errr… Not sure which Mazda you can compare the Impala with, the 6 is one size smaller car. And if we’re talking about the smaller models, given that we in the EU don’t have smaller Korean Chevs since 2015 or so, it’s hard for me to have an informed view. But I distinctly remember that when we had them, they were inferior – vastly inferior – to anything Mazda offered. It would be interesting to compare the current 3 with the equivalent compact Chev, yes.
Having said the above, if I were working in Vienna but travelling home to to somewhere the other side of Austria for the weekend I’d pick an Impala over any Mazda (certainly over my Mazda 3). Far more relaxing at the 140-150 Km/H you can (mostly) maintain on our Autobahnen than even a 6 and I suspect not THAT much worse on fuel consumption.
Perhaps the next question will be how in 35 years this Impala will compare to whatever Chevrolet (or whomever) has on offer.
Each of these has a lot going for it for their time period. Having put 20,000 miles on the reference Impala (this one is even about the right color) it is a good car for this point in time. For the late Carter / early Reagan Administration eras, your Malibu was a great car.
To clarify, it still is and likely even more so once you cleaned out the cobwebs. But I think you know the point I’m trying to make. 🙂
Spoiler alert: I mentioned a few other vehicles last Friday in the linked article. A drive review is imminent.
Competence vs. soul.
Polish vs. personality.
The collective brilliance of corporate engineers vs. the individual brilliance of devoted owners customizing their rides.
It’s an interesting contrast.
The 83 is great because you made it that way. As it rolled off the assembly line, it was a miserable ubiquitous three-box appliance from a generally miserable period of automotive production and I think the new Malibu wins everywhere except glass space and mechanical simplicity. You turned it into something unique and surprising, and if nostalgia is objectively warranted for these malaise vehicles, it is that they come from a simpler time when such a heart transplant was possible. I don’t think there’s much that can be done to the new, overly-complex FWD Malibu. Kind of stuck with OEM there, never able to make the car special or personal.
I admit that I occasionally resort to looking at the nameplates on these newer Chevys to figure out what is an Impala and what is a Malibu. I’m at the point now of about 90% accuracy. Fortunately, I find it a pleasing design for modern cars, so the fact that the two sedans look so similar doesn’t irritate me too much.
I like sedans, and miss owning one. Last year, my wife and I shuffled our cars around a bit, and I briefly considered buying a new car… before deciding to drive our 2010 Honda Odyssey for a few more years. At one point, I found myself at CarMax for a few hours, and spent lots of time meandering around their lot. One of my prime destinations was the small row of Impalas. However, I was surprised that when I sat in it, I just wasn’t impressed. Too claustrophobic for me… outward visibility even worse than what I had expected, and an interior design that I didn’t find pleasing. Maybe I’d get used to some of these features if I drove one, but just after sitting in it, I didn’t have much of a longing for an Impala anymore.
Despite their size and on-paper roominess, I just wasn’t impressed by the current crop of sedans. Which, of course, was deeply disappointing to me. An ’83 Malibu like yours was a useful and practical car when new… I just can’t say that about the current ones.
The first thing I notice is the logo, and remember that the well-known logos disappeared from the bodies of cars for a long time (excluding tiny representations on grilles and wheel centers). I noticed this when my eldest kid was starting to identify cars. Some were good with logos, others not.
Ford, as I recall it, was one of the first to bring back a classic logo and put it prominently on the car. The various Chrysler brands were late to that task.
The Chevrolet bow tie is a classic. I like the gold better than I used to and I especially like how they have slimmed it down from the bloated version that used to be on their vehicles a decade ago.
Lol, slimmed it down. That thing is huge! It’s the width of the license plate.
I feel these logos came back only because the exterior designs couldn’t sell on their own merits.
That badge is still at least 4 inches too big. The only thing with that much visual bulk on the Malibu nose is the license plate
A logo is more instantly identifiable than a mass of chrome script. Some would argue for a decline in literacy standards being responsible, but I think it’s more the desire for instant recognition of a logo in traffic.
That’s just it, there was a distinct familial design language in products in the interim periods with nondescript brand logos, Chevelles, Impalas and even Camaros you could tell were all Chevrolet’s in ~1970. The change came when the sheer look trickled down the lower price brands and got copied by Ford and Chrysler you can barely tell them apart, and it seems no coincidence it was the early-mid 80s these logos were revived.
I also wonder the rational for instant recognition, unless it’s a Mercedes, Tesla(whose logo is refreshingly subtle) or something else up on the social ladder, is projecting a blue oval or bow tie or H or H really something buyers care about? Or do manufacturers just do it for free advertising?
I think the oversize logo on the front and rear of most cars has been done to death.
I miss the days when the different brands had different ways of badging cars, some with a small offset nameplate on the grille that you couldn’t read from driving past, or block letters spaced across the front of the hood or rear that spelled out the model rather than the brand, Chrysler’s tiny pentastar on the lower left fender was a nice way to identify their products.
The way its been done for a long time now certainly seems to lack imagination.
An very good observation, XR7Matt.
Also yours, jonco43!
Perhaps the easiest and most accurate way to distinguish one modern jelly bean from another.
In my hometown (Paris, France), there are motorbikes running between lanes, cyclists coming from everywhere (and now those pesky e-scooters from Lime and so forth), pedestrians crossing or jaywalking at any corners.
So I’ll take that G-body, my current ’79 Caprice, or anything from the 70’s, 80’s or 90’s, over any modern car.
Because visibility everywhere, especially near the right C-pillar, is still the best way to avoid maiming someone (or worse).
Also, low-end torque and 3-speed slushboxes are probably better than weed to keep calm amidst the chaos of parisian traffic.
X2. I feel much more aware of other traffic when driving my 64 Mercury Comet than when doing the same in my armored car-like Mazda 3, even in city traffic (and I have driven the Mercury through Vienna during rush hour. We have our idiots here too). I had a number of near accidents with the Mazda on account of its lack of all round visibility. You really MUST “instrument drive” it. In some ways modern cars are less safe than the old ones and this is one of them (another thing about modern cars is the way in which they lull you into a sense of false security).
I have owned and loved the A/G body cars for over 30 years. The Malibu is my least favorite of this series due to it’s more spartan interior and dash but I still would get a lot of joy driving around in a nice clean low mileage two-tone Classic sedan with the 305 4BBL, F-41 suspension upgrade and larger tires, gauge package and the CL interior upgrade.
We had a car very similar to the above save the two tone paint that we sold at our dealership years ago and it was a very pleasant car to drive. The dealer that wholesaled it to us said it was a zone rep car loaded to the gills. It even had a G80 limited slip 2.73 rear end vs the peg leg 2.29 std unit, the Chevy rally wheels with trim rings, bumper strips and guards and the largest tires available with white side walls. Don’t think I have ever seen another 1983 ever equipped like it since and it sold a few days after putting it on the front line!
Chevrolet had always created outstanding auto design. There were few “ugly” Chevrolet designs. I can’t imagine why Chevrolet didn’t look into their enormous design heritage and enhance this generation’s Impala with a look that is distinctively Chevrolet. This generation Impala is a visual mess that fails to look like any of the fantastic Chevrolet designs from the past. On the other hand, the new Malibu is a knock-off of many other vehicles, and at first glance appears generic, but after a moment of looking it over, is a very nice looking car. The Impala doesn’t have that once you get beyond the attractive front end design. It could have looked like a Chevrolet, but instead looks like some kind of Hyundai mash-up.
That old Malibu is a powerful and simple design. It has become more of a striking design now that there are no longer millions of them on the road. The interior is a pit, but that is because of the lack of material quality, not design. It is still a problem for GM today. They are struggling in sales because their interiors are not quality in comparison to the competitors. I really hope they can fix that.
You’re speaking my language Lt. Dan! I am with you all the way. Yesterday as I sat at a stuck at street light in my vintage Chevy sweating my you know what off in 90 degree weather, I couldn’t help but smile. I just love that old beast, even stuck un traffic and with my son as my passenger loving it just as much, that was the cherry on top. My Chevy is still stuck with its Malaise era 350, but its abundance of low end torque makes it more than adequate to keep up with traffic or squirt ahead when needed. Future plans await that 350 though which is half the fun.
These new Impalas do intrigue me. I have only ever sat in one, never driven one. Based on Jason’s glowing review and other reports they sound to be a massive improvement over the old W-body cars, which I’d did not like. I was hoping we’d get some in our work fleet to replace our Taurus/Fusion/Camry/Altima sedans, but instead we have just pretty much replaced them all with crossovers.
1984 caprice classic & 2017 impala LT
The beauty of the older cars is that they stand out in today’s atmosphere of look-alike CUVs/SUVs/trucks. It takes patience to put up with carburetors in this day and age of EFI. Every time I drive my old Chrysler, SOMEONE stops and makes a comment or asks a question about it. Never happens when I drive the newer cars.
Old cars for the win!
Perhaps it’s just a regional thing; but I have never understood all the moaning & groaning about rear windows that don’t roll down/don’t roll down all the way.
Here in usually hot and perpetually humid New Orleans; we “rock the A/C” about 11 months of the year; for humidity control if not also temperature control.
Good to hear from you again, LTDAN!
“Don’t be a stranger”.