• May 23, 2008
It has been rumored for the last few months that Chevrolet would be soldiering on with a front-wheel-drive Impala for at least the next few years. The recent contract agreement between the Canadian Auto Workers union and General Motors appears to cement this rumor as fact. According to the signed pact, GM promised to keep the Oshawa Assembly plant, where the current-generation Impala is made, open until 2012 -- two years longer than first planned. The Impala is a pretty good seller for the General, so we're not too surprised that upper-level management would want to leave it alone, but that doesn't stop us from wanting to see Chevy's bread-and-butter full-size sedan return to its roots by going rear-wheel-drive.

One thing is for certain: by the year 2012, the W-Body platform of the current Impala will be absolutely ancient. On the other hand, we've had nothing but good things to say about the new Zeta platform which underpins such enthusiast-friendly vehicles as the new Pontiac G8. Therefore, we can at least hold out some hope that GM will find a way to offer as many vehicles as possible using the new chassis architecture, whether they are named Impala or not. Anybody want to see a new Nova?

[Source: The GM Source]


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  • 45 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      Those of that live with winter LIKE the FWD platform just fine. No amout of traction control or other gizmos will make a RWD with huge wide tires and wheels, (as is the current trend) will work in snow and ice.
        • 6 Years Ago
        +1

        I always enjoy watching cars will RWD, TC and all season tyres when it snows here in RI.

        Ha!
        • 6 Years Ago
        Totally agreed. Unless we are talking about a sports car for summer only use (which an Impala obviously isn't) I don't see the point to RWD. I have lived the nightmare of trying to climb a snowy hill with a RWD sedan. Not fun. The Corvette needs to be RWD. The Impala doesn't.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Goat

        I live in western Canada. Our roads are flat and we get lots of snow and heavy ice. RWD cars just don't cut it here in the winter time. Most of the newer cars have huge 18 inch wheels with very wide low profile tires that just sit there and spin. I have used both and I will never have a RWD car again just for that reason. I can not justify spending $1000 plus dollars to buy winter tires and wheels etc. I work in the automobile shipping business. try to load a mustang onto a truck in January around here and see what happens. Nothing it just spins.
        A realtive has a t-bird and he can not get up his drive way with it on some winter day, yet with his impalla and good all season tires it is no problem. Now if I lived in the sun belt that would be a different story then it would RWD for sure. The new G8 looks wonderful but with RWD and v/8 power and gas at $5.76 per gallon here now I will just not be practical for most people. My Bonneville and Caravan now costs $70.00 each to fill up and we are told it will be $6.38 per gallon by July here.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I don't know where you get the idea that wrong-wheel drive (FWD) is so great for snow; it's not.

        If you live in a place where there are hills, you find out pretty quickly that when you are trying to go uphill, weight shifts to the rear wheels. This is not helpful if your drive wheels are in the front.
        When you are going downhill, you are concerned mainly about brakes, which is unaffected by which wheels are driven.

        The one advantage I can see for FWD is starting out from a stop when you are on a flat surface. But I don't think it's that big of an advantage. I live in the foothills/mountains and drive a rear wheel drive car. When it gets too slick to get around without them, I put on my chains. I would have to do the same with FWD.

        On non-icy pavement, however, RWD just drives better. And that's what I'm driving on 95+% of the time.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I am on the market for a new car, but I will never consider FWD car, ever.
      • 6 Years Ago
      other than being a little wider than the malibu, I'm not sure why Chevy sells this. dimensions are quite close and pricing in the same range. guess these will be the new fleet vehicle that allows the malibu to stay off those lots, like the old malibu classic.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The other thing about fleet sales is the only thing they hate more than bad design is change.

        When your service department has experience with and parts for an existing model, throwing that away for better steering feel etc. that you can't put a dollar value on is as good as throwing away dollars.

        • 6 Years Ago
        You said it: fleet sales. This car is perfect for fleet sales and GM avoids new Malibu fleet sales so the used prices stay higher. It can fit 6 people, good-sized trunk, decent MPG and so its perfect for fleet and old people.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Yeh, you would think they would downsize their line up and discontinue it but it is still a top 10 seller. I guess its similar over at Toyota where they have the great selling Camry and the similar but weak selling Avalon.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Funny someone brough up the Nova name. I've been thinking to myself for awhile that GM should dump the Cobalt name and come up with a distinct, RWD compact coupe and sedan on the Solstice's guts to light the segment on fire and differentiate itself.

        • 6 Years Ago
        I've had that thought too. A real awesome 21st Century Nova would be a stylish car, on the rear drive Kappa architecture (Solstice/Sky), about the size of a TSX (maybe slightly smaller), 4 door or Coupe, with the 260hp Turbo Ecotec under the hood and a really sweet 6 speed stick shift. The base model would have just a normally aspirated Ecotec (170hp??). Basically it would be Chevy's version of the 1 Series Bimmer. But you know what, that would be too out of the box and successful for today's GM. The super hip and well ran 1968 GM would have put that car out on the market about 2 years ago as they saw gas prices starting to climb, but today's dysfunctional 2008 GM - it probably hasn't even crossed their minds.

        GM has soooooo many opportunities to be awesome again - with the cool and crazy nameplates from the past, they could play on that and have what would be a pretty cool lineup of great cars if they really knew what the hell they were doing. The Camaro is a step in the right direction, but why didn't they come out with that back in 2003 when the old F Body was being phased out??? Take for example the new G8 - great car - but I think they would have had more success selling that car as a new Chevy Impala. I know CAFE is a consideration, but get around that by bringing over the Corsa from Opel and sell it as a cool little Chevy over here. Like my Dad (who worked at GM for a long time in the 60s/70s/80s) has said of GM over the last 10 years - "they don't know whether they're afoot or on horseback". He's right.
      • 6 Years Ago
      That's sad...
      • 6 Years Ago
      The Impala is a good seller is because it's exactly what the American needs - big and cheap, nothing more than that.
      Ben K.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The W-body FWD platform was introduced as a 1988 model, that explains why GM isn't as competitive as it needs to be. Constant upgrades have helped during the last two decades, but the switch to the Zeta is long over due. The Impala remains one of Chevy's best sellers, but offering both platforms would increase choices and in this market that is key. The Camaro was built on the Zeta to make it more viable, sharing parts with additional volume RWD cars like the G8 and a planned switch for the Impala, Lucerne and DTS. Without high volume vehicles to share the expensive Zeta platform, profitability is doubtful. The G8 and Camaro aren't high volume sellers. Offering both is a win, win for consumers, but delays aren't helping.
        • 6 Years Ago
        @Ben K.
        Zeta is a fat overweight pig! With gas about 4 bucks a gallon and expected to go higher ($5 by next winter), Zeta is one fat pig that needs to die and fast!
        • 6 Years Ago
        @Ben K.
        In this climate of $4 gas and climbinb it doesn't make sense for Chevy to switch a family hauler over to RWD, which will raise costs and lower MPG.

        So you can talk about how the switch to Zeta is overdue, but you're wrong. Maybe it needs a new platform, but an RWD platform would be a big mistake.
      • 6 Years Ago
      It needs the 6-speed auto to reduce highway revs and larger side-view mirrors. Other than that, my wifes 06 Impala 3LT is a pretty good traditional large car. Doesn't really do anything great, but is roomy, comfortable and economical. The 3.9 pushrod engine is, in my opinion, a great little engine. Terrific low-end torque and 30+ mpg on highway. This car is, as some here have mentioned, much bigger than Malibu; I drove a 08 Malibu and while it was much quieter, it is also significantly narrower. Almost cramped shoulder room compared to Impala. I say update it soon with the above changes and sell quarter-million a year for another 5 years.
      • 6 Years Ago
      By 2012 it won't be that old. It was updated quite significantly when it was last restyled including aluminum front and rear sub-frames as well as other areas of the unibody.
      • 6 Years Ago
      i do want to see a new nova. except the nova has historically been a compact car, not a full size which the zeta chassis apparently is. so unless GM wants to show its clueless about its own history, itll keep the nova nameplate off a fullsize car.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Who ever said anything about the Nova?
        • 6 Years Ago
        Ah.
      • 6 Years Ago
      i have to agree with some of the posters agreeing with the impala staying FWD until 2012. it's hard to beat FWD in winter and there will always be a market for a full size family sedan with FWD.
      • 6 Years Ago
      GM is going to milk this vehicle for all it's worth...I would also like to see a 6-speed automatic and I'd also like to see it sacrifice a bit of trunk room for some more backseat legroom...for as big of a car the Impala is, the lack of room in the backseat (north/south) is inexcusable. My wife wanted a Grand Prix (another W-Body) until she sat in the backseat of one.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Wonder if this applies to the platform mates.

      Lacrosse sales were down 33% year on year last year, but up 5% through April this year.

      The (really pretty awful) Grand Prix dropped 20% in 2007, and 78% (!) through April.

      Impala sales were up 7% last year, now down 10% through April.

      I really like the Lacrosse Super even if it wrong wheel drive and overpriced.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Maybe that's because the GP is being discontinued?
        • 6 Years Ago
        Sales numbers are on media.gm.com. Through April they've sold 3K G8s.

        The Super is around $29K in the real world. Cheaper than the euro yuppie toys, but that's already as much a 300C or G8 or well fitted out Avalon which other than the intangible sleeper factor are hands down better cars.

        For 3-4K less they could be competing with the Maximas and MKZs and Passat turbos and such. Where the V6 Lacrosse tries to compete but fails.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The GP has to go. You don't really need to take a good look at it to see it's well past its prime.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Where do you get numbers? Do you have sales numbers for G8? I'm afraid that with such gas prices, G8 will have the same fate as the last GTO... :-(
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