Mercedes doesn't sell an S-class sedan for a third of the price ... under a different label.
But General Motors Co. does more or less exactly that.
The Chevy Impala sedan is very closely related to the Cadillac XTS. Both are full-size sedans that share a common platform, the under-the-skin part of a car.
They both come standard with the same engine — regardless of the badge. And the Chevy-badged version of this big sedan actually has more first row legroom, a slightly larger trunk — and a much lower asking price.
Of course, you don't get everything that comes in the Cadillac at a Chevrolet price, such as all-wheel drive — which is available in the XTS but not in the Impala.
But getting two-thirds of a Cadillac for a Chevy price is still a pretty good deal!
What It Is
The full-size Impala is the largest car GM sells.
It's slightly larger, actually, than the XTS — which upends the GM tradition of Cadillacs cars being the largest cars GM sells.
The Impala is also much less expensive than its primary cross-shop, the not-quite-full-sized Toyota Avalon.
Base price for an Impala LT is $31,620, versus $46,795 to start for the Impala dressed-as-a-Cadillac and $35,800 for the Avalon.
A top-of-the-line Impala Premier with Cadillac-level amenities — including an 11-speaker Bose premium audio system and ambient interior lighting — stickers for $36,720.
The V-6 engine the Impala shares with the XTS is now standard in all trims.
It's the largest new car you can get for the least amount of money.
It's a Cadillac under the hood.
It has more room up front — and in the trunk — than in the Cadillac-skinned version.
What's Not So Good
The previously available LS trim — which was available for even less money — has been discontinued.
You can't get all-wheel drive in the Chevy.
A power passenger seat isn't standard.
Under the Hood
All Impalas (and every XTS) come standard with a 3.6-liter V-6 engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Chevy says it makes 305 horsepower — enough to get this big lug to 60 mph in a very speedy six seconds.
Speaking of six ...
The 2020 Impala is an older design; it's basically the same as the 2014 model. But this is good news if you are looking for a new car with a less complex drivetrain. Back in '14, most new cars still had six-speed transmissions rather than the eight- — and nine- and even 10- — speed transmissions common now.
There are also sixes under the hood — rather than turbocharged fours.
Turbocharged four-cylinder engines paired with eight- (and nine- and even 10-) speed transmissions are supposed to save on gas, and they do — but not hugely. And they may end up costing you hugely when something fails eight, nine or 10 years down the road.
Gas mileage, for the record, is 19 mpg city and 28 mpg highway — which very good for such a big lug.
On the Road
Generations of Americans grew up with big cars, but today, most big cars are luxury-badged and have a price that makes it hard for most Americans to buy one.
The Impala is an exception to this rule.
It drives like the big Cadillac it is under its skin, and while its engine isn't as big as the V-8 engines that used to be givens in big Cadillacs, its performance is actually better. A 1970 Cadillac DeVille with a V-8 engine twice the size of the Impala/Cadillac's 3.6-liter V-6 needed almost eight seconds to get to 60 mph.
And it didn't get almost 30 mpg on the highway — or anywhere else.
At the Curb
Park an Impala next to an XTS, and see for yourself. The relationship is obvious. And while the Cadillac is trimmed out fancier, it's arguable that the Chevy is designed better.
The interior is less busy; it has straightforward nondigital gauges and large, easy-to-use rotary knobs and buttons for most functions, such as the climate controls.
It also has 45.8 inches of legroom for the driver — versus 42.1 inches in the Cadillac.
There's also a really neat — and really useful — hidden storage cubby behind the LCD display in the center stack. Push a button and it rises up to reveal the cubby, where you can securely store valuables out of sight.
The stereo also plays CDs and streams via Bluetooth.
Sadly, both the Impala and the XTS will be gone after this model year. Not because they are bad cars but because they are cars. Buyers have been flocking to crossovers instead, and GM (as well as Ford and several others) are discontinuing production of many of their cars to make way for more crossovers.
The good news is you can still get this car, if you prefer a car.
But you'd better hurry.
The Bottom Line
This may be the last time you can get an almost-Cadillac for the price of a Chevy.
Eric's new book, "Don't Get Taken for a Ride!" is available now. To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.