Fifty years ago, the Impala debuted for Chevrolet as the flagship of their car line. After being pushed to second banana, then turned into a midsize, in 2006 it returned to its original position of honor as the largest sedan in Chevy’s inventory. The 2009 Chevrolet Impala carries forward the look of the 2006 with only minor changes.
There are four versions of the new Impala, in ascending order: the LS, LT, LTZ and SS. The first three are powered by a choice of two V6 engines. There is the 211 HP 3.5 liter, with up to eighteen miles per gallon city and twenty-nine miles per gallon on the highway, and the 233 horsepower 3.9 liter, with the same city rating and one mile per gallon less on the highway. Both are supported by a four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive.
As the name historically implies, the SS is the performance Impala. It sports a 303 horsepower 5.3 liter V8 engine with a heavy-duty four-speed overdrive transmission, comparable to the Buick Lucerne with its big Northstar V8. Fuel efficiency drops to sixteen miles per gallon city and twenty-four miles per gallon highway with the V8. All versions are front-wheel drive with four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes. The SS has dual exhaust outlets, while the more sedate models have only a single outlet.
Among the features available on the Impala are six-way power adjustable driver’s seat with manual lumbar adjustment, driver information center, power windows and locks, with lockout protection and remote keyless entry, one year of OnStar, theft-deterrent system, CD/MP3/XM radio with six speakers, rear-window defroster and rear reading lights. The SS adds a few other nice touches, including leather wrapped steering wheel, eight-way adjustable driver’s seat with six-way adjustable front passenger seat and Bluetooth.
NHTSA ratings on all models include solid five-star frontal ratings and a four-star rollover rating (side impact ratings not yet completed). Safety gear includes tire pressure monitor, oil life monitor, airbags everywhere with dual stage front airbags, all-speed traction control, LATCH system, emergency trunk release and rear child security door locks. The SS adds GM’s stability control system, Stabilitrak.
A new 1958 Impala sold for around $3,000. Today you can pay up to ten times that for a restored ’58. On the other hand, the new 2009 Impala sells for a base price of only $23,045. The new SS goes for a cool $30,390, which may seem high by historical standards, but isn’t bad for the modern market.
The Impala was America’s first muscle car and an instant classic. Impala emphasized that history in 2008 with the fiftieth anniversary model. The 2009 Chevrolet Impala is not the classic the original was, but it is what the Impala has always been – a solid, versatile sedan relevant to its time. With Chevrolet already working on a new design for the 2010 model, don’t expect that relevance to diminish any time soon.