"The large RWD (Chevrolet) sedan is always on the bubble, depending on what the government does," GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz told Automotive News. "A lot of the product lineups are up in the air right now and very flexible." The concerns stem from a proposed 35 mpg CAFE standard by 2020. Using a rear-wheel drive setup in the next Impala would increase weight -- due to a larger drivetrain -- and would make the car less efficient than a front-wheel drive version.
GM is also concerned about changing the layout of its best-selling U.S. car. According to Automotive News, GM sold 289,868 Impalas in the United States last year with estimates sales of a RWD model only in the 100,000 to 130,000 unit range.
However, a switch to a RWD Impala would seem to make sense with Chevrolet's current lineup. Chevy launched its all-new Malibu sedan last week, which is comparable in size to the Impala and offers front-wheel drive and will likely steal some Impala sales. A rear-wheel drive Impala would help differentiate between model ranges and would also draw new customers into Chevrolet show rooms.