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Chevy Impala LS 2000

by Annabelle Frankl

SEE ALSO: Chevrolet Buyer's Guide

With bags of room, and oomph, the Impala proves itself to be an affordable, comfortable and stylish sedan for drivers who don’t feel the need to surpass $25K in order to get from A to B.

Unfortunately, you might just end up going via C as well, since the handling of this gutsy 4-door is not quite as firm as one might want. Alas, the Macpherson suspension, with coil springs, front and rear, does not live up to its own usually-high standards, and one is left with a gently-rolling road-handling ability - certainly not the surefootedness one might associate with the car’s namesake.

The, rather thirsty, dual-exhaust, 3.8 liter, V6 propels you along with hooves flying, producing 200 hp at 5200 revs and 225 lb-ft of torque (@ 4000). It was very quick off the mark, giving great acceleration and stopping power was equally adept, with the 4-wheel ABS proving to be both smooth and efficient. The 4-speed, electronically-controlled automatic transmission, with O/D, was smooth, aiding and abetting the V6 in moving up through the gears quickly and efficiently.

The Impala’s ‘boxy’ trunk gives it a distinctive look and sets it apart from a lot of the more homogeneous-looking sedans on the market. Chevy’s styling, both inside and out, is tasteful and - more importantly - functional. The trunk offers impressive storage space, the interior is also roomy, with excellent rear legroom. Standard equipment includes leather-wrapped steering wheel, cloth bucket seats with 6-way power adjustable driver’s seat, (for leather, add $625), power doors, A/C, DRL, dual front airbags and driver, seat-mounted, side air bag.

The model tested came equipped with the Comfort Seating pack ($425) which includes: 6-way, power passenger seat, heated front seats and leather trim. Added to this was the Preferred equipment pack ($517) including a driver-info center with mpg, miles to go, direction etc (very useful), universal garage opener, alarm, electrochromic rear view mirror and steering wheel radio controls. Add to this the CD player ($223), which has speed-compensated volume - disconcerting to begin with, but definitely a good idea - and you’ve got nearly the full package.

The LS also has a huge sunroof, but I could actually have done without it. It was SO noisy, even when only partially opened, or tilted up at the back, that I left it closed 90% of the time. Given that, you might want to avoid shelling out the extra $700 for it.

And yet, even after all those little extras, before shipping, your Impala LS still comes in at under $25,000. Of course, if firmer suspension was an extra, it would have been top of my list. As seems to have been the case with many of the vehicles I have been driving recently, there just seems to be a lack of firm-enough suspension and handling, given the amount of power that a lot of the cars on the market produce. Perhaps a little more time spent on the test-track, rather than in the wind-tunnel, is in order…

Base Price:       $22,365
Model Tested:     $24,855

Engine:           3.8 liter (231) SFI V6
HP:               200 @ 5200
Torque:           225 @ 4000
Transmission:     4-speed, electronically-controlled automatic w/ O/D
Brakes:           4-wheel, disc ABS
Suspension:       Macpherson Strut w/ coil springs
Steering:         Power rack & pinion
Fuel economy:     20/29 : city/highway