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2006 Chevrolet Impala SS – Delivers on its Name

The 2006 Chevrolet Impala is a complete reskin from its dorky looking predecessor. It now looks very purposeful and almost modern. We have read many criticisms of its freshened styling, but, while not head-turning, the Impala is a huge improvement. The interior is ergonomically friendly and everything falls to hand easily.
So, what are the gripes. In an obvious cost-reduction, the bezel surrounding the console-mounted shifter in the Impala SS does not have P-R-N-D-L or anything else to tell you what gear you are in. The only indicator is on the instrument cluster where there is a LED read out. I don’t remember any car not having the gears shown near the shift lever. Probably saved a buck.

Excitement Reigns Under Full Throttle

In another obvious goof that many buff books have identified and I can confirm, torque steer is wild. Punch the 303-horsepower small-block V8 and things get exciting fast. It’s like you can’t figure out which way the car is going. Unlike many cars having fearsome torque steer (they usually turn hard right), the steering in the Impala SS under power seems almost omni-directional. If it consistently pulled right, you could anticipate it, but the SS seems to be everywhere.
Apparently, this is fixed on the Pontiac Grand Prix GXP with the same powertrain and platform but with larger tires up front. Chevy should spring for this fix. The Impala is a premium priced model and such obvious cost cuts should not be tolerated.
Impala Best Chevy Sedan since the old Impala SS
But, enough nit-picking. The Impala SS is truly the best non-Corvette car we have driven in a long time.


  • karxprt| July 11, 2006 at 12:42 pm

    In a car like the Impala SS a manufacturer should not skimp on things like the tires/wheels and even the shift lever graphics. These are things buyers will live with for a long time and will be a constant irritant. Like Barrett says, people may buy the car because they do not notice torque steer or little niggling oversights or cost reductions, but this will impact satisfaction over the long run.

  • David Barrett| July 11, 2006 at 1:37 am

    Having spent some time behind the wheel of the Impala, I can confirm the wild torque steer – it is all over the map and is a detraction from the overall performance of the car. At the same time, the throttle response is crisp and the engine sounds delightful.
    The seats, while not designed for high-performance driving, are quite comfortable, even for the wider backsides of those of us over the age of 35 (and American!). I would note that the leather used in the Impala is of very nice quality and had a lovely “leather-rich” smell that made sitting in the car very nice. The interior offers solid fit and finish overall and GM and Chevy should be recognized for the effort put into the car.
    So, while this car suffers from the same maladies as many recent American manufactured vehicles (very nice design, solid performance, weak or cheap elements or cost cutting obvious), the big question that I have is this: How do these cost-cutting decisions affect the long-term impact of these cars? Will the Impala sell fewer units because you cannot see what gear you’re in easily? Will the lack of appropriate rubber on the Impala stop people from making a purchase decision? Are these measures prudent or short-sighted on the part of GM and other American manufacturers?

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