Chevy has outfitted the aging Impala with new equipment for 2012, including features that could prolong the car’s usefulness in law enforcement and fleet applications. While we previously reported that the rear-wheel-drive Chevy Caprice is expected to replace the Impala in the near future as GM’s primary police offering, the fact that many law enforcement agencies already use the Impala might make some more inclined to opt for the improved version of that car rather than switching to an all-new platform. GM still sees life left in the Impala, as it has endowed the 2012 model with more power and better fuel economy, among other upgrades.
The big news for the 2012 Impala is the new 302-hp 3.6-liter V-6, which raises output by 72 hp over the 3.9-liter engine in the 2011 Impala LTZ model. This grants it a zero-to-60 time of 6.6 seconds according to GM’s tests. On top of improved power, GM estimates the new engine will achieve 17 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway -- 28 percent better than the outgoing Ford Crown Victoria and its V-8 powertrain. The Impala’s fuel mileage also compares favorably with its eventual successor, the V-8-powered Chevy Caprice, which manages 14 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway with the help of Active Fuel Management cylinder shutoff technology.
Also on the list of improvements is the addition of GM’s StabiliTrak electronic stability control system, making its first appearance on the Impala Police model. A six-speed automatic transmission finds its way onto the new model, replacing the old four-speed auto. Beefier brakes contribute to better stopping ability according to GM’s tests, bringing the Impala to a halt from 60 mph in 132 feet. Body roll is reduced while overall handling is improved, thanks to new steering and suspension systems.
Unlike the Caprice, the 2012 Impala will continue be available to the general public as a consumer model. Even still, these updates may not be enough to save the aging Impala in the face of tough competition from Ford and other makes – not to mention the Impala’s own stable mate, the all-new-for-2013 Chevy Malibu. Although more power and better fuel economy are always welcome, we’d take the fleet-only rear-drive Caprice over the improved, but still outdated, Impala any day. If only that were an option.