This week I went the extra miles to test the 2003 Chevrolet Impala LS Sedan, so I went on the road through the central valley of California, up through Monterey / Carmel, the beautiful State Capitol – Sacramento, the breathtaking Mount Shasta and the blue, blue lake it forms.
Then north to Alaska… just kidding, actually northeast to Klamath Falls, Oregon. The ad you older critters will remember is the song “see the USA… in your Chevrolet – America the greatest land of all…” Jingles were the sounds of the mid century. Remember the Mission Pak jingle? “Say the magic word, say Mission Pak, and it’s on its merry way. No gift so right, so gay, so bright, give the Mission Pak magic way.” I used to be a Public Accountant and worked on the audit of Mission Pak and met the man who wrote that jingle.
When I can squeeze in a road trip I do it to get the real flavor of how good a road car I’m testing. This Impala didn’t let me down. It was comfortable and the ride was solid. In comparison I just received an email from a reader who just bought a 2003 VW Beetle and agreed with my criticism of the seat construction. I think I said the seats were horrible in that 2002 VW Beetle that I drove through the Pacific Northwest. But it was clear the seats were a problem in the first 30 miles. The real problem is that even though the reader bought a year newer 2003 the seats were still uncomfortable in his opinion. I can only conclude that reader and I must be the only two who have complained about the seats in the Beetle. Otherwise I’m sure VW would surely fix them.
Handling & Performance:
For the money this Impala is a great road car. Lots of power from the 200 horses available to pull the mountains and hills over the pass from LA to Bakersfield referred to as the Grapevine, as well as the mountain gateway Siskyou’s between California and Oregon.
Cookie cutter – that is so typical of cars today. Unexciting but nice.
Fit and Finish:
Trunk entry is a little cumbersome with the high opening and the protruding bumper. I kept getting my clothes dirty reaching in.
Competitive and in line with inflation. You may recall that money doubles every 10 years at 7%. I bought a new Chevy Malibu in 1967 for $2,500. You do the math and it should come out at $26,000. Today’s Malibu has an MSRP $18-20,000, so there is a lot of value for the money in today’s cars.
Price shop this one, because this class of family sedan competition will push hard for the sale and you’re literally in the drivers seat.
Mitsubishi Galant $18-24,000, Ford Taurus $20-24,000, Honda Accord $16-28,000, Toyota Camry $19-25,000, Chevrolet Impala $21-24,000, Subaru Legacy $20-25,000, Dodge Intrepid $21-25,000, Buick LeSabre $26-31,000, Oldsmobile Intrigue $23-28,000, Chrysler Concorde $23-29,000, Nissan Maxima $27-29,000, Volkswagen Passat $22-38,000, Pontiac Bonneville $27-34,000.
Good mileage, good price, comfortable, roomy, powerful.
Difficult access to trunk space.
3.8 liter 200 hp V6 front wheel drive engine, 4-speed auto trans, 4-wheel independent suspension with abs disc brakes, traction control, tire inflation monitor, theft deterrent system, daytime running lights, rear child seat latch, fog lights, power trunk opener, power mirrors, dual zone air conditioning, cruise control, tilt leather wrapped steering wheel, power windows and locks, remote keyless entry, stereo with cassette, cloth seats, 6-way power driver seat, split folding rear seat.
19 City and 29 Highway MPG.