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SEE ALSO:Chevrolet Buyer's Guide

For 1994 Chevy's Lumina Minivan has become a little shorter in both name and length. The acronym APV (All-Purpose Vehicle) has been dropped, and it's distinctive long nose has been redesigned and shortened by about three inches.

For the past decade the minivan has played an increasingly important role in the American family lifestyle, as well as in the world- wide automotive market. Traditionally it was a downsized version of a full-size van, and consequently, it retained the familiar squared-off utilitarian, boxy design. In 1990, in a bold styling and construction departure from the typical minivan, the Lumina APV was introduced along with its Oldmobile and Pontiac cousins. Its futuristic styling was made possible through the use of modern production techniques, in which the plastic compound body panels are bonded to a steel "space frame" that in turn is tied to a ladder chassis. The outer skin consists of compound plastic body panels, and close-fitting curved tinted glass. These production techniques further enhance its smooth design., and result in a low coefficient of drag (Cd) of .30.

A week of all-purpose use with this highly versatile people-mover left these thoughts:

APPEARANCE: The styling update of the 1994 Lumina Minivan includes a new hood, grille, front lights, fenders, bumper trim and rocker panel design. This frontal redesign provides a shorter "squared- away" nose, a more prominent grille, new rounded headlights and front fender flares. Newly designed alloy wheels and self-sealing touring tires are new options. In the back there is a new rear step and high stop light. The prominent high mounted rear lighting remains unchanged, as does the large lift-up rear hatch The area between the door handles and roof is practically all near-flush mounted curved glass. If more vision is needed a pop-up, non-removable front sunroof is available. Only the large side mirrors interrupt the smooth lines down each side of this unique minivan.

COMFORT: The LS model is configured as a seven passenger minivan, in a two, three, two setup. The front seats are captains chairs, and the other five are modular. Each folds down and forward and weighs 35 pounds. This provides a wide variety of interior arrangements as their light weight makes them easy to move or remove. Another feature is the optional ($295) power side door. When tied in with the remote locking system the large side door can be automatically and safely opened from outside or inside. Separate front and rear air conditioning allows even temperature control throughout the cavernous interior while the upgrade AM/FM/CD system fills the cabin with top quality sound. There is lots of interior storage, plus 14 cup holders and several powered accessories.

ROADABILITY: Driving the Lumina Minivan takes some getting used to. Even with the shorter hood, it is still a long way from the steering wheel to the windshield and front bumpers. A few days of driving experience makes it easier to learn where to stop and how to maneuver into a parking spot. The unitized steel cage construction, with ladder- type underbody provides a stable platform for the revised suspension layout and furnishes a solid passenger-car type ride. Safety features include a new drivers' air bag, three-point seat belts, four-wheel anti- lock brakes, automatic door locks. and optional self-sealing tires. Ride and handling characteristics are now more predictable, particularly when driving on turns. There is also improved steering wheel feed-back for varying road surface conditions.

PERFORMANCE: The optional 3.8 liter, 170 horsepower V-6 engine mated to the proven 4T60-E electronically controlled Hydra-Matic transmission provides the Lumina LS with additional performance capability.when compared with the standard powertrain combination. The standard model offers the 120 horsepower 3.1 liter V-6 and three- speed automatic transmission combination. It is best suited for flat land travel, and lesser loading requirements. With 50 fewer horsepower, lower torque, 1,000 pound lesser towing capacity, a non-overdrive transmission, plus a lower EPA highway fuel economy rating the base setup does not appear to match the technology of the rest of this vehicle. The more powerful alternate combination allows quicker performance for merging and passing, higher torque for easier climbing of grades and the capability of trailering up to 3,000 pounds.

CONCLUSIONS: The 1994 Chevrolet Lumina LS Minivan now has the refinements available that allow it to overcome its earlier shortcomings. The new safety and convenience features, plus additional power and performance make it a stylish alternative to other truck-like minivans.


           Base Price              $  16,815
           Price As Tested         $  22,993
           Engine Type             V-6, ohv - pushrod, pfi
           Engine Size             3.8 liter/231 cid
           Horsepower              170 @ 4800
           Torque (ft/lbs)         225 @ 3200
           Wheelbase/Length        110"/192"
           Transmission            four-speed automatic w/od 
           Curb Weight             3750
           Pounds per Horsepower   22
           Fuel Capacity           20
           Fuel Requirement        Unleaded regular (87  oct)
           Tires                   General GenSeal P205/70R 15 M+S,
                                   Touring and Self Sealing
           Brakes                  anti-lock standard   disc/drum
           Drive Train             front engine/front drive 
           EPA Economy - miles per gallon,
             city/highway/observed      17/25/19.6
           0 to 60 mph                  9.6 sec
           1/4 mi (E.T.)                17.8 sec 
           Coefficient of Drag  (Cd)    .30