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2016 Chevrolet Impala: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader August 2015

The world of the full-size sedan can sometimes be a little gloomy -- and for years, that gloom included the Chevrolet Impala, which was a mediocre also-ran in a segment without many highlights.

But that all changed in 2014, when the Impala was fully redesigned with an emphasis on just about everything: style, technology, fuel economy, equipment and even driving experience. Two years later, the 2016 Chevrolet Impala is still one of the stars of the segment -- and we think it's finally worthy of wearing the Impala name that recalls some of the automaker's most stylish 1960s sedans and coupes.

What's New for 2016?

The Impala makes only minor changes for 2016, the highlight of which is the addition of optional wireless charging for devices. Otherwise, changes are limited to color updates and revised package names.

What We Like

Stylish design; roomy interior; huge trunk; excellent ride; modern technology

What We Don't

Poor rear visibility; busy button-filled cabin; loud tire noise with 20-inch wheels

How Much?

$27,900-$36,400

Fuel Economy

The 2016 Impala offers two engine choices. Base models use a 195-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder that makes 187 lb-ft of torque. Only offered with front-wheel drive and a 6-speed automatic transmission, it returns up to 22 miles per gallon in the city and 31 mpg on the highway.

Drivers looking for more power can upgrade to a 305-hp 3.5-liter V6. That engine is also offered solely with front-wheel drive and touts fuel economy ratings as high as 18 mpg city/28 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The Impala offers three basic trim levels: LS, LT and LTZ -- though Chevrolet subdivides LT models into 1LT and 2LT trims. LS and LT models come standard with the 4-cylinder, while the V6 is optional in the LT and standard in the LTZ.

The base-level Impala LS ($27,900) is the most sparsely equipped. It includes a 4-cylinder engine, automatic headlights, power accessories, USB/iPod connectivity, GM's OnStar telematics system with in-car Wi-Fi, air conditioning, Bluetooth, a power driver's seat, a 4.2-in center screen, satellite radio, cruise control and steel wheels with hubcaps.

Step up to an Impala LT ($30,300), and you'll get 18-in alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, Chevrolet's MyLink infotainment system with an 8-in touchscreen and app capability, voice controls and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. Drivers can also upgrade to the V6 engine for just under $1,000 extra.

Topping the Impala line is the luxurious LTZ ($36,400). In addition to a standard V6, it touts rear parking sensors, a backup camera, a remote ignition, dual power front seats, leather upholstery, heated front seats, 19-in alloy wheels and safety options such as rear cross-traffic alert, a forward-collision warning system, a lane-departure warning system and a blind spot monitoring system.

The Impala also offers a long list of optional extras, including a power sunroof, adaptive cruise control, automatic forward-collision braking, 20-in alloy wheels, a Bose audio system, a heated steering wheel and ventilated front seats. Drivers can also opt for a compressed-natural-gas engine, offered only in LS and LT trims, which is aimed primarily at fleet shoppers with easy access to natural gas.

Safety

The 2016 Chevrolet Impala comes standard with all the usual features: side-curtain airbags, front side airbags, anti-lock brakes and stability control. It also offers a few others, such as traction control, front knee airbags and GM's OnStar telematics system, which offers stolen-vehicle tracking and remote door unlocking. As for safety-related options, the Impala also offers a long list: There's a backup camera, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, a blind spot monitoring system, forward-collision alert and automatic forward-collision braking.

In government crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the latest Impala earned a 5-star overall rating. That score comprised two 5-star tests -- front impact and side impact -- along with a 4-star rating in the government's rollover assessment. The nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not yet completed its assessment of the Impala.

Behind the Wheel

For a large family sedan, the Impala is effortless to drive. Strong acceleration gives the Impala V6 the fortitude required to negotiate city traffic, merge onto freeways with the flow of traffic and climb mountain grades, all while returning better than 20 mpg on average.

The new Impala's electric steering offers pleasing heft regardless of vehicle speed and crisp response when bending the Impala into a curve or turning into a parking space. Given that it's the same system as found in the Camaro but recalibrated for the full-size Chevy sedan, perhaps this comes as no surprise. Suspension tuning provides a deft blend of ride smoothness and handling prowess -- and while the Impala is not a sport sedan, it can cover ground at a rapid pace on twisty roads.

Chevrolet could improve the new Impala with regard to the 6-speed automatic transmission. We found that it stumbled on occasion, especially when driving in the mountains. A manual shift button is provided at the top of the gear selector, but it is unsatisfying to use despite the fact that it matches engine revs when downshifting.

Impala LTZ models equipped with the optional 20-in aluminum wheels sure look terrific, but there is a penalty to be paid in terms of ride quality and interior noise. So equipped, more of the road texture is delivered to the cabin, sometimes rudely, as in the case of traveling over a pothole. The 20-in tires also create more road noise.

Other Cars to Consider

2015 Ford Taurus -- The Taurus offers impressive gas mileage and improved handling compared to the Impala, but it's smaller, and the Taurus' design is older than the Impala's recently freshened look.

2015 Hyundai Azera -- The recently redesigned Hyundai Azera offers powerful engines, high-tech gadgets and a long list of features -- both standard and optional.

2015 Toyota Avalon -- Toyota's full-size Avalon sedan offers excellent refinement and legendary build quality, and it offers a fuel-efficient hybrid variant.

Used Cadillac XTS -- If you like the Impala's size and equipment but not its mainstream Chevy badge, consider the more upscale Cadillac XTS. It's better-looking than the Impala and better-appointed -- but its base price tag of $45,600 means you may want to consider a used model.

Autotrader's Advice

We like the Impala for its dramatically improved driving experience, for its highly competitive cabin materials and for its long list of standard and optional features. If we were choosing one, it would have to be an LT model equipped with a few of the safety gadgets from the upscale LTZ. That way, you wouldn't break the bank with features you don't need, but you'd still have all the necessities, including modern safety technology and Chevrolet's excellent MyLink infotainment system.

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Used 2016 Chevrolet Impala Limited LTZ
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Chevrolet Impala: New Car Review - Autotrader