1994 CHEVROLET LUMINA
Used Car - 1994 Chevrolet Lumina in Fort Myers, Fl
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1994 Chevrolet Lumina ReviewThis car review is specific to this model, not the actual vehicle for sale.
Through its first six years, Chevrolet's Lumina was a half-step behind the midsize sedan establishment-Ford Taurus, Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Mazda 626, Nissan Altima and Mitsubishi Galant.
But with its first major redesign, the Lumina has closed the gap. The '95 Lumina employs the same basic chassis as its predecessor-in fact, the wheelbase is identical-but it sports all-new sheet metal, a redesigned interior and extensive suspension revisions.
The net is a car that's much more in step with its competitors, and perhaps even ahead in a couple of important areas-particularly the all-important dollar-value category.
The new line of Lumina sedans starts at $15,995, a price that includes a $525 destination charge. Compare that with a Camry, for example, and Lumina's got the advantage by a substantial margin. The Lumina's base price also undercuts the basic Ford Taurus', though not by as much.
And that basic Lumina. is no stripped down loss-leader. All Luminas include air conditioning, an AM/FM radio, power locks, automatic transmission and an anti-theft system as standard equipment.
We test-drove a Lumina LS, which is the upscale trim level for the sedan portion of the family. (Chevrolet has revived the Monte Carlo name for the Lumina coupes: the Monte Carlo LS and the hot-rod Monte Carlo Z34.)
In addition to the standard features of the basic Lurnina, our LS included anti-lock brakes (ABS), low-speed traction control, power windows, power mirrors, a remote keyless entry system and a premium CD system.
Our LS was powered by General Motors' corporate 3100 3. 1 -liter V6, which replaces the previous 3.1-liter V6 and puts an additional 20 hp under the hood. This is now the base Lumina engine there are no four-cylinder engines left in the line-up and the most powerful Lumina engine continues to be the 210-hp, 3.4-liter V6, a $960 option.
All Luminas include a four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive as standard equipment, the latest generation of GM's computer-controlled automatics that coordinate engine and shift management for nearly seamless operation.
There's a lot of generic GM in the Lumina's new look, but it's hard not to see this as an improvement. Chevrolet designers have rounded off the Lurnina's hard edges, giving it a smoother, more contemporary appearance all around.
There's also more Lumina in general. The new sedan is longer, which means there's more of it protruding beyond the front and rear axles. Even though most of the increased length is at the rear of the car, this sense of excess overhang is most apparent up front.
The new Lumina is also a tad wider than the old, with a wider track, so the wheels extend to the edges of the wheel wells. This gives the car a more aggressive stance than some current GM products, and also adds a subtle improvement to straight-line stability.
Besides helping to bring the Lumina's styling up-to-date, the flowing lines, flush-mounted glass and sloping hood line conspire to provide improved aerodynamic efficiency. Although this isn't measurable in terms of fuel economy-EPA projections are a respectable 19 mpg in the city, 29 on the highway, same as the previous Lumina-it does contribute to the new Lumina's most striking improvement: reduced interior noise.
Elegant, functional simplicity sums up the Lumina's new dashboard and controls. In addition to incorporating dual air bags, an installation that brings the Lumina up-to-date in terms of passive safety features, Chevy's design team has worked hard to make secondary controls easy to find and operate.
The most welcome example is the climate controls, which are mounted high in the center of the dash so the driver can locate them with scarcely a glance away from the road. The switches are rotary knobs, rather than push-buttons or slides, making them easy to operate even if you're wearing gloves.
Audio controls are backlit for easy operation after dark, and also sized quite generously, again anticipating gloved fingers.
The king-size theme carries through to the instrumentation panels, which have large numbers that are readable at a glance through the nicely padded tilt steering wheel.
Still another plus is the Lumina's collection of storage bins and cubbyholes: map pockets molded into the door panels, a large binnacle below the sound system, a deep bin in the center console, a good-sized lockable glove box and a sizable cupholder mounted atop the center console, free from any interference.
About the only puzzling note here is the Lumina's overall interior volume versus its sizable exterior. The new cars extra wi 'dth translates as generous hip and shoulder room, and there's plenty of front-seat legroom. However, rear-seat legroom has actually been reduced by a fraction of an inch. The Ford Taurus, though shorter by some nine inches, manages to offer more rear-seat legroom, as well as a bigger trunk.
Still, no one could call the Lumina cramped. The sum of the interior redesign is improved comfort, and a significant leap forward in operating convenience.
The Lumina's biggest-and most welcome improvements snapped into sharp focus the moment we got rolling. The redesigned car was much quieter than the first edition. In most operating situations, hardly a trace of road, wind or engine noise found its way into the passenger compartment.
And ride quality was on a par with anything in the midsize class. This car soaked up small bumps and potholes far more effectively than the old Lumina. Besides enhancing all-around comfort, the retuned suspension also helped keep small road shocks from translating into interior noise.
Chevy's chassis engineers achieved the new Lumina's contemporary ride without compromising handling response. The Lumina isn't a sports car, but we found it capable of making quick avoidance maneuvers without excess body roll or unwanted drama. And its power-assisted, rack-and-pinion steering combined a lighter touch with better road feel, enhancing our driver's sense of control.
Even with its increased horsepower, the Lumina's acceleration was only average. This is a heavy car by current midsize standards. But it was far from sluggish, and we experienced no difficulty in keeping pace with urban traffic or passing on two-lane country highways.
Braking, enhanced by our test car's ABS, was swift and sure in all kinds of conditions. The car's size played a part here, too-the more mass you set in motion, the more difficult it is to stop. But the new Lumina's fatter tires helped in getting braking power onto the pavement, making the system's all-around performance another plus.
Chevrolet has worked hard to give the new Lumina a more competitive footing among the midsize mainstream. Besides its improved comfort, convenience and appearance, it should hold up better than the original, thanks to a sharp reduction in the number of total parts-fewer things to create buzzes, squeaks and rattles-as well as new assembly techniques.
Add in Chevy's emphasis on value pricing, and you have a car that looks very much like one of the best buys in its class.
First the good news: We found very little to dislike about the the '94 Chevrolet Lumina Euro Sedan. In fact, some characteristics-including impressive power-train response and credentials-pleased our test team a bunch.
Now the bad news: There's little, if anything, about this front-wheel drive, four-door sedan that qualifies it for the leading edge of the midsize sedan category.
In keeping with Chevy tradition, the Lumina Euro Sedan presents the midsize shopper with good-to-excellent value. Our test vehicle had an MSRP of $18,432. In return, the Lumina Euro provided a responsive 3.1-liter V6, a smooth four-speed automatic transmission, an absolutely superb Delco/Bose AM/FM stereo and a host of power assists. The same price included one of the surest stopping four-wheel anti-lock braking systems we've tested, some nice interior touches and ample passenger and cargo room. It also included ride/hand1ing characteristics that put the Lurnina Euro Sedan on the threshold of the sporty category.
Still, this car left us with the feeling of being neither underwhelmed nor overwhelmed.
In profile, our test Lumina Euro presented a slippery aerodynamic look, highlighted by a long, sloping hood that dropped a good six inches from windshield to grille heights, front and rear wraparound plastic air dams and a nifty little spoiler draped on the trunk lid. Was it a functional spoiler?
Perhaps not. It was a nice styling touch, though.
But wait a minute - haven't we seen this basic look before? You bet. This new Lumina Euro bears an uncanny resemblance to the Ford Taurus and the flock of import sedans that dominated the midsize category five to seven years ago. The result? The Lumina Euro fits in, but it certainly doesn't stand out.
Returning to the positive, Chevy stylists and paint specialists have created an eye-pleasing combination of fit, finish and exterior trim as evidenced by our test vehicle. The deep Garnet Red finish appeared to be without flaw. The color match between sheet metal components such as fenders and plastic components such as air dams approached perfection.
Front/rear bumper and side trim consisted of a black vinyl strip and centered color strip that married perfectly with the exterior paint. The side trim also appeared to provide excellent door protection. Headlight and taillight configurations were large, almost oversized, and integrated with true wraparound side marker assemblies to give this car a highly visible night profile.
Sleek and functional black vinyl sport mirrors, recessed black door handles and vast expanses of front and side glass cornplete this sedan's well-coordinated but familiar styling statement. The aluminum wheel covers provide a successful counterpoint to the overall exterior scheme. In short, there was a lot to like, but nothing took our collective breath away.
Entry into the Lumina Euro Sedan was quite easy. Unfortunately, as with some other midsize sedans, neither front nor rear seats give the typical6-footer much legroom. The front and back seats are nicely contoured, with the driver's seat featuring an easy-to-reach and effective seat pivot adjustment. In the middle of the 60/40 split front seat, a center armrest swings down to provide a cupholder as well as arm support. Unfortunately, this raised the first of a few small concerns about overall construction when it presented a seemingly excessive amount of vertical and horizontal play. We also discovered a disturbing little rattle when we stepped on the kick pad that covered the Lumina Euro's firewall.
The expanse of windshield and curved side glass that captured our admiration outside the Lumina Euro also received our raves on the inside. This sedan delivers superior visibility for driver and passengers alike, offering an expansive and unobstructed view of the road and the car's surroundings.
Too bad the Lumina Euro's instrument cluster doesn't echo that expansiveness. It's complete with analog speedometer, tachometer and a full complement of other gauges, and it seems a bit too compressed and crowded. Still, all controls-including those for the power trunk release, door locks, air conditioning and state-of-the-art Delco/Bose AM/FM stereo with signal seek-scan and cassette player-were easy to reach and a genu1ne pleasure to use.
Our Lumina Euro's trunk space provided another pleasant surprise. It offered ample room for up to four people's luggage, concealed spare tire storage and a handy cargo net for grocery bags and other easily jostled parcels.
Our most pulse-quickening experiences with the Lumina Euro Sedan occurred during our performance and handling tests. The 3.1-liter multi-port fuel-injected V6, teamed with the electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission, delivered impressive performance from a standing start and excellent 50 to 70 mph highway passing. In the words of our test driver: 'Hey this Lumina Euro really kicks out.'
The four-wheel anti-lock braking system had stopping power to match. We experienced sure, skid-free stops from all speeds-including wet-pavement situations-with a minimum of pedal pulsation.
In keeping with the Euro designation, our test vehicle gave us a slightly stiff but comfortable ride. The same applies to handling. Our initial cornering tests left us with an impression of stiffness. Later, 90-degree cornering attempts replaced that initial impression with a genuine admiration for the precise, tight, nimble handling capabilities delivered by the steering system and four-wheel independent suspension.
Although it lacks the head-turning styling refinements and oh-so-exotic engineering breakthroughs of some of its midsize counterparts, the '94 Chevrolet Lumina Euro Sedan leaves a lot of very positive impressions where things count.
Power-train response, braking and handling all merit superior ratings. Visibility is equally impressive-and oh, what a radio.
Chevrolet engineers have come very close to providing a world-class performer; it's a shame the Lumina styling group couldn't create an appropriateAlthough it lacks the head-turning styling refinements and oh-so-exotic engineering breakthroughs of some of its midsize counterparts, the '94 Chevrolet Lumina Euro Sedan leaves a lot of very positive impressions where things count.
Power-train response, braking and handling all merit superior ratings. Visibility is equally impressive-and oh, what a radio.
Chevrolet engineers have come very close to providing a world-class performer; it's a shame the Lumina styling group couldn't create an appropriate look to proclaim the event.
In terms of materials technology and styling, Chevrolet obviously is still committed to setting itself apart in the minivan market. Its 1994 Lumina Minivan remains, to the best of our knowledge, the only offering in its class with an exterior composed largely of advanced, dent-resistant materials. Its bullet-like, severely sloped front end-shortened for '94 to appeal to a larger audience--still gives this minivan the appearance of one of Europe's high-speed trains.
It is also a vehicle that fancies itself as something of an automobile. The Lumina Minivan we tested did stand apart from its enormously successful Chrysler and Ford competitors, but the real surprise, unpleasant or otherwise, was that it didn't drive in accordance with how it looked. Instead of an agile, silky, car-like performance, we experienced the operating characteristics of a firm-riding, hardcore minivan-with handling capabilities to match.
Which is not to say that the Chevy Lumina Minivan didn't provide the convenient creature comforts, ample passenger and cargo capacity, and other amenities that minivan buyers demand. Considering our test vehicle's final MSRP of $23,136, it well should.
That price reflects a nearly endless list of options: seven-passenger seating with built-in child seats, a 3.8-liter V6 engine, complete power assists including a six-way driver's seat and one-touch side-door opener, an AM/FM stereo with a CD player, front/rear air conditioning and loads more.
Still, we were surprised that the Lumina's suspension and steering refinements fell a bit short of this vehicle's decidedly unique composition and styling.
Ignore the front end of the '94 Levy Lumina Minivan and the rest adds up to just another clean, good-looking vehicle. But we simply couldn't 1 ore that front end. The severely raked windshield and radically sloped hood combined with a massive front bumper to give the vehicle a modern and distinctive profile.
Completing the front-end treatment were contoured headlamp/cornering lamp assemblies and a gracefully curved air scoop under the leading edge of the bumper. It was an unusual look compared with most other minivans. Even the Star Trek-styled aluminum wheels reflected Chevy's effort to set this minivan apart from its competitors.
Dent- and scratch-resistant composite materials form the Lumina Minivan's exceptionally clean side view. There was no side protective molding or trim on our test vehicle. Chevy designers were obviously convinced that with the high-strength outer panels, bodyside molding would be unnecessary. We hope they were right.
Another unusual styling technique was the way the large, wraparound taillight assemblies were situated high on the rear roof pillars. They, too, contributed to this vehicle's unique look.
However, the Lumina looked more like its competitors from the rear, where its flat liftgate and vinyl-covered step bumper were in typical minivan style.
Color match between our two-toned Adriatic Blue and Gray Metallic test vehicle's composite, vinyl and metal components was flawless. Overall, fit-and-finish was excellent.
Entry through any of the Lumina Minivan's oversized doors was scrunch-free. Once inside one advantage one advantage of the van's unique front-end styling was made apparent to us: The vast windshield put us high up over the road to provide an impressive sensation.
We liked the Lumina's overall roominess and seating comfort. It was a true seven-passenger touring van: There was ample headroom for everybody and plenty of legroom-except for the two seats way in back, which were largely intended for kids anyway. With the exception of the perfectly contoured front buckets, all seats were removable for increased cargo capacity. Loading was made easy by a power sliding side door and a power liftgate that worked effortlessly.
With the exception of a turn-signal stalk that was overloaded with wiper and cruise control buttons, we liked the positioning and operation of the Lumina's instruments and power assists.
The tilt steering wheel housed a standard air bag, but there was no counterpart on the passenger side. Headlight dimmers and other controls were mounted alongside the instrument cluster and within easy reach of our driver. Controls for the power windows and door locks were on the left armrest, where they were easy to locate and use.
In front and rear, a bevy of map and courtesy lights that dimmed gradually when turned off added to the inviting feel of this minivan. Mesh cargo nets on the seatbacks and truly functional cupholders on the rear armrests and dash were just a few of the thoughtful touches that Chevy engineers incorporated. Placement of the great-sounding stereo system-high in the middle of the dash to make it easy to see and use-was also well-planned.
We found little to disappoint us during our road test of the Lumina Minivan. Whether on rough or smooth surfaces or through a variety of travel-weaving, fast cornering and panic breaking-the results were uniformly good for a minivan.
Acceleration and passing power from our Lumina's 3.8-liter, sequentially fuel-injected V6 seemed equal to any other minivan we've tested, but the noticeable amount of engine noise during acceleration reminded us we weren't driving a car.
Similar attributes included a comfortable but stiff ride, and secure but far-from-effortless maneuvering
But do all these traits in performance and handling add up to a flawed vehicle? Far from it. Although we initially expected more sophistication, our Lumina gave us a feeling of control over the road. In addition, the standard four-wheel anti-lock braking system performed impeccably.
Few minivans are in the position to please buyers who want a unique-looking vehicle. The '94 Lumina Minivan boasts a truly distinctive profile and front-end styling that makes it stand out from the crowd.
Appearances aside, though, buyers who expect quick steering, a car-like ride and other refinements offered in family sedans aren't suddenly going to discover them in the Lumina.
Perhaps Chevy engineers have some enhancements in the works. For now, they are offering a well-configured minivan with some additional need for grace and finesse.
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