Have you ever walked through a car rental parking lot with your rental agreement in hand and the instructions from the agent ringing in your ears, "pick anything you like in Aisle B"?
In some car groups there are often 5 or more makes and models available for you to jump into and drive away. Do you wish you knew what each one had to offer? Comfort, power, handling, features, leg room, luggage space, Bluetooth, GPS, Cruise Control?
These are just a few of the things that I am going to cover in this series. Sit back while I take you on a tour of the inside and outside features of each car and then put you behind the wheel, narrating and drawing on my experience as a competitive racing and drifting driver.
PILOT EPISODE - this video was made a little while ago but the 2013 Impala is still in the fleet of many car rental companies, particularly if you are renting from a smaller or low cost rental company.
If you prefer you can also read a transcript of the video. You'll also find a one page summary for download or printing of my conclusions on the car as well as a list of all the features of the model.
If there are any features that you'd like us to cover or specific makes and models that you'd like me to review in future episodes, let us know in the comments and we'll see what we can do.
Review of 2013 Chevrolet Impala 1LTZ
Car Group: Full Size 4 Door Automatic Sedan - FDAR
|Width (w/o Mirrors):||73 inches / 1.86 m|
|Length:||201 inches / 5.09 m|
|Height:||59 inches / 1.50 m|
|Transmission:||6 Speed Automatic|
|Engine:||3.6L Unleaded V-6|
|Est. Fuel Economy – City:||18 Miles Per Gallon / 13 Litres per 100km|
|Est. Fuel Economy – Highway:||30 Miles Per Gallon / 7.84 Litres per 100km|
|Fuel Tank Capacity (Approx.):||17.5 Gallons / 66.25 litres|
This is a standard, full-size American-built work horse. The motor is great and it sounds fantastic but it weighs a ton (actually 1.65 of them)! The steering is very heavy, the brakes aren't all that great and it handles like a 3 legged rhinoceros.
The interior has everything you'd need for a road trip but the materials are cheap in feel and appearance.
While there is plenty of trunk space and front seat comfort is on par with most luxury imports, anyone over 40 inches (1m) will find the rear seats nearly intolerable. This is in spite of its four-door design.
Overall, if you're looking to impress, this is probably not the car for you. If you're running around the city, again this is not the most logical choice of rental car.
However if you are planning on covering big distances on the highway and all you really need is a reliable vehicle with plenty of space for the driver, passenger and your luggage; the Impala will do the job just fine. Plus it will make you smile every time you take off from a light or accelerate to pass someone. Safe travels.
Download Summary and Features: 2013-Chevrolet-Impala-1LTZ-Summary.pdf
Hey there everybody out there in internet land. Dave Adams here, aka the driver of the number 37 Derpy Drift car. I want to try something new here. We’re going to call it Rental Car Reviews. I hope I said that clearly enough. What we’re basically going to do is we’re going to take rental cars that we receive and, well, we’re going to review them. It’s not to be like traditional reviews where we discuss everything about the car, we’re just going to discuss what you’re going to care about when you’re actually renting the car – how much it costs, where you’re getting it from – things like that.
We’re going to start with this particular model. It’s a 2013 Chevrolet Impala 1LTZ. I won’t really get into what those letters and numbers mean because frankly GM doesn’t know anymore. What it’s supposed to mean is that it has all the bells and whistles that we really care about. What it really means is that we’ve got a rental car with a bunch of letters and numbers on it. Let’s hop inside and check it out.
OK, so before we get started on this really hot day (you can see I’m sweating a little bit here), before we get started with this I want to talk about something, the first thing you’re going to notice when you pick up your rental car. We got this one from Enterprise as you can see and what I want to know is, why the decided to get into a DeLorean and to back to 2005 to get these keys. I mean, it’s got the locking system on it, it’s got remote start, it’s got all the things you need but they couldn’t have done a better job at making this look like something that’s presentable? Chances are these keys are going to go back into your pocket, you’re going to want to take this big tag thing off first, or they’re going to go in your purse if you’re a young lady.
Another thing I want to discuss before we even move in is just the overall build quality of everything. Everything here is done rather cheaply. The steering wheel is OK to hold but, you know, it’s just, it’s a steering wheel. There’s nothing special about it. It’s got all the little features you need, volume up, volume down, call release, things like that, little shifter paddles which we’ll get into later when we start driving this thing but overall this thing is just a little (taps on the center console) cheap sounding. Everything, you push down on it and it gives (pushes on center console), it really shouldn’t do that, and this bugs me. The center shifter, the gear selector here, something’s wrong with that. They should not have done this. I know what they were going for here with this and I know why they did it but it’s just really bad in the execution. They wanted you to feel like you were driving something a little more special than you really are so they gave you the fake wood trim and the fake chrome but all this plastic doesn’t fit together very well and it all feels really cheap. The gear shifter should have had the gear designations on it, it doesn’t and that was a bad idea.
Let’s step outside one so I can stop sweating and 2 so I can show you something else that bugs me.
You close the door and you’re met with this. There’s more of the same cheap plastic that they use on the inside of the car but actually using it on the outside of the car. That’s absurd. You should never do that (GM). Popping the trunk though, if you can manage to open it, is actually pretty decent. There’s enough room in there for a dead body or 3 (translation – plenty of space for luggage). You’re never going to be hurting for space. You can probably get 2 large suitcases in there. I think it’s like 18.6 cubic feet of trunk space and that’s not just good for this car. That’s good, period.
(Back inside the car) Everything else seems OK and that’s really what you walk away with from this car. You would think that GM would put its better foot forward with this car but everything is just OK.
Let’s go ahead and turn it on so you can see what kind of amenities you get here. You get a trip computer here that’s really not that great. It gives you basic information at best. You do get some tire pressure sensors and things like that, instant fuel economy, things like that but, really there’s not much to it.
This unit (shows sound system, climate control section of dashboard) is the most basic head unit I’ve seen in a car made this side of the cold war. I haven’t seen a head unit this simple since… I think the head unit in my 20 year old RX7 is more complicated than this. You do get all the basics. You get AM/FM, satellite radio, CD, and aux drive or aux jack rather however, you don’t get Bluetooth streaming which is weird because you can combine your phone with the radio. So you can Bluetooth your phone to the radio for hands free calling but you don’t have the option of actually going in here and setting up for Bluetooth streaming. That’s a strange combination of things, why they decided to go with that.
You do have power jacks down here (below head unit) and you have a power jack under this little cubby (center console). You have plenty of storage in here, big huge glove box for you know, whatever people put into rental car glove boxes. I don’t ever put anything into any storage because what happens is, you put things into your rental car storage and you leave them in your rental car storage and then you don’t see them again so I just wouldn’t do that.
So let’s go ahead and drive this thing and see what it’s like to be behind the wheel of this car. One thing I do want to note before we get driving is, I was just back there putting the camera up (points to back seat) and, there is no space back there for a human being. You would think that with a car this size that there should be plenty of leg room back there, and I understand that I’m fairly tall at 6’2”, but I can’t sit behind me (well, duh Dave – but we know what you’re getting at) which is bad because I’ve driven smaller cars where I can sit behind me and there is just no leg room back there. That’s something that you’re going to want to think about if you’re renting this car for a family trip.
Let’s start this thing up and see what we’ve got.
OK now driving this thing in a parking lot, the first thing you’re going to notice is that the steering is extremely heavy for a car in this market group. This is aimed at the passenger car, full size car bordering on luxury. You don’t get a lot of luxury so we’re going to hold it back from that. We won’t ding it as hard as we would a luxury car but we are going to ding it because using the steering wheel in this thing is an absolute chore and it shouldn’t be.
While we’re sitting in traffic, one thing I do want to point out is that you do have the ability to select your own gears. This has a 6 speed automatic transmission. It’s actually kind of dull. You would think that with a 6 speed automatic you’d have plenty of gears to choose from and it would have no problem selecting any gear, and you should just be able to drive in luxury and drive in a slightly performance setting if you want. That’s not the case. It’s very hesitant to shift even when selecting your own gears and everything to select your gear is on the left side (shows close up view of steering wheel controls). There’s a little plus and a little minus (button) on this side of the steering wheel which you have to use every single time you want to shift your gear. That is not how, that’s just not how that’s supposed to be done. Either put buttons or paddles on either side of the wheel or don’t put them on the wheel at all. Put them down here on the shifter so we can select our gears down here.
So here’s what I want to do. I want to go down one of my favorite roads for testing handling and we’re going to see how this car does. Pray for me. It’s American, it’s big, and it’s front wheel drive.
(Accelerates down the road) One thing it doesn’t hurt for is power. This engine generates 300 horse power and 262 foot pounds of torque. That’s a lot. It also under steers like a beast because this car has so much engine and so much weight that a corner is just a foreign concept to this vehicle. Right now I am pacing a pickup truck and it is out handling me. Of course it’s a Ford so it would. (Oh – and it’s towing a trailer). That engine does sound very good though. Kudos GM, kudos. That is a good, good sounding motor. Alright, we’re going to turn it around because I want to do that again.
You definitely get the impression that they did not consider handling when they made this car. They said “we’re going to make this car handle enough to get you around a corner but not enough to get you around a bend”. You damn near have to come to a complete stop to safely complete a turn without crossing over the double yellow and the fact that it slows down so much (laughs), ahh, it just ruins all the fun of the corners. I feel like my life is in danger – I don’t feel like I’m having a good time. Ahh, you have to, you see it, I’m not exaggerating the steering. You have to fight this car tooth and nail to get around a corner. Wow that’s bad, that’s very very bad. And those brakes are just absolutely abysmal. I wouldn’t wish those brakes on anyone. One more time.
It is very dangerous how slowly this thing shifts when you’re telling it to shift….but it does sound good hahaha. Whao, hahaha. It is suicidal, homicidal, how slow this thing shifts. Wow but that engine does sound fantastic – listen to this! Hahaha that sounds so good! How can you make an engine sound that good but then put it on this transmission with these brakes and this handling? GM? You know what GM? I have a new task for you. Here’s what you need to do GM. You need to no longer make cars. Do away with the Impala, the Cruze, everything in the Buick line, everything in your Chevrolet GMC line, do away with all of those cars and just stick to making engines. And the T56 transmission. That’s a very good transmission. That’s one of my favorite transmissions in any car and I’ve driven a lot of cars.
So now comes the important question with any rental car – would I rent it again, and should you rent it at all? Well cash is king and money talks so let’s pull it over and price it out.
As I’ve mentioned before we got this car from Enterprise. What we do is we average out the price based on 4 different locations. We have New York’s JFK, LA’s LAX, we use Dallas Fort Worth and then right back here at Atlanta at our airport down at downtown Atlanta. So what we do is we take all those prices (on the day of the review), we add them add and we average them out. Gives you about $45 a day for this car at a weekend rate. It’s about $20 here in Atlanta and about $60 in LA and New York so that’s actually not that bad of a deal for a car that will get 30 miles to the gallon. At least you and your immediate passenger will be able to ride in comfort and you’ll be able to put your golf clubs and your luggage in the back. That’s not a bad deal.
Would I rent it again? Probably not. Should you? I don’t know, that depends. If you’re all about the motor then yes, absolutely rent this car. You will smile every single time you put your foot down but that transmission is such a letdown. Leave it in Drive, don’t select your own gears, but everything else is very, very good about this car. You’ll enjoy every single thing about it if all you care about is the motor.
If you’re looking for build quality, interior fit and finish, exterior fit and finish and material use, (or rear seat leg room) pass this one up and get yourself a Mazda or a Toyota. You’ll be much happier.
Once again I’m David Adams, aka the driver of the number 37 Derpy Drift car with Rental Car Reviews. We’ll see you guys next time. This many.
(BONUS DRIVING FOOTAGE) Oh we’re going to get in there. Right there, that’s nice. I’m going to flex this engine some. (Maniacal laughter) Oh I’m going to get a ticket. Wow this car is fast. That’s a powerful car. That’s a very powerful car. A good motor in it, a very good motor. Too bad the rest of the car is just such a letdown. (Accelerates again) That is unreal. That is unreal for a car of this size. That is absolutely phenomenal.
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