Road Test / Chevrolet Impala SS by Tom Incantalupo (Newsday 5/6/94)




FOR MANY OF US who grew up in the '60s, the initials "SS" on a

Chevy conjure memories of cars that were to die for: Camaros,

Chevelles, Impalas and, much later, Monte Carlos - coupes and

convertibles, often in red.



   For 1994, Chevy has been trying to trade on that goodwill,

bringing back the Impala name, unused since 1985, and the SS

designation, which means "super sport" and hasn't appeared on a

Chevy since 1969.



   Even though the names are on a four-door sedan, the largest

division of General Motors hopes to lure some of the now-middle

aged who drooled over those hot Chevys in high school or college

but couldn't afford them. And, of course, anyone younger who'd

care to participate. 



   Based, obviously, on the Caprice, the Impala has a variation

of the Corvette's engine and a beefed-up suspension similar to

that in Caprices sold for police use. There also are

17-inch-diameter, 8.5-inch-wide wheels with P-255 tires.



   The result is a big five-passenger sedan quite without equal

in its combination of room, trunk space, reasonable price, sporty

looks, terrific handling and raw power. The ride might be a

little jiggly for some tastes and our tester's BF Goodrich Comp

T/As weren't nearly as impressive in the wet as they were on dry

pavement. And you pay a price in fuel mileage for all that power.



   But if you thought you could never love a Caprice, you'll

probably be in for a surprise the first time you get an Impala

out on a twisty road or floor the accelerator when the light

turns green.



   Built in Arlington, Texas, the SS comes only in a

black-on-black color scheme. Aside from that, the Impala is

distinguished from other Caprices only by the rear deck spoiler

and styled wheels. The look drew more thumbs-ups, waves and

mouthed compliments through closed windows than most Caprice

owners will likely receive in seven years.



   A few gripes: The front bucket seats are shy on lateral

support, a flaw made worse by the slippery leather upholstery and

the lack of a dead pedal or other comfortable place on which to

brace your left foot.



   The digital speedometer, the only one available, is similarly

not in keeping with the sporty personality. And there is no

tachometer available.



   A limited-slip rear axle is standard. But traction control is,

unfortunately, not available in the Impala or Caprice.



   The base price includes air conditioning, power windows and

locks, cruise control, tilt wheel and much more, but you'll have

to add $ 205 for a rear defogger, or buy it in an $ 860 package

with power passenger seat, remote keyless entry and other

conveniences.



At a Glance



   Engine: 5.7-liter V-8, 260 horsepower



   Transmission: Four-speed automatic, rear wheel drive



   Safety: Dual air bags, four-wheel antilock disc brakes



   Weight: 4,218 pounds



   Trunk Capacity: 20.4 cubic feet



   Base Price: $ 22,495, incl. destination charge



   EPA Mileage: 17 mpg city, 25 mpg highway