What's New for 2002
A new Comfort Package for the S Hatchback and S Sedan includes air conditioning and power steering, while the Convenience Package adds power windows, power locks and a power passenger-side exterior mirror.
The Lanos is Korean automaker Daewoo's most affordable model in the U.S market, and like other Daewoos, it has been a tough sell to American consumers. Before you consider buying one, you should know that General Motors purchased Daewoo Motor Co. in 2001, but the U.S. sales arm, Daewoo Motor America, was not part of the deal. This means that Daewoo dealerships in the U.S. will be running out of supply by the summer of 2002 (Daewoo Motor America should continue to honor current owners' warranty claims until GM sets up a trust fund of sorts). Our advice? Save yourself a headache and head over to the Hyundai or Kia dealership instead.
Available as a three-door hatchback or a four-door sedan, the subcompact Lanos is about the size of a Hyundai Accent. That means small. Because the Lanos is such a tiny car, anyone over 6 feet tall should not bother trying to find a comfortable seating position. But the price matches the car's size, and for that nominal fee, you get suspension tuning from Porsche and styling from ItalDesign.
Every Lanos is powered by a 1.6-liter DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder engine that makes 105 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 106 pound-feet of torque at 3,400 rpm. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, but buyers may choose an optional four-speed automatic. As you would expect, acceleration is rather leisurely; 0 to 60 takes 11 seconds with the manual gearbox and 12.5 seconds with the automatic. Fuel economy is rated at 25 mpg city/35 mpg highway with the manual and 22/32 with the automatic. Refinement is not a strong point for the Lanos, as the engine thrashes at higher rpm. Manual transmission drivers will note the absence of a tachometer.
All models are equipped with an independent MacPherson-strut front suspension and a semi-independent rear. Stiff tuning makes the Lanos fun when driven enthusiastically around corners. Thank you, Porsche.
The model lineup includes the base S Hatchback and S Sedan and the better-equipped Sport hatchback. The base cars come with a driver seat height adjuster, a 100-watt cassette stereo with four speakers, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, and 14-inch wheels and tires. You can add the Comfort Package, which includes power steering and air conditioning, and the Convenience Package, which includes power controls for the windows, door locks and passenger-side exterior mirror. A 140-watt stereo with a CD and cassette player is available as a separate option.
The Sport hatchback comes standard with all of the above features, including the deluxe stereo. Exclusive features include red leather upholstery, a red leather-wrapped steering wheel, faux aluminum interior trim, alloy wheels, a rear spoiler and body-color side skirts and molding. What's missing from this sporty package is more power.
If you scrutinize a Lanos, you'll note that the build quality is quite good and that the paint positively shimmers. But some of the interior materials -- the dash, in particular -- look and feel low-grade. Safety features don't go beyond the basics; you get the requisite front airbags, seatbelt pre-tensioners, child-seat tether anchors, and that's it. Of course, you'll encounter these issues with the Lanos' similarly priced competitors, the Accent and the Kia Rio. But these cars also come with industry-leading warranties and are backed by a financially stable parent company.
The Lanos might seem attractive if you're low on funds and desperate for fresh wheels, but there are better choices in this price range -- if not an Accent or a Rio, then a larger, gently used car from one of the Japanese manufacturers.