With a history dating back to 1958, Chevrolet’s largest sedan continues into the 2017 model year with only a few changes. A V6 engine is now available in the base model, while the 2017 Impala LT can have leather seats. 2017 Chevrolet Impala Premier and LT trim levels gain Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality.
When Chevrolet redesigned its Impala for 2014, it turned from dullness into one of GM’s best full-size, front-drive sedans, adopting just the right amount of muscularity and clean, chiseled lines. Not only does it look great, but today’s Impala is comfortable, thrifty, and engaging when underway, traits largely absent from its predecessor.
Base Impalas hold a 196-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. A 3.6-liter V6 that makes 305 horsepower is optional. Both team with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
Impala LS, LT, and Premier trim levels are offered. Each comes with air conditioning, power features, and cruise control. Chevrolet’s MyLink infotainment system, standard with LT and Premium trim, uses an 8.0-inch customizable touchscreen and includes satellite radio as well as a CD player. The audio system has a hidden storage compartment behind the LCD screen. GM’s OnStar system includes a wi-fi hotspot.
Four-cylinder models include active noise cancellation, while upper trim levels are fitted with additional sound deadening and thicker glass.
Qualifying as the best-equipped Impala ever, it’s an altogether different breed of big car than GM’s full-size sedans of earlier eras. Considering its pricing structure, however, the Impala lacks some standard safety features, though 10 airbags are installed.
Standard only in Premier trim, a rearview camera is optional for the LT and isn’t even available for the fleet-duty LS version. An optional group of advanced safety features includes adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and lane-departure warning.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the Impala a five-star overall crash-test rating, dropping to four stars only for rollover resistance, which is a calculated figure. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety earned Good scores in frontal- and side-impact collisions, but hasn’t undergone other testing.
Fuel economy is fairly respectable but hardly best-in-class, with the four-cylinder EPA-rated at 22/30 mpg City/Highway, or 25 mpg Combined. With the V6, gas mileage drops to 18/28 mpg City/Highway, or 22 mpg Combined.
Impala LS ($27,500) has the four-cylinder engine plus air conditioning, six-speaker audio, keyless entry, cloth upholstery, a power driver’s seat, and 18-inch steel wheels. Few options are available for the LS, which is marketed largely to fleet buyers. (Prices are MSRP and do not include the $875 destination charge.)
Impala LT ($29,765) also is four-cylinder, but adds Chevrolet’s MyLink infotainment, cloth/leatherette upholstery, power lumbar for front passenger, Bluetooth phone/audio, dual-zone automatic climate control, and 18-inch alloy wheels, Options include leather seating surfaces, 19-inch wheels, and a rearview camera.
Impala Premier ($35,845) gets a gas/ethanol V6, as well as perforated leather-upholstered seats, heated front seats, a power front passenger seat, 19-inch wheels, pushbutton start, and rear parking sensors,. Safety features include forward-collision and lane-departure warnings, and blind-spot monitoring. Navigation and a sunroof are optional.
Sharing its foundation with the Buick LaCrosse and Cadillac XTS, Chevrolet’s Impala displays similar proportions. More restrained up front than other Chevrolet models, it benefits from crisp body lines and a sophisticated overall profile. Even the hood looks clean and invigorating, despite its array of stamped-in lines and ribs.
At the rear is an intricate intersection of surfaces, not unlike that portion of Buick’s LaCrosse. All told, it’s one of GM’s prime examples of intermingling visual details of related models, while keeping the brands clearly distinct from each other.
More spacious than such competitors as the Toyota Avalon and Hyundai Azera, the Impala has ample room for five and luggage collection, though four might be more comfortable.
Although the sweeping dual-cowl dashboard looks lovely, it suffers from a mishmash of textures, lines, and materials, creating an excessively complex appearance. Shapes are attractive, but the overall execution goes several steps too far.
Front seats provide greater support than nearly all rivals, along with head and leg space that will readily accommodate nearly any body type. The power driver’s seat has an especially broad height range.
Although the back seat is wide, its cushion is low, flat, and a tad short. Even so, headroom is on the tight side, while support could be better. Legroom is quite good throughout the cabin, nearing limousine-level in the rear. Still, some evidence of skimping in the rear compartment can be discerned.
Unlike some comparable full-size sedans, the Impala doesn’t feel as big as its dimensions suggest. Entry/exit is helped by tall, wide doors and well-shaped seats that don’t demand much knee-bending.
Trunk space is bountiful at 18.8 cubic feet, and the cockpit contains plenty of storage bins. Although the trunk is a bit shallow, its flat floor extends a considerable distance forward.
On the road, the Impala comes across as a near-athletic performer, adeptly balancing ride comfort and handling. In the substantial-size premium sedan category, the Impala ranks among the best for road manners.
Quick and accurate, belt-driven electric power steering never feels either sluggish or too heavy. Rebound springs help keep body lean under control. Overall composure and balance score ahead of several competitors, including Toyota Avalon, Hyundai Azera, and Ford Taurus.
Excellent suspension damping keeps the ride well-controlled, though it feels a bit stiffer when rolling over small bumps than when encountering large ones. Ride motions are subtly but effectively restrained.
Performance with the four-cylinder engine is just fine for commuter duty and most family tasks; but when extra energy is needed for passing or merging, reserve power is in short supply. With the optional V6 engine, acceleration ranks as vivid, actually approaching sport-sedan capability.
A V6 Impala can actually feel as if it’s wearing an SS emblem, though acceleration is swifter while rolling down the road than when starting off from a stoplight. Accelerating to 60 mph in about 6.8 seconds, the V6 version delivers the kind of smooth, strong power that inspires confidence.
Manual-shift mode may be activated via a shift-lever switch, though the tall center console makes that action rather awkward. All told, the Impala’s 6-speed doesn’t operate quite as seamlessly as some earlier GM transmissions. Reactions are quick, but lack of smooth foot action can result in imperfect responses.
Chevrolet can take pride in its current Impala, which blends attractive body lines with well-composed handling and a satisfying ride. Because the base model is short on features, an LT makes more sense for most families. Though tempting for passing power, the available V6 sucks up considerably more fuel.
Driving impressions by Marty Padgett, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.