The Impala, Chevy’s only full-size sedan, has trudged along year after year with little attention paid to its outdated styling and mechanicals, even as its smaller sibling, the Malibu, is now on its second significant redesign in less than five years. The Impala still hasn’t shaken its dull sheetmetal or uninspiring interior appointments, but for 2012 it’s the recipient of a much-needed heart transplant in the form of the 3.6-liter V-6 that was dropped from the Malibu — now powered only by an in-line four — and a modern six-speed automatic to replace the ancient four-speed transmission. The new engine replaces the previously offered 3.5- and 3.9-liter V-6s and is the only powerplant available. Power increases significantly — up 70 hp from the larger V-6 — to 300 hp, with an accompanying increase in fuel economy to an estimated 18 mpg in the city and 30 on the highway. Driving dynamics are unchanged, though, so the Impala’s limp steering and soggy suspension are still present. The rumors that the Impala would be replaced by the G8 from the defunct Pontiac brand proved unfounded. That’s too bad, because the G8 was a well-wrought performance vehicle. For now, despite its new powertrain, the Impala still has a long way to go if it wants to be a legitimate competitor to full-size sedans such as the Chrysler 300 and the Ford Taurus.
Trim Levels: LS, LT, LTZ
Body style: Sedan, 5- or 6-passenger
Engine: 3.6L V-6, 300 hp, 262 lb-ft (E85 capable)
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Passenger volume: 104.5 cu ft
Cargo space: 18.6 cu ft
Chevy finally dropped the Impala’s outdated four-speed automatic and has replaced it with a more modern six-speed transmission. The Impala gets a new 3.6-liter V-6 engine that produces 302 hp. Fuel-economy figures have improved as a result, with Chevy estimating a rating of 18 mpg in the city and 30 on the highway. The new V-6 is estimated to get the Impala to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds.
Front, side, and side curtain air bags are standard, as are traction and stability control, ABS, and a tire-pressure monitoring system.
All: 18 mpg city/30 mpg highway
- New powertrain
- Improved fuel economy
- Bland styling
- Dull dynamics
New powertrain, but still in need of a Malibu-like refresh.
- Chrysler 300
- Dodge Charger
- Ford Taurus
- Toyota Avalon