Paint it black: Impala SS is swift and sinister
by Dick Williamson (Rocky Mountain News 7/16/94)
Like a cop gone bad, an outlaw version of the familiar
Chevrolet police cruiser is prowling the streets with a badge
that reads: Impala SS.
It's a family car with an attitude.
Sitting on 17-inch wheels clad in steamroller tires, the sedan
is longer than a Ford Crown Victoria, stronger than a Lexus
LS400, faster than an Infiniti Q45 and $ 8,000 less than a
Picture, if you will, 4,218 pounds of steel, iron, glass,
rubber and assorted synthetic materials rocketing from red light
to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds and covering the quarter mile in 15.4.
And if you happen to be driving this car through the Bonneville
proving grounds, you might get the digital speedometer to flash
Impala enthusiasts should send thank-you notes to auto show
zealots for reviving this blast from the past. Swept up in waves
of accolades at the Detroit show a couple of years back,
Chevrolet couldn't say no to demands that the Impala SS leave the
concept car turntable and hit the road with a window sticker.
If there is such a thing as reverse sticker shock, the Impala
SS could create it. The base price is $ 21,920, and I drove a
loaded version tagged at only $ 23,036.
Of course, you may have a hard time finding a dealer who will
let you have an Impala SS (Super Sport) for the MSRP
(Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price), since Chevy is building
only 6,000 in the inaugural year and most of those are spoken
What makes this enhanced version of the Chevrolet Caprice a
bargain is the superiority of its components.
Take the wheels, for example. They're 17-inchers made of
lightweight cast alloy metal. And the tires are huge Z-rated
meats worthy of the racetrack.
Like much more expensive luxury models, the Impala has disc
brakes on all fours. And these are big 12-inch ventilated discs
with a 32% increase in the swept area over the Caprice's. An
anti-lock system is standard.
A car with a lot of muscle needs strong bones, and Chevy's
engineers gave this one an industrial strength skeleton derived
from the police cruisers.
A heavy-duty cooling system is also part of the package.
For buyers who want extras, $ 860 covers an extra 6-way power
passenger seat, remote keyless entry, automatic head lamps, power
antenna and heated outside mirrors. The upgraded stereo with
compact disc player costs $ 256.
To distinguish the Impala from the run-of-the-mill Caprice,
Chevrolet lacquered the body in black, with body-colored front
and rear fascias, rocker moldings, door handles, key locks, tail
lamp moldings and antenna base. The grille and body side moldings
are black, and the insignia include a raised ''Impala SS'' script
along the flanks and a stylized chrome Impala in an oval.
The interior is rather plain, with gray leather upholstery and
a spartan instrument panel. The compact disc player, radio and
ventilation controls are packaged front and center in the dash.
The shift lever is on the steering column, and chrome switches
for the seats, windows and mirrors are on the door armrests.
The seats are big and comfortable, with the SS symbol embossed
in the leather.
On the road, the Impala SS is black magic.
The cruiser's powers come from a 5.7-liter V-8 engine that's
worth 260 well- trained horses. That's 22 fewer than the V-8 in
the BMW 740iL. But when you compare torque - the real measure of
a motivator - Chevy's 330 pound-feet at 3, 200 rpm beats the
Bimmer by 35 pound-feet and the Lexus LS400 by 70 pound-feet.
Believe it, you can feel the torque. The rear-drive Impala
surges up entrance ramps and makes the passing lanes especially
And there's not a lot of noise to go with the experience. A
remarkably smooth 4-speed automatic delivers the power without
any noticeable shift points.
A quick-ratio power steering system gives the 2-ton sedan the
agility of a much smaller car.
And, as an added bonus, you get a trunk the size of Manhattan.
Is this the car of the future for aging Baby Boomers? Well,
* Its proportions and cushions are a comfort to older bodies.
* It's fast when you want speed and easygoing when you want to
* It's affordable for those who still have any money left over
from The Decade of Greed.
* Its cool appearance feeds the egos of those who have any
self-esteem left over from The Decade of Greed.
* It consumes 87-octane unleaded at the judicious rate of 17
city mpg and 25 on the highway, and
* It's just like old times.
I say they build more.
1994 Chevrolet Impala SS
Vehicle type: Rear-drive, 5-passenger, large sport sedan. Where
built: Arlington, Texas. Price: $ 21,920 base, $ 23,036 as
tested, $ 575 destination charge. Power: 5.7-liter, 260-hp V-8.
Brakes: Power vented discs, ABS. Length x width x height: 214.1
x 77 x 57.7 inches. Wheelbase x track (f / r): 115.9 x 62.3 /
62.7 inches. Curb weight: 4,218 pounds. Gas mileage: 17 city,
25 highway mpg, 23-gal. tank. Options: Passenger-side 6-way
power adjustable seat, remote keyless entry / trunk release,
twilight sentinel head lamps, power antenna, automatic day /
night rear view mirror, heated outside mirrors ($ 860).
Chevrolet returns the Impala name to the road after an absence of
nearly a decade with the limited production Impala SS.