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2011 Chevrolet Impala
  • 2011 Chevrolet Impala
  • 2011 Chevrolet Impala

  • 2011 Chevrolet Impala
  • 2011 Chevrolet Impala

  • 2011 Chevrolet Impala
  • 2011 Chevrolet Impala

  • 2011 Chevrolet Impala
  • 2011 Chevrolet Impala

  • 2011 Chevrolet Impala
  • 2011 Chevrolet Impala

2011 Chevrolet Impala interior – Click above for a high-res image gallery

The six-place sedan is coming very close to joining the Passenger Pigeon. Anyone younger than about thirty years old isn't likely to have memories of straddling the transmission tunnel in the middle of the front seat, trying to keep knees out of the hungry teeth of radio pushbuttons or HVAC controls.

In an opinion piece for the Detroit Free Press, Mark Phelan ponders this phenomenon, and notes that big coupes have already gone extinct, with General Motors seemingly providing the last gasp of each format. There are several reasons for this; most mainstream sedans have transverse-mounted powertrains and front-wheel drive, which means no hump to straddle. And with the death of Ford's Panther platform, there's only the 2011 Chevrolet Impala available for buyers seeking a front bench seat and six-passenger capacity in a sedan.

The attrition is mostly due to changing consumer tastes. While bench-seated sedans were once the kings of the road, car buyers have found better solutions for moving a sextuplet of people. Jim Hall of Michigan's 2953 Analytics notes that baby boomers "didn't embrace their parents' sedans," preferring instead to go for crossovers and minivans.

The change in buyer preferences, and the fact that a sedan is about the most uncomfortable way to transport six people, may spell permanent doom for the six-seat sedan. It's not going to surprise anyone if the 2013 Chevrolet Impala has a center console and no optional bench seat... and it's not likely anyone will miss it.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 60 Comments
      Andrew
      • 3 Years Ago
      Agree with many others. It's about the leg room. It was nice that you could get upper trim level cars with bench seats - Impala LTZ, Lucerne, DTS. To get a bench in a pickup or Tahoe/Suburban you're usually stuck with lower trim levels. I'm tempted to get the base LS model for our next Suburban. Forget leather and that other crap. I want a no-frills, big honkin' 9-passenger tank.
        BG
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Andrew
        You are a rare buyer if you want functional transportation. How dare you not pay for useless luxuries and thereby not pad the dealer's profit margin.
      Jake
      • 3 Years Ago
      So, instead we get an oversized console with an enormous lever that you move twice.
      Trace
      • 3 Years Ago
      Am I the only one who will/is missing the "social interactions" with companions of the opposite sex which those great big bench seats were so effective at facilitating?
        BG
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Trace
        Wasn't that called "one-hand-driving" in the 1930s?
      Justin Campanale
      • 3 Years Ago
      Am I the only one who prefers front bench seats? I also miss comlumn shifters
      postpast
      • 3 Years Ago
      So far nobody has mentioned the main advantage of the bench seat. So your woman can get right under your arm comfortable!
      gucarnut
      • 3 Years Ago
      Sad but not really news. The lack of a space killing center console gives an open more airy feel to the cabin. You also can leave your car on the passenger side if parking space is restricted. In todays tendency to built narrow cars a third passenger up front may not be the best argument for keeping 6-passenger seating. Still I absolutely prefer it and everyone riding with me does. Todays interiors are mostly boring and they all look the same. If you take the logos off even professional car people have problems knowing what car the are sitting in. Does anybody call this progress?
      Hike15
      • 3 Years Ago
      Well the Cadillac DTS still has an optional bench seat
      threefortyduster
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm not sure if it's still in production, but the Buick Lucerne was still available with 6 passenger seating for 2011. The DTS was as well, but I know they have stopped production there.
      4 String
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm much younger than thirty, and I clearly remember "straddling the transmission tunnel in the middle of the front seat" in my dad's 1994 Toyota Pickup (manual). My dad would shift with us fairly out of the way cuz we were so little. That didn't last forever though as we sprouted. On an off-note, great truck. They should manufacture more lightweight, fuel efficient trucks like those again.
      Need More Ghosn
      • 3 Years Ago
      There were plenty of 6 seater sedans built in the 90s, so I'm sure some of our younger readers have such fond memories of them
        737Best
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Need More Ghosn
        Yup! I remember being sandwiched in between his mom and usually my best friend (we were always the smallest) in their Oldsmobile Cutlass Catera (I think) with a horrendous red faux-velvet interior. After they got rid of that, they got a Taurus wagon (the bubble-looking one) which had the convertible center console. I remember feeling so cool that we got to sit up front like the grown ups. I always felt like I was driving haha. Good times.
          Carnut0913
          • 3 Years Ago
          @737Best
          cutlass ciera. catera was a cadillac disaster
      Darnell Robeson
      • 3 Years Ago
      The end of an era...cant see I didnt see this coming...most recent memories of 6 pass cars are the late 90's-early 2000s Toyota Avalon....the last Buick LeSabre....the base model Dodge Intrepids..even the 2000-2005 Taurus had a bent seat...seem like they all went away at exactly the same time LOL....R.I.P 6 pass sedans
      Cody
      • 3 Years Ago
      The Buick Lucerne also offers 6-passenger seating.
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