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Machine Design

2000 Chevy Impala — One of America’s Favorites Returns

Resurrecting the Impala included blending new features with old, resulting in a surprisingly affordable sedan that looks as good as its pricey competition. For example, the round taillamps are an Impala trademark of the 1960s, ditto for the sharply sculpted rear quarter lines. As far as price is concerned, the base model Impala starts at $19,265, and the upscale Impala LS begins at $22,925 (about eight times its original 60’s price).

Structurally, an aluminum engine cradle gives a solid foundation for the powertrain and front suspension. The aluminum cradle is stiffer than steel, 37% lighter, and corrosion resistant. Chevy engineers added a crossbrace to the front strut towers, reducing twisting and enhancing cornering. The independent rear suspension trailing arm is said to be twice as stiff as past designs, enhancing ride quality and stability. Behind the instrument panel is a magnesium beam that helps reduce vibrations which may develop over time in the ventilation, heating, air conditioning, and audio systems. Also, the floorpan structure is a series of longitudinal crossbars that tie into the rocker panels to help defeat twist and shake on the body, while providing support.

One of two V6 engines can power the Impala. The standard 3.4-liter V6 delivers 180 hp at 5,200 rpm. The 3.8-liter V6, standard on the LS and optional on the base Impala, puts out 200 hp at 5,200 rpm. A four-speed electronically controlled automatic tranny is standard on both models.

Four-wheel disc brakes provide the stopping power, with rotors, pads, and calipers sized to fit the 16-in. wheels. Also, engineers reduced heat buildup in the front brakes by 12% by carving a brake-cooling groove in the front wheel wells. An antilock-braking system with integrated traction control and a tire-inflation monitoring system comes on Impalas equipped with the 3.8-liter V6s.

For audiophiles, Impala takes the entertainment center one step further. Using radio controls, the driver can check the oil-change monitor settings, change settings for the chirp that accompanies the remote key fob, and set the length of time the interior lamp remains illuminated, ranging from 0 to 60 sec. Also, the volume levels of warning chimes can be adjusted through radio controls. Another technological perk is the RDS-capable audio system. RDS stands for radio data systems, a technology broadcasters use to transmit digital signals encoded with multiple levels of information. For example, RDS can automatically change the time on the clock upon entering a new time zone, search for 25 different types of programming, and interrupt cassettes or CDs to broadcast a weather or traffic bulletin.

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