An old Chevrolet name earns a moderate update for the 2006 model year that includes the addition of a small-block V-8 powertrain. Introduced at the 2005 Greater Los Angeles Auto Show, the latest Impala front-wheel-drive sedan remains related to the company's Monte Carlo midsize coupe.
Four trim levels are available: LS, LT, LTZ and SS. Suspensions have been retuned, and track width (the distance between wheels) is greater. Inside, innovative flip-and-fold rear seat cushions reveal a covered storage area and include grocery bag hooks. The rear seatback folds down to create a pass-thru into the trunk. Interiors also display improved seat-upholstery stitching, low-gloss instrument-panel components and jewellike dashboard details.
Impalas ride on a new group of 16- , 17- and 18-inch wheels. Side curtain-type airbags are standard. Most models benefit from enhanced antilock brakes and traction control.
A new family of V-6 engines features cam phasing for improved performance and economy. Base models use a new 3.5-liter V-6 that develops 210 horsepower. Uplevel versions get a 240-hp, 3.9-liter V-6. SS sedans hold a new LS4 5.3-liter V-8 that features Displacement On Demand technology, which switches between four- and eight-cylinder modes. This system promises fuel-economy improvements of up to 12 percent, according to Chevrolet. The SS's V-8 produces 303 hp and 323 pounds-feet of torque.
Impalas compete against the Ford Five Hundred, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. The Impala nameplate dates back to 1958, when it was the top-end member of Chevrolet's full-size car lineup.
Large headlights contain three independent lighting units, and Impalas have grab-style door handles. New flat-blade wipers provide consistent pressure against the glass.
SS sedans exhibit a distinct front-end look, led by a dual-split grille that contains a black-diamond crosshatch pattern. Corvette-inspired bright exhaust outlets are installed on SS models. A rear spoiler is standard on the LTZ and SS and optional on the LT.
The base Impala has an FE1 suspension with constant-rate front springs and variable-rate rear springs. The Impala SS gets an FE3 suspension with 18-inch tires. The base Impala now uses the same steering ratio as uplevel models. Built on a 110.5-inch wheelbase, the Impala is 200.4 inches long overall and 72.9 inches wide.
Depending on the choice of front seats, the Impala holds either five or six occupants. Nuance sandstone leather seating with French seams on the center cushions is available. The seats have firmer cushions and increased lumbar support.
An all-new instrument panel wraps into the door panels; its double-hump design is reminiscent of early Corvettes. All Impalas except the SS offer a choice of trim: either a wood-trimmed look or a sportier, brushed sterling appearance. The Impala SS has a patterned trim panel. The glove box is 20 percent larger than before, and trunk space totals 18.6 cubic feet.
General Motors' OnStar communication system is standard. Automatic dual-zone climate control and a remote starter that features automatic climate pre-conditioning � warming or cooling the car prior to entry � are available. Cruise control buttons are mounted on the steering wheel, and auxiliary radio controls are optional. An eight-way heated power driver's seat and a six-way passenger seat are available in sedans with leather seating surfaces.
Impalas can be equipped with one of three audio systems. An uplevel CD/MP3 radio is configured for XM Satellite Radio operation. An ICDX radio includes an in-dash six-CD changer and a premium Bose sound system. Upgraded standard remote keyless entry now lets drivers use the panic button to locate their car.
Under the Hood
The Impala's 3.5-liter V-6 produces 210 hp and 220 pounds-feet of torque. Uplevel models get a 3.9-liter V-6, rated at 240 hp and 245 pounds-feet of torque. In SS models, the 5.3-liter V-8 generates 303 hp and 323 pounds-feet of torque and features Displacement On Demand technology to reduce fuel consumption under light-load conditions. Each engine works with a four-speed-automatic transmission.
Side curtain-type airbags and seat belt pretensioners are standard. All-disc antilock brakes are standard on the LT, LTZ and SS. Traction control is available. LATCH child-safety seat attachments go on all second-row seating positions. A tire-pressure monitor is standard on models with 17- and 18-inch wheels.