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2003 Chevrolet Impala

Overall rating:  Product Rating: 4.5

Reviewed by 24 users

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Reviews written: 2
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Base Model Impala – I Hate this Car


by cwbram:      Dec 5, 2005


Product Rating: 1.0 Recommended: No 

Pros: Big back seat and trunk
Cons: Poor handling, weak engine, bad transmission and brakes. Terrible gas mileage.
The Bottom Line: Avoid like the plague.


Most people review cars they bought so they obviously like that car at least until things start going wrong. My wife has had this car for the past 3 years as a company car so take this review with a grain of salt - she chose the color, not the car. We now have 90,000 miles on the car and will soon turn it in for good.

I notice other people writing reviews of the high-end models like the power. Well, whatever premium the LS costs, it's worth it. The base engine is seriously underpowered. It is a 3.0-liter iron block V6. It has very little low end torque and quickly runs out of breath at higher RPM's. This car was supposed to get 31 mpg on the highway, it never came close. Nowadays we get about 23 mpg with mostly highway driving. I don't really care, the gas is free.

The 4-speed transmission has been a constant annoyance. It is too quick to downshift under even mild acceleration. The weak engine and hyper transmission mean frequent downshifts to maintain highway speeds even with the cruise control on. Something did not hold up to all this shifting. It is totally shot at this point. Slowing down to take a corner, then accelerating causes the transmission to slip and miss. The motor starts to race and if I don't get off the gas fast enough (or have to stay on it because a bus is bearing down on me) it eventually drops in gear violently enough to chirp the tires and send a shudder through the car. I get the feeling that the whole transmission is going to fall out like the old AAMCO commercial one of these times.

The steering is tighter than some similar sized American cars. The handling and suspension stinks, however. Again, maybe they put anti-roll bars and decent springs and shocks on the higher model, but they sure didn't on this one. The cars leans through corners as badly as anything I've driven since the 1970's. Accident avoidance is a serious concern. We have many deer near us and a number of times I've had close calls. Swerving to avoid the deer is okay - it is the follow-up swerve to get back in my lane that is the real problem. The body leans so much one way that is goes into some serous gyrations when you bring it back. Just terrible.

The brakes - including rotors - have been replaced twice since the warranty expired. I think they are just too small for a car this heavy.

Overall this car is really unpleasant to drive. We own a '99 Nissan Maxima and have now purchased an '06 Saab 9-3 SportCombi to replace this car since her department will stop supplying company cars next year. The feel, handling, and performance our two other cars is so far superior to the Chevy, we actually fight over who has to drive the Chevy instead of one of the other cars (the gas is still free).
Amount Paid (US$): 18000
Condition: New
Model Year: 2003
Model and Options: Base model - CD Player
Product Rating: 1.0
Recommended: No 
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