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SEE ALSO: Chevrolet Buyer's Guide

1999 CHEVROLET LUMINA LTZ

By Matt/Bob Hagin

Chevrolet Full Line factory footage (22:43) 28.8, 56k, or 200k
SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 20,360
Price As Tested                                    $ 22,554
Engine Type                OHV 12-valve 3.8 Liter V6 w/SFI*
Engine Size                                 231 cid/3785 cc
Horsepower                                   200 @ 5200 RPM
Torque (lb-ft)                               225 @ 4000 RPM
Wheelbase/Width/Length                  107.5"/72.5"/200.9"
Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
Curb Weight                                     3394 pounds
Fuel Capacity                                  16.6 gallons
Tires  (F/R)                 P225/60R16 Goodyear Eagle RS-A
Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/four-door
Domestic Content                                        N/A
Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A

PERFORMANCE

EPA Economy, miles per gallon
   city/highway/average                            19/30/23
0-60 MPH                                        8.5 seconds
1/4 mile (E.T)                     16.5 seconds at 87.5 mph
Top speed                                           105 mph
     * Sequential fuel injection

(Matt Hagin says that the new Lumina is the largest sedan offered by Chevrolet, even though it's classified as midsize. His dad, Bob, says that the Lumina would almost fit into the trunks of some of the big Chevies of the '60s that he had when the family was young.)

MATT - The Chevrolet Lumina is in its tenth year already, Dad, and originally it came on line only as a coupe with the four-door sedan appearing in '92. Now the coupe version of the car is called Monte Carlo, and it sports all-new sheetmetal this year. Chevrolet considers the Lumina its quintessential family car with comfortable seating for six, plenty of luggage space and reasonable fuel mileage. The car comes in three stages of trim, the first two being the base sedan and the slightly upscale LS. Both of these carry the venerable if slightly anemic 3.1 liter V6 that's been in the GM parts bin for a long time now. It the Lumina engine puts out 160 horses and it has a comfortable "boulevard" ride but uses cost-cutting measures like rear drum brakes. An anti-lock braking system (ABS) as standard equipment on all but the Sedan, where ABS is optional. Lumina is the typical corporate car that's given to mid-management executives as a company "driver."

BOB - The sedan and the LS don't sound very exciting, Matt, but I guess they have their place in Chevrolet's grand scheme of things. Personally, I find the top-line LTZ version of the Lumina lots more interesting. It's closer to the modern concept of a sports sedan, a car for an enthusiast who has a growing family, still enjoys a car that can be whipped through twisting country roads but can't afford to fill that second spot in the family garage with a Corvette or a Camaro. And though they all shared the transverse-mounted location of a V6 engine, the most noticeable difference between the ho-hum Lumina models and the LTZ is that the LTZ packs a more powerful 3.8 liter engine that's been the mainstay of a couple of race car classes for decades. In the Lumina, the 3.8 is tricked-out to produce 200 horsepower and 225 pound/feet of torque. That's not enough to make the car a challenger on the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit, but it won't be an embarrassment at those occasional stop-light Grand Prix events.

MATT - That extra 40 horsepower isn't the only factor that sets the LTZ aside from the other two models, Dad. They all have sway bars front and rear, but they're somewhat larger on the LTZ and the shocks are valved a bit tighter. It also has the added advantage of having four-wheel disc brakes and ABS as standard equipment. Also, the transmission on the LTZ is different from the Sedan and the LS in that it's been beefed up and has different shift points. It LTZ has 16-inch aluminum wheels and the tires are performance-oriented P225/60R Goodyear Eagle RS-As. Although the LTZ is listed as having a top speed of 108 MPH, the same car is offered as a Police Special and in that trim, the fuel cutoff is increased to 130 MPH. There's a couple of other performance items on the cop car that would be handy for high-speed driving like coolers for the engine oil and the transmission fluid.

BOB - The front seats on the LTZ are buckets and have more side support than the other two cars, Matt. They can also be had in leather, but I prefer the cloth versions since they do a better job of keeping the driver and passenger glued down on twisting roads. Daytime running lights are standard and I like the battery-saver system that shuts off the dome light if it's been left on overnight. The computer also shuts off all the power accessories like the clock and the pre-selection setting on the sound system if the car isn't started up for 24 days. A dead battery is an awful thing to have to face in a long-term parking lot after an extended plane ride.

MATT - The Chevy Lumina could be the answer for a lot of families that have outgrown their econocar, but aren't ready to face the fact that they really need a minivan or an SUV. A good-sized family can fit into a six-seater Lumina.

BOB - Now you know why your mother and I appreciated those king- sized Chevy Caprices and Impalas we had when you kids were little.

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