2016 Chevrolet Impala Review: My Name is Jonas

We typically get a full week to review automobiles that come in on press loans.  That is, except when there is a record setting blizzard.  That was the case with this 2016 Chevrolet Impala review.  I did my best to log some miles between Tuesday evening and the impending doom of the “Jonas Blizzard” on Friday afternoon.   We tried to brave the snow and get you some solid consumer advice, but we failed.  In failing, we succeeded in producing an absolutely awful video review.  Watch at your own peril.  Luckily, Tuesday to Friday was sufficient to get some road going impressions and bring you this review of the 2016 Chevrolet Impala.  Long story short, this is a very solid mid-size sedan option.  That’s no small praise in such a competitive segment.  Keep reading to find out why.

2016 Chevrolet Impala Midnight Edition

How’s it Drive?

I was going to start with measurements and specs, comparing the Impala to Accord and Camry.  I’ll get to that, as it’s important in the grand scheme of mid-size sedan comparisons.  This site is all about feeling and emotion though.  So I’m going to start with how it drives.  Generous application of your right foot in the Chevy sedan produces two plumes of exhaust gas rapidly escaping into the ether.  It’s especially evident this time of year with cold temperatures a fact of life for the next few months in our nations capital.  With 305hp from a 3.6L V6, it’s like engineers at Chevrolet took a look at the output of Accord and Camrywait, I said I wouldn’t do this.  Suffice to say, it’s more than adequate to motivate the 3600 pound sedan.  That’s about the same curb weight as the Honda and about a passenger heavier than the Toyotaagain, sorry, this isn’t a comparison piece.

Toss the Imp into a sweeping on-ramp and it’s, dare I say, fun.  I found myself doing that paced breathing thing that fighter pilots do in high G turns, the bolsters in the jet black leather seats holding me in place.  Front wheel drive can make for a less than exhilarating experience, between under steer and wheel hop you find yourself wishing the car would just do things properly.  Chevrolet dialed in a fair bit of compliance to this chassis, which was built atop the GM Epsilon II platform (home to everything from the defunct Saab 9-3 and 9-5 and Pontiac G6 to the Opel Insignia/Buick Regal).  That doesn’t mean a good ride removes all hope of sportiness; you already saw that we thought highly of our Buick Regal GS that we tested.  It’s not a small car, so words like “nimble” may not be first to mind while driving the Impala, but on the aforementioned decreasing radius ramp, it didn’t show signs of front end plow and the 19″ tires surrounding the black painted wheels held their own leading up the merge.  Once you put your left signal on and bury the accelerator, the black on black…on black sedan accelerates smoothly and without drama.  Think “GT sedan”, this is a comfortable cruiser that just so happens to have 27-37 more horsepowers than Accord and Camry (respectively).  Damn, there they are again.

2016 Chevrolet Impala Midnight Edition

How’s it Look?

That depends on your perspective.  My almost 12 year old son asked me if it was a Camaro when he first saw the front end from a distance.  The family resemblance is probably intentional, the Impala has very strong lines, wide haunches, and a handsome face.  While I’m not sure I am a fan of the lines around the trunk (it drops too severely and takes away from the muscular profile) the rest is well executed.  Our car featured the $1,195 “Midnight Edition Appearance Package” which blacks out all the things!  The kids call it “murdering out” these days, and honestly, I like it.  On a large car like the Impala it gives off an air of menace and the black Chevrolet badge should be an option on every car they sell.  Chevy, it’s time to move on from the gold badging, the only gold accoutrements on a car should accompany World Rally Blue paint on a Subaru.  The black wheels, lip spoiler and black grill look great and are well worth the upgrade.

2016 Chevrolet Impala Midnight Edition

Inside, the attractive adjectives continue, with one exception.  It’s one that has been a thorn in GM’s side for a long time.  The steering wheel.  The overall shape isn’t the problem, and it’s overall utility is fine.  But the shiny bits that outline the bottom half of the wheel, combined with the buttons, look like a wide-faced bug staring at you.  It’s not attractive in the least.  Which is too bad, because the rest of the Impala’s interior is attractive.  From the double stitched leather that goes the length of the dashboard to the solid plastics and materials found on the center stack and console, it’s good kit.  Why the screen rises with the push of a button to stow your iPod, I’m not sure.  My eldest son loved it.  The rest of the interior passed my “tap test” where I basically beat on stuff and listen to how it sounds.  Solidly built cars will have a dull thud, less solid cars will sound hollow, like there isn’t much underneath.  There is a lot of substance inside, most of it good.  You may have read my rant about infotainment systems last week.  That was, in part, inspired by the Impala’s system.  I can’t explain how angry I got when Waze would report “vehicle stopped on shoulder ahead” and the system would basically say “oh, that came in via USB, so he wants to listen to his iTunes music now” and AC/DC’s Back in Black, alphabetically the first song on my phone, would start to play.  I initially blamed Apple’s CarPlay system, but it happened on our GMC Yukon test car as well, so it’s squarely on GM.

Competition

I’ve determined that it’s impossible to talk about a mid-size sedan without talking about the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.  They sell a ton of them.  Honda moves 300K-400K Accords annually here in the US and Toyota sells even more Camrys, well over 400K last year.  Chevy launched a new Impala for the 2014 model year, and unfortunately sales have gone down since then, hitting 116K last year.  Which is too bad, because at least on paper, the Impala is incredibly competitive.  Although perhaps it’s too competitive?  The Impala is larger in most measurements (including cost) vs. the Japanese sedan rivals.  The smaller, less expensive, Chevy Malibu is a bit smaller in some areas and the same or a bit larger in others.  Plus it sells better, at almost 200K moved from dealerships year.  So it’s almost like there is an identity crisis in Chevy’s mid-size car lineup.  Instead of one model, there are two with a wheel bases only separated by .3 inches.  If I’m confused as a journalist, imagine what customers think.

Summary

So we worked out that 2 feet of snow make road test (and video production) difficult, it’s impossible not to talk about Chevrolet’s mid-size sedans without talking about Accord and Camry, and in the end the Impala is a good car.  I am still concerned about whether or not Chevy is diluting their sedan offerings with two sedans of similar size, look, and price.  Time will tell as to whether that is true, and if you add Impala and Malibu sales together, you…well still don’t get as many sales as Honda gets with the Accord.  The hope is that good cars sell, or at least over time, they will.  This is definitely a very good car.  We’ll try and get an Accord and Camry into the RFD test fleet to see how their latest sedans compare.  If you are looking to spend $30,000 – $40,000 on a mid-size sedan, go check out the Impala.

2016 Chevrolet Impala Midnight Edition

Specifications

Trim: 2LZ
Trans: 6-Speed Auto
Engine: 305hp 3.6L DOHC V6
Drive: FWD

Exterior: Jet Black
Interior: Jet Black

MSRP: 35,540.00
Delivery, Processing, & Handling Fee: $825.00

Packages & Options

Midnight Edition Appearance Package* $1,195.00
  • 19″ Special Midnight Edition Black-painted pocket wheels
  • Black bowtie
  • Blacked-out grille
  • Rear spoiler
  • Pedal cover set
  • 1LT and 2LT models also include P245/45R19 all-season, blackwall tires

*Requires Black exterior color.

Enhanced Convenience Package $1,035.00
  • Ventilated driver and front passenger seats
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Power tilt and telescoping steering column
  • Memory settings for the driver seat, outside mirrors and steering wheel
  • Universal Home Remote
  • Premium carpeted front and rear floor mats and carpeted trunk mat
  • Auto-dimming inside rearview mirror
  • Outside, heated, power-adjustable mirrors with turn signal indicators, ground illumination and driver-side auto-dimming feature
Advanced Technology Package $735.00
  • Bose® premium surround sound 11-speaker system
  • Wireless charging1
  • 120-volt power outlet
  • Requires the available Enhanced Convenience Package

Chevrolet MyLink® Radio1 with Navigation  $495

Total MSRP: $39,825.00

Bonus Images

We managed to get a few shots of the Impala on school run and also as the first flakes started to fall.

2016 Chevrolet Impala Midnight Edition
2016 Chevrolet Impala Midnight Edition
2016 Chevrolet Impala Midnight Edition
2016 Chevrolet Impala Midnight Edition
2016 Chevrolet Impala Midnight Edition

Photos: Crappy ones are ours, the good ones are Chevy’s.