The Chevy Impala flies under the radar. Here’s why we feel it is special.
The Chevrolet Impala is a larger than typical sedan with ample power, a smooth ride, and a chassis that holds up well when driven hard. How do we know? We rented one for a week in the American West and put it to the test.
What Is the Chevy Impala?
The Impala is a front-wheel-drive, five-passenger sedan on the larger size of the car market. GM has been building this sedan in its current form now since the 2014 model year, and recently extended production for the 2020 model year. After that run of limited trims, the Impala will be discontinued.
To Whom Would the Chevy Impala Appeal?
The Impala will appeal to a wide range of buyers. As a former on-the-road salesperson, I can attest to how important reliability, simplicity, and comfort are to anyone who drives long distances. Here, the Impala shines. In addition, a shopper who wants easy to use, but still modern infotainment will find that the Impala is perfect in this regard. Finally, those who plan to have four adults or two adults and three children in a vehicle will love the Impala’s space and comfort.
Is The Chevy Impala A Good Car?
In a nutshell, yes, it is. Don’t just take our word for it. The 2020 Impala earns the Consumer Reports coveted “recommended” stamp. The group rates it higher than the Nissan Maxima or Chrysler 300. Scanning the subscription- enabled data on the Consumer Reports database, we see that the Impala scores very high in both customer satisfaction and reliability for the 2020 model year back to the 2015 model year. The Impala also has no reported large-scale problems.
We dug deeply into the Car Complaints database on the Impala, and the present generation (2015-2020) is almost entirely owner-complaint-free. Impressive. We’d skip the first model year of this generation (2014) if we were searching used.
Our Testing Impressions Of the Impala
Our rental was a 2019 LT trim with no options. It came with the four-cylinder, 197 hp engine that was more than enough for our needs, and an automatic transmission that was never anything but smooth and silent. This drivetrain was perfectly-suited to the open road, and we never felt that it lacked power in any situation.
Our tester had over 25,000 miles on the odometer, and those are rental car miles, which we feel are harder miles than one’s own car might endure. Despite being well out of its new car period, our rental had zero rattles or other noises. We test new cars in our media fleet that sometimes have such annoyances. We felt that the Impala felt impressively solid at 25K. This is the result of GM’s design and engineering, but also what happens near the end of any design cycle. The bugs get worked out.
What Is The Interior Of the Impala Like?
Keeping in mind that we tested a rental with no options, the interior was still very comfortable. The driver’s seat had power controls, including lumbar. The man-made material of the seats was holding up well and looked new.
Space is the Impala’s greatest asset, and you feel it in every seating position. The driver has more than enough space. I’m six-feet tall and 195 pounds. I felt like the Impala was built for a driver that was on the larger size and would enjoy room to stretch out. My right knee rubs the center dash on most vehicles I test, but the Impala had more than enough room for my legs.
The back seat is roomy by comparison to almost any high-volume sedan. Two tall adults could easily sit in comfort behind two large adults up front and nobody would feel crowded. Three children could sit across the rear bench.
The trunk is both wide and deep. Sedan cargo spaces are limited in ways that crossovers are not, but you won’t find the Impala’s trunk to be small if you are used to sedans. Luggage for four would fit with no trouble. Three hockey bags or four golf bags would fit with ease.
Under the cargo floor is a spare tire! What a bonus. That is something we see less and less, sadly.
Are the Chevy Impala’s Infotainment System and HVAC Controls Easy To Use?
We have tested hundreds of new vehicles in the past year, and we can assure you that you will not find a vehicle with easier to use controls than the Impala. Everything is just what you want, if simple to operate is your aim. The AC button is clearly labeled. The fan knob is obvious and simple to use without looking. The temp controls are knobs with digital readouts. Dead easy.
The infotainment is also as easy as it comes. The radio works like any sensible radio from the past half-century and has both a volume and tuner knob. If you wish to use Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, simply plug in your phone and follow a couple of easy to read prompts. We did, and used the Google Maps and Pandora with zero glitches. Take it from those who test new cars every week, this is as simple as modern infotainment can be.
How Does the Impala Drive?
We were fortunate to be able to test the Impala on some of America’s best roads. We drove from Fort Collins, Colorado to Cheyenne, Wyoming, and the speed limit is either 75 or 80 MPH. On the open road, the Impala tracks straight ahead with no slack in the steering. Set the cruise, and you can steer with almost no inputs. Highway comfort was excellent. Despite being a rental, the tires on our vehicle were still perfectly balanced and there was no vibration at all in our Impala. It was as smooth as a brand-new car.
We also drove mountain roads in the Northern Colorado Rockies and foothills. The Impala loves to hug corners. No, the Impala is not a Camaro or Corvette, but it is enjoyable to drive when the roads are twisty and you have room to run. We know the best in this class for driver enjoyment are the Mazda6 and Accord Sport. The Impala is very close to as enjoyable as both.
On bumpy surfaces, the Impala is compliant, and you never feel a harsh impact. The Impala wears sensible (Firestone) tires that absorb a lot more road vibration and impacts than the ultra-low profile tires you find on “luxury” models.
What Is the Fuel Economy of the Chevy Impala?
In our open-road testing of the Chevy Impala equipped with the 4-cylinder base engine, the Impala returned 35 MPG and that was using 85 octane fuel at 5,000 feet elevation with speeds around 75 MPH and AC on most of the time.
What Does a New Chevy Impala Cost?
A new 2020 Impala LT will come with the up-powered V6. Chevy is limiting its trim options as it winds down production. We priced out the closest match to our rental Impala we could and came up with a price after GM’s $2,000 cash incentive of around $30K. That is a screaming bargain for this much car. And that is your starting point in negotiations at the dealer who is likely dying to be rid of large sedans now that crossovers are all the rage.
A study conducted by our friends at iSeeCars.com recently put the Impala on its slowest-selling new cars list. The Impala averages 153 days on dealer lots. Expect the dealers to be very motivated to help you out the door in a new Impala. We suggest shopping near the end of this current quarter (late September) and shooting for $5K-$10K off the sticker price. Line up all of your GM discounts; Costco, Military, GM Friends and Family, Educator, Student, First Responder, etc. Shop around by phone first.
What Does a Used Chevy Impala Cost?
You can expect to pay between about $12K and $14K for a 2017 Model year Impala LT with 60K miles and standard features. We found this price estimate by using the Edmunds appraisal tool. Your local market will be the real guide. Try iSeeCars.com or Car Gurus. Both shopping sites are owned and operated by people we at GM-Trucks.com know and respect.
Chevy Impala – The Final Word
Vehicle testers are a picky bunch. We test the top trims of the hottest models, and it is easy to be unimpressed by anything less than perfect. What we discovered when driving a well-worn Chevy Impala was that it holds up well, drives very nicely, and offers buyers looking for simple-to-use, but modern controls and infotainment perhaps the best option in the market today. Those looking for a roomy five-passenger sedan with a great reliability record should put the Chevrolet Impala at the top of their list to consider.
Note: The vehicle we rented was paid for in full by the author with no reimbursement from GM-Trucks.com or anyone else. It was a randomly-assigned rental car Avis handed us the keys to on a blind reservation.
Image Credits: Photos by John Goreham. Used car estimation screenshot courtesy of Edmunds.com. New car build tool screenshot courtesy of Chevrolet.com. Fuel economy screen shot courtesy of www.FuelEconomy.gov.