Wednesday, September 21, 2011

2010 Chevrolet Impala LS [Road Test]

2010 Chevrolet Impala
While our trusty Lexus was in the body shop, Gear Thoughts was forced to do a road test of a 2010 Chevrolet Impala.  

The test covered over a month of daily use and 1,200+ miles of driving.  Most of driving consisted of short to medium length trips.

Pros:  It's been a while since we cruised in a GM product, and we were pleasantly surprised by fit and finish.   The front seats were comfortable and there was plenty of room for rear seat passengers.

Cons: The body panels in this car resemble the finish on a milk carton.   Chevy needs to step up in the plastic department.  As a rental vehicle, our Impala also came with a variety of mystery stains, none of which were the vehicle's fault.

Pros:  Our test car came equipped with the optional convenience package.   The controls on the steering wheel and dashboard were all intuitive worked well.   The built-in computer provided a variety of data monitoring functions, including individual tire pressure and warnings regarding hazardous driving conditions (ice).  Our test vehicle also came equipped with remote start, which was very handy.

Cons:  The temperature controls were ridiculously flimsy, almost like somebody made an effort to design something that feels like its about to break.  The vehicle also overrides temperature settings when on remote start mode (vehicle running prior to the key actually being inserted).  Often the self-selected temperature was higher or lower than desired, somewhat defeating the purpose of remote start   The self start would also time-out in a few minutes, not enough time to properly warm up the car (requiring a second remote start).

Pros:  Like most American cars, this Impala was very quick off the line, all six cylinders of it's 3.5 liter engine pumping furiously.   With a claimed 211 HP, the car didn't feel like a slouch in around-town driving.    Braking performance was also adequate, but not spectacular, and the optional traction control came in handy.   The EPA says this car gets 19 to 29mpg, which is pretty good for a non-hybrid vehicle of this size.

Cons:  The car felt sluggish on the highway, and revved like an over-excited puppy when called upon to pass.  Softly sprung, it offered a comfortable ride but wallowed in the corners when pushed.  It also easily bottomed out on speed bumps.  We didn't bother testing the vehicle on Colorado's windy mountain roads or pushing its limits with acceleration tests.   Apparently nobody else has either, since performance tests are nonexistent on the 'net.   A couple of sites say 7.7 to 9.3 seconds, 0-60.   I believe it.

Kelly's Blue Book currently prices this car, as equipped and with 30,000 miles, at $13,185 in our zip code (Boulder, CO).   That represents about 50% depreciation over two years from the original MSRP.   A similarly equipped, equally bland Toyota Camry will run $15,725 according to the ever resourceful Kelly.

It's been years since we've spent so much time driving an American vehicle and we came away impressed with the quality of this car.    The 2010 Chevy Impala is a reliable and roomy vehicle, perfect for a rental fleet or somebody looking for basic transportation.   It easily carries four adults in comfort with plenty of room for luggage.  It's a very plain vehicle however, but if you think cars are like appliances, you'll love it.

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