The front-drive Lanos, the smallest, least-expensive model from Korean automaker Daewoo, is a carryover from last year except for a shorter roster. The SX two-door hatchback is gone, leaving S and SE models for that body style, and the four-door sedan loses its SE version, leaving S and SX models. Daewoo (pronounced "day-woo") entered the U.S. market in fall 1998 and now has more than 200 sales outlets in 42 states. Daewoo also is selling cars through its Web site and "campus advisers" college students who recruit fellow students as first-time buyers. The company promises a no-haggle sales approach in which its cars are sold at suggested retail.
Hatchback or sedan, Daewoo says the Lanos holds five passengers, though that seems a stretch given the modest size of these cars. The trunk on both holds 8.8 cubic feet, and the split rear seatback folds for additional cargo space. All models have a standard cassette player, and the SX sedan adds a CD player. Air conditioning is standard on the SX, optional on the others.
The two-door hatchback is 160 inches long and the four-door sedan is 167. By comparison, the Honda Civic hatchback is 164 inches long and the sedan is 175. If you want alloy wheels and a power sunroof, the SX sedan is your only hope. Alloy wheels are standard and the sunroof is a $500 option.
Under the Hood
All models have a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with 105 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a four-speed automatic is optional. Anti-lock brakes are a $700 option on the SE hatchback and SX sedan.
Lanos plows no new ground in performance or features, though it is attractively priced for budget-minded shoppers. However, after a little more than a year on the market there is little reliability and durability data. In addition, the ALG projects low resale value for Lanos compared to other small cars.