I recently had the displeasure of renting a 2009 Chevy Impala. This was a rental fleet standard 1LT trim level with the anemic 211hp 3.5L V6. This car weighs over 3500 lbs mind you. This was one of the worst handling cars I've ever driven. Every time I took a turn 10mph over the suggested posted speed, the tires would squeal in protest. The steering was absolutely numb and provided no feedback. The engine barely has enough power to lug the bloated pig of a car that it's attached to up to highway speed.
The interior was all cheap plastic. The plastic "wood grain" was particularly embarrassing. Here's one interesting "feature": a folding center console that becomes a front bench seat. I haven't seen a bench seat in a car since the 80's. Is there really a market for this? Why is GM wasting the tooling costs to make this available? Strictly for rental fleet duty? Because of this bench seat option, this particular car came a steering column shifter. I had fun pretending I was driving a cop car for about 2 minutes until I got tired of missing drive and putting it into 3rd gear all the time because of how sloppy the shifter was.
How did Chevy manage to destroy an automotive icon by making it an anemic, bloated, front-wheel-drive rental fleet staple? The Impala was something people used to dream about. After a long absence, Chevy came back with a mean Impala SS in the late '90s that was essentially a cop car spec Caprice with meaty tires and then a later-added-on floor shifter. Yay, they got it right! But then came the crappy Impala that was favored by the NYPD because of it's FWD layout which is easier to handle in snow/ice, but universally despised by automotive enthusiasts. The current iteration is the second generation of the FWD mistake but now just heavier and more boring looking.
The current top of the line Impala is the 303hp V8 SS, but with this platform, I doubt Chevy could have polished a turd enough to make it respectable. I don't see how do much better besides consume more gas Hey, GM, you suck because you make crappy cars. I'm NOT some an-American car hater. It's simple supply and demand laws. The Pontiac G8 (built and designed in Australia) was an affordable sedan with balls and you go and ax the brand yet you let garbage like the Impala destroy a namesake that used to mean something. Keep these bloated and boring sedans under the Buick nameplate if you want to make them so badly. Look at Ford. They managed to figure it out and build a Taurus that looks sharp both inside and out and have a base output of 263hp also from a 3.5L V6. The top line model even has a 365hp turbocharged V6 and all-wheel-drive. Next time I rent a full-size car, I'm requesting a Taurus.
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About the reviewer
Chris Low (rasetsu)
Jan 8, 2009
Oct 1, 2010 06:57 PM UTC
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