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2008 Chevrolet Impala SS – The charm of practicality

An inoffensive package

The charm behind the 2008 Chevrolet Impala SS can be credited to its inoffensive design. Unlike other sedans in the segment, Chevy does not try to do something radically different in the design department. Nothing is inspiring about the Impala’s design. It has stayed relatively the same since the Impala SS 2006 refresh.

The gentle curves, along with the sweptback headlamps, curved hood, and sweeping line make the 2008 Chevrolet Impala SS a very tame-looking car. The rear spoiler adds a touch of sportiness and on the SS model, it is there to distinguish the car’s big engine from the rest of the models. The SS also gets five-spoke aluminum wheel covers to give the car an edgier appearance.

The refresh from 2006 has given the car much-needed modern appeal and we are with it. While it may not be exciting and in fact, it borders on inoffensiveness. While to some that may be underwhelming, over the long run people tend to prefer cars that are easy on the eyes. The 2008 Chevrolet Impala SS is exactly that.

Performance that surprises and delights

Thankfully, the topic of this article is the 2008 Chevrolet Impala SS, the SS is the performance-oriented version of the Impala. The rest of the cars in the lineup are mediocre at best. While the base is a stocky 3.5-liter and there is also a slightly upgraded 3.9-liter version both pale in comparison to the mammoth engine under the hood of the SS.

The 5.3-liter V8 engine is capable of delivering a staggering 303 bhp and 323 lb-ft of torque. This powerful 2008 Chevrolet Impala SS engine setup instantly turns the car from a well-behaved road car into a performance sedan.

The 0-60 time is under six seconds and we have seen the Impala tame some of its other rivals. The car is immediately more responsive and there are ample amounts of power at your disposal. You might feel a more torque-oriented pull as you veer the car through corners, but that is natural given the amount of power that is packed in the car. 

A focus on comfort over handling

On the 2008 Chevrolet Impala SS, there is a clear focus on driving and passenger comfort over handling. However, if you choose the SS version, every facet of the Impala’s drive improves considerably. The first noticeable change is the instant power delivery.

There is no lag and you get an instantaneous jolt of speed as soon as you step on the accelerator. There is a four-speed automatic transmission and it does a good job of getting the most out of the engine, even at lower speeds. As a six-speed automatic is more common these days, we fully expect the 2009 Chevrolet Impala SS to come with it.

The SS version uses a tuned suspension setup called the FE3, which brings better handling without sacrificing ride comfort. The steering is much more precise and it feels good, it doesn’t fight against you. The drive is great on the SS and you will feel a good driving experience is amiss if you get any other variant of the car.

Plenty of room

The 2008 Chevrolet Impala SS has space, boatloads of space. You can seat up to six adults in this car and remarkably, it’s not even an SUV. While those family-oriented buyers will certainly be happier with the allocation of space, they may find the lack of quality a tad bit underwhelming.

The front seats are plush and comfortable; however, the caveat lies in the fact that there is a lack of balance. One sharp turn and you will be immediately out of your comfort zone. The SS comes with better lumbar support and the cushion feels firmer. This is a positive takeaway as the car comes with more power and soft seats would spoil the experience.

The headroom is good, the seats are plenty wide but there is a noticeable lack of legroom. The 2008 Chevrolet Impala is a unique car, in the sense that it has space, but in the weirdest of orientations. This is also apparent in the cargo, where the oddly shaped opening limits the utility of the space. The fit and finish, along with the materials used are okay. Nothing that feels class-leading, but given the price tag, we think it befits the car.

Crash safe, albeit there is a lack of features

Both the IIHS and the NHTSA give the Chevy Impala respectable ratings. The IIHS grants the car an “acceptable” rating for frontal crashes and a “good” rating for side impacts. The NHTSA is a tad bit more lenient with its ratings. They have given the 2008 Chevrolet Impala SS five stars for frontal and side impacts, while it does get four stars for backseat safety.

The car is safe. You get your standard set of front and side-impact airbags; however, the lack of additional safety features feels like a huge drawback. ABS is not standard, and it seems baffling in this day and age. The good thing about the SS is that it employs the use of disc brakes, making ABS a feature. You also get traction and stability control as standard. The 2008 Chevrolet Impala SS is not feature-rich by any means and if you are looking for better gadgetry and more gimmicks, other cars in the segment should suit your needs better.

The verdict

The 2008 Chevrolet Impala SS is a car that tries to appease power-hungry buyers on a budget. You get a strong V8 engine that fulfills that need, while it is relatively light on your wallet. The 2008 Chevrolet Impala SS specs might blow you away, however, it is its approach towards practicality that helps buyers lean towards it.

The conscious use of space and the good ride comfort all help elevate the driving experience on the Impala. The design is easy on the eyes and over the years, we are sure it will become a classic. While there are other offerings in the segment, we doubt, it offers the practicality that the Impala does.

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