Pros: Cheap, comfortable, good trunk space
Cons: Fragile, not a good value for its class, the radio security is annoying
A Word About This Type of Car
Let me first start off by telling you that I am biased with regards to cars. I got in an accident in my Subaru Forester in August of 2001 and after that I have trouble endorsing cars that I probably would have died in had I been driving it at the time of the accident. For more details on the accident including links to the photos, see my Subaru Forester review: http://www.epinions.com/content_33911574148
That being said, if you want a small fuel-efficient car despite what I said about it, "Run Forest, Run!" Yes, run right to your Hyundai dealer because they have a much better car for you. Or, if you're willing to spend $3000 more, Honda has an even better one with the Civic. I had a 1990 Honda Civic wagon 3 months before I got the Forester and it was a great reliable car that doesn't depreciate as fast.
How Did I Ever Come Across This Monster?
This all started April of 2001. My fiancee (now my wife) was driving an old Chrysler Labaron convertible to and from college at UConn. Earlier that spring, the car began to break down every so often. My father in law is great at fixing cars, but there wasn't much you could do for it. One evening as she was driving back from UConn, the car breaks down in the middle of nowhere on I-84. Being out of range on the cell phone, she begins to walk to a phone. Luckily the car that ended up picking her up was a state trooper who shuttled her back to her grandmother's house while warning her that someone else might have gotten to her first. As soon as it hit me what might have happened (3.5 seconds), I told her that she had to get another car, and it had to be new.
Her dad took it upon himself to get her this new car so she'd be safe to and from college. Not having a ton of money to spare, they looked at cars priced around $10,000 with good gas mileage to make that 45-mile trek to UConn. Before I even knew that they started searching, they already were set in a Daewoo 4-door Lanos. At first I was a little skeptical because I thought that Daewoo only made audio/video products.
To make a long story short, her dad got it for her and I was just happy that she was in a car that won't break down anytime soon.
About the Car in General
My first impression about the car in general is that it's loud. The engine noise makes it really hard to carry a conversation in the car. The radio looks simplistic, but it hides a dirty little secret ... more on that later. It doesn't have much power on the hills, especially where we live. I began to see that people behind me were getting anxious when I dipped below the speed limit on hills. On the road it has a typical acceleration you'd see for a car like that. The interior looks cheap, but it isn't a real eyesore. The panel with the speedometer and odometer looks like it's made for someone not good with cars. The lack of an RPM meter is annoying. It being an automatic, I like to use it to get used to the timing on the car. Without it I have no discernable way to try and force (or not force) a gearshift by using the accelerator. The engine looks well built, not like a BMW or Mercedes, but it looks sturdy nonetheless. My impression during the first month of us driving it was "Gee, you sure don't get much for a car this cheap."
Now Let's Compare It to a Hyundai Accent
When my Honda was beginning to wear down, I began to research a replacement. Before I ended up looking into safer cars, I wanted to get a cheap fuel-efficient car to save money. During my research I quickly ruled out the Daewoo Lanos because the Hyundai Accent was better in almost every respect. These two cars are naturally comparable because of their size, features and price range.
First of all let's talk about the gas mileage. Our 4 door Daewoo Lanos only gets 34 miles per gallon whereas the Hyundai Accent gets about 37. This isn't all that much, but over time as more miles are racked up on the car and as gas prices rise, you're talking about serious money here.
The warranty is better on the Hyundai then the Daewoo. Daewoo cars get your standard 4 year / 36,000 mile warranty. However, the Hyundai cars get a 10 year / 100,000 mile warranty standard. This to me is even more important to me in a small fuel-efficient car. When you're getting a bargain basement car, it's good to know that you're not going to pay for the car over again in the few years after the warranty runs out just in parts and labor. In all fairness though, the Daewoo dealer in Worcester (Diamond Daewoo) does provide cheap services at the dealership. Oil changes are just over $15 and regular interval services run us about $27. I really doubt that most Hyundai dealerships can match that.
The price that my father-in-law negotiated for the Daewoo was just over $10,000 not including all the additional fees. After talking with a dealer at Hyundai, I was quoted a price of $9,200 for a car with similar features.
The other two cars are almost identical in my opinion, both having the same drawbacks. After weighing the two advantages, I can't think of a reason why someone would get a Daewoo Lanos. The conclusion for this section is that Daewoo doesn't offer much when compared to another car in the same class.
Other Things I Don't Like
I really don't like the radio that comes standard with it. Admitted, I didn't expect much from the radio given the price of the car, but this radio is just plain annoying. The radio comes with a security system that requires a password if it ever loses power. I found out about this when my wife left the car lights on over night and came out to find the car was dead. When I turned on the radio the next morning, it was asking for some password. Well after hunting around for the manual for a few minutes I finally figured out what they were talking about. However, by the time I was ready to input the password, the radio wouldn't turn on at all even to prompt me for a password. Right now, the radio still doesn't work. My wife keeps on promising me she'll take it to the dealer to get it fixed, but she hasn't yet. I'd do it myself, but I don't have the time given work and all. I just don't like this feature at all.
The car lights are another pet peeve of mine. Our Subaru has a feature that turns off the headlights when the engine is off even if the headlight switch is on. If for some reason you want to have the car lights on while the car engine is off, then there's a switch in back of the steering wheel hidden away so that you can do that. With the Daewoo and also my old Honda Civic, you don't have that automatic shutoff. I can tell you that I've drained the battery many times by forgetting to turn off the headlights. This is especially true when you need them when you're driving but forget you had them on when you reach your destination. For example, some states require you to have your headlights on when it's raining, even in broad daylight. I wish cars would have this shutoff, especially for the forgetful folks out there like me.
It seems clear to me that unless you get a really good deal, steer clear of a Daewoo Lanos. I don't know if I'll ever own another cheap fuel-efficient car again, but I really doubt that if I do it will be a Daewoo.
I drove my last mile in this steaming pile. The timing belt went last Friday around mile 82,000. When the timing belt goes while the car is running, the valves inside the engine got bent. It will cost over $1000 to fix the valves and the timing belt combined, where the car itself was only worth $1500 a without the problem.
So the final conclusion is that this car isn't worth the money paid for it. Getting a new car is one thing, but having this car only last 82,000 miles is another. Oh well.