Thursday, November 30, 2017

(Used) Devon test drives a Chevy Impala

Chevrolet Impala -- 12-26-2009.jpg
Likes: Roomy interior for five, large roomy trunk, decent fuel economy, ride comfort is smooth.

Dislikes: Bland styling, forgettable driving experience, poor build quality and low-grade interior, four-speed automatic soaks up the engine's power, and the handling is lackluster at best.

Large front wheel drive sedans are slowly being replaced by more fun to drive rear-wheel drive vehicles.  There are plenty to choose from. So where does the Chevy Impala fit in that formula?

Performance: There are two six-cylinder engines to choose from. The base 3.5-liter six-cylinder produces 211hp, and a 3.9-liter six-cylinder with 230hp. The pick of the bunch is the 3.5-liter six-cylinder. Its smooth, provides quick acceleration and decent fuel economy. Not that there's much of a difference between the two engines in terms of gas mileage. But both engines have to make do with a old four-speed automatic. This ruins the potential that the engines have to offer. The shifts often feel delayed and unresponsive at times. Leaving you with no oomph when you desire it the most.

Ride & Handling: The suspension is set towards comfort. It irons out bumps, and handles well if not pushed to its limits. This is where the Impala feels cheap. The ride and handling often feels loose and uncontrolled at times. Making the vehicle feel unsettled when pushed hard. Even the top of the range feels more geared towards a Sunday drive.

Refinement: The six-cylinder stays hused until pushed hard. However, the noise is far from intrusive. The Impala feels like a comfortable on long journeys. The driving experience is very forgettable.

Behind the wheel: There's plenty of adjustment for the driver's seat. The steering wheel adjusts for both reach and height. There's a sense of logic to the interior. It doesn't feel high quality, but it serves its purpose well. All the controls are easy to reach, and there's even power adjustments to the seats for added luxury.

Space & Practicality: The boot is very massive, something you'd expect from a sedan that's so big in size. The seats fold down to increase cargo space. You can sit up to five passengers in comfort.

Equipment: The base engine is well equipped for the money. There's automatic headlamps, cruise control, keyless entry and six-way power driver seat. The top of the range adds luxury tuned supsension, 18-inch alloy wheels and a sunroof.

Buying & Owning: The Impala seems like a good deal on paper. This however changes when you come to selling the vehicle. With steep depreciation, your investments aren't well protected. There are rivals that offer better value for the money all-round. The Impala does get decent fuel economy, but has to make do with an ancient four-speed automatic. Rivals offer six and even seven speed automatic gearboxes.

Quality & Reliability: The interior feels and looks well put together. There's no indication for the gears on the automatic transmission. One will have to look into the instrument panel to see what gear they are shifting into. This can get annoying at times, especially when parking. The whole cabin feel is on the cheap side. Even in the top of the range, there's a sense of low-rent quality to the cabin. The Impala has scored low in JD power survery for reliability.

Safety: The Impala comes well equipped in safety. There's front and side curtian airbags. ABS and ESP are both standard across the range. However, the construction of the vehicle feels cheap. You may want to consider this before buying one. There are deadlocks and a theft alarm to guard against theft.

Overall: The Impala is one of the few large front wheel drive sedans that offers plenty of space, and decent equipment for the money. However the negatives seem to outweigh the positives, and there are far better rivals that are better value for money and offer much more than the Impala.

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