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

Chrysler LHS.



   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

145 mph. 



   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

for.



   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

memorable.



   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,

let's consider:



   * Its proportions and cushions are a comfort to older bodies.



   * It's fast when you want speed and easygoing when you want to

cruise.



   * 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.



   INFOBOX



   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.