|Steering was the usual General Motors power type that engaged only when the driver had applied pressure to turn the wheel. As a result, it had a distinct road feel which is sadly lacking with full-time systems. It was slow, though, requiring five turns lock-to-lock.
The overall driving feel was solid but not agile. For a car its size, the Chevy was cumbersome at first because there were no points of reference at the corners of the broad, flat hood to aid placement in tight situations. Driving and parking were both awkward until one realized the car was not as big as it seemed. Cornering ability was good, though marred by considerable body lean because of the soft springing.
The ride was excellent when the surface was smooth, bouncy when it became irregular. Long dips, especially, produced severe oscillations.
Indeed, the suspension system typified the whole car; it was engineered for an initial impression of luxury but proved too soft for long range comfort.
The seats were another example of this. They were too soft to provide good support over long distances. After a few hours at the wheel, the driver could actually feel the frame inside the seat back.
Rear seat comfort was very poor for a full-sized and moderately expensive car. There was room for two at most. A middle passenger would have difficulties not only with the driveshaft tunnel but also with the U-shaped cut in the seat back.
One of the biggest criticisms of interior comfort was the enormous rear window. It was tinted to reduce heat from the sun but it did not eliminate enough of it.
Accommodations would be much better in a sedan, of course. The body type of the test car, with its sharply raked roof line, reduced the amount of interior space relative to exterior dimensions.
Other interior details were exceptionally good, perhaps the best in Chevy's class.
The instruments were sensible, round dials, arranged horizontally. No orientation was needed to figure out which was which. Controls, too, were well placed and clearly marked.
The ignition was rather peculiar in having both "off" and "lock" positions. The difference was that no key was needed to start the engine when it had been left "off." Surprisingly, there was no accessory position; the ignition had to be turned on in order to play the radio.
Ventilation was well above average, with separately adjusted air intakes at each side of the front compartment. The window vents were crank-ooerated, a Chevy exclusive in its field, and caused very little wind noise even at high cruising speeds.
The wraparound windshield, the most radically curved one on a low-priced car, continued to be an annoyance, producing bad reflections and distortions, restricting front seat access and, like the rear window, letting in too much solar heat.
Many of the points criticized above may be avoided by choosing another body type or by selecting factory-offered options carefully. Chevrolet gives the potential buyer more opportunity to order a car to his particular needs than any other manufacturer. A complete discussion of this subject will be found in this issue of MOTOR LIFE on pages 44 through 49.
But from Biscayne to Impala the Chevrolet is unmistakably a big car, and it is a well built big car with undoubtedly the highest manufacturing and material quality in its field. It suffers from a basic design decision to place more emphasis on obtaining a first impression of plushness at the expense of practical, on-the-road comfort and performance.