A very nice full-sized car
First of all, this was a rental car that I used while my Fusion was in the body shop for repairs after a minor accident. I feel that reviews on rental cars can be a very helpful guide to those looking for a car, especially if the car is driven long enough to get a decent feel for it. Obviously in the short time I had the car it had no problems.
Very impressed. The car was a top-of-the-line LTZ model, with every option including moon roof and leather. As with most rental cars, it was immaculate and the leather interior was absolutely showroom fresh, even after over 35,000 miles of use. Contrary to popular myth, rental cars are not "strippers". Many are very well-equipped. My family has bought three former rentals, and they have been the best used vehicles we have ever owned. All were well-equipped top-line models. Two were GM, one was Toyota.
This car had the awesome 300 horsepower V-6. It provided plenty of power. It did, however, have two very disconcerting behaviors that would probably keep me from purchasing this particular car: The torque steer in this car was the very worst I have seen in any car, including some very powerful turbo-charged cars I have driven. It was distracting to the point of feeling almost dangerous. I'm not a fan of high-powered front-drive cars, and this is one of the reasons. The other factor I found disturbing was a very subtle sort of shudder or hesitation between the 3-4 upshift under normal acceleration. Under hard acceleration it was flawless. This may have just been a minor glitch with this particular car. None of our other GM cars has shown this behavior.
The handling was not as sporty and crisp as my Ford Fusion, but as the Impala is a full-sized car with more emphasis on a luxury feel, that is understandable. The handling was quite precise, and certainly competent for a full-sized car.
As would be expected, the interior was very plush and roomy. The LTZ interior is every bit as nice as my friend's Lexus, and the Chevy plastic wood looks just as good as the Lexus plastic wood. The interior fit and finish was excellent, and I was amazed at how well the luxurious leather seats had held up. They looked brand new. The rental company obviously uses a good leather cleaner/restorer on them. Of course the interior was black, and black tends to look better longer than lighter colors.
I found the seats very comfortable, and very easy to properly adjust with the easily accessible electric controls. Entry and exit were easy, and did not require stooping or contorting the body excessively to get in as some cars do. The rear seat looked plenty roomy (though it was not used during my use of the car).
All the controls, such as the power seats, climate control, moon roof and (the excellent) Bose stereo system worked very well, and were very easy to use. All the instruments were very visible and easy to read. I've always loved the automatic headlight feature (that turns the lights on automatically when it gets dark). I miss that feature on my Ford.
All-in-all, I found this Impala LTZ a very impressive, well-built and solid-feeling car. I loved the large wheels and wide tires, rear spoiler and sculpted rear fascia, with the twin exhausts framed like a Mustang GT. I'd like to see more attention to taming the torque steer, but with 300 horsepower on tap, I guess that is not easy. I generally prefer rear-drive cars if I'm after performance, and frankly would not buy a front-drive car with this much horsepower, regardless of who made it. My other car is a Mustang.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 6th July, 2012