CHEVY A BARGAIN AT $25,692: Impala SS is still a
fine big car Lexus refinement missing, but feature-for-feature it
compares favorably by Steven Cole Smith (Milwaukee Journal
When I tested the 1994 Chevrolet Impala SS, there wasn't much
Negative comments were essentially restricted to the automatic
transmission shifter mounted on the steering column a car with
such sporty intent needed a console-mounted shifter and the dopey
digital dashboard, which would be more at home in the geriatric
Caprice Classic. (The median age of the average Caprice Classic
buyer is 67.)
For 1996, the Impala SS has two major changes: a
console-mounted shifter and regular analog gauges that have
replaced the digital dash.
So now, the car is perfect?
Well, for what it is, it's pretty close. Plenty of room, a lot
of standard safety equipment, including dual air bags and
anti-lock disc brakes, excellent performance and distinctive
looks. List price, with a compact disc player and leather-trimmed
Our 1994 model listed for $23,611, but didn't have quite the
level of equipment the 1996 model does. It was a bargain then,
and it's a bargain now. For a similar level of performance and
comfort in a big sedan, you'd have to look to Germany for
Mercedes and BMW models, or to Japan for a Lexus or Infiniti.
And you'd be looking to your banker for a much bigger loan.
Feature-for-feature, the Impala SS compares favorably with the
Lexus LS 400, but costs less than half as much.
Is it as refined? Of course not. But for the difference in
price, I'm willing to overlook quite a bit of unrefined behavior.
Really, though, there isn't much. The Impala SS still has a
260-horsepower version of the 5.7-liter V-8 found in the Corvette
and Camaro Z-28. The four-speed 4L60-E automatic transmission,
which is as good as any in the world, is immediately responsive
and still helps the Impala SS to a respectable 17 mpg in the
city, 26 mpg on the highway.
For a 4,036-pound sedan, the Impala SS handles much more
nimbly than the weight suggests. Much of that is due to a taut
suspension, featuring premium de Carbon shock absorbers, and
plump P255/50ZR-17 radial tires mounted on five-spoke cast
The front power bucket seats, although comfortable, are still
lacking in lateral support.
Instruments and gauges are properly placed and legible, and
the stereo is more than adequate.
All Impala SS models are built at the GM plant in Arlington,
Texas, which will be changed over to produce pickups after the
1996 model year. This is the last hurrah for the Impala SS, as
well as the Caprice, Buick Roadmaster and Cadillac Fleetwood.
Will the Impala SS become a collector's item? That's unlikely,
because too many were built. But it does, and will, hold its
value quite well.
When I tested the 1994 model, I said that if I needed a big
car, I'd probably buy an Impala SS. That hasn't changed.