General Motors has produced many iconic vehicles over the years across their many brands, and retired enough of them to make easy to lose track of that number. Today, we remember the beloved Chevy Impala, a nameplate that ended after the 2020 model year.
To celebrate its 50th anniversary in 1958, GM introduced a new model for each brand, all based on the same full-size car platform: Cadillac Eldorado Seville, Buick Limited Riviera, Oldsmobile Starfire 98, Pontiac Bonneville Catalina, and Chevrolet Bel Air Impala.
The 1958 Chevy Impala was fancy and expensive enough to make some wonder whether Chevrolet could still be considered a low-priced car.
The following year, the Impala became a standalone model as already the second generation of the storied nameplate. In 1961, Chevy debuted the Impala SS.
Fast forward six decades later and the Impala had become a front-wheel-drive sedan, but the outgoing model still offered sharp styling that differentiated it from competing sedans.
On February 27, 2020, most likely the last-ever Chevy Impala rolled off the assembly line at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant in Michigan. That 2020 Chevy Impala was a Premier trim level in Cajun Red Tintcoat with a Jet Black interior. It came with the only engine offered in the Impala Premier, the 3.6L LFX V6 paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
Demand for sedans like the Impala has been extremely low over the last several years, with most consumers now preferring crossovers and SUVs. As a result, GM has only three sedans left in its U.S. market portfolio.
At the beginning of this year, GM announced plans to eliminate tailpipe emissions from its light-duty vehicles by slowly adding more and more battery-electric vehicles to its lineup. The automaker will offer 30 all-electric models globally by mid-decade and 40 percent of the company’s U.S. models will be battery-electric by the end of 2025. Its goal is to eliminate tailpipe emissions from its new light-duty vehicles by 2035 and become fully carbon neutral by 2040.
Going forward, more than half of GM’s capital spending and product development will be devoted to electric and electric-autonomous vehicle programs, with the automaker outlining a clear directive to eventually offer an EV “for every customer, from crossovers and SUVs to trucks and sedans.”
It is doubtful the age-old Impala nameplate will make it onto any of the EVs that GM plans to launch. That said, the Chevy Impala has been brought back from the dead not once, but twice before. It went on a rather lengthy hiatus between 1985 and 1994 and was not offered between 1996 and 2000, either. And GM has said it will still produce internal combustion engine vehicles as long as demand justifies it.
Other full-size sedans that have joined the Chevy Impala in the dust bin are its corporate cousin, the Buick LaCrosse, discontinued after the 2019 model year, plus the Ford Taurus, also dropped after 2019, as well as corporate cousins Hyundai Azera and Kia Cadenza. The Toyota Avalon’s 2022 model year will be its last.
The Chevy Malibu is still around. Buick currently only makes crossovers. Cadillac produces two sedans, the CT4 and CT5, and recently launched their high-performance counterparts for the 2022 model year, the CT4-V Blackwing and CT5-V Blackwing. They are available with manuals no less and are considered the luxury brand’s swan song before it finalizes its transition to EVs that has already started with the 2023 Cadillac Lyriq crossover.
Just think about the nameplates we’ve lost over the years, especially when you consider coupes along with sedans. And even more went away with whole divisions that were axed. We’re looking at you, Oldsmobile and Pontiac.
Car lovers across the fruited plains continue to snap up examples of these icons as an important part of automotive history. Interestingly enough, a 93-year-old man picked up that last Cajun Red 2020 Chevy Impala and added it to his collection, which includes the last ever produced 1996 Impala SS.
Buyers today still wanting a sedan of any size are being left with nowhere to go but a crossover or SUV – or truck, though that’s a different animal altogether.
If you own a Chevy Impala, take our poll and let us know if you are ready to make the switch to one of the Bow Tie brand’s crossovers or SUVs.