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2003 Chevrolet Impala

2003 Chevrolet Impala
Modern efficiency with a link to the past.

By Phil Berg

Review Pages
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1. Overview
2. Walkaround and Interior
3. Driving Impressions
4. Summary, Prices, Specs

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Overview

The Chevrolet Impala is a mid-size sedan packing nearly full-size family room. It even feels like a big luxury car. The Impala handles well and accelerates quickly when equipped with the optional 3.8-liter V6.

By any other name, the Impala would be an impressive, significant car. But Chevrolet chose to honor an icon of the 1960s, not only with the Impala name, but with key visual cues as well. Impala is calculated to push the nostalgia button for a certain generation.

From 1958-65, Impala meant the flashiest full-size Chevrolet, a real working-man's Cadillac, tame in its base form but offering performance options to match its aggressive looks. After '65, the sporty Impala was subordinated to the more conservative-looking Caprice, and eventually the name disappeared from the Chevrolet lineup.

Like its namesake, today's Impala is tame and practical with base-level equipment. However, when ordered with the optional 3.8-liter V6 the Impala is quick. The Chevy Impala feels more responsive than the six-seat sedans from Toyota, Dodge, Ford and Buick. The Impala offers competent suspension tuning, distinctive looks, and plenty of interior room.

XM Satellite Radio is available as an option this year and the 2003 Impala comes in new exterior colors with new five-spoke alloy wheels.

Model Lineup

Two models are available: Impala ($20,325) and Impala LS ($24,025). Both are four-door sedans.

The base Impala runs with a 3.4-liter 180-horsepower V6. The more up-market LS comes with GM's proven and highly competent 3.8-liter V6, producing 200 horsepower. The 3.8-liter engine is available as an option ($995) on the base model. So the real difference between the Impala and the Impala LS is the level of amenities.

All 3.8-liter Impalas come standard with traction control and anti-lock brakes; ABS is available as a $600 stand-alone option with the base 3.4-liter engine.

All Impalas come with air conditioning with separate controls for driver and passenger; AM/FM/cassette stereo; four-wheel-disc brakes; a rear window defogger; power locks, windows, and mirrors; tilt steering; front and rear anti-roll bars; P225/60R16 tires on aluminum wheels, and stainless steel exhaust. Remote keyless entry has been added for 2003.

The LS Sport Appearance Package ($1495) adds brake cooling ducts, a strut-tower brace, a tire-inflation monitor, and extra gauges to a graphite-finish instrument panel; the package is distinguished by embroidered logos on door panels and floor mats, a body-color taillight panel, and chromed exhaust tips.

XM Satellite Radio is optional on both base and LS. This high-tech system offers 100 coast-to-coast digital channels, including 71 music channels (more than 30 of them commercial-free) and 29 channels of sports, talk, news, and children's entertainment. XM's sound quality is remarkably close to a compact disc, according to Chevrolet.

OnStar is standard on LS and optional on base Impalas. GM's OnStar is a customer-service network linked via satellite. Among other things, it's a safety feature that you may never notice during daily use, but can serve a critical role if something goes wrong. The system can notify OnStar network representatives of the car's exact location if it is stolen or to direct roadside assistance to you. OnStar automatically notifies the network when the airbag has been deployed, and operators will dispatch emergency crews unless you respond to their calls.


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