There were a lot of full sized Impalas with 283 engines and they ran very well. Don't underestimate the 283 for power. The 283 power pack engine was rated 220 hp, and the Corvette version with fuel injection was rated 283 HP.
I built a 283 for my '55 Chevy that ran 1.84 fueler heads and a dual quad intake with twin 400 AFB's and it dyno'd at over 350 hp with stock bore and stroke. It also wound 6,500 with ease.
I would tend to not want a high winding engine in a 4x4, but for most anything else the 283 will serve you well if properly assembled and the right tranny and rearend behind it.