WHAT'S BIG, BLACK, AND BRAWNY? THE NEW IMPALA SS
(Bergen Record 8/20/94)
Chevrolet Impala SS
Base price: $ 21,920
Price as tested: $ 23,611
Mileage: 17 mpg/city / 25 mpg/highway
It feels like a genuine Chevy, something you haven't felt
since, well, maybe 1969. That was the last year for the Impala
SS, the big Chevy family sedan with brawn.
Today it's back as the 1994 Chevrolet Impala SS, with a base
price of $ 21,920. It's all sleek and black outside, save for
the silver impala logos in three spots , and pumped up with a
5.7-liter V-8 engine derived from the Corvette.
This is the first time in 25 years that the Impala SS
nameplate graces a new car.
And what a car it is. True to its heritage, it's big and
heavy, weighing more than 4,200 pounds. Yet it really gets up to
103 mph in no time while feeling like it's doing only 60.
And despite its ample size, the new Impala SS doesn't go
flopping around on curves.
The 1994 Impala SS (the "SS" is for "Super Sport") is actually
a 1994 Chevrolet Caprice makeover. It's a rear-drive Caprice
family sedan that's been fitted with a Corvette-derived 5.7-liter
V-8 engine and a modified police-car suspension package.
The Impala engine's 260 horsepower, at 5,000 revolutions per
minute, easily beats the 214 horses of the Chrysler LHS and the
190 horsepower of the Ford Crown Victoria LX. The Impala's 330
pound-feet of torque at 3,200 rpm also separates it from the
In fact, at an estimated 7.1 seconds from zero to 60, the 1994
Impala SS rivals some of its own ancestors road-galloping
Yet fuel economy of 17 miles per gallon in the city and 25 on
the highway is respectable, though a tad below today's
Its top speed of about 145 mph also is above the Chrysler LHS
112 mph and the Crown Vic's 125 mph, Chevrolet officials say.
An impressively smooth, electronically controlled, four-speed
automatic transmission sends power to the wheels. Shift points
during the test drive were hardly felt, except in aggressive,
Too bad, though, that the engineers and stylists chose to
keep the Caprice gear shifter on the steering column of the
Impala SS. This car just cries out to have it on the floor. The
1994 model has no tachometer, either.
Chevrolet started with a police-car suspension package,
upgraded the power steering, then added new stabilizer bars in
the front and rear.
Specially tuned gas-pressure shock absorbers were added, too.
Anti-lock brakes are standard on the Impala and do an
impressive job stopping this rig. There are 12-inch brake discs
on the front and rear.
Traction control isn't available, but the special 17-inch
sporttires do a commendable job sticking to pavement. They're on
especially attractive cast-alloy spoke wheels.
The Impala is easy to spot. Just look for the big black car
with the long hood. Black is the only color for 1994, though
Chevrolet spokesman Craig Eppling said a few dark metallic colors
are being added for the 1995-model year.
Both the front and back seats have ample room. I could extend
my legs in the Impala's back seat even with the front seat back
all the way. Indeed, three adults can sit comfortably in the
Adding to the ambience is the sound system, upgraded with a
compact disc player.
There's a nice center armrest in the back seat, as well as a
sizable rear window shelf. In between the front seats is a long
black console with several cupholders and cubbyholes. But not
one of the cupholders, it seemed, was big enough for a large
On the other hand, the Impala dashboard is huge, with one
rider remarking that he felt as if he were sitting behind a desk.
The Impala SS is well-equipped with standard fare that
includes cruise control, two front air bags, a digital
speedometer, leather seats, a heavy-duty cooling system, and a
power driver seat. The vanity mirrors have no light, though, and
front-seat shoulder belts are not height-adjustable.
The 20.4-cubic-foot trunk is roomy and carries a full-size
tire. In comparison, the Chrysler LHS trunk is 17.9 cubic feet,
and the Ford Crown Victoria trunk is 20.6 cubic feet.
The lift over is quite high, however, to get items in and out
of the Impala trunk.
Chevrolet's sales target is 6,000 Impala SS cars for the
1994-model year and 15,000 in the 1995-model year, Eppling said.
Dealer invoice on the Impala SS, according to the New Car Cost
Guide, is $ 20,056.80. The price as tested is $ 23,611.
Competitors include the $ 30,283 Chrysler LHS and $ 20,765
Ford Crown Victoria.
Predicted reliability: Consumer Reports says 1990-91 Chevrolet
Caprices with V-8 engines ranked worse than average in owner
trouble reports, and 1992 models ranked much worse than average.