This is TL;DR Uncut, a more detailed review of the title vehicle. For the original TL;DR Review, click here.
In order to appreciate this 8th generation Impala, it takes a slightly different frame of mind.
Since the Top Gear presenter that I identify most with is James May, I believe the Impala peaked somewhere around the presidency of John F. Kennedy. In those days, it was sturdy and stylish: a luxo-barge for the common man to cruise newly completed interstates.
Of course, times change. The Impala persisted through an assassination, an ugly war, the Malaise era, and the birth of the Japanese imports. The idea of transporting the masses in comfort remained constant through the decades, but it got uglier and sicklier and more outdated with each passing generation until it was killed in 1985.
It was time for an update.
The release of the 8th generation was met with criticism. After all, it was front wheel drive. It was only offered with a V6. It should be called a Lumina. It had an aluminum subframe. Aluminum! Like pop cans! That will never work.
But it did work, and here is where that other frame of mind comes into play. This is the change that the Impala needed to make in order to survive and in order to supply what the consumer wanted. It is the essence of Impala with the reliability and comfort of modern technology.
When you are driving an 8th gen Impala, it floats around the road. It gets up to speed and just coasts, absorbing any bumps with the feel of a nice, bouncy, 3500 pound, metal waterbed. It soothes you all the way through your trip. When you arrive, you snap out of the trance and wonder where the last 150 miles have gone.
That’s the point of a full-size car and, at the time, the 2000 Impala answered the needs of the people. There were plenty of full size sedans for the wealthy and the elderly: Cadillac Deville, Lincoln Town Car, Mercedes S Class. The common man was stuck with aging, faux-full size sedans like the Ford Taurus or Dodge Intrepid. The Impala stepped up to the plate, offering comfort at a reasonable cost, and without any of the stigma of being old enough to remember the Great Depression.
The world needed this Impala, because it was a step in the right direction. This was the first generation that was an attempt at improving and modernizing it. It was by no means perfect. But without it, we wouldn’t have the better, more stylish ones that we have today. And, from an enthusiast perspective, we wouldn’t have seen the return of the V8 Impala SS.
I guess the most you can say about the 8th Gen Impala is that, as far as cars go, it is one. So it’s got that going for it. And that’s just fine.