Base Price (MSRP):$24,390.00 / As Tested (MSRP): $26,705.00
View The 2011 Chevrolet Impala Specifications
| Review by: New Car Test Drive
Value and fuel efficiency in a big family sedan.
The 2011 Chevrolet Impala LS ($24,390) comes with a 207-hosepower 3.5-liter V6, a 4-speed automatic transmission, cloth upholstery, six-way power driver's seat, dual-zone air conditioning, power windows, programmable power locks, AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio with six speakers, XM Satellite Radio, OnStar 9.0 with Turn-by-Turn Navigation and six-month subscription to Directions and Connections plan, cruise control, 16-inch steel wheels, a tire-pressure monitor, four-wheel-disc brakes with anti-lock (ABS) and StabiliTrak, which includes the function of traction control. Options include an engine block heater ($75), 40/20/40 front bench seat ($195), and a flip-and-fold-forward rear seat ($295).
Impala LT ($25,605) upgrades to 16-inch aluminum wheels, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, Bluetooth and more interior conveniences. Options include leather upholstery ($1,125), sunroof ($900), universal garage door opener ($100), and rear spoiler ($275).
For 2011, the LT Luxury Package ($2,515) includes front bucket seats with leather appointments, an upgraded OnStar with Directions and Connections and Turn-By-Turn Navigation, heated front seats, six-way power front passenger's seat, Bose premium eight-speaker audio system, XM Satellite Radio including one-year subscription, flip-and-fold-forward rear seat, rear spoiler, plus a new auto-dimming rearview mirror with a new universal home remote and new heated power-adjustable outside mirrors.
The Impala LTZ ($29,930) comes standard with the equipment of the LT, plus the 238-horsepower 3.9-liter V6 engine and the FE3 performance suspension. Inside you'll find leather upholstery, heated seats with eight-way power on the driver's side and six-way power on the passenger's side, upgraded audio with eight speakers, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise controls. Standard wheels are 18-inch machined alloys with P235/55R18 tires.
Safety features that come standard on all Impalas include dual front airbags, side-curtain roof-mounted airbags for front- and rear-seat passengers, thorax side-impact airbags, anti-lock brakes (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), StabiliTrak with traction control and tire-pressure monitoring.
The Impala presents a clean, neat, pleasing design. It's an attractive car. Last redesigned for the 2006 model year, it is aging, however.
The big headlamps have a jeweled appearance with three independent lighting units and are smoothly integrated into the front end. The tail lights are nicely integrated as well.
We like the substantial grab-style door handles that won't pinch your fingers or snap away from your hand on a cold morning. Flat-blade windshield wipers provide consistent pressure on the glass, which helps eliminate streaking and wind noise. Build quality is good, with tight gaps of 3.5mm or less between body panels.
Aside from minor badging, the only exterior differentiations among the trim levels are the wheels and the standard rear spoiler on the LTZ.
Inside is a roomy cabin. The seats have fairly firm cushions and decent lumbar support compared to previous models. A twin-brow instrument panel wraps around into the doors. We found the instrument panel pleasing to the eye, colorful, entertaining and easy to use, with a nice all-of-a-piece unity and style to it. Interior materials are a grade above average.
The dual-zone climate control system is a snap to use, with large, round control knobs and good markings. It can support up to a 12-degree temperature difference side-to-side. The optional remote engine start system comes with a 200-foot operating range and automatic climate pre-conditioning to warm or cool the interior. The driver information center offers more than 50 different alerts, depending on the vehicle's equipment. The glovebox is large enough to actually hold stuff.
The base audio system comes with six speakers, AM/FM/CD/MP3 capability, and XM Satellite Radio. It features speed-sensing volume control and a two-line, 32-character display and the capability to select freely between AM, FM and XM. We really liked this system because we could set up all of our favorite stations in one row, for example, allowing us to quickly switch between AM news, XM news, FM music stations, and CDs. Setting these presets is as easy as holding the button down. A big round knob in the center allows quick volume adjustments. Presets for the equalizer let you quickly switch settings from rock to country & western to talk radio. Too many radios nowadays are too complex or have tiny buttons difficult to operate underway. Not so with GM's radios. The Impala sound system is sophisticated yet easy to operate. The optional system adds an in-dash six-CD changer. The premium audio system is Bose. All radios include a standard auxiliary input jack for external devices such as an iPod or remote cassette player.
The OnStar offers Turn-by-Turn navigation with the Directions and Connections service. Turn-by-Turn navigation directs the driver through the route by using the digital readout lines in the radio head. Directions are downloaded by the OnStar advisor to the vehicle and can be played back or paused anywhere from start to destination. Besides being easy to use (all directions are downloaded to the car by an advisor) Turn-by-Turn is less expensive than a GPS navigation system.
The back seat is roomy and comfortable for two adults or three kids, but not three adults. The forward-flipping rear seat cushions reveal a storage tub underneath that can contain spills or transport a variety of items. The tub also serves as a covered storage area beneath the seat with cushions down, and exposes convenient grocery bag hooks when the cushions are flipped forward. A generous pass-through from the trunk can be created by flipping the seat bottoms forward and the seat backs flat.
At 18.6 cubic feet the trunk is quite large and offers the additional convenience of a big opening.
We found the Impala's V6 engines to be smooth and quiet if not bristling with power. They feature variable valve timing, which changes the orientation of the camshaft, automatically adjusting the timing of the intake and exhaust valves for better performance, economy, and emissions.
The 3.5-liter E85-compatible V6 that's standard on the LS and LT has variable valve timing and generates 207 horsepower and 215 pound-feet of torque. It gets an EPA-rated 18/29 mpg City/Highway on gasoline and 14/22 City/Highway on E85 ethanol.
The 3.9-liter E85-compatible V6 has variable valve timing and produces 230 horsepower and 238 pound-feet of torque. The 3.9-liter V6 gets an EPA-rated 17/27 mpg City/Highway on gasoline and 13/20 mpg City/Highway on E85.
The 4-speed automatic transmission is responsive and smooth, although most of the competition now offers more flexible 5-speed automatics.
The Impala uses a MacPherson-strut independent front suspension, with gas-charged struts and a stabilizer bar. The rear suspension uses a multi-link setup with gas-charged struts, coil springs, and a stabilizer bar. LS and LT models come with the softer FE1 suspension, while the LTZ has the performance-tuned FE3 setup and more responsive handling. The steering on all models is over-assisted, fairly numb and uncommunicative.
The Impala's four-wheel disc brake system (vented in front, solid in the rear) has been designed for quiet operation, long pad life, and resistance to brake pulsation. On the road we found the Impala's brakes very much to our liking: Powerful, direct, and linear, with a nice, progressive ratio of pedal travel to stopping progression.
The Chevrolet Impala is pleasing to drive, whether equipped with the 3.5-liter or 3.9-liter V6 engines. They are roomy, comfortable, promise good reliability and represent solid value for the money.
NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent Jim McCraw contributed to this report from Dearborn, Michigan.