by Jared Rosenholtz
Ten generations in, and the history of the Chevrolet Impala has seen it evolve from the most luxurious range-topping version of the Bel Air range back in 1958, to now being a sedate, and often forgettable, full-size sedan neatly dressed in a bowtie badge. However, while times may have changed, and the Impala's style along with it, what hasn't changed is the nameplate's affiliation with a large trunk, smooth ride, and plush seats. With the market now shifting towards crossovers and SUVs, though, the Impala's days are numbered - originally slated for euthanasia at the end of 2019, GM has elected to continue production of the sedan for an extra seven months, resulting in the 2020 Impala. Sadly, the Impala's 52nd production year will also be it's last, so while we wait to see if Chevrolet sends it out with a bang, we spend some time with the 2019 model to see if they're justified in letting it go gently into the night.
The current model comes in three trims, namely the LS, LT, and Premier, all of which are front-wheel drive. The LS and LT come standard with a 197-horsepower 2.5-liter engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission; the Premier has a 305-hp 3.6-liter V6. Despite dwindling sales in the sedan class, the Impala still has formidable rivals like the Toyota Avalon and Kia Cadenza, all of which are set to outlive the big Chev.
The Impala has received incremental changes over the years, but with it now seeing out the end of its lifespan begrudgingly, Chevrolet has kept the 2019 model the same as it was for 2018. After all, there's no point developing something you've already decided to cull.
Since its 2014 debut, the current-generation Impala has aged gracefully and can still compete with many newer cars aesthetically. The front-end has a chiseled look, with the angles making a V-shape with the Chevrolet bowtie logo, flanked by upswept halogen headlights on the LS and LT and high-intensity discharge units on the Premier. The molded bumper has a sporty appearance, with subtle air vents and LED daytime running lights on the LT and Premier trims. The LS gets 18-inch steel wheels, while the LT gets alloy wheels of the same size. Premier models receive 19-inch alloy wheels - optional on the LT - with 20-inch wheels also available. The Impala has a very run-of-the-mill rear, with another chrome strip running horizontally between the taillights, and no visible exhaust tips on the LS and LT trims. The Premier has double chrome exhaust tips, a sunroof, and a rear spoiler to distinguish itself from the pack. The Midnight Edition Appearance Package does wonders to alleviate the styling with darkened trim elements - but it's only available on the LT and Premier trims.
The Impala pays tribute to its enormous forebears with its massive bulk. The length is a whopping 201.3 inches on a 111.7-inch wheelbase. To put that in perspective, the Chevy Tahoe SUV is 204 inches long. The height of the Impala is 58.9 inches and the width is 73 inches, which is about average for this class. Thanks to its large dimensions, the Impala has massive amounts of passenger and cargo space.
For 2019, Graphite Black has been removed from the range, but all the other colors stay the same, leaving an exterior palette of nine options. Black, Summit White, Blue Velvet Metallic, Nightfall Gray Metallic, and Silver Ice Metallic are available on the LS and LT at no cost. The LT adds the options of Mosaic Black Metallic and Pepperdust Metallic at no cost, while Cajun Red Tintcoat and Iridescent Pearl Tricoat cost $395 and $995 respectively. The Premier makes do with the full array of colors but cuts out Summit White altogether.
Performance from the Impala is a mixed bag, largely hinging on which of the two engines you choose. But as a front-wheel-drive full-size sedan, performance isn't very high on the priority list, coming in well below comfort, spaciousness, and economy. 197 horsepower from the base 2.5-liter engine performs glacially, not dealing with the Impala's substantial weight well enough and turning the 0-60 mph sprint into a slow stroll of nine seconds. The optional V6 - standard on the Premier trim - does a far better job, with a mid-six-second effort more deserving of the title of 'sprint'. Rivals achieve close to these figures, while more powerful V8-equipped offerings like the Dodge Charger, exceed them by a good margin, and offer all-wheel-drive, too.
The LS and LT trims both come standard with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, which makes 197 hp and 191 lb-ft of torque. Despite its good fuel economy figures, this engine seems a bit dated compared to some of the more modern turbocharged engines out there. The power output severely hampers the driving experience, and it's sad that all the other great attributes of the car get let down by such a gutless engine. Luckily both trims have the option to upgrade to the 3.6-liter V6 - but of course, it's another extra cost.
The 3.6-liter V6 in the Premier trim pushes out 305 hp and 264 lb-ft of torque and drastically improves the Impala's performance. The engine is quiet and goes about its business with minimum fuss and effortlessly glides past the cars on the highway. Between the two, there's no doubt that the V6 is the far better option.
All the trims use the same six-speed automatic transmission that doesn't do them any favors. It's slow to shift and, sometimes, can't make up its mind whether to change or not, especially during city driving. It does much better on the open road, which is where the Impala is most at home anyways.
Driving the Impala feels like sitting in a lounge on wheels. The seats are comfortable, huge, and set in an incredibly spacious cabin. Pair this with a soft suspension, and comfort ranks as one of the Impala's top attributes. The cabin is tremendously quiet and isolated from the road with all but the biggest bumps easily absorbed. The accurate steering is one of the highlights of the Impala. It feels direct and focused, setting itself apart from the numb steering found on many sedans these days. Unfortunately, the brakes are a bit on the spongy side, but at least they do their job of stopping the car in time. The ride isn't as soft as some of the other luxury-focused cars, and there is still noticeable body roll thanks to its hulking weight. Despite these drawbacks, the Impala still feels good to drive because it's so serene. It's a car that's most at home on the open road where it can roam the freeway, rather than being constricted to urban driving. Just don't cripple it by getting the four-cylinder version.
Most modern sedans are opting for turbochargers and hybrid powertrains, and in this respect, the Impala is showing its age with only naturally-aspirated engines on offer. The LS and LT use the 2.5-liter four-cylinder, which, for such a large car, gets decent EPA estimated figures of 22/30/25 mpg, which are much lower than the comparative 194-hp Buick Lacrosse, managing an estimated rating of 25/35/29 mpg. The larger V6 in the Premier is about average for its class, with estimated figures of 19/28/22 - putting it behind the Toyota Avalon V6 with figures of 22/31/25 mpg. All trims use an 18.5-gallon tank, with the LS and LT having a range of 462.5 miles, and the Premier has a range of 407 miles based on the combined scores.
The Interior of the Impala has two sides to it. The overall design is from yesteryear, and the layout - as well as the cheap plastic surfaces - highlight this fact. On the other hand, it is still comfortable and cozy thanks to its seating and space. There are soft-touch materials to cushion all the surfaces that make contact with the occupants, but the black plastic on the top of the dashboard has a drab look to it. Chevy has tried to alleviate the boring look with a tasteful metallic strip running across the dashboard and on the steering. While the strip works, their good work is undone by the cheap faux wood panels on the center console, which are completely unnecessary.
There's enough space for five people to sit in comfort, and even rear passengers will be able to stretch their legs. Front occupants get 39.9 inches of headroom and a ludicrous 45.8 inches of legroom, which the Toyota Avalon and Kia Cadenza can't match with 42.1 inches and 45.5 inches, respectively. Rear passengers also get tons of legroom with 39.8 inches available to them, but the headroom is average at 37.4 inches and could inhibit taller passengers from sitting in comfort. All trims come standard with eight-way power-adjustable driver's seats, but only the Premier gets them for the passenger seat as well. The LS and LT have to make do with four-way manually adjustable passenger seats. Thanks to the tall doors, getting in and out is a cinch.
The only three interior colors available on the Impala are Dark Titanium, Jet Black, and Light Wheat, which all come with Jet Black accents. The three colors come in a range of materials depending on the trim. The entry-level LS only comes in Dark Titanium with a cloth and leatherette combination. In the middle of the range, the LT also comes standard with cloth and leatherette with the option to upgrade to leather in all the colors. At the top of the range, the Premier gets perforated leather with all the colors available.
One of the main attractions of the Impala is its fantastic cargo space. The trunk has a gigantic 18.8 cubic feet of space, easily beating the Buick Lacrosse's measly 14.5 cubic feet, and the Toyota Avalon's 16 cubic feet. The trunk space can also be extended by folding down the rear seats, although it's unfortunate that they don't fold completely flat.
Apart from the trunk, there are also storage areas in the cabin for little odds and ends. There's a small storage tray and a large storage box on the center console, as well as front and rear door pockets, front and rear cupholders, and front seatback storage. Another interesting storage compartment is hidden behind the infotainment unit, for when you need ultra-secure storage.
The level of features in the Impala is determined by the trim and the optional packages. The LS starts off the range with some features but is limited by a lack of optional packages available for it. The LS comes with standard features like cruise control, air conditioning, eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, automatic headlights, keyless entry, and ignition, and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. The LT has the same features, but adds rear air vents, more headrest adjustments, dual-zone climate control, heated mirrors, remote engine start, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. The top of the range Premier gets upgraded to heated perforated leather seats, adds a sunroof, rear spoiler, and xenon headlights. It also has driver aids like rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane departure warning.
Considering its age, the Impala's infotainment system is up to date and can compete with some more expensive cars out there. It comes standard with an eight-inch touchscreen with Chevy's MyLink interface. It also has six-speakers, a Wi-Fi hotspot, rearview camera, satellite radio, AM/FM radio, two USB ports, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. The Premier trim gets upgraded to a Bose sound system with 11 speakers, a navigation system, wireless charging, and a CD Player.
Chevrolet includes both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for free, and together with the Bose sound system, is sure to give the sound aficionados something to smile about. However, Impala buyers miss out on the latest Infotainment 3 suite in favor of the older MyLink setup.
There has been just one recall for the 2019 Impala: part of a broad-spectrum GM recall for the rear brake caliper pistons having insufficient coating, which could reduce brake performance. That said, the 2019 Impala still gets an above-average J.D. Power predicted reliability score of four out of five.
The Impala has a three-year/36,000-mile general warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. The anti-corrosion warranty is valid for six years/100,000 miles, and the roadside assist is for five years/60,000 miles.
The 2019 Impala has received a best-possible overall five-star rating from the NHTSA and also received a Good rating for most of the IIHS tests, losing out only in the small front overlap and headlight evaluations. The Impala generally has a good track record when it comes to safety, and is suitable for families.
There are all the usual safety features expected in a sedan of this price range, but unfortunately, the driver aids are only available as standard on the Premier and are optional extras on the LT. Standard features that are included in the base LS are traction control, tire pressure monitoring, four-wheel ABS, stability control, emergency braking assist, and post-collision safety system. It also has ten airbags, including front and rear head curtain airbags, front knee airbags, and rear side-impact thorax airbags.
The majority of the driver aids are part of the Driver Confidence package, which lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and, blind-spot detection. It's an optional package on the LT, but comes standard on the Premier. Additionally, the Premier Confidence Package is only available on the Premier trim and includes forward collision alert, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control.
First introduced in 2014, the current Impala is showing its age and is due to be discontinued. While the exterior styling is still acceptable, the engine selection is behind the times with no hybrid or turbocharged options. The interior is also looking old, particularly the dashboard with its hard plastics and dated shape.
Despite the few drawbacks, the Impala is still a good car that offers fantastic value for money; the Premier trim having a starting price of only $36,720. For a car at the end of its lifespan, it still looks good with distinct styling that beats many of the generic-looking options out there. The Impala is amazingly comfortable, with large cozy seats, and enough room to stretch - not to mention class-leading cargo space. The Bose sound system, together with the V6 engine, makes it a perfect companion for a road trip.
The LS starts off the range with a base MSRP of just $28,020, making it cheaper than anything in the Kia Cadenza, Toyota Avalon, or Buick Lacrosse ranges. Next is the LT with a starting price of $30,520. The range-topping Premier has a sticker price of $36,720 and is also cheaper than the top of the range Avalon at $42,350 and Kia Cadenza at $44,100. Additionally, there is a destination fee of $875, as well as registration, taxes, and licensing fees. Opting for the V6 engine on the base pair of models increases the price by $1,095.
The LS, LT, and Premier are the three trims that make up the Impala range, and they all come in front-wheel drive only. Both the LS and LT come standard with a 197-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, paired to a six-speed automatic transmission. The Premier tops the range with a 305-hp 3.6 liter V6, also with a six-speed auto transmission.
The entry-level LS features 18-inch wheels, keyless entry and ignition, cruise control, an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, air conditioning, automatic headlights, and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. It also has an eight-inch touchscreen with Mylink interface, six-speakers, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, satellite radio, AM/FM radio, two USB ports, and a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Next is the LT with rear air vents, dual-zone climate control, additional headrest adjustments, heated mirrors, remote engine start, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. The LT also has some exclusive optional packages available like the LT Convenience, Entertainment and Confidence packages.
The Premier rounds off the list and has the same features as the others in addition to 19-inch wheels, a sunroof, heated perforated leather seats, xenon headlights, rear spoiler, Bose sound system with 11-speakers, a navigation system, and a CD player. It also has driver aids like rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert.
In the way of optional extras, the base LS only has the All-Weather Mat Protection Package available at $200 and consisting of front and rear floor mats, as well as a cargo mat. The LT comes with a range of exclusive packages including the LT Confidence Package at $835, which includes rear cross-traffic alert, rear park assist, blind-spot detection, and lane departure warning. The LT Convenience Package adds heated front seats, auto-dimming rearview mirror, a universal home remote, front and rear mats, and a cargo net and carpet for the trunk for $875. The LT Entertainment Package, priced at $835, adds the Chevrolet Mylink radio with navigation, Bose sound system with 11-speakers, CD player, and ambient lighting.
The Premier trim gets the exclusive Premier Confidence Package for $1,275, which adds forward collision alert, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and 20-inch wheels. It also has the Premier Convenience Package with a heated steering wheel, ventilated driver and passenger seats, steering wheel memory settings, heated outside mirrors, and carpeted floor and trunk mats.
The basic LS is lethargic with its 197-hp 2.5-liter engine, and has very limited options to upgrade. The LT is better equipped and has many optional packages available to enhance its features, but still comes with the same feeble engine, although it does have the option to upgrade to the V6. It also misses out on some of the driver aids that are part of the exclusive packages limited to the Premier. For the best all-round experience, the Premier is the one to go for. It has a powerful 305-hp V6 as standard and also has many features unavailable on the lower trims, such as advanced driver aids and the Bose sound system. It also has a power sunroof and rear spoiler. At only $36,720, it is also great value for money compared to many rivals, making it our pick of the Impala lineup.
The Toyota Camry, now in its eighth generation, constantly features on top seller lists thanks to its all-round capabilities and famous reliability. The current model, introduced in 2018, has sharp styling for a change, which can rival the Impala's aggressive front end. While the interior is smaller than the Impala, it is just as comfortable and way more modern. The entry-level Camry L starts out cheaper than the entry-level Impala, and has a slightly more powerful 203-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. It also has far better gas mileage, with EPA estimated figures of 29/41/34 mpg. The top of the range Camry is cheaper than the Premier Impala at $34,850, and makes slightly less power at 301 hp. The older Impala has a larger cabin and more space, but has thirsty engines and is more expensive. The Camry is newer and cheaper and has better fuel economy, although the passenger space is less. Both are great cars, but the sun is setting on the Impala, and the Camry narrowly wins.
The Malibu is the Impala's smaller sibling and was redesigned in 2018. Despite being newer, it lacks the distinctive styling of the Impala and has a more generic look to it. The entry-level Malibu is much cheaper, starting at just $22,090 for the entry-level trim with a 160-hp 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine with a CVT transmission. The top-end trim starts at $31,820 and features a 250-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with nine-speed automatic transmission. While smaller than the interior of the Impala, the Malibu is still comfortable and is more modern. The Impala is more expensive, but it's well worth the money, especially with the 305-hp 3.6-liter V6. It has more power, more space, and more features than the Malibu. The Malibu may be fine for short trips around town, but for the open road, it can't beat the Impala.