Drew Dowdell

Debate not yet settled, but Lutz thinks Impala will be FWD

234 posts in this topic

"My personal preference is large, rear-wheel-drive cars," says Lutz. "My business preference is doing what is right for the shareholder and the public, in light of upcoming regulation on fuel economy. If there's a mile or two difference in fuel economy, you go for the one with the better economy. That's where the internal debate [on the Impala]is now--no firm decision at this point, but my guess is that we will come down on the side of the front-drive car."
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does that mean there wont be a zeta chevy at all? or that it just wont be called impala?

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Sounds like no Zeta Chevy. Probably better for their "green" image, but not so good with their enthusiast image. Remember, we are the ones that voted the people into office that made this change (even if you didn't vote for Bush, you most likley voted for those in the Congress).

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I'm kinda ok with this....though I think they need to hurry up and make a decision so the W-body can finally be put out to pasture.

Let Pontiac have the more performance oriented product and develop a FWD/AWD G-body replacement for Chevy, Saturn, and Buick.

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Chriminy. There is not a big problem with selling 40-50k a year with say, a holden Caprice here in the US. That would take care of the RWD big car crowd and would not hose up cafe much.

Chevy effed themselves because the malibu is so small. to make the impala RWD only would kill sales on the larger car.

Simply put, chevy didn't plan right for their larger sedan. The impy should be larger than it is now, and should either be FWD or RWD/AWDoption. instead, impy is mid sized and front drive only.

someone check, does the charger get the same mpg as say, the impala now or the lacrosse 3.6?

taurus could pick up those sales if it weren't unattractive.

Edited by regfootball
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Wow I guess the current one will be around for quite a while if they haven't even decided what platform to go with yet.

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Wow I guess the current one will be around for quite a while if they haven't even decided what platform to go with yet.

Yeah...Avis won't care how long they keep the W coming..

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:banghead:

<sarcasm>

Because we all know that all RWD cars are gas guzzlers, just because they're RWD

</sarcasm>

Seriously, how many times do they have to make that stupid assumption? Consider all of this:

1) A FWD Impala WILL cannibalize the Malibu, which they've already made so much effort to market it as THE answer to the Japan Inc. midsizers. Thanks to the impressive push given to the new Malibu, the Impala right now seems like an afterthought. The early reslts are hugely promising, as the Malibu is doing well right out of the gate and the reviews are generally great. As word gets out about the car things will only get much better. Why do anything like, say, release a second FWD car of similar size and price, to disturb that momentum.

2) I won't disprove the "FWD=better MPG" argument because I've already done it, but I'll add that GM"s better hybrid system (in terms of increased MPG) is currently available on RWD vehicles and should translate to Zeta without too much trouble.

I had more arguments, but I'm honestly getting more and more upset as I type this. I'm starting to see a GM that's in the midst of a war with itself, which is taking away time that GM just doesn't have. There are two GMs right now:

1) The bold GM that gives us Zeta and multimode hybrid trucks, and is fast tracking the Volt to production

2) The tepid GM that is giving us FWD Impalas and microcars, and thinks rebadging is OK

If GM lets its tepid side win out, this company will get swallowed up by the competition by 2020. Mimmicking the competiton is something GM has never been good at. If they're to survive, GM needs to let its bolder side win out, and innovate its way to more efficient products that still engage the customers.

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Microcars may become a necessity

A Lucurne sized Impala, with proper packaging/styling/interior would probably sell reasonably well even as a FWDer

The hybrid system was developed to go into the 6-speed front drivers also

and wouldn't a Zeta impala be a "rebadge" of the G8 anyway?

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I fail to see how a 3800lb, 260HP 6-speed automatic RWD car will achieve worse MPG than a 3800lb, 260HP 6-speed automatic FWD car.

If all drivetrain choices are going to be based on what sort of fuel mileage they get, GM might as well eliminate all AWD cars, because AWD makes MPGs go down the tubes.

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i think if they keep the impy FWD but simply make it much larger than the malibu then there will be no conflict.

BU=4 cyl and 6, mid sized

Impy=6 cylinder and 8 large.

But I do think RWD and yes AWD add more driveline loss, but I doubt it's so much to cause a big diff in mpg, at least not for RWD.

Don't kid yourselves, what else it at work here.....if chevy gets RWD, what does Buick get? I think something in this has to do with the park avenue coming here, and guranteeing the success of the G8. Any RWD chevy may simply be a threat to the BPG group.

Personally, I think the malibu should be the larger midsize front driver and the Impy should be large RWD with a Caprice option.

I also feel the market has reached a point where all vehicle platforms should be designed and sold with AWD available on nearly all cars. For example, the G8 should have AWD ready to go at the start.

I believe in 10 years, AWD will be an expectation that at least half of all cars sold will have an on demand all wheel drive system. Available anywhere in just about any car.

Edited by regfootball
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Chevrolet must cover the mainstream/mass market. That is its primary role in GM's organization. For the past 20+ years GM has attempted to do this with 4-5 brands (Chevy, Pontiac, Olds, Saturn, & Buick.) That must change. Chevrolet must successfully compete in this role for GM's other niche brands to define their own. The last cogs to the Chevrolet machine are the Camaro & new Impala.

The Malibu can now hold its own with other midsize vehicles. The Impala can finally become a suitable flagship sedan to compete against other mainstream flagship sedans. Currently, the Impala is priced between $21k-$28k. I believe the next Impala will be priced and positioned close to, if not directly against, the Avalon ($27k-$34k.) So the Impala, regardless if FWD or RWD, will not cannibalize Malibu sales because it will be more expensive and become a suitably premium vehicle for its intended mass market buyer.

Now consider this… the only mainstream RWD competitor to the Impala is the Charger. The next Impala must also hold its ground against the Avalon, Taurus, Azera, and Accord. Why not let Chevrolet handle the FWD/AWD competition, and allow Pontiac's G8 to exclusively contend with the Charger crowd? This is what will help Pontiac define itself within GM. This will also help Buick. With Chevrolet able to compete against Camry & Avalon, Buick will be able to target the LaCrosse against cars like the ES350, MKZ, Volvo S60, etc...

I think it's time for people yearning for a RWD Chevrolet sedan to "move-up" to a Pontiac or Buick. You want an enthusiast's car? GM has several brands redefining themselves to attract your attention.

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I fail to see how a 3800lb, 260HP 6-speed automatic RWD car will achieve worse MPG than a 3800lb, 260HP 6-speed automatic FWD car.

If all drivetrain choices are going to be based on what sort of fuel mileage they get, GM might as well eliminate all AWD cars, because AWD makes MPGs go down the tubes.

It won't. However, a 3800lb. FWD car can be larger than a RWD version because less weight is devoted to the powertrain.

Case in point.

Lucerne V6 is 4 lbs lighter than the base CTS. V8 Lucerne is 100lbs heavier.

Best example I can find of RWD being less efficient than FWD.

Chrysler 300 2.7 litre - 190hp SOHC - 4 speed auto - 3712 - 18/26

Buick Lucerne 3.8 Litre - 197hp OHV - 4speed auto - 3869 - 19/28

maybe it's that extra camshaft slowin the 300 down :AH-HA_wink:

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Chevrolet must cover the mainstream/mass market. That is its primary role in GM's organization. For the past 20+ years GM has attempted to do this with 4-5 brands (Chevy, Pontiac, Olds, Saturn, & Buick.) That must change. Chevrolet must successfully compete in this role for GM's other niche brands to define their own. The last cogs to the Chevrolet machine are the Camaro & new Impala.

The Malibu can now hold its own with other midsize vehicles. The Impala can finally become a suitable flagship sedan to compete against other mainstream flagship sedans. Currently, the Impala is priced between $21k-$28k. I believe the next Impala will be priced and positioned close to, if not directly against, the Avalon ($27k-$34k.) So the Impala, regardless if FWD or RWD, will not cannibalize Malibu sales because it will be more expensive and become a suitably premium vehicle for its intended mass market buyer.

Now consider this… the only mainstream RWD competitor to the Impala is the Charger. The next Impala must also hold its ground against the Avalon, Taurus, Azera, and Accord. Why not let Chevrolet handle the FWD/AWD competition, and allow Pontiac's G8 to exclusively contend with the Charger crowd? This is what will help Pontiac define itself within GM. This will also help Buick. With Chevrolet able to compete against Camry & Avalon, Buick will be able to target the LaCrosse against cars like the ES350, MKZ, Volvo S60, etc...

I think it's time for people yearning for a RWD Chevrolet sedan to "move-up" to a Pontiac or Buick. You want an enthusiast's car? GM has several brands redefining themselves to attract your attention.

VenSeattle FTW

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Chevrolet shouldn't just mean green, it should mean value. The Impala was always nice because it meant you could get a big, well equipped car at a lower price than a Pontiac, Buick, Cadillac, etc. It was the exception to the rule that you needed to spend more money to get a big car. The G8 needs to aim higher than the Charger; let the G8 be the one to give BMW's grief while the Impala does battle with Charger. Without a flagship RWD Impala, Chevrolet remains a company of throw-away cars and cheap trucks (Anomalies like the Camaro and Corvette excluded). A flagship RWD Impala gives people who want the power and sportiness of a Camaro/Corvette but are saddled with the need for a sedan. A flagship RWD Impala gives people something to trade up to at a Chevrolet dealer as opposed to a Honda or Toyota one. A flagship RWD Impala gives Chevrolet the ability to brag that their big car has more room and better mileage than the competition's SUVs. Most importantly, it gives enthusiasts like myself, people who sing GM's praises everywhere they go and try to get everyone they meet to buy GM, despite GM kicking sand in their collective face every chance they get, a reason to step up to a new car as opposed to just buying used B-bodies for the rest of their lives. Position the Impala as a high value car, the G8 as a cheap alternative to more expensive performance cars, the Buick as a premium alternative to other snooty college professor cars and there's no reason we can't have a RWD Impala. Besides, unless you are a rally enthusiast or live in the frigid white north, most people don't give a rat's butt about AWD anyway.

I couldn't have said it better myself. :word:

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This article is where I got my info from for my gloomy post in the NG LaCrosse thread. The Great Bob Lutz, it seems, has been overruled as GM product czar by some other forces within the company. And it is a sad day. I see no reason why a modern RWD Impala cannot be offered with a wide range of powertrain options... 3.6L DI, hybrid, diesel, and AFM gas V8s. Heck, a clean, torque-rich diesel engine could sell itself if the price isn't outragous.

This whole thing stinks. I have a sneaking suspicion Mr. Lutz' product planning power is being usurped and I don't like it... because he's a genuine car guy, the type of guy who has been missing from GM since their heyday in the 60's and 70's. If Bob Lutz loses, everyone who cares about GM's renewed success loses a bit, as well.

CAFE has already sent a chill through the industry, and compliance is still 12 years away. The auto enthusiast is being told to sit down and shut up, and take our minicar medicine... for the Congress knows what we should be driving better than we do. I'd like to see a list of all vehicles owned by every congressperson and senator, just to see how hypocritical they are.

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A flagship RWD Impala gives people who want the power and sportiness of a Camaro/Corvette but are saddled with the need for a sedan.
Is there really a large enough market for that type of buyer to have an entire Chevrolet sedan dedicated to it?

A flagship RWD Impala gives people something to trade up to at a Chevrolet dealer as opposed to a Honda or Toyota one.

Is a RWD Impala what Honda and Toyota drivers want? They don't seem to want a Dodge Charger or Chrysler 300C? Why would they want a RWD Impala?

Without a flagship RWD Impala, Chevrolet remains a company of throw-away cars and cheap trucks (Anomalies like the Camaro and Corvette excluded). A flagship RWD Impala gives people who want the power and sportiness of a Camaro/Corvette but are saddled with the need for a sedan.

Throw away cars? Not if they are class-leading along side Honda and Toyota. Power and sportiness will contradict the family values and economy that a Chevrolet Flagship sedan requires to survive in today's large sedan market. Chevrolet needs a suitable competitor to such vehicles. Compromising other brands to cover markets where Chevrolet should thrive in and be strongest has been GM's greatest mistake for the past 20+ years. If Chevrolet could have both FWD & RWD large Family sedans, then I would agree with you, but it looks as if GM must choose between one or the other. Where RWD fails over FWD is cost of development and manufacturing. Zeta is expensive. A LWB Epsilon II will be less expensive yet still provide Chevrolet a "class-leading" vehicle for the large sedan market.

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"Throw-away", meaning no chance of making the kind of emotional connection with the owner that has kept Impalas from the 60's, 70's and 90's alive and vibrant in so many people's hearts. I will wager that nobody will ever collect, or covet, a W-body Impala. They are just too soulless to warrant lasting love, and in that, they match Toyota and Honda. Edited by ocnblu
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I'm pretty indifferent on this one...

Naturally, I prefer RWD. BUT I DO NOT want Chevrolet to lose volume and sales just to satisfy a few enthusiasts like myself.

I'm fine with upgrading to a Pontiac or just buying a Camaro -or- maybe AWD Impala anyway.

THEN AGAIN: We could always have our cake and eat it too... Why not develop a new FWD Impala and import a few thousand RWD 'halo' sedans (Caprice, Bel Air, Biscayne, whatever)

Unlike the G8, conservative styling might serve a Chevy flagship well. To differentiate Pontiac give the G8 better styling, better materials and better driving characteristics/performance.

My main concern is that the FWD Impala will lose the "heritage cues" that were supposed to be so attractive on the RWD car. I hope this doesn't happen.

Edited by FUTURE_OF_GM
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"Throw-away", meaning no chance of making the kind of emotional connection with the owner that has kept Impalas from the 60's, 70's and 90's alive and vibrant in so many people's hearts. I will wager that nobody will ever collect, or covet, a W-body Impala. They are just too soulless to warrant lasting love, and in that, they match Toyota and Honda.

True...like so many GMs, the Impala is a decent Avis rental, but nothing memorable...

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Thinking about this, I'm not sure if there's even a need for an Impala anymore. Honda has nothing above the Accord, the Avalon is really just a Toyota version of a Buick (hence it competes with the LaCrosse and Lucerne), Nissan has the Maxima but it 1) doesn't sell that well, and 2) is really more of a Pontiac competitor, IMO.

Perhaps for those wanting more room in the rear, they could make a new Malibu Maxx, but this time just make it on a longer wheelbase and keep a real trunk. A la the stretched 300. It would be more cost-efficient, the only question is whether or not it would sell well.

Is there really a need for a Chevy bigger than the Malibu, and if so, does it make sense to give it its own unique sheet metal and interior, or would that money be better spent elsewhere?

I do think the G8 and Zeta Buick can cover the RWD market, but I don't think it makes much of a difference if the Impala is also RWD.

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It just occured to me...

Maybe this is where MT picked up the whiff of an Alpha car for Chevrolet.

Maybe the idea of a FWD Impala and RWD Alpha sedan is being kicked around to try and appease both enthusiasts and our dumb-assed legislators. Not to mention, an Alpha Chevy would probably spread costs around pretty well.

I'm not so sure I'm a fan of Alpha being given to Chevrolet. BUT if a Zeta sedan becomes exclusive to Pontiac, that might change things a bit.

This is especially true if the next gen Camaro moves to Alpha (Which has been rumored) and makes Zeta entirely Pontiac exclusive.

** By "exclusive" I mean exclusive to this part of the market. I would certainly hope that neither a Cadillac Zeta nor a Buick Zeta would be heavily cross shopped with a Chevrolet or Pontiac Zeta. If it is; GM hasn't differentiated the products and/or divisions well enough.**

Just some food for thought.

Edited by FUTURE_OF_GM
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Is there really a need for a Chevy bigger than the Malibu, and if so, does it make sense to give it its own unique sheet metal and interior, or would that money be better spent elsewhere?

I think so...

AS the SUV market continues to erode/fragment, large cars will be a big beneficiary IMO. It might not be the boom that the SUV market experienced, but sales will be solid.

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