What's New for 1999
This entry into the subcompact class is Daewoo's attack on the Honda Civic.
Daewoo, Korean for "Great Universe," has decided to take the U.S. market by storm with the Lanos. Trouble is, the U.S. market is already flooded with underpowered subcompact cars. Nevertheless, Daewoo is diving in, aiming sales squarely at loan-saddled college students. Interestingly, if you rearrange "Lanos" you get "Loans."
Available as a three-door hatchback or a four-door sedan, the Lanos is about the size of a Hyundai Accent. Because the Lanos is a small subcompact, anyone over six feet tall should not bother trying find a comfortable seating position. But the price matches the car's size.
The Lanos is available in three trim levels: S, SE and SX. Each comes with a 1.6-liter DOHC 16 valve engine that makes 105 horsepower at 5800 rpm and 107 foot-pounds of torque at 3400 rpm. A five-speed manual transmission is also standard, but buyers may choose a four-speed automatic, an $800 option.
While the S model is the base car, you have to go to the mid-level SE in order to purchase the optional ABS. SX trim buyers get a CD player, air conditioning, alloy wheels, fog lights and a tilt steering column. A moonroof is optional only on the SX.
Prices for this entry-level car range from about $9,000 for the bare bones model to just over $13,000 for a decently equipped SX. But with Daewoo's factory stores, modeled after Saturn's no-haggle price system, we have to wonder what the incentive is to drive away in an unproven Korean car of questionable reliability, when the Honda dealer down the street offers tried-and-true Civics and used Acura Integras for a similar price. And while you're at it, don't forget to shop the Dodge Neons, Saturn coupes and sedans, Nissan Sentras, Ford Escorts, Mercury Tracers, Mazda Proteges and Volkswagen Golfs. This segment is loaded with value.