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Subject:  Re: 5 days in an Impala Date:  8/19/2012  12:49 PM
Author:  Milligram46 Number:  69219 of 73239

One more interesting tranny bit I discovered. You can have the gear selector in the center console (where a proper manual shifter is traditionally located) or you can get it on the steering column. Where an automatic gear lever belongs! ;-)

They still offer the column shifter because a large number of Impalas sold each year go to police fleets (NYC uses them is the biggest example). The police departments want the center console open for radios and equipment and they don't like the console shifters.

I would say the holy grail Impala to find would be a 2012 LTZ with a column shifter.

The Impala is the last of the GM W-bodies. The 3.1L and 3.4L early offerings were God awful. The 3.8L V6 can't be killed, but doesn't have the power of the 3.6L VVT. The 3.8L V6 supercharged was also a good motor, but required premium fuel. The Gen II versions of the 3.8L and 3.8L supercharged suffered because of Dexcool issues - the engines themselves are great, it's the Dexcool that sucks. The 3.5L was gutless and coarse, BUT crazy efficient. Baby the gas pedal and you could get 40 MPG cruising on the highway. The 3.9L was better, but still coarse and didn't get great MPG. The LS4 5.3L V8 (yes you read that right) was actually an upgrade from the all iron 3.8L V6 supercharged version. Incredibly, the larger displacement LS4 was lighter than the L67 supercharged motor. However the LS4 was VERY thirsty, brutal on the 4-speed tranny it was attached to and had the steering radius of an oil tanker.

The 3.6L VVT engine in it today really is - perfect for the car. Sadly, GM could have offered this engine all the way back in the mid-2000s. It's a great example of how GM beancounters shoot the company in the foot when the right answer is already in the parts bin. At 300 HP it has the power of the LS4, but not the weight so the car handles better (not nose heavy). It gets great mileage tied to the 6-speed automatic, which isn't completely gutless in the way it was programmed (plenty of power, Camry SE grade but still gets great fuel economy). The engine is refined and smooth, with a satisfying note when you plant the happy pedal down. GM always did tune their V6 exhausts well.

Just goes to show how long the GM W-Body has been around. Seven different engines I can recall off the top of my head. I don't think the 2.8L ever found its way under the hood in its earliest years, but I could be wrong.

TTAC just wrote a piece about the 2012 Impala - not quite with the warmth they hold the Panther Platform but with a same sense of nostalga. No one will ever call the W-Body Impala a "great" car. However when you look at what it was built to do. Carry five people in comfort all all their stuff in relative comfort, in a reliable package, that isn't exactly satisfying to drive but will get you from Point A to Point B without beating you up - the Impala is a great, albeit uninspiring appliance.

Just as the current Corolla is utterly outdated by every measure when compared to the C-segment competition, there is something to be said about boat anchor grade R&D paid for years ago technology. The Impala falls into that same category. Dated in every way, but as reliable as a sunrise and purpose built for what it is.

Funny that as cars reach this pinnacle, its time for the whole chassis to go to pasture.
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