It’ll Be Dirty Before You Know It
The genealogy of this big, black car is well-documented. The Chevrolet Impala, totally revitalized for retail channels for the 2014 model year, made a pit stop in the city of assorted sins during the 2014 SEMA Show. A factory-sanctioned concept by the name of Blackout (the call sign of one of the baddest Decepticons, mind you) showcased what the Chevy would look like if it were going through a Goth phase. And now for 2016, that Goth stimulus manifests in the $1,195 USD ($1,595 USD on LT trims) Midnight Edition Appearance package.
A package that can only be paired with the most light-absorbent paint color and embraces darkened badges, 19-inch wheels, a blackened front grille, a tasteful rear spoiler, and a pedal cover set is not for everybody. Especially not if you deem old bath towels acceptable for drying off at the car wash or think clay bar can be found in the confections aisle.
More on the Impala here: Leaping Back in Time with a 2016 Chevrolet Impala
But for the discriminating customer who loves the blacked-out look and knows their way around an orbital buffer, $1,195 USD is a relatively small price to pay. Our LTZ test vehicle already starts at $36,415 USD. We bet you’d have the right tunes to shake the heck out of the cabin with the Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound 11-speaker premium sound system that’s included with the $735 USD Advanced Technology package, which was (of course) equipped on the car along with a $1,035 USD Comfort and Convenience package. Another $495 USD is devoted to the MyLink infotainment system with navigation, a must-have for the directionally challenged.
Mechanically, there’s little new to report. There are technically two Impala LTZ models. One is the 1LZ, which features the 2.5-liter inline-four and is flagged by third-party pricing tools as having “limited availability,” meaning you should pat yourself on the back if you ever see one anywhere. Ours is the 2LZ packing the 305-horsepower, 264-lb-ft, 3.6-liter V-6. Stats-wise, every measurable performance line item is consistent with two current-generation Impalas we’ve tested. The 60-0 stopping metric of 118 feet splits the older LT and LTZ we put through the wringer. A 0.83 g skidpad figure places the black antelope in a three-way tie for average lateral acceleration. The 26.6-second figure-eight time lands the 2016 car in first by all of 100 milliseconds.
The 0-60-mph and quarter-mile times (6.3 seconds, 14.9 seconds at 95.9 mph (154.3 km/h)) are 0.1 second behind and less than 1 mph off the other two. There’s no discernible shortage of urgency on the street, where it’s docile 90 percent of the time until you really put your boot in it. The submissiveness appears to benefit fuel economy, as the 3,793-pound (1,720 kg) sedan put out Real MPG of 20.3/31.9/24.3 mpg (11.6/7.4/9.7 L/100km) city/highway/combined, only 1 combined mpg lower than the 2016 Malibu with the new 1.5-liter turbo four-cylinder.
Passenger-coddling ability remains the Impala’s chief draw, even if it’s wearing 19-inch wheels. (A 20-inch design can be had, too, but not with the Midnight Edition Appearance package.) The body motions never let you forget it’s a long, large car, heaving along to its own tune. It’s more than capable of tilting heavily from side to side and bucking from fore to aft in a manner rarely seen on a modern-day four-door. But the suspension does a commendable job controlling the comfort setup, even during aggressive driving. Testing director Kim Reynolds was certainly scratching his head after having a go around the figure eight. “It turns in quickly, doesn’t understeer too much, and is quite responsive,” he said. “Surprising. Turn-in in particular is strangely quick and nice. Brakes feel OK, but stopping power seems pretty good, too.”
Reynolds’ final comment on the car—”basically way better than I’d expect”—highlights the Impala’s idiosyncrasies. It imparts a strong sense of driving remoteness from behind the wheel, a byproduct of the cushioning ride, comfortable front seats (the rear bench could be less firm), and those body movements. It yields a paltry 14.5 sones of interior noise at a 60-mph cruise on a smooth road, about as quiet as the combustionless Kia Soul EV. It feels much wider than the 73-inch width spec would attest; the span is identical to the new Malibu. Part of that feeling can be attributed to a greenhouse that’s not that tall (but still airier than a Chrysler 300). It’s 201.3 inches long and only powers the front wheels. All signs point to a vehicle that should be atrocious to drive violently. That’s not the case.
Consumers gravitating toward large cars are frequently lured in by the perception of security rooted in the physical size. The Impala has a lot going for it. The car is rated five stars under the federal NCAP crash regimen. IIHS testing is incomplete, though Good scores were awarded for the moderate front overlap and side tests and Superior for front crash prevention when equipped with forward collision warning (optional on LT, standard on LTZ). There’s room for five fully grown humans without giving up a wide and deep trunk possessing 18.8 cubic feet of cargo space, hidden hinges, thick carpeting, and a stately trunk-opening action and sound (like a Rolls-Royce, I say). Because it’s a Chevy with its mainstream, everyman badge, you won’t get the stink eye from the modest folks who don’t live in Los Angeles and also don’t realize the Impala costs $40K USD. The construction feels solid. Once you get used to the width, it’s easy to drive, maneuver, and park thanks to precise, low-effort steering and its demure personality.
As always, it comes down to matters of taste. Those who despise anything portlier than a compact will probably hate the Impala. Those whose idea of driving nirvana includes a big, road-smothering American sedan and whose hearts don’t pine for rear-wheel drive will be more than pleased. Just don’t forget the very dark and definitely not illegal window tint.
|2016 Chevrolet Impala LTZ V6|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$39,875|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan|
|ENGINE||3.6L/305-hp/264-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6*|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3,793 lb (59/41%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||201.3 x 73.0 x 58.9 in|
|0-60 MPH||6.3 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||14.9 sec @ 95.9 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||118 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.83 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||26.6 sec @ 0.67 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||18/28/22 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||187/120 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.90 lb/mile|