Hagerty.com

The short life of the front-wheel-drive muscle car


#1

On paper, the 2006–09 Chevy Impala SS looked like a winner. A 303-horsepower 5.3-liter LS4 aluminum V-8 offered a 43-hp boost over the 5.7-liter LT1 that powered the much beloved 1994–96 Impala SS, and its 323 lb.-ft. peak torque essentially matched the older engine.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2017/10/12/front-wheel-drive-muscle-car

#2

So true. FWD got no love, even from corporate, who never really pushed and promoted those cars. Plus, old school enthusiasts almost universally shunned them so they almost never really had a chance to succeed. Finally, real hot rodders hate torque steer and love RWD burnouts so…


#3

I had a 2006 Impala SS for 3 years. It felt very controlled at 100 mph. Had good exhaust sound but the inside was classic rental car. My biggest problem was launching it my inclined drive way with about two inches of snow on it. Lots of wheel spin, little movement. As an aside, I still own at 1989 Taurus SHO, another car of similar approach.


#4

I’m actually in the camp that feel these cars will have a place amongst enthusiasts and collectors in the future. This past summer I found an immaculate 2006 Monte Carlo SS with 54k on the odometer that I purchased for my son. I was actually surprised by how little of these were actually produced and thought there were more, but then that accounts for how little of these cars are actually around and can be found. And it seems the one we found with the “factory delete” of both the Moonroof and Leather (both options I prefer to NOT have) are even in lesser numbers.

The LS4 ‘06 Monte SS is an awesome performer. And despite it’s criticism of being a FWD transverse car, it’s a great driver and goes like hell !! No discernible torque steer at launch, and very comfortable going down the backroads and highways… The only recurring complaint I found on these cars through research was the intermediate driving shaft seems to have a less than average lifespan, and as a preventative maintanience approach, I had our’s replaced at the time of purchase. Apparently the GM TSB just calls for lubribication at various service intervals, but as a fresh start, I chose replacement.

This car will only be driven in the spring, summer and fall and put away for the winter. Had a fun time with it this summer taking it to several car shows and cruise-ones where it won a few trophies. Many commented about their scaricity, so we were glad to find this one in such well-preserved original condition… No, it’s not a ‘70 SS Monte, but still one that brings a smile and provides satisfaction driving and gets many thumbs ups from on-lookers… If you can find a nice low mileage example, I’d say buy it, you’d be very surprised at it’s performance and comfort.


#5

Sorry, but this car shouldn’t have dragged the Impala name through the mud. It has everything that Impalas of the past didn’t (thankfully): zero character, king-of-bland styling, and of course wrong-wheel drive. Just because it has the name and a V8 doesn’t mean collectors will ever be interested in this forgettable car.


#6

I agree about the Impala styling being bland (but that took hold in the 70’s and continued on), and still again with the now discontinued “SS” (i.e. Jellybean shape) which I consider a performance package, not the car’s name. What was Chevrolet division thinking?


#7

Fairly simple, really. The same thing every division of GM has tried to do since the '80’s: Make as much money as possible while spending as little as possible. I’m still amazed at how much modification the LS4 got to fit under the hoods. I had a 98 GTP with a 3.8 that, except for the fuel injection and blower, was indistinguishable from the one in my dad’s '76 Buick Century Custom.

Doesn’t matter, I have an '07 Monte SS, painted the only color in which they should have been produced after 2001. There is no torque steer, though the steering does feel like 80% of the weight is over the front wheels. Other than that and the crappy quality of the leather, I have no complaints. I don’t think it will ever be collectible, but I’m happy to be driving a car that is comfortable, reliable, faster than I need it to be, will still have a functional engine when I’m dead, and was produced in Aston Martin quantities.


#8

I can’t stand front wheel drive cars. I am a fleet mechanic and work on a lot of them. In 2010, I was desperate for a transportation car with A/C, and bought a cheap 2001 Chevy Malibu. It was horrible, and on top of that, I found that it’s cooling system was almost completely plugged up with Dexcool. I sold it at a loss, not wanting to invest money into a FWD car, and bought a one owner low mileage 2006 Mercury Grand Marquis. MUCH better. V8, RWD, body on frame construction, and solid rear axle. It does burnouts easy, and at the right end.