You have to respect the sturdiness and competence that a car like this must possess…

The much-maligned fleet car Chevrolet Impala is the “I don’t get no respect!” sedan of the auto world, if I may quote the late Rodney Dangerfield.

The Impala I rented in Hawaii early this year was confirmation of the beating, while on the job, that a car like this has to endure. Yet, you have to respect the sturdiness and competence that a car like this must possess.

Body scars left by a multitude of indifferent drivers were visible evidence of the abuse. Although basic on the inside, the Impala turned out to be surprisingly comfortable and the biggest surprise of all was its performance. Impala offers good power, a quiet passenger cabin and a comfortable ride, which helped make the overall driving experience a pleasant one.

Chevrolet first introduced an Impala way back in 1958 and at one time, it was the best-selling car in America. The last time I had driven an Impala was in 2009. Chevrolet had given it a new flex-fuel E85 engine upgrade, so that it can accept up to 85 per cent ethanol content in its fuel.

While an Impala is unlikely to be on your “dream drive” list, if you’re simply looking for an inexpensive, reliable and roomy, near-new sedan, then add it to your used car drive list. In 2010, even the base LS trim came with air conditioning, power mirrors, walnut burl (imitation) interior accent trim, cruise control, a tilt steering wheel, power windows and power locks with keyless entry and automatic headlamps.

Our Hawaii rental was an LT trim which added 16-inch alloy wheels, a leather-wrapped wheel with audio controls, CD/MP3 stereo and a remote starter. The top-line LTZ adds 18-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps, heated mirrors, deck lid spoiler, auto-dimming rearview mirror, eight-way power driver’s seat, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, sport suspension, electronic stability control, and a theft deterrent system.

The 3.5-litre V6 (standard on LS and LT) engine can generate 214 horsepower. Its companion four-speed automatic is smooth, competent and reliable, yet it lags behind five and six-speed units offered by competitors.  Fuel consumption is still decent at 11.3/7.0 L/100 km (city/highway). The 3.9-litre (LTZ) engine can generate 240 horsepower.

This generation Impala may be the last sedan to offer six-passenger seating. A drawback to having a bench style front seat is that it only provides a centre occupant a lap seatbelt. When not in use, however, the centre seatback can flip down and act as a wide central armrest with a built-in storage compartment.

Although it is classified as a mid-size sedan, an Impala actually offers close to full-size room inside. The trunk is huge (527-litres/18.6 cu ft) and the rear seats flip-down to expand cargo space for long items. More than enough for our pack lunch and some beach gear.

Chevrolet added standard body-colour side mouldings to the 2011 model year Impala, and the OnStar system got a new Turn-by-Turn voice navigation feature. Major powertrain upgrades followed in 2012, with a new 3.6-litre V6 replaced both the 3.5-litre and 3.9-litre engines in all trim levels. A six-speed automatic transmission also replaced the previous four-speed automatic. No changes were made in 2013, which was the last year of this generation Impala.

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Price Check: 2010 – 2013 Chevrolet Impala (July 2014)

Year                    Edition                                                 Expect to Pay Today

2010                       LT                                                         $10,000 to $14,000

2011                       LT                                                         $12,000 to $16,000

2012                       LT                                                         $14,000 to $18,000

2013                       LT                                                         $16,000 to $20,000

Prices vary depending on a used vehicle’s condition, mileage, usage and history. A complete mechanical check should always be performed by a reliable auto technician prior to purchase.

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Safety Recalls: 2010 to 2013 Chevrolet Impala: 

2006 to 2013: An ignition switch defect could allow it to slip out of the “run” position while the vehicle moving, if the key ring is carrying added weight or the vehicle goes off-road or is subjected to some other jarring event. If this were to occur, engine power, power steering and power braking would be affected. In addition, the airbags may not deploy in a subsequent collision. Dealers will replace the ignition switch. Until the correction is performed, all items should be removed from the key ring.

2008 to 2012: The front suspension control arms may fracture on some Chevrolet Impala police vehicles and negatively change vehicle handling. Dealers will replace both control arms.

2009/2010: The front seatbelt webbing may not have been properly secured to the lap belt anchor pretensioner. Dealers will inspect both front seatbelts for proper installation of anchors to pretensioners and, if necessary, reinstall the anchors.

2012: The high-pressure (upper) power steering hose may have been misrouted and could contact the catalytic converter, on vehicles equipped with the 3.6L engine. Heat from the catalytic converter may melt the power steering hose, which could result in a fire. Dealers will inspect, reroute and/or replace the power steering hose and install a protective sleeve to prevent abrasion.

Contact: bob [dot] mchugh [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

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