Empowering the Impala
G. Chambers Williams III
Web Posted: 02/12/2005
San Antonio Express-News
For the first time since the mid-'90s, a Chevrolet bearing the Impala name will be getting a V-8 engine.
At the recent Greater Los Angeles Auto Show, General Motors North America President Gary Cowger and GM Vice Chairman Robert Lutz introduced the redesigned 2006 Impala and Monte Carlo to automotive journalists during a media preview.
The Impala name goes back to 1958, when Chevy introduced it as the top-of-the-line version of its full-size sedan, which that year featured rounded front and rear fenders (a year before the introduction of the radical rear fender wings on the 1959 models).
Monte Carlo was introduced in 1970 as a midsize sport coupe model and became a darling of NASCAR racing.
Both went away in the mid-'80s after some radical redesign and downsizing. The Impala name was briefly resurrected in the mid-'90s for a special Impala SS version of the long-running full-size rear-drive Chevy Caprice, built at the GM plant in Arlington. That car, along with the rest of the Caprice and Buick Roadmaster wagon lines, was discontinued after the 1996 model year, along with V-8 engines in Chevy sedans. (You could still get one in the Corvette and Camaro, of course.)
For 2000, GM revived the Impala name on a new larger-than-midsize sedan with front-wheel drive and V-6 power, and a year later added a two-door version of this model to the lineup, bringing back the Monte Carlo name.
The current Impala, which has undergone evolutionary changes but no major makeovers since its introduction, has been a good seller for GM, tallying more than a million sales since introduction.
Coupes don't sell that well these days, but even so, the Monte Carlo has been a success, GM says, probably based on a combination of its edgy styling and retro name.
Chevy introduced SS (SuperSport) models of both of these front-drive cars last year, with some sporty styling cues and a supercharged version of the Impala and Monte Carlo's 3.8-liter V-6 engine. What was missing, of course, was a V-8, even a normally aspirated one.
It seemed almost criminal to roll out SuperSport cars with V-6 engines, and the 240 horsepower of the supercharged V-6 is less than that of the normally aspirated V-6 engines in some Japanese midsize sedans, such as the 260-horsepower Nissan Maxima, 270-hp. Acura TL and 275 hp. Infiniti G35, for instance.
With its $28,425 price tag, the 2005 Impala SS has, besides the supercharged engine, upgraded audio, tires, cast-aluminum wheels, leather sport bucket seats and oil pressure gauge and a supercharged performance-equipment package (boost gauge, performance suspension, unique rear spoiler and dual exhaust).
The '05 Monte Carlo SS, at $28,225, has pretty much the same upgrades.
But for 2006, we will see the return of the small-block V-8 to these nameplates. The engine in the Impala SS and Monte Carlo SS will be the new LS4 5.3-liter V-8 with "displacement on demand" technology that cuts out four of the cylinders at highway speeds to help raise fuel economy by up to 12 percent.
This engine will be rated at 303 horsepower and 323 foot-pounds of torque. It will be normally aspirated, but perhaps an aftermarket supercharger kit will be available — maybe already is, since this is a version of an engine that has been around at GM for a long time and is used in similar form in other vehicles including the midsize GM sport utilities.
GM says the V-8 models are expected to compete in the "hotly contested midcar segment" that includes those Chrysler division vehicles.
Why put a V-8 in these cars at this time? My theory on that is simple: because DaimlerChrysler came out with the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engine in the new Chrysler 300 sedan and Dodge Magnum wagon last year and this year will roll out a new Dodge Charger, a sedan version of the Magnum, with the same engine. Those cars also have the displacement-on-demand setup.
Audio systems will include a base AM/FM/compact disc unit with six speakers an up-level MP3/CD radio that can accommodate XM satellite radio, another that adds a six-disc in-dash CD changer, and on the Impala, an optional premium Bose system.
Chevy says the Impala SS and Monte Carlo SS models will have unique front-end styling, including "dual-split grilles that have a black-diamond crosshatch pattern."
All Monte Carlo models will have a rear decklid spoiler, but the SS will have a unique spoiler Chevy says is "suggestive of NASCAR-style spoilers."
FULL Article Here: http://www.mysanantonio.com/business....95923a0d.html
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And Here: http://forums.gminsidenews.com/showthread.php?t=10087