I’ve kept track of every test car I’ve driven over the 10 years I’ve worked at the Consumer Reports Auto Test Center. They have all been memorable in their own way, including the sedan I just took on a road trip to Canada.
I recall driving a Porsche 911 to my 20-year college reunion. I remember piloting a Toyota Sienna minivan to my sister’s house outside of Washington, D.C. the day after Christmas; one of the reasons my two boys didn’t attempt a mutiny over a normal six-hour trip stretching to over nine hours (due to post-holiday traffic) is that the van had a rear DVD player. I’ve also driven our Dodge Viper to parties; various pickup trucks to help with friends’ projects; and luxurious Mercedes-Benzes, BMWs, and Jaguars for nights out with my wife.
And so when I told my boss I was driving to see a friend in Ottawa and could put miles on a new test car, he said “Take the new Impala.” And I responded with the slow monotone “That. Would. Be. Fine.”
But I can’t complain.
Just why are we testing this dinosaur of a sedan? (It relies on GM’s old W platform and despite several updates, it still maintains the same basic architecture dating back to 1988). The Impala gets a more refined 3.6-liter V6 and six-speed automatic for 2012, so our previous test with the 3.5-liter V6 and four-speed transmission is no longer valid. Plus, GM says the poor old girl will soldier on for a couple more years.
And so I set off driving our “Summit White” LT trim Impala to the Great White North.
I covered over 900 miles in this sedan and have a few basic observations:
- Our car cost $28,995 but that doesn’t get you leather, heated seats or automatic climate control.
- The front seat felt like an uncomfortable couch.
- It was super easy to pair my phone with the Bluetooth connection.
- The trip computer and satellite radio (with lots of presets and steering wheel controls) were easy to use and kept the miles rolling by.
Overall, the Impala is a fairly quiet highway cruiser that completely flies under the radar. If you’re looking for a car to get you noticed, keep looking. If you’re considering a car to impress a date, think again. If you want to dazzle your friends and family with the latest automotive technology, leave the Impala at home.
How does this most mainstream of Chevrolet sedans fare against such a competitive automotive segment? Going beyond initial impressions, our detailed multi-week test program will determine if the Impala can run with the pack.