I have this hulking beast of Chevy for the moment. The Enterprise office was out of smaller cars so I got an Impala. It is mostly ok, and a huge improvement over the dreadful previous versions, except for all of the stupid little decisions GM made that I just can’t understand.

First off, the good: the Impala is a generally comfy and quiet highway cruiser that in spite of its size and comfort, doesn’t wallow around uncontrollably. It is a boringly competent car to drive. This is much more than I can say for the previous generation, which was the literal embodiment of every single “Old GM” bad habit.

That being said, the current Impala is not a vehicle I can recommend to anyone, because of several stupid things that make no sense.

Rear visibility in particular, and visibility in general, is terrible. It’s like GM said, “You can’t see shit out the back of a Camaro and people love those, so let’s do the same thing on the new Impala!”

Advertisement

There’s a good 4+ inches of rear deck height over and above the top of the rear seats. The pillars are huge, and the front passenger seat is so tall that it blocks most of your view out the rear passenger side window. How do you know when someone is tailgating you in an Impala? When you can only see the roof of their car.

Advertisement

I took this picture at a red light, not while actually being tailgated, but you get the idea. My rental-spec Impala, in spite of having multiple screens, has no backup camera or parking sensors to make up for the rear visibility.

Side visibility isn’t much better. The B-pillar is right next to the driver’s head, and it’s so wide that when you look over your left shoulder to merge, pretty much all you can see is the pillar. Looking over your right shoulder, your view is blocked to a bit lesser of an extent by the gigantic front passenger seat and headrest.

There’s this odd seam in the middle of the top of the dash. Why is this seam here? Maybe it’s a door? Nope, it’s not anything.

Advertisement

I tried pushing on it, pulling on it, looking for a button to raise it, nothing. This flap does nothing at all that would necessitate being a separate piece from the rest of the dash, but here it is. Maybe it’s supposed to shade the infotainment screen, but it doesn’t cast a shadow that far.

EDIT: Ok, the screen slides up to reveal a cubby. I’m posting this here since I now have like 12 replies saying this.

Advertisement

That seam is still ugly, and my example was already noticably rattling over most bumps. But ok, yes, the weird seam is because of this potentially useful secret hidey hole.

Let’s talk about that infotainment screen. It was simple enough to pair up to my phone, except when I wanted to pair my phone, it blocked me from doing so while moving. Yeah yeah, I know, don’t pair your phone while driving. In addition to “you can’t do that while moving,” it said to try voice commands. So I hit the voice command button and said “pair bluetooth.” The screen did its little waiting-for-voice-recognition dance, then pulled up the same pairing screen, and told me I still couldn’t do that while moving. Why’d you tell me to use voice commands, screen?

Advertisement

Each time you start up the Pandora app by pressing the Pandora icon on the screen, if your phone’s Pandora app isn’t open yet, while you wait for your phone’s app to open, the car’s screen says “Pandora connection error,” as if something is wrong, when really the app is just booting up on your phone. Also, if you place a call from your phone instead of beeping and booping your way through the poorly designed contacts list on the infotainment screen to place a call, half the time the audio from the call doesn’t transfer over to the car. The person you’re calling’s phone rings but you don’t hear shit.

At night, both the infotainment screen and the one in the gauge cluster are so much brighter than the gauge and button lighting, that to not be blinded by the screens, you have to turn the dimmer so low that you can barely see the gauges and buttons.

Moving further down, we see a shifter whose markings don’t quite line up with the positions of the shifter.

Advertisement

Why put the markings for PRND etc. next to the actual spot the shifter is in when in those gears, when instead they can be offset from the shifter by a couple inches? That’s a great feature! At least I got a free quarter from the last person who drove this car.

Not to mention that horrible “wood” trim, that I don’t even think really qualifies as some sort of attempt at fake wood, because I have no idea what material GM was trying to imitate in this obviously-printed design, with all those inexplicable lines on it with equally-inexplicable random blobs at certain points along those lines.

Advertisement

I should point out that I noticed all of these things in approximately 45 total minutes of driving time in the Impala. Well, the screen lighting at night was a later trip. I’m an observant guy, but come on, this is ridiculous.

Don’t buy one.