2004 Impala New Car Test Drive
The Chevrolet Impala is a roomy and practical car, a mid-size sedan that handles well, yet rides more like a big luxury car. Acceleration with the optional 3.8-liter V6 is more than adequate. But for those who want more, Chevrolet has added a supercharged Impala SS model for 2004.
The Chevy Impala is calculated to push the nostalgia button. By any other name, it would be an impressive, significant car. But Chevrolet chose to honor an icon of the 1960s, not only with the Impala name, but with key visual cues.
From 1958-65, the Impala was the flashiest full-size Chevrolet, a real working-man's Cadillac, tame transportation in its base form, with performance options available to match its sleek styling. Among those performance options, starting with the '61 Impala, was the SS, or Super Sport, package, featuring unique, sporty trim inside and out. When ordered with a big-block V8 and heavy-duty brakes and suspension, an Impala SS was a formidable luxury-performance car.
Like its namesake, today's base Impala is tame and practical, but the optional 3.8-liter V6 makes the Impala quick. The supercharged 3.8 that comes with the new SS model makes it quicker still. In any form, the Impala feels more responsive than the six-seat sedans from Toyota, Dodge, Ford and Buick. All Impalas offers competent suspension tuning, distinctive looks, and plenty of interior room.
Impala provides contemporary safety as well, with a five-star rating (the highest possible) from the Federal government in both front and side impacts.
Three models are available: Impala ($21,485), Impala LS ($24,585), and Impala SS ($27,385). The base Impala runs with a 3.4-liter V6 rated at 180 horsepower. The more up-market LS comes with GM's proven and highly competent 3.8-liter V6, producing 200 horsepower. The new SS uses the same 3.8-liter V6, but boosted to 240 horsepower by a belt-driven, positive-displacement supercharger.
All models come with an automatic transmission, air conditioning with separate controls for driver and passenger; AM/FM/cassette stereo; four-wheel-disc brakes; a rear window defogger; power locks, windows, and mirrors; remote keyless entry; tilt steering; front and rear anti-roll bars; P225/60R16 tires, and stainless steel exhaust.
The LS adds anti-lock brakes (ABS), traction control, a sport touring suspension, aluminum wheels, fog lamps, a tire-pressure monitor, bucket seats with a center console, a six-way power driver's seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, rear deck-lid spoiler and cruise control.
The supercharged SS comes with a performance suspension, P235/55WR17 tires, a heavy-duty automatic transmission, leather seats, graphite interior appointments and lots of unique trim and identification, inside and out.
A long list of Preferred Equipment Groups add amenities at every level, and special appearance packages are available to add further distinction to the LS or SS. ABS is available as a stand-alone option ($600) with the base 3.4-liter engine. A driver's-side side-impact airbag ($350) is available on all Impalas. The 3.8-liter engine is available as an option ($995) on the base model, and comes with the touring suspension, tire-inflation monitor, and ABS; with the bigger engine, however, you are required to order a fairly expensive Preferred Equipment Group, so at that point it may make sense to spring for the LS. XM Satellite Radio ($325) is optional on all Impalas. OnStar is available as a stand-alone option ($695), but comes with several packages.