Used 2002 Daewoo Leganza Review

Edmunds expert review

Daewoo's new owner, General Motors, has no plans for the brand in the U.S. market -- as such, supplies to dealerships have been cut off. Although provisions will be made to honor owners' warranty claims, we'd urge you to steer clear of this situation and consider other midsize sedans.

What's new for 2002

The Leganza is a carryover. The midlevel SX trim has been eliminated, leaving the base SE and the upscale CDX. To help bridge the gap, the CDX has been decontented and its price lowered.

Vehicle overview

The Leganza, whose name is derived from a combination of the Italian words "elegante" (elegant) and "forza" (power), is Daewoo's midsize sedan marketed to would-be buyers of pedestrian Honda Accords and Toyota Camrys who want a full load of luxury amenities for a cut-rate price.

Yes, the Leganza is elegant, penned by ItalDesign whiz Giorgetto Giugiaro. But powerful? Hardly. Competing against vehicles commonly equipped with V6 engines, the Leganza is handicapped in the muscle department by its only powerplant: A 2.2-liter DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder engine that makes 131 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 148 pound-feet of torque at 2,800 rpm is charged with hauling around more than 3,000 pounds of sedan. Fuel economy is rated at 20 mpg city/28 mpg highway with a manual or automatic transmission.

For 2002, two trim levels are available -- base SE and upscale CDX. Standard equipment on the SE includes a five-speed manual transmission, four-wheel disc brakes, a driver seat-height adjuster, air conditioning with micron air filtration, a 140-watt cassette stereo, a tilt steering wheel, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, a full-size spare tire and power windows, locks and mirrors. You can option the base car with a four-speed automatic transmission and the Premium Package, which adds a cassette/CD player combo and two tweeters, an anti-theft alarm system with remote keyless entry, cruise control, faux wood interior accents and a power antenna.

All of the above features and a power driver seat come standard on the Leganza CDX, which is only available with the automatic transmission. Formerly, the CDX also included a moonroof, leather upholstery, ABS and traction control; now, you must purchase these as options. Looking for automatic climate control? That's no longer part of the deal.

British suspension-expert Lotus tuned the Leganza's four-wheel independent suspension, but Daewoo obviously wanted a cushy ride, and the Leganza delivers. Weak tires howl around turns, and the ABS is substandard in refinement. Despite the inclusion of a "Sport" mode for the automatic transmission, it's best to drive the Leganza less enthusiastically than you would, say, anything else on the market.

We've found the Leganza dissatisfying, though plenty of owners report that they enjoy their cars immensely. Our specific complaints include a dearth of engine power, an easily confused automatic transmission, unrefined handling characteristics, uninspired braking ability, low-quality interior materials and a substandard audio system. We're also disturbed by the poor rating the Leganza received during crash testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Additionally, Daewoo's all-but-certain demise in the U.S. market could spell trouble for owners. Yes, it's true 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 shop elsewhere.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.