The Chevrolet Impala has loitered in driveways—and more than a few rental lots—in its current iteration since the 2006 model year, picking up features like E85 capability and handful of new colors along the way. A heretical SS model came and went, too, marking the first instance of a Chevy small block V-8 powering an Impala’s front wheels. Six model years later, someone at Chevrolet must have decided a refresh was in order, and so the Impala receives both a powerful new engine and lightly altered styling for 2012.
For 2012, Chevrolet has streamlined the Impala’s engine lineup from two ho-hum V-6s to a single, more-modern V-6. To replace the Impala’s two ancient pushrod powerplants—a 3.5-liter making 211 hp and a “range-topping” 3.9-liter pinching out a mere 230—Chevy dipped into the corporate parts bin and plucked out GM’s 3.6-liter direct-injected six, here making 302 hp and 252 lb-ft of torque. The 3.6-liter can be found powering everything from the Malibu to the Cadillac CTS, and in this application pushes out just 1 hp and 71 lb-ft fewer than did the Impala SS’s 5.3-liter V-8, which was discontinued for 2010. Chevrolet also saw fit to upgrade the Impala’s transmission, yanking out the old-school four-speed slushbox and dropping in a six-speed automatic. The new engine and transmission should net the Impala improved fuel-economy numbers, but we’ll have to wait for its official EPA rating for the exact amount. The large sedan currently achieves 19 mpg city and 29 highway with the smaller 3.5-liter V-6, which isn’t terrible for a ton-and-a-half cruiser. In the somewhat heavier Buick LaCrosse, the 3.6/six-speed combo produces less power than it will here but only returns 17 mpg city and 27 highway.
The Impala’s looks have been gently warmed over, with an emphasis on “gently.” Malibu-like chrome mesh now adorns the grille and fog-light housings, replacing the horizontal slats on last year’s model. The headlights, bumper, and grille openings remain the same. The base Impala now rides on 16-inch aluminum wheels instead of steelies with hubcaps. (We expect more—and hopefully better—photos by the end of the month; the anticipation is killing us.) The interior of the Impala carries over, although Bluetooth connectivity is now standard on all retail Impalas, and optional on those destined for fleets. For driving impressions of the 2012 Impala, we’d suggest you rent one and experience it for yourself—the press fleets aren’t exactly loaded with the things.
Thanks to: Car and Driver