|Roadability and handling|
This same sporty driving showed us that the Impala handled remarkably well, remembering at all times that it was a big, two-ton coupe. You're not about to fling it into turns as you would an Elan, but you can warp the Impala around with a degree of control and predictability that is as unexpected as it is comforting. A couple of years ago we used a Caprice to tow a 25-foot trailer on a vacation outing and were amazed that time to find out that the car, with no heavy-duty extras, was a better trailer-towing car than on any of the specially-prepared other makes we had tried. The Impala group seems to be very solidly built, to handle very well, to be extremely comfortable to drive. If you want an outwardly large machine with respectable handling give one of the big Chevies a test drive.
|Brakes and safety|
We mentioned that 11 3/4-inch discs are now standard equipment on the Impala Custom Coupe, the Caprice, and the Kings Estate station wagon, and that they are a $64 option for the other models in this line. By all means get them. It isn't that discs will stop a car better than drums under ideal conditions. It's that discs will do it repeatedly without fade, and will do it whether they're wet or dry, With even the best of drums, you are basically dealing with a small enclosed oven. The frictional heat of braking can only escape by traveling through the cast iron
You don't lift the spare out of the lmpalas trunk, you climb in and get it. Trunk should prove handy for carrying 14 suitcases or one dead horse.
|drums and radiating into the air. Fins on the drums, as on the Impala rear brakes, give a larger radiating surface, and help. With discs the whole brake is right out in the air flow, with the heat being sucked right off the surface of the disc almost as quickly as it accumulates.
Water getting inside a drum brake alternately- gets turned to steam and back to water until it finally dissipates. With discs the first time the pad presses on the rotor it wipes all the water off, almost completely eliminating the problem of wet brakes. Several of the imports come with four-wheel disc brakes at present, and we'll undoubtedly see it on Detroit cars eventually. For now it is quite a move for Chevy to make even front wheel discs a standard feature on a few of its cars. It's a step in the right direction!
Bench front seats proved to be comfortable on long drives, but myriad of belts for lap and shoulder use proved a little confusing.
|Comfort and convenience|
The big Chevrolets are not advertised as high-performance cars. The stress here is more of comfort and convenience. The whole line is pretty similar in every aspect, so Chevy plays heavily on the optional features that are available. The dealers' brochure has a whole section headed "You can build your own Chevrolet. For convenience, luxury, or just for fun." We might add, "With a $1000 or so on top of the base price."
If you are the type who likes to build your own car, instead of having the factory do it, you can add plenty of features to suit your needs. There are even a few to fit needs you probably didn't know existed.
|There is a headlight delay switch that will leave the headlights on for two minutes after you throw the switch, to give you time to get into the house. Now, if they had a gimmick to turn them
on two minutes before you came out of the house . . .
You can add a system that monitors the windshield washer fluid reservoir. If you order a factory-installed radio, the antenna consists of two fine wires inside the windshield safety glass sandwich. We hate to think of the cost and problems should it ever need replacement. There is an optional electrical system to unlock the rear trunk lid, and to lock all the doors. The electric door locks include a gadget that releases the seat back locks everytime you open the door, to make access to the rear seat easier. If you buy your Impala with AM or AM/FM stereo, there's a tape deck built into it. The power steering option is a variable-ratio setup that gives more direct turning out near the ends of the lock. Chevrolet says this, ". . , makes your Big Chevrolet handle like a limousine on the straightaway; like a sports car on turns. And that's the best way."
|The Four-Seasons air conditioning will run you about $385, with the temperature-control Comfortron air conditioning at $465. This is the most expensive option on the list, by a long shot,
and your consideration of it will depend on your summer driving conditions.
If rear window icing is a winter problem, you can get special glass with heater wires imbedded in it for the Impala Custom Coupe and the Caprice Coupe for $52. This handy item - a standard feature on all Volkswagens, by the way - also requires the 63 ampere optional generator, which will set you back $26 if you don't have air conditioning and only $5 if you do.
If several people will regularly drive the car, you might want the 7-position Comfortilt steering wheel and the 6-way power seats for about $70.
Rear seat is wide and comes with lap belts for three passengers. The Impala can not only carry six people, but in belted safety.
|You can buy factory luggage and ski racks. For more rugged use, there are heavy-duty radiators, batteries, and suspension. This last includes a special front stabilizer bar, rear axle upper control arms, special bushings for the front stabilizer and rear axle tie rod,|
With driver's seat all the way back in its tracks, there is still room for legs of a six-foot passenger, though none to spare.
|and increased capacity front and rear springs with matched shock absorbers. This whole heavy-duty "F40" suspension package is less than $17 extra, by the way.
The Impala is basically a comfortable car to drive and to ride in, and with this extremely wide range of options and accessories, you can carry the convenience level just about as far as you and your bank account want to go.
With the huge trunk, there should be no trouble in taking a long trip with an entire family of fashion addicts. With the air conditioning going, the stereo playing, and the Impala's comfortable ride, it could even be fun. You're not going to out-accelerate the hot dogs, but you'll get there in better shape.
The Big Chevies are not designed nor sold to be economy cars in the sense that the lightweight, smaller-engined Chevies are, It is a 4200 pound car, with many options, and with a series of medium-performance engines available. It is meant to be very polite and good looking street machine, with average sort of economy. Naturally the gas consumption will vary across the scale, dependent on which engine you select. With the 300 hp 350 cu. in. premium gas V-8 we had in the test car, 13 miles per gallon is about it. With the 265-hp 400 cu. in. regular gas V-8, you'll get about the same, with a slight saving in gasoline cost.
|This isn't of all that much importance unless you do a great deal of driving. If you use 1000 gallons for 13,000 miles of driving, you'll save about $40 by using regular. Remember that the reason the little economy cars are less expensive to operate isn't only that they use regular, but that they also get two or three times the number of miles per gallon. With over two tons of car, you can't expect this sort of economy.
The Big Chevy cars - Biscayne-Bel Air-Impala-Caprice - are, for all intents and purpose, the same machine with the station wagons on the same chassis just slight variations on the theme. They look big and are: there is no other way to describe a car 18 feet long and weighing over two tons. They are well-made and, at least with the medium horsepower engines, are pleasant if not exciting to drive. If your bag is a comfortable and reasonably impressive family car, and particularly if you can add another $1000 or so on top of the $3200 in-line 6 base price, we can think of few Detroit cars that will give you more driving satisfaction. The number of them around you while you wait at a traffic signal would indicate that quite a few motorists agree.