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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Quick Review: 2009 Chevrolet Impala Rental

I needed a rental car for a couple of days, and the only car available at my local Enterprise store was a red 2008 or 2009 Impala.

The Chevrolet Impala is a perfect example of why GM nearly went under, and how the Chevrolet brand was adrift without a clear identity. It is a mediocre car, with some very annoying details. It doesn't inspire passion, it isn't a car I would choose to buy. It is a rental fleet queen.

Good Points:
  • Quiet, smooth, 3.5L V6 with variable valve timing.
  • Clean, if boring, styling.
  • Flex-Fuel (E85) capable.
  • Unoffensive transmission behavior.
  • Decent fuel economy for a larger car (I got 25mpg average on gasoline)
  • Huge trunk

Bad Points:
  • The OHV V6 is modestly powered at 211HP/214Lb-ft. The 3.6 DOHC GM V6 makes 252HP.
  • Only 4 speed transmission.
  • Prominent tire noise.
  • Wind noise from driver's door seal?
  • Cheesy fake wood interior trim.
  • Odd wedge shaped sideview mirrors offer reduced visibility.
  • Hard plastics abound in the interior.
  • Bizarre vertical levers for dual zone temperature control, with very little resistance.
  • Pedal-type parking brake intrudes on foot room and interferes with dead pedal space.
  • No PRNDL markings on floor shifter (PRNDL displayed on IP).
  • Soft, squishy ride with lots of body lean.
  • Mushy on-center steering feel.
  • No hand-hold to open trunk (you can try to grab the trim, or put your fingers under the trunk lid edge).
The case for the Impala falls completely apart when you compare it with the newer Chevrolet Malibu. The Malibu has a more powerful V6 engine, a 6 speed transmission, a much nicer interior, and about the same interior space (with more rear headroom).


Anonymous said...

Should have rented from Hertz. Nice Camry's and Mazda 6's abound in the fullsize car range.

I got upgraded to an FX35 on my last rental. Wish it was an FX45.

Also been in some nice Mazda CX6 and CX9's over the past few months.

Anonymous said...

Well, the mobile mechanic bot and the Hertz/Pacrim bot have been here.

I think the only reason Chevy is keeping the Impala around is for a NASCAR template.

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