• Nov 16th 2009 at 9:58AM
  • 37
2009 Chevrolet Caprice (Middle East) - Click above for high-res image gallery

Remember those AWESOME rumors about the rear-wheel drive Pontiac G8 living on as a Chevy Caprice? Not going to happen, though used Chevy cop cars will still be the hot Christmas item come 2017 or so. Inside Line's Ed Hellwig reports that after a sit down meeting with General Motors' Maximum Bob Lutz, not only won't there be a true successor to the 1994-1996 Impala SS, but the next Impala will remain front-wheel drive.

The new Impala will get bigger says IL, and add features – probably in an attempt to keep up with the hefty and tech-laden Ford Taurus. Lutz mentions that the new Impala will not only sport decent fuel economy, but also feature GM's hybrid technology. Whether or not this means a Chevy Volt style gas-electric powertrain or the General's next-generation belt-alternator mild hybrid system isn't clear. All we know is, once the few, still-lingering-on dealer-lots G8s are gone, they are gone baby, gone.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      2 things.

      1) What is the little pop out thing under the middle back seat? Looks like a cup-holder type pop out device? Anyone know?

      2) That thing looks like it has some rear leg room. I would love to buy the current Impala (they're so cheap!) but the rear leg room (with the seat all the way back) is horrible, and it has no auto heat/climate control. I hate adjusting heat, and it just feels cheap to buy a car that doesn't have it!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yes, that's a cup holder... a pretty neat one at that.

        If you want to check this car out (or the slightly shorter wheelbase version), go to a Pontiac dealership and sit in a G8 :)
        • 5 Years Ago
        Take a look at the G8. It's a large car, with great interior room. More interior room than a BMW 5 series (this car is aimed at being the "poor man's 5 series").

        The car above is a Chevy Caprice, which is based on the long wheelbase version of the Zeta platform that underpins the G8 (the Camaro is built on the short wheelbase version of this same platform).

      • 5 Years Ago
      When is GM going to get smart and offer an affordable RWD sedan for consumers?!

      Grumble, Grumble
        • 5 Years Ago

        1: the whole market bombed. Not necessarily the G8 car itself. Now that the dollar is tanking, as well, it becomes very hard to make any money importing anything.

        2: RWD needs not add weight. G8 was heavy because it is a BIG CAR. Taurus and MKS are just as big, and just as heavy, or heavier. Miata/RX8 are RWD and not heavy. Kappas are not that heavy. Infiniti and BMW build mid-sizers that are not as heavy as G8, but are still RWD.

        WEIGHT depends on the chassis, and the finishing materials for it, which are dictated by purpose, not by drivetrain layout.

        3: RWD doesn't add cost, appreciably. The cost offset of having longer parts to install in a factory is likely offset by having to design to tighter tolerances and clearances with FWD transverse systems, and trying to cram all that hardware under the front of the car.

        The only reason RWD is not more common, is because the whole rest of the market is geared to produce FWD cars, and when factories are tooled up that way... it is cheaper to stay that way. A RWD car factory would be cheaper to continue to build RWD cars, as well.

        Another commenter put it well that most of the market doesn't care, and doesn't know the difference.

        But it is a sad day for those who do know, and who DO care, because they (we) are the ones being sold out, and left behind. And when we're either forced to accept the lowest common denominator, or otherwise just stop caring... they'll be able to foist appliances on everyone even more easily, instead of working to build a better product, and bringing improvement along for the ride.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Here here to Boxer.

        To buttress Ed's complaint, GM has an opportunity to satisfy a niche with a sedan that is already federalized and a differentiator from it's competition. As one moves up in income and family count, but is still an enthusiast, he has one RWD choice from GM-Cadillac. A real stretch for many. So GM opens up the enthusiast-you know the guy everyone asks there opinion on cars-to a competitor.

        I thought Bob was smarter than this.
        • 5 Years Ago
        They did. It bombed in the market.

        Rear-drive adds cost, weight and fuel usage. It decreases useful interior room and from-a-standing-start traction in inclement weather. It gives a slight dynamic advantage that hardly anyone cares about.

        I really wonder why they're bothering with the Impala at all. Full-size cars offer no real space advantage over modern midsizers, and anyone who does need the room is going to get a crossover, trucklet or minivan anyway. Every manufacturer's sales figures bear this out. Other than fleets, who buy the Impala because it's simple and the parts are cheap and easily sourced, the car is an also-ran.
        • 5 Years Ago
        +1 to BoxerFanatic.

        FWD is predominant in the market because it is cheaper to build-- that's the extent of it: simple economics. That said, if all you want to do is get from point A to point B, then FWD is perfectly sufficient. However, if you are "into" the car you're driving, the separation of steering and propulsion duties is the path to superior handling. RWD isn't the cure-all, though. I've driven many RWD cars that had numb steering and wallowy handling, but the performance potential of a RWD car is far higher than that of a front-driver. And typically the more horsepower you give a FWD, the worse the steering gets, to the point that high-performance variants of FWD cars are often AWD to minimize torque steer. Also, a RWD car with snow tires is just as capable in the winter as a FWD car equipped with the same. I've owned several of both and would much prefer RWD in the winter.

        Overall, I think most drivers don't care about the FWD vs. RWD argument. But informed auto enthusiasts do. I'll save further ranting for my pro-manual-transmission arguments!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Why is it GM's job to offer an affordable RWD car for the masses?

        And why doesnt anyone else?

        Maybe because its just about impossible.

        The G8 lost money on every sale. And GM can't afford to do that.

        If you want a RWD sedan, buy a CTS V6 - its about as affordable as RWD sedans get. And, if 300 hp isn't enough for you, I'll bet you'll have no problem buying a supercharger or turbo for it since its the same engine as a Camaro.
      • 5 Years Ago
      what a bland car, like most of GM's offering
        • 5 Years Ago
        Shouldn't you be under a bridge somewhere?
        • 5 Years Ago
        So what car company offers non bland lineup of cars?
      • 5 Years Ago
      I guess no Impala SS too.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I still think this is a pity because some interior improvements and modern engines would really keep the g8 current. Especially if they could f
      drop a bit of weight in the process. I don't see the need to pass up a chance for a relatively cheap rwd platform. The Taurus is also heavy.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is upsetting. There hasn't been one post-bankruptcy GM vehicle I haven't been thouroughly excited for until now. This car is so bland and if the production vehicle looks like the pictures, I don't think it will do well. I can live with the lack of an RWD drivetrain. I don't think people want to be driving a full size upscale (for chevy) that looks like a Cobalt from the front. If GM wants success for this Impala, they need to add more styling features. Some good subtle changes could turn it around.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Good thing they'll offer a hybrid, since GM can't sell many hybrids today. The 3% of new car buyers who want hybrids go elsewhere. GM is going to waste my tax dollars developing a car variant no one wants.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yeah, cuz I am sure GM wouldn't have wanted to sell another 1 MILLION vehicles worldwide like Toyota has done with the Prius since it first came out.

        What car company could possibly want that??
      • 5 Years Ago
      Boo, what happened to "Maximum Bob"
      • 5 Years Ago
      Lutz is a n00b, I wish he would just admit he's wrong so you guys get the Pontiac G8/Chevy Caprire/Holden Commodore/Holden Caprice/Holden Statesman (or Stat-o as they are known colloquially over here), just for the record, it goes Commodore (shorter-wheel base), then statesman (longer-wheel base) and then the caprice is sort of like the speced up statesman over here (it has traditionally had the V8 as standard). I hope someone gives him a nudge in the rite direction.
      Oh did I mention they now sell the commodore over here with the 3.6 ltr Direct Injected V6 (related to the cadillac V6) and a 3.0ltr DI V6 (variation) with a 6 speed automatic as standard over here, holden claim 900kms (~550 miles) on one tank on the highway, my calculations suggest more...
        • 5 Years Ago
        Stop it! You're making me cry. You guys get all the good toys. Why must you torture us like this? You're a mean man, Mr. Shaw.
      • 5 Years Ago
      ass end is butt ugly.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I don't care if it's FWD or RWD. Just make it big enough to hold 5 adults. I've been looking at some GM cars, and the back seat is really tight for 5 adults, other than the Impala.

      Further, give the Impala some style, like the Malibu.

      Finally, give it a 6-speed transmission.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I honestly do not see all the fuss about the car being RWD. I live in Iowa and would never again get a daily driver car that is RWD solely because of winter driving. Even with the traction control and other stuff a FWD car is better equipped for winter driving.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Limited slip certainly helps, but for average conditions brake-based traction control is enough for me. I've driven my wife's Mercedes C240 in plenty of snow storms without any problem. My old 1978 Trans Am had a limited slip differential and it completely sucked in the snow, for all the expected reasons -- poor weight distribution, bad tires, etc.

        I find that the key is snow tires. Without traction between snow and tire, you aren't going anywhere no matter what kind of drive system you have.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I prefer 4x4 in the winter but between RWD and FWD, FWD wins hands down in snow.
        I will not buy a RWD car for a daily year round driver.
        If I could afford a garage queen I`d love a RWD Mustang, Camaro, something on that order with a standard transmission.
        GM is smart by sticking with FWD.
        • 5 Years Ago
        One important thing: for a RWD car to excel in winter conditions, it *has to* come with a real (not pseudo) limited-slip differential. There's no way around that.
        Personally, I'd take a RWD car with a Torsen diff + winter tires over any FWD car. And I live in South Dakota.
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