Reviews

2015 Chevrolet Impala Driving Impressions


Exceptional road manners are the hallmark of the Chevrolet Impala. The car is smooth, even around corners, not just in a straight line. Unlike some full-size sedans, the Impala feels like it’s a willing partner in the driving experience.

At the top of the Impala’s engine lineup is GM’s familiar direct-injection 3.6-liter V6, good for 305 horsepower and 264 pound-feet of torque. Its EPA-rated at 19/29 mpg City/Highway. Acceleration from the V6 is powerful and seamless.

A bi-fuel version of the 3.6-liter V6 that runs on unleaded gas or compressed natural gas offers a range of up to 500 city miles, according to Chevrolet. Normally, the bi-fuel Impala runs on ultra-clean CNG until it’s depleted, then changes to gasoline, but the driver can switch between the two fuel sources at any time by pressing a dash button.

The stop-start 2.5-liter four-cylinder operates like a conventional engine, except that it shuts off at stoplights and when idling in traffic to save fuel. The air conditioning, audio system, lights and all electrical system functions continue to operate even when the engine is shut off. The engine then automatically restarts when the driver lifts a foot off the brake. Dual batteries, special engine mounts and a high-torque starter motor help ensure seamless restarts, even in heavy traffic.

In all models, shifts are smooth, courtesy of GM’s 6-speed Hydra-matic transmission. All-electric power steering is effortless without feeling overly numb and it automatically adjusts to counter the pull of crosswinds or high-crowned roads.

The Impala is extremely quiet, and engineers took great care to make it that way. Acoustic glass is used in the front side windows as well as in the windshield, which is an unusual move for a non-luxury vehicle. Doors are triple-sealed and many areas of the Impala’s body are filled with foam. The floor pan and trunk are treated with sound-deadening material, and four-cylinder models use active noise cancellation to reduce engine noise in the cabin.

Ride quality is firmer than one might expect from a full-size, front-wheel-drive sedan. Its front-strut and rear multilink suspension uses rebound springs to reduce body roll around corners, and unique front strut towers help to minimize chassis flex. The result is a ride that’s more dialed-in than floaty. We much prefer the 18-and 19-inch wheels over the optional 20s, which make the Impala’s ride harsher and noisier.

Four-wheel disc brakes with brake assist are standard on all 2015 Impala variants. For the most part braking was smooth and confident. However, a few times we did notice a grabby feeling when braking downhill.

Full-range adaptive cruise control is optional on top-of-the-line LTZ models. This system not only maintains a set speed and distance from the car in front while cruising, it can also slow the car in traffic or even bring it to a full stop if a collision is imminent.

Forward and side visibility is good thanks to relatively narrow A-pillars; many new cars these days are wider in this area, and it can hinder visibility. Rearward visibility is hampered with the rear headrests up, but on most trim levels these can be folded down when not carrying backseat passengers.

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