I've owned my 2008 Impala SS since January 7th, 2013. Back then, it only had 63,000 miles on it. Since then, I've daily driven it for six years straight. The trusty SS now has more than double the mileage.
I've been through a lot with this car, but it's mostly been user error:
Overheating the LS4 at 85mph - BROKEN SERPENTINE BELT
Accidentally Shifted Into Reverse While Driving 40mph!
(Actually did this twice)
New Power Steering Pump! Completely Random and Free...
That's right. I've caused most of my own problems, and if I wasn't breaking it than someone else was
. I literally have not had any major issues from the car itself. In the six years I've owned it, the failure of the throttle body is the only thing I can definitely prove actually broke on its own (and this was a common failure among GM vehicles from this era). Everything else was my fault.
The White Whale soldiers on though and continues to bring a smile to my face every time I blip the accelerator to feel the pulse of 300 horses.
I've managed to escape the terrors that many people with these cars are faced with. It might have to do with it being a Colorado car for most of its life, where at 5,000ft elevation it has about 15% less power to deal with.
Everyone knows that the 5.3L 327 small block V8 easily overpowers the meager 4T65E hydromatic 4 speed transmission normally mated to engines with half the cylinders and half the power. The small community of owners who bought the many variants of the LS4 W-Body were outraged by the weakling 4 speed, which seemingly broke at the slightest hint of abuse.
I've even neglected the recommended 30,000 mile transmission service for most of my ownership, until around 120,000 miles I decided to have it flushed (HUGE mistake).
Then recently, about 20,000 miles later, I actually took it upon myself to do a proper drop pan, fluid change. While I was it, I even installed a TransGo Shift Kit (1-2, 2-3). I'm hoping she'll last until my credit recovers from a 2018 Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
At 143,000 miles, the effects of my ownership on the Impala have been unremarkable. Sure, the trans slips here and there but it's not half bad - especially since I've installed the shift kit. It happily downshifts at will and shifts are quick! Overall, the health of my transmission is either right where it should be or even a bit healthier. Lets just say, I'm not at all worried its going to eat shit in the near future. Nothing in its daily operation indicates that it will.
Other than reeking of burned power steering fluid (from a massive leak that I had not dealt with for years) the engine is running strong with no real strange sounds or quirks, outside of the usual LS variety.
The car runs perfectly fine.
Since I'm pretty much going to be stuck with her for some time, I decided to liven her up with some light modifications. It is very easy to modify this car, at least cosmetically. One thing that has really refreshed the driving experience was buying new headlights and converting them to LED.
Why not do that? There is literally one 7mm bolt and two clips to remove the headlight, and then the LED just simply snaps on to the same harness as the factory halogens. It is plug and play; super easy installation! This improves the look of the car and night time visibility. LED's last for 50,000 hours, are waterproof, and use less power.
The next most meaningful modification I did was install a QTP Low Profile Electric Cut Out:
I really love this mod. It doesn't do much in the way of performance, but also is a cheaper option to buying a whole new muffler or cat-back exhaust. I recommend QTP because they have an entirely different level of fit and finish than other manufacturers and also have a very solid track record among consumers. You can open and close the cutout valve as much as you want, to achieve that perfect sound. I keep mine around 50% open, just enough to liven up the V8 but still stealthy enough to roll through neighborhoods without upsetting anyone. I also like having the ability to completely close it off and returning my exhaust back to normal.
I've got mine located right behind the passenger rear wheel, where it only bypasses the mufflers, not the cats or the resonator.
You know, it must've been hell as a salesman trying to hock this Frankenstiened mess of a car back in 2006. Hmm, a 5.3L 327 small block in a front wheel drive car, mated to a transmission from a Lumina? What could possibly go wrong? 2 years later, GM goes bankrupt.
But somehow, someway... this package just works. It's everything I want in a car. As a larger gentleman, I need a sedan to sprawl myself out in. I also need at least FWD for the winter months in Colorado. But I also want something that's powerful, fun to drive, and sporty... but without the usual 3ft tall wings, and bodykits that typically come with a car like this. I wanted something understated and super sleepy. Of course, I need a vehicle that's cheap, reliable, and easy to repair. The ninth generation Impala SS just fits the bill - at least for me it did.
Just... if you think you're going to get an out-of-the-box dragster like the old '94 Impala SS or some kind of Camaro/Corvette, you're wrong. The ninth gen Impala SS holds its own, but has obvious limitations, the glass transmission being one. Hell, most of the mods for the 9th gen Impala SS is simply to make it more reliable for track sessions. Outside of the usual cold air intake, exhaust, and a tune, engine modifications are expensive, time consuming, and most of all don't yield good enough results for the time/effort. It isn't a very mod friendly car and it has very little aftermarket support.
It's a good value for a casual, frugal car enthusiast so long as they don't abuse it. My Impala has survived me for 6 years and is still running as strong as ever... that gotta say something.