2006 CHEVROLET IMPALA: RELIABLE FLAGSHIP SEDAN EXUDES STRENGTH AND PERFORMANCE
Source: GM Media
Quiet strength exemplifies the new 2006 Chevy Impala – an inherited attribute that is blended into a sporty sedan that offers stylish design, stirring performance and surprising details, including the latest version of the legendary small-block V-8 in the performance-oriented Impala SS.
The new Impala enters the mid-car segment with enhanced premium-quality features and attention to detail, including innovative flip-and-fold rear seats and revised suspension systems that deliver comfortable, quiet and more confident ride and handling characteristics. These new ingredients improve on an already popular recipe for driving satisfaction.
“Roominess, comfort and performance all are great attributes of the 2006 Impala, but just as important is the assuring strength felt when you’re driving it,” said Brent Dewar, General Motors North America vice president of marketing and advertising. “Impala competes in the largest segment of the industry, where the performance and comfort exemplified by the 2006 model will help Chevrolet assert its leadership role there.”
With more than 1.2 million sales since its 1999 introduction, including more than 290,000 in 2004 – an 8.4 percent increase over 2003 – the Impala has cultivated a growing family of new and returning customers. The ’06 model builds on the qualities on which those customers have come to rely by adding new features and enhancing others.
Standard and available safety features include ABS, traction control and side-curtain roof rail air bags on Impala. A new family of premium-feature V-6 engines, which include variable valve timing to optimize performance and economy, is standard in the LS, LT and LTZ models, with LS and LT models receiving a new 3.5L V-6 that produces 211 (157 kw) horsepower and 214 lb.-ft. (290 Nm) of torque. Standard in LTZ and available in LT models is a new 242-horsepower (180 kw)* 3.9L V-6 built on the same architecture as the 3.5L engine, but with additional features such as variable intake technology.
The unique Impala SS is powered by the all-new 5.3L small-block V-8 with Displacement on Demand (DOD) technology, which regulates between eight-cylinder and four-cylinder operation and provides up to 8 percent improved fuel economy in certain light-load driving conditions. The 5.3L small-block V-8 is rated at 303 horsepower (226 kw) and 323 lb.-ft. (438 Nm) of torque.
Additional highlights of the 2006 Impala include:
- New exterior styling with bold headlamps and taillamps
- Retuned suspensions with wider track, providing sporty, more comfortable ride
- New family of 16-, 17- and 18-inch wheels and tires
- Enhanced ABS and traction control
- Comfortable interiors with high-quality attention to detail, including improved seat upholstery stitching, low-gloss IP components and jewel-like IP details
- High-quality Nuance leather seating (available)
- New family of audio systems, with a standard auxiliary input jack for external devices (iPod/MP3) to be played through the vehicle’s audio system
- Standard side-curtain air bags for front and rear passengers
- Factory-installed remote vehicle starter available
- OnStar Gen 6 standard
The ’06 Impala has a new look, both inside and out, that conveys sophistication and exudes big-car roominess. On the exterior, large headlamps have a premium, jeweled appearance with three independent lighting units. These details complement other high-quality attributes, such as tight tolerances of 3.5 mm or less between body components and substantial “grab”-style door handles, to provide an overall feeling of solidity. Also, new, flat-blade windshield wipers are used to provide consistent pressure on the glass, which helps eliminate streaking and wind noise.
The Impala LS, LT and LTZ models have varied exterior trim cues that identify each model, while the Impala SS receives a distinct front-end appearance that is separate from other models. It includes a dual-split grille with a SS-signature black-diamond crosshatch pattern. At the rear, a rear spoiler is standard on LTZ and SS models, and is available on LT. The Impala SS also receives Corvette-inspired bright exhaust tips.
Inside, the ’06 Impala is packed with thoughtful features, including clever flip-and-fold rear seats. The forward-flip rear seat cushions create a covered storage area beneath the seat with cushions down and offer convenient grocery bag hooks when the cushions are flipped forward. The seat back also folds down to create a generous pass-through from the trunk when seat backs are folded flat – an exclusive feature in the midsize segment.
All of Impala’s available seating features cleaner, simpler and more tailored appearances. Uplevel Nuance leather-covered seating features premium deck seams around their perimeter and French seams on the center cushions. The seats also have firmer cushions and increased lumbar support that provide more comfort, especially during long drives.
The Impala also has an all-new instrument panel design that wraps around into the door panels and has a double-hump design that is reminiscent of early Corvettes. Impala LS, LT and LTZ models have a wood-trimmed appearance, while a sportier, brushed sterling-appearance trim is available. The Impala SS comes standard with a “technical”-pattern trim panel, with the wood-trimmed appearance as an option.
Completing the Impala’s comprehensive interior re-do is a host of useful comfort and convenience features, including:
- Available dual-zone climate control system with up to 12 degrees F temperature setting difference between the two front zones
- Available factory-installed remote vehicle start system with a 197-foot (60-meter) range and automatic climate pre-conditioning to warm or cool the vehicle prior to entry
- Informative gauge clusters and an expanded driver information center – with more than 50 alerts, depending on the vehicle’s equipment
- Standard easy-access, steering wheel-mounted cruise control buttons
- Steering wheel radio controls on uplevel models
- Eight-way, heated power driver seat and six-way, heated front passenger seat available on vehicles with leather trim (standard on LTZ)
- Glove box is 20 percent larger than previous models
There also is a new family of audio systems. The three systems feature new, simple-to-operate radios that are compatible with the enhanced Generation 6 OnStar system. The base CD-radio includes a six-speaker system. An uplevel MP3/CD-radio is configured for XM Satellite Radio, with a two-line, 32-character reconfigurable display and the capability to select between AM, FM and XM stations without having to reset the frequency. An uplevel ICDX radio adds an in-dash six-CD changer. Impala also offers a premium Bose audio system. All radios include a standard auxiliary input jack for external devices such as an I-POD or remote cassette player. Located in the lower right-hand corner of each radio, the input allows for plug-and-play through Impala’s sound system.
Chassis and suspension
Quiet, smoothness and refinement are the ride and handling traits conveyed through the Impala’s revised chassis and suspension systems. A robust front-end structure provides a firmer foundation to help reduce noise vibration and harshness (NVH), while also enhancing steering and handling performance.
Impala’s fully boxed upper frame rail assemblies have a wider, deeper and structurally stronger upper front tie bar, with slight machining differences between V-6 and V-8 models to provide room for the 5.3L small-block V-8 engine. Stronger ties between the upper and lower rails stiffen the front structure for improved ride and handling and a large, lower front-of-dash panel has been strengthened. It is constructed of Quiet Steel laminated steel, which consists of sound deadening material bonded between sheets of steel and reduces resonant sound.
An extruded aluminum engine cradle is used on both vehicles, too, and contributes to a smoother, vibration-free ride. The cradle’s lateral stiffness (at the steering joint) is increased with a new, one-piece machined rear cross member and new aluminum rear body mounts, which helps improve handling control. Models equipped with a V-6 engine have a two-point engine-mounting system, while V-8 models have a three-point mounting system.
A power rack-and-pinion steering system is standard on all models, with entry-level LS model now sharing the same, responsive 13.3:1 steering ratio of LT, LTZ and SS models. All models also receive a quieter, improved-performance power steering pump and fluid reservoirs. The new system optimizes internal flow of the hydraulic steering fluid within both the pump and the reservoirs.
The front suspension features a MacPherson strut coil-over-spring independent setup with gas-charged struts and a stabilizer bar. Taller jounce bumpers in the front suspension help enhance stability and control. The rear suspension uses a trailing arm, tri-link setup with gas-charged struts and coil springs. A rear stabilizer bar is standard on all models. Based on the basic front and rear suspension designs, the Impala offers three levels of suspension tuning, each matched to the power and expected performance level of its respective model:
FE1 (16-inch wheels): Standard on models with the 3.5L V-6, the FE1 suspension provides improved control over previous base models without compromising ride quality. It uses stiff, constant-rate front springs and variable-rate rear springs to provide higher roll rates and, at the front, a stiffer torque strut design reduces NVH and helps provide a smoother, quieter ride. The packages include 16-inch wheels and P225/60R16 ALS (all-season) Goodyear Integrity radials, specifically developed to provide a quieter ride compared to previous base models. A 10-mm (0.4-inch) wider track also is achieved, as the 16-inch wheels each are moved 5 mm outboard.
FE1 (17-inch wheels): The FE1 suspension also is available with 17-inch wheels and tires for better high-speed control, including the 10-mm-wider track. This combination is standard with vehicles equipped with the 3.9L V-6. The 3.9L engine also receives more powertrain damping to help optimize ride quietness, smoothness and handling. P225/55R17 AL2 (touring) Goodyear Eagle LS2 radials are matched with the 17-inch aluminum wheels to provide enhanced handling capability and more stability in tighter turns.
FE3 (SS): Impala SS models receive a FE3 suspension, which includes 18-inch W-rated P235/50R18 AL3 (performance) tires and five-spoke alloy wheels, to provide a sporty ride that complements the 5.3L small-block V-8’s performance. A 34-mm hollow front stabilizer bar and 18-mm solid rear stabilizer bar combine to provide more roll control than the FE1 or FE2 suspensions. Also, increased stiffness helps reduce body lean and contributes to greater high-speed stability.
Safety and crash avoidance
Impala offers standard side-curtain air bags, which provide optimum head protection for outboard passengers. The side curtain air bags are mounted in the side roof rails and deploy down to the lower edge of the windows from the A-pillar to the C-pillar. Impala’s other safety features include:
- Improved four-wheel-disc brake system with all-new front brakes, improved rear brakes and increased brake boost; it provides more stopping power and reduced stopping distances, compared to previous models, as well as smoother and quieter operation, longer pad life, and more resistance to brake pulsation
- New ABS system is standard on LTZ and SS, and available on LS and LT, which helps provide improved steering control while braking. It also includes Electronic Brake Force Distribution, which helps provide optimum braking regardless of load, traction or braking speed
- Available engine- and brake-managed full-function traction control system works with the ABS system to help ensure stable acceleration on a variety of road conditions
- Standard frontal dual-stage air bags are standard on all models. For the front passenger seat, the system differentiates between adults – 5 th percentile females and larger – and small children or child seats in its deployment
- Pretensioners are standard on the front safety belts, helping to minimize forward movement during a frontal collision and new, more effective load-limiting retractors. The retractors have more “take-up” force, cinching the belt more tightly. Three-point safety belts are equipped in all standard seating positions
- LATCH (Lower Anchors & Tethers for CHildren) child seat attachment system is included in all second row seating positions
- Revised head protection from impacts to the upper interior structure is provided by energy-absorbing material placed strategically along the roof rails behind the A-, B-, and C-pillars
- Strengthened front seat structure
- Headlamps that provide more down-the-road visibility than previous models, with higher-intensity bulbs and a new four-bulb burn configuration in which the low beams stay on when the high beam is activated
- Tire Pressure Monitoring System is standard on models equipped with 17- and 18-inch wheels
- An upgraded standard remote keyless entry (RKE) system now provides a second function for the red panic button. Drivers can use the button to locate their cars, without sounding the panic alarm
The Impala includes additional features designed to enhance the vehicle structure, including lighter, more rigid front and rear bumper systems. Also, the Impala features a strengthened “safety cage” passenger compartment with the front and rear doors designed for improved energy dissipation in the event of a crash.
The OnStar system is standard on Impala. OnStar-equipped Impala models feature digital and analog coverage. OnStar’s digital hardware also includes upgraded hands-free voice recognition capabilities, including more intuitive continuous digit dialing and improved voice recognition accuracy. OnStar is the leading provider of in-vehicle safety, security and information services in the United States and Canada . Using the GPS satellite network and wireless technology, OnStar features core safety services and OnStar Personal Calling that allows drivers to make and receive hands-free, voice-activated phone calls using a powerful 3-watt digital/analog system and external antenna for greater reception. The OnStar service available on the 2006 Impala includes the General Motors Advanced Automatic Crash Notification (AACN) system, making crash data available to 911 centers to potentially dispatch the appropriate life-saving personnel and equipment to crash scenes faster.
Impala’s new family of sophisticated V-6 engines features the first use of variable valve timing in an overhead-valve engine design. A 3.5L V-6 is standard in the Impala LS and LT, delivering 211 horsepower (157 kw) and 214 lb.-ft. (290 Nm) of torque* – more standard power than previous models and, in fact, more power as a base engine than some key competitors’ top (or only) offering.
Vehicles in the United States equipped with the 3.5L engine are compatible with E85 ethanol fuel, allowing the vehicle to run on any combination of gasoline and/or E85. In Canada , the E85-compatible 3500 engine is optional.
Standard in LTZ and available in LT models is a 3.9L V-6 built on the same architecture as the new 3.5L V-6. It uses variable valve timing and a variable-length intake manifold to help produce 242 horsepower (180 kw) and 242 lb.-ft. (328 Nm) of torque.* The 3.9L engine offers more power and usable torque, with 90 percent of peak torque available from 1800 to 5800 rpm.
The V-6 engines have an all-new cylinder block casting and new cylinder heads, sharing only valve lifters with any previous GM engine. The 3.5L V-6 and 3.9L V-6 share more than 80 percent common parts, with the 3.9L V-6 achieving increased displacement with a longer-stroke crankshaft. The 60-degree “V” configuration is naturally balanced, ensuring drivetrain smoothness and eliminating the need for costly balance shafts.
Unique to this V-6 engine family are offset cylinder bores – the intersection of the cylinder bores’ centerline is not at the crankshaft centerline. In this case, the bores’ centerline is 3 mm lower than the crankshaft. This was done to allow packaging room for the wider bores, as well as the longer stroke of larger-displacement versions, such as the 3.9L V-6.
Additionally, the adaptation of variable valve timing with the Impala’s V-6 engines is a first for cam-in-block engines. The system incorporates a vane-type camshaft phaser that changes the angular orientation of the camshaft, thereby adjusting the timing of the intake and exhaust valves to optimize performance and economy, and help lower emissions. It offers infinitely variable valve timing in relation to the crankshaft. The cam phasing creates “dual equal” valve timing adjustments. In other words, the intake valves and exhaust valves are varied at the same time and at the same rate.
The ’06 Impala SS reinstates small-block V-8 power, with the all-new 5.3L all-aluminum V-8 that features fuel saving Displacement on Demand technology (DOD). Developed exclusively for front-drive applications, the 5.3L engine produces 303 horsepower (226 kw) and 323 lb.-ft. (438 Nm) of torque, with DOD helping to reduce fuel consumption by up to 8 percent in certain driving conditions.
DOD technology enables fuel economy gains by reducing the number of cylinders engaged in the combustion process. A sophisticated engine controller determines when to deactivate cylinders, allowing the engine to maintain vehicle speed in lighter-load conditions such as highway cruising. When the cylinders are deactivated, the engine effectively operates as a V-4, with alternate cylinders on each cylinder bank disabled. The engine returns to V-8 mode the instant the controller determines the vehicle speed or load requires additional power. The process is seamless and virtually imperceptible.
All of Impala’s engines are matched with the Hydra-Matic 4T65-E electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission, which is renowned for its smoothness and durability. A strengthened version is equipped with the 5.3L engine to handle the V-8’s torque.
*Horsepower and torque SAE certified. A new voluntary power and torque certification procedure developed by the SAE Engine Test Code committee was approved March 31, 2005 . This procedure (J2723) ensures fair, accurate ratings for horsepower and torque by allowing manufacturers to certify their engines through third-party witness testing. GM was the first auto manufacturer to begin using the procedure and expects to use it for all newly rated engines in the future.