The Impala sedan is one of Chevy’s best selling models, and General Motor’s best selling car, for a lot of reasons. It’s roomy, reliable, has good all-around performance, and offers lots of high value for a low price. So what could Chevy do to make it even more appealing? Well, actually, quite a lot.

While technically not all-new, the 2006 Chevrolet Impala is such a critical car for General Motors’s volume brand that
they did pull out most of the stops with a thorough revamping. The chassis is familiar, but it has been stiffened, and now adorned with sleek styling, advanced pushrod power, and numerous upscale interior touches. While the 110.5-inch wheelbase is also the same, the new Impala is about 1 1/2 inches taller, with fractions of an inch added to length, width, and track.

Standard 16-inch tires, with optional 17’s, sit beneath the metallic antelope on most grades, supported by a retuned MacPherson strut front and independent tri-link rear suspensions. Power choices begin with two larger and more powerful V6 engines. The base 3.5-liter V6 churns out 211 horsepower and 214 pound-feet of torque. The 3.9-liter V6 generates 240 horsepower, a 40 horsepower gain, and 242 pound feet.  Each six gets a “push-rod first,” variable valve timing, and are linked to a four-speed automatic transmission with available floor shifter and traction control. 

Our fleet-like LT tester wore the base 3.5 and managed 0 to 60 in 8.3 seconds. The quarter mile followed in 16.7 seconds at 86 miles-per-hour. The 3.9 knocks about a second off both times and would be our clear choice for family use. Most families favor a great ride over superior handling, and in that vein our Impala LT is pretty much on par with the Camry and Accord. There isn’t a lot of steering feedback, and plenty of front push makes it safe and sane. Braking was disappointing, however. The Impala’s four-wheel-discs with optional ABS leisurely stopped in 148 feet from 60. We consider 130 feet a good result.

But inside, the Impala makes up for its track shortcomings. The 5- or 6-passenger cabin is exceptionally well played and a big improvement over all previous Chevrolet mid-size sedans. A refined instrument panel, available dual-zone climate, and standard side-curtain airbags, make it a most impressive mid-sizer.

Also impressive is a clever update to the traditional split-folding rear seat. Flip the bottom cushions forward to reveal under seat storage trays. They’re perfect for wobbly items or to conceal valuables. Grocery bag hooks are also provided. The rear seat backs also fold for a flat load space, and as a pass through to the generous 18.6 cubic-foot trunk.

Clearly, most models of Chevy’s galloping gazelle are made more for mall sweeps than track meets. But that’s where the Impala SS comes in. As the “other” Impala, the SS rules with the first small-block V-8 in a front-wheel-drive Impala. At 5.3-liters, output is 303 horsepower, 63 more than last year’s supercharged V-6, with 323 pound-feet of torque. Plus, SS gets a first for a Chevrolet car - DOD cylinder deactivation to cut fuel consumption. Compared to the base car, the SS wears firmer FE3 suspension hardware with larger stabilizer bars for enhanced roll control. They manage the 18-inch performance tires that connect the SS’s sportier ride and handling to the road.

This suburban hot-rod is subtly distinctive with the SS’s-signature black diamond crosshatch grille, 5-spoke wheels, standard rear spoiler, and bright exhaust tips, from which it exhales a throaty exhaust note that lesser Impalas don’t approach.

But mileage fares rather well on all Impalas. EPA estimates for the 3.5 V-6 are 21 city and 31 highway. The 3.9 V-6 rates 19 city and 27 highway, while the 5.3 V-8 SS scores 18 city and 28 highway.  But prices are Impala’s most critical numbers. They’re lower, and start at $21,990 for the base LS model. The LT goes for $25,420. The 3.9-liter LTZ sedan will run you $27,530, while a loaded V-8 SS runs $31,450.

Buyers in the market for a solid mid-size family sedan do themselves a disservice if they don’t consider the 2006 Chevrolet Impala. This almost all-new effort’s outstanding value outpaces market leading Camry and Accord. Plus, they have nothing like the V8 Impala SS. It’s a great American car name, now back on a worthy design.


  • Engine: 3.5-Liter V6
  • Horsepower: 211
  • Torque: 214 Lb Feet
  • 0-60 MPH: 8.3 Seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 16.7 Seconds @ 86 MPH
  • 60-0 MPH: 148 Feet
  • EPA: 21 City/31 Highway MPG