Review: A Peculiar Chevy Impala
How an inherently emotionless car stirred so many emotions in me over the years.
The old girl was well past her due date when I bought her my Junior year of high school.
I currently own a 2008 Chevrolet Impala that is showing similar symptoms as a particularly elderly dog
But how the hell does my old beater relate to an old dog?
Well, they are both well out of their prime, not very fast at anything, have a lot of essential parts that don’t work properly, and are involved, in some way, shape, or form, in many great memories.
The Impala has proved to be less than stellar in the reliability department. As a result, I have had to send it in for multiple operations. It had some issues when I bought it that proved to be a bit more serious later in its life
You may be wondering why I, someone so passionate about cars, decided to buy an old girl so unhealthy. I bought this car because I was young, dumb, broke, and I wanted a big, black sedan with an incredibly loud stereo.
Not to mention, when I hear Impala, I think of the lowered, blacked out 1964 SS model that Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg drive, not this.
I am either the 6th or 7th owner; the identity of whoever bought it new and then sold it to and potentially sold again is lost to the spinning rims of history.
It was once an undercover cop and a construction worker. Then it ventured on a Tennessee road trip and was sold to me.
In the spring of 2016, some friends and I went to a drive-in theatre, one which was not cheap, and as a result, we crammed three people in the massive trunk and only paid for two people.
We can forget the fact that two different people were driving out of the theatre than were driving in, a victimless crime I suppose.
The transmission has been replaced and rebuilt three times, and there have been a couple of botched oil changes. As well as one air conditioner regulator replacement; that last one was a real b***h to fix.
However, it soldiered on through all of these and is alive to this day. The 3.5-liter V6 still has a healthy bark, regardless of its weak bite.
Under the hood beats a heart of pure arthritis. When new, it made 205 horsepower and a tad bit more torque. There is no telling how many ponies have escaped over the years.
There is decent fuel economy for something so large and with only four gears; Chevrolet claims it is technically capable of about 20 mpg in the city and maybe 30 mpg on the highway.
However, if you drive like, I don’t know, a human, you’re more likely to get about half that in the city and maybe 25 on the highway, tops.
Speaking of the highway, that is what this car is excellent at, relaxed, laid back cruising. Specifically with biggie smalls bumping through the excellent dual 5-inch subs in the trunk, and the not so excellent normal speakers in the front doors.
This is something you learn very quickly, as the steering is very light, but not too light, there is still an excellent amount of weight to the wheel you touch, and the suspension very soft and cloudy.
Also, if you don’t drive like a complete lunatic, the gear changes won’t quite snap your neck.
In terms of being able to stand out, you’re not going to get that far with an ’08 Impala; it’s a pretty generic mutt. There’s a reason this machine is so popular with undercover cops and why Ryan Gosling drove one at the beginning of the movie Drive; it’s discrete.
This is ironic, considering this is an American car, and discreetness is something most Americans would not know if it hit us with, well, a 2008 Impala
If you drive in the affluent areas, the Escalade and Range Rover driving oligarchs will either completely ignore you or will look down upon you from their lifted double pane windowed SUVs.
However, if you drive in the areas of town that bought these things in such great droves, you get a much better experience; it’s because every other person is driving one. You’re not special.
However, if you have an SS model powered by a Corvette V-8, then you get some stares and looks, not all of them good, as this is the car of drug dealers. Regardless of what engine you got with the Impala, it was still front-wheel drive, which I am not the biggest fan of.
I think that even most zoo animals should be rear-driven, but I digress. It was, at one point, possible to buy a front-wheel drive, sedan Corvette, which is sick; I’m just not sure in what way.
However, if you have any other model, no one notices you at all. This could come in handy as you could probably fly past officers much faster than you should, and they would not bat an eye.
Presumably, that doesn’t make a great story at the station: “Hey guys, I just pulled over a base rental car,” doesn’t exactly get your adrenaline rushing.
To anyone else, this car is borderline worthless, but to me, it’s slightly more than worthless. The charm and character of this car are really what makes it great to me.
It’s like an old house; you know just how hard and where to kick in the back door to get it to open correctly. When brought to most people’s attention, they seem so confuzzled. How can a car so dreary looking have character?
It is not in the objective parts, that’s for damn sure. The steering feels about as alive and direct as the company that spawned it. 2008 General Motors was not the mold for successful business strategies. This influenced General Motors for years to come, but that is a story for another time.
The same goes for the general amount of feedback. The steering wheel feels like it was screwed on by someone without thumbs. The rest of the interior is so unbelievably cheap and plasticky it boggles the mind how we Americans fell so hard for such a joke of a car.
Yes, this car did not sell well anywhere else in the world. I mean, two-tons, front-wheel-drive, with a cast-iron V6 that might as well be in front of the headlights. Dynamically it’s not what you would call impressive or advanced in the slightest.
Americans bought this car because it is aggressively American.
It is almost like someone described what a typical American car is over the phone to a Chinese company that was planning on making a cheap knockoff.
The general styling of the thing screams boring rental car. I genuinely believe that the people that designed this had zero interest in what they were doing.
The electrics are constantly changing the stereo volume and producing bongs at odd times, not to mention it usually forgets to lock and unlock at least one door half time you press the button. So, you need to press it numerous times to get it to do anything.
The old girl’s dementia must be getting to her.
If the factory that made this car produced hundreds or thousands of cars a day, I would be willing to bet my car, was the runt of the litter.
It’s like it never got all the right nutrients or attention when it was getting built. Sure, I could spend some time and money fixing all these things that are wrong with her, definitely not near as much as it would cost to buy a new, objectively better car.
The thing is, I don’t want to spend any money at all, and not just because she’s not worth the cost of a new transmission.
You can spend all the money in the world keeping an old girl alive, but the last bit of her life would be of suffering.
Drugs, operations, electrics, and transmissions, all these things will do it, but nothing can last forever.