2016 Chevrolet Impala 2LZ

The problem with the Impala has nothing to do with the Impala but with the brand that offers it, and there is nothing wrong with the brand that offers it.

The problem with the Impala has nothing to do with the Impala but with the brand that offers it, and there is nothing wrong with the brand that offers it.

Now that you are thoroughly confused, let me explain.

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General Motors, since the days of Alfred Sloan, has had a stair-step approach to its products. Historically, Chevrolet has been the first step and consumers climb to Cadillac at the top. While there have been various products in between, the post-Great Recession caused the elimination of brands and left Buick between Chevy and Cadillac. (Yes, there is GMC, but it doesn’t offer a car.)

So right now, if you’re someone who is looking for something special without going all the way to the luxury of Cadillac, you probably go to Buick, not Chevy.

Yet the Impala is every bit as well-executed a car as are offered by other companies, yet probably doesn’t get the same kind of consideration because it is a Chevy. Think, for example, of the Chrysler 300. Someone who is looking for something large and well equipped probably wouldn’t hesitate to go to the Chrysler showroom.

Or look at the Toyota Avalon. In this case, Toyota Corp. essentially has two brands, Toyota and Lexus. (Yes, there is Scion, but we’ll put that aside because no one looking for a full-size car is going to look there.) Yes, there is a Yaris at one end of the offering, but the Avalon is a car that someone who doesn’t have Lexus inclinations can get.

But there’s Buick in the middle of the hierarchy. So the Impala doesn’t get its due.

Which is too bad, particularly for the potential customers.

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Mind you, the Impala handily out-sells both the Chrysler 300 and the Toyota Avalon, and even outsells all Buick cars combined, but this is a car that could easily do so much better.

Part of this is probably due to what the Impala was prior to its total transformation. That is, it was a fleet car, particularly for salespeople. Or it was a car for people looking for something large and comparatively comfortable (full disclosure: my mother’s last car was an Impala).

But this car has undergone a total transformation. This isn’t like one of those stars who goes in for some Botox and strategic surgery. The Impala is a car transformed.

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Full-size sedans don’t get much love in the market anymore. People go chasing after crossovers. But for those who are looking for room and comfort, style and substance, then a car like the Impala is something that really needs to be considered.

However: whereas the Impala may have once been a straight-up economical choice, things have changed a bit. Well, more than a bit.

The base MSRP for the car—powered by a 3.6-liter V6 mated to a six-speed automatic—is $35,540. The car that I had added the “Midnight Edition Appearance Package,” for $1,195, which added black paint and black spoiler and black. . . , the “LTZ Comfort & Convenience Package” for $1,035, which added mats (seriously), as well as ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel (something that used to strike me as being silly but now nearly essential when you live in a cold clime), an “LTZ Advanced Technology Package,” which adds an 11-speaker Bose system, power outlet and a wireless charging device for your phone (although the car comes with Apple CarPlay, the iPhone doesn’t work with the charger), and $495 for Chevy MyLink and navigation. All of which, adding in $825 for destination, brought the car to $39,825, which is nothing to sniff at.

Still, it is a car that commands that, even if you don’t think a Chevy sedan would. It does. And it should.

Selected specs

Engine: 3.6-liter, DOHC, V6

Material: Aluminum block and heads

Horsepower: 305 @ 6,800 rpm

Torque: 264 lb-ft @ 5,200 rpm

Transmission: Six-speed automatic

Steering: Electric variable-assist rack and pinion

Wheelbase: 111.7 in.

Length: 201.3 in.

Width 73 in.

Height: 58.9 in.

Passenger volume: 105-cu. ft.

Cargo volume: 18.8-cu. ft.

Curb weight: 3,800 lb.

EPA fuel economy: city/highway/combined: 19/29/22 mpg