Launched for the 2000 model year, the Canadian-built front-wheel-drive Impala took its name from Chevrolet's heritage. The Impala is Chevrolet's largest sedan, and it shares its basic mechanical design with the midsize Monte Carlo coupe, which flaunts a sportier appearance.
An Impala SS joined the lineup for the 2004 model year. Initially available only in black, the SS carries a supercharged V-6 that produces 240 horsepower. In the muscle-car era of the late 1960s and early 1970s, the SS (Super Sport) designation identified a large group of performance models.
GM's OnStar communication system features upgraded hands-free capability and is standard on 2005 models. In addition to black, the Impala SS is now offered in two new colors and gains body-colored "SS" badging with a gold bow tie emblem. The front bucket seats in the SS get "halo-design" headrests. Chrome-finish 17-inch cast-aluminum wheels are now available on SS sedans, while base models can be equipped with a Sport Appearance Package.
The Impala has a full-width panel that encloses four round taillights. Impalas have a fully independent suspension and all-disc brakes. Base and LS models use 16-inch wheels, while SS models have 17-inchers. A new rooftop-mounted antenna is used for the OnStar system.
SS sedans flaunt a monochromatic theme, including color-keyed bodyside moldings and grille. They also have a lowered front fascia with integrated fog lamps. Performance tires are installed on the Impala SS, which features a sport-tuned FE4 suspension with stiffer springs and thicker stabilizer bars.
Classified as a full-size car by the Environmental Protection Agency's spaciousness standard, the Impala has 104.5 cubic feet of passenger volume. Its trunk holds 18.6 cubic feet of cargo.
In base form, the Impala has a split front bench seat to accommodate six occupants. The LS sedan is equipped with front bucket seats and a split rear seatback that folds down for additional cargo space. Tall, wide doors permit easy entry and exit. An XM Satellite Radio is optional.
Under the Hood
A 180-hp, 3.4-liter V-6 powers the base Impala, while a 200-hp, 3.8-liter V-6 is standard in the upscale LS version. The Impala SS gets a supercharged 3.8-liter V-6 that produces 240 hp and 280 pounds-feet of torque. All engines team with a four-speed-automatic transmission.
All-disc antilock brakes and all-speed traction control are standard on LS and SS sedans and optional on the base model. A side-impact airbag for the driver is optional. Daytime running lights and LATCH child-safety seat tethers are installed.
Even the Impala's smaller engine provides decent acceleration. The 3.8-liter V-6 is quieter, delivers stronger performance from a standstill and unleashes more enthusiastic passing power on the highway. The automatic transmission operates with excellence and produces barely noticeable shifts.
The LS steers with a relatively light touch for a large car, and it feels more solidly built than some General Motors sedans. The Impala is easy to drive and maneuver, and it corners rather nimbly. The LS's ride can't be called soft, but its suspension cushions quite a bit of pavement roughness.