History of the Chevrolet Impala
The Chevy Impala is among America’s most iconic nameplates. This signature sedan was available for more than 60 years and has a history that spans 10 generations.
Although production of the Chevy Impala began in 1956, it was first introduced as a 1958 model and became Chevrolet’s best-selling vehicle by 1965. Initially, the Impala’s fiercest competitors were the Ford Galaxie 500 and the Plymouth Fury, but Chevy’s flagship sedan easily outlasted the two rival nameplates and continued to be Chevy’s most popular full-size vehicle well into the 1980s.
The Impala SS (Super Sport) was introduced in the ’60s and had a V8 engine under the hood capable of producing over 300 horsepower. Amazingly, this sporty option was available on both the Impala sedan and the station wagon. The station wagon’s upgrades included new tires, shocks, and springs. But by 1969, Chevy stopped offering the Impala SS — for the time being — due to most automakers focusing on smaller vehicles for their “muscle” options.
After almost 30 years, Chevy took a break from producing the Impala in 1985. Less than 10 years later, in 1994, the iconic vehicle was reintroduced as the Impala SS with a more modern design. By this time, the Impala was in its seventh generation and featured a rounder look to match other popular cars of the ’90s. Two versions of the Impala SS were available, offering very different performance numbers. The base version delivered 260 hp and a 0-60 mph time of 7 seconds. Meanwhile, the Impala Callaway Supernatural SS could go from 0-60 mph in 5.9 seconds and generated 404 hp. Sadly, this special car only lasted two years and Chevy stopped production in 1996.
But the Impala name was revived yet again in 2000 when the model entered its eighth generation. By this time, the Impala was a more versatile sedan and was even used as a police vehicle. While still offering modest performance numbers, the Impala shifted to a “family vehicle with some oomph.” The ninth generation, which started in 2006, brought more technology to the Impala’s cabin. OnStar, SiriusXM, and a Bose audio system were just some of the offerings. With these upgrades, this generation lasted for 10 years until the Impala entered its tenth and final generation in 2014.
When the Impala debuted at the 2012 New York Auto Show, it featured a completely new look. It was so well received that Consumer Reports gave it an impressive 95 out of 100 possible points in its review, making it the first North American sedan to earn that score in 20 years. Along with its design, the trim levels were also streamlined to just four options: LS, LT1, LT2, and LTZ2. Over the course of six years, the Impala saw various minor changes but was ultimately discontinued due to low sales of full-size sedans in the U.S. Chevy now only offers the Malibu and Spark in its sedan category, with the Spark on its way out.
Ben never thought he’d be writing about cars for a living, but here he is, knowing more about the Kia Stinger than he’d care to admit. When he’s not devoting his time to researching engine specs and other oh-so-exciting car details, he can be found enjoying time with his wife and dogs. See more articles by Ben.