Julia’s Rotten Rental Car Reviews: 2011 Chevrolet Impala

Juxtaposed. Snoop Dogg does not approve

“Top dolla with the gold flea colla, dippin in my blue Impala?” Well, mine was silver, for one, but this car was so unbelievably mundane that I can’t help but thinking that Snoop Dogg would’ve shaken his head in disgust at this boat sharing the Impala name.

Welcome back to Jake’s Rotten Rental Car Reviews, where our road warrior hoon reviews the cars he encounters on the road: some great, some janky, and some just plain stanky.

Today’s victim, I mean, volunteer, was a 2011 Chevrolet Impala. Without The Aisle (“The Aisle! The Aisle!”) at this National location, I was at the mercy of the guy behind the counter, and when he tossed me a Chevy fob, I started having flashbacks to Shreveport, and the last time I’d driven one of the General’s creations. With a silent prayer of “please, not another Cobalt…I’d even take a Sonic over a Cobalt,” I hit the horn button and the grey Impala beeped. Oh, thank god.

On the highway, the Impala tracked straight and true, ironing out the bumps of frost heave nicely, although with no lack of road noise (which largely drowned out the sound of the engine), and certainly aided by the ample sidewall of the tires. The seats were flat, but comfortable, although sliding around the seat is a bit irritating on a cloverleaf interchange. The quality of the interior was nothing to write home about, with a huge slab of plastic wood (Plood? Pwood? Plasood?) dominating, although the soft-touch squishy black plastic above it, the leather-wrapped steering wheel and steering wheel controls were a nice touch. The V6 revved easily, and kept us hurtling along up into the Appalachians with a minimum of fuss.

Or at least, it was a minimum of fuss until we had to stop when traffic slowed. Stepping on the brakes, I was greeted with the entirely reassuring feeling of crunching in the brake pedal. More disconcerting than the feeling of having what felt like saltines and glass chunks for brake pads, however, was the pronounced lack of stopping. Needless to say, slow and gradual braking quickly turned to white-knuckle panic braking and fortunately this seemed to generate the friction necessary to slow the big Chevy, although it certainly spiked my heart rate. This braking issue certainly made driving in the hilly, narrow streets of Morgantown, WV a bit of a nerve-wracking experience.

“I’m hungry…for the back bumper of the car in front of you.”

In the end, the braking troubles, which repeated theirselves on the approach back to Pittsburgh at the end of the trip, were pretty much the only interesting part of the Impala experience. While the 300 I drove in my first review was a mess as a result of its hard existence, it at least had character in buckets. It had a personality of sorts, so to speak. Hell, even the Cobalt I mercilessly mocked seemed to revel in its crappiness. This Impala, though, was so utterly characterless that it was actually hard to write this post after only a few weeks, because the car had utterly faded from memory. Sure, it was competent enough, besides the brakes, of course, but compared to some other similar cars I’ve driven, it was totally characterless in every major way. Not only does this make it very hard to appreciate the car in any way, but it also makes it a tough car to write about.

Rating:4 Trashcans out of five. Two for trying to kill me with the brakes and two for being an entirely uninteresting, characterless drive. If not for the brakes, the car could have easily earned a higher rating.

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