Downside: Awkward location of the hazard-light switch; fat A-pillars framing the windshield; ah, and some people complained that the rear seats in the new Impala were not as commodious as those in predecessor cars, especially the old rear-wheel-drive models.

Ride, acceleration and handling: I spent most of my time in the Impala LT. It is another one of those cars that will please people who drive within posted speed limits, exercise caution in turns, and who rate common sense above pretense. The ride is comfortable. Handling is acceptable. Acceleration affords quick, safe highway lane changes.

Head-turning quotient: A motorized version of the American flag. People see it, like it and respect it. Some respond to it with patriotic warmth. But no one drools.

Body style/layout: The 2006 Chevrolet Impala is a large front-engine, front-wheel-drive family sedan with a large trunk. It is an all-American car in the truest sense of the term -- built in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, with most parts and design elements coming from the United States.

Engines/transmission: The tested Impala LT and base LS get the 3.5-liter, 211-horsepower V-6; the upscale LTZ gets the 3.9-liter, 242-hp V-6; and the sport/luxury SS gets the 5.3-liter, 303-hp V-8. Note that the V-8 engine comes with General Motors' improved Displacement on Demand technology, in which computers automatically shut down four cylinders to help save fuel in low-speed traffic, such as that found in congested urban areas. All three engines get a four-speed automatic transmission.

Cargo and fuel capacities: The Chevrolet Impala has seating for six people with bench seats front and rear. It has seating for five with front bucket-seat arrangement. Cargo volume is 18.6 cubic feet. The fuel tank holds 17.5 gallons of regular unleaded gasoline.

Mileage: I averaged 28 miles per gallon mostly in highway driving in the tested Impala LT.

Safety: GM's emergency OnStar communications system is standard on the 2006 Impala. Among other services, OnStar automatically notifies emergency services in the event of a crash, pinpointing the exact location of the accident and thereby helping to speed up lifesaving assistance. A subscription fee is required for activation. Head air bags also are available in the new Impala.

Price: Base prices for the 2006 Chevrolet Impala range from $21,990 to $27,790. Price as tested for the LT model is $23,070, including $550 in options and a $660 destination charge. The dealer's price as tested on that model is $21,338. Prices are sourced from Chevrolet,, and, a Washington Post affiliate.

Purse-strings note: Compare with the Ford Five Hundred, Chrysler 300c, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. The new Impala rates a "buy" for overall value and quality.