2002 Impala New Car Test Drive
Chevrolet Impala is a modern, capable mid-size sedan, with a look and especially a name designed to push the nostalgia button for a certain generation.
From 1958-65, Impala meant the flashiest full-size Chevrolet, a real working-man's Cadillac, tame in its base form but offering performance options to match its aggressive looks. After '65, the sporty Impala was subordinated to the more conservative-looking Caprice, and eventually the name disappeared from the Chevrolet lineup.
Like its older namesake, the new Impala is tame and practical with base-level equipment. When ordered with its optional 3.8-liter V6, however, this new Impala is not only quick, but also more responsive than the six-seat models from Toyota, Dodge, Ford and Buick. It shares its platform with the Pontiac Grand Prix, and offers competent suspension tuning, distinctive looks, and plenty of interior room.
Two models are available, both four-door sedans: Impala ($19,960) and Impala LS ($23,660).
The base Impala uses a 3.4-liter 180-horsepower V6.
The more upmarket LS comes with GM's proven and highly competent 3.8-liter V6, producing 200 horsepower. The real difference between the base and LS is the level of luxury amenities on the standard-equipment list.
That's because the 3.8-liter engine is optional on the base model ($995). Whether base or LS, 3.8-liter Impalas come with aluminum wheels, quicker steering, traction control, and anti-lock brakes.
New for 2002 is the Sport Appearance Package, which adds extra gauges to the instrument panel and its own unique look to the Impala's front and rear ends, interior, and wheels.
ABS is a $600 option on base models, an odd choice for Chevrolet, when most other GM cars come with anti-lock brakes even in their most basic guise. The anti-lock brake system includes a tire-pressure monitor.
Also standard on LS (optional on base Impalas) is GM's OnStar system. OnStar is a customer-service network linked to each car via satellite. It's one of those convenience features that you may never notice during daily use, but it's nice to have if something goes wrong. The system can notify network representatives of the car's location, to facilitate roadside assistance or to help track the car if it is stolen. It automatically notifies the OnStar network when the airbag has been deployed, and operators will dispatch emergency crews to the spot unless you respond to their calls.