The 2016 Chevrolet Impala is a bargain for such an attractive and well-mannered large sedan — and its base price rose by just $85 from last year's model.
The starting manufacturer's suggested retail price, including destination charge, is $27,970. That provides comfortable seating for five adults, a huge trunk and many standard features, including eight-way power driver's seat adjustments with power lumbar support; Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio connectivity; cruise control and audio controls on the steering wheel; keyless entry and 10 air bags.
Chevrolet's largest car, which is sometimes dismissed as a rental car fleet staple, is a recommended buy of Consumer Reports magazine, which lists the vehicle's reliability as average. The 2016 Impala also earned the top five-out-of-five stars for passenger protection in U.S. government frontal and side crash tests.
The test car, a mid-range Impala 2LT, was a svelte and nicely styled gray sedan, looking more expensive than its $31,390 price tag. Even the leatherette seat material, which was a mix of plain and textured-looking pieces, looked good. It's easy to live with, too, as spills wiped up without a problem.
Best of all, the 2016 Impala tester rode smoothly and handled remarkably well for a nearly 17-foot-long car. In sweeping curves, the driver positioned the car at the outset and could feel the vehicle "take a set," then hold its line with poise. Steering didn't require a lot of effort to maneuver the car into parking spaces.
There's a full 45.8 inches of legroom in the two front seats, which is more what's in big sport utility vehicles like the 2016 Cadillac Escalade and 2016 Ford Expedition. In the back, three adults have decent headroom and legroom — even with a tall driver and front-seat passenger.
Even the base Impala includes a pull-down rear center armrest, which is not often found in base sedans.
Doors on the Impala have good-sized entryways, and the rear-door windows keep back-seat passengers from feeling hemmed in. That said, the middle back seat in the test vehicle didn't have a head restraint.
Trunk space measures nearly 19 cubic feet, and the split, folding rear seatbacks help accommodate long items.
The 305-horsepower, direct-injection V-6 in the test vehicle is one of three Impala engines and provided ample power for merging into traffic and passing other vehicles. Torque from the 3.6-liter, double overhead cam V-6 peaks at 264 foot-pounds at 5,300 rpm.
The test Impala's six-speed automatic transmission averaged 18.5 miles per gallon in mostly city driving. With the Impala's sizable, 18.5-gallon fuel tank, the tester's range was only 342 miles.
Unfortunately, the Impala doesn't have a standard rearview camera despite the fact that the design doesn't let drivers can't see much of the back of the car. Adding a rearview camera to the test vehicle requires a $1,045 option package.
Lastly, the voice recognition system in the test car was frustrating at times. It couldn't understand a simple "Call Tom" voice command, wanting instead to call "Tim" or "Sue." It promptly turned itself off when the driver swore at it.