By on October 23, 2010

Dad! Would you come and check out a car I might want to buy?

Sure Will; what is it?

A Deawoo Leganza.

Oh, Um, Ah, Hm; you’re sure that you might want to buy that?

Yeah; it’s got leather, sunroof, and a great sound system.

What’s wrong with it?

The electric window switches are wackky. I don’t care.

Are you sure that’s all?

I’m prepared for the worst. The Daewoo name carries some heavy baggage, and is often assumed to have been a failed brand because of its disappearance so soon after it arrived in the US. But that was the result of GM buying Daewoo, and forcing a shutdown of the US distributor by cutting off their supply. But in Daewoo’s brief day in the sun, the Leganza was the top of the line. And this is a loaded CDX version: 4 wheel discs, 16″ alloys, traction and ABS, sunroof, leather, the works. And that many more wires to get crossed up.

It’s showing 138,000 miles on the odometer and a few minor dings and scratches; this was a hand-me down to one of his high school friends, a girl thankfully. It’s been sitting for months, as the owner has graduated to a VW Cabrio, natch. But the Holden-built 131 hp 2.2 L D-TEC II four, one of the many variants of the GM Family II, starts right up with a purr. The genuine made-in-Japan Aisin four-speed automatic shifts crisply into gear, and off we go, rubbing the surface rust off the squeaky discs.

The engine has good response, and decent low-mid speed power, but is no Honda in sound or its top end. The transmission shifts like new, better than our similarly-old Forester. We head out into the country, and after a couple of short full-throttle blasts to 85 or so, nothing has blown up, vibrated or complained. Performance is mission-appropriate for an eighteen year old. The drive-train gets a pass.

The suspension and body integrity is better than I was prepared for. It feels surprisingly tight and un-worn out. This is not a particularly cushy or quiet car, but neither is it harsh or overly cheap feeling. The Leganza was marketed as an affordable “executive class” car in places like Eastern Europe at the time. The front is quite roomy; my easily cramped 6’4″ body felt quite at home, and even the headroom was true to its name, despite the sunroof. I didn’t bother to get in the back; sorry.

Handling also surpassed my low expectations; nothing inspiring, but harmless and moderately competent. The steering was reasonably crisp, with decent communication, and not over-boosted, like too many electric units these days. The Leganza is quite neutral in curves, and is not afraid of them, if not exactly on the prowl. Once again, mission appropriate.

The seats felt rather flat and firm, but I wasn’t in it long enough to tell whether that is a good or bad thing. The seating surfaces would need to be sent to a lab to confirm it really being leather. On the other hand, it doesn’t look worn out either. The interior material quality is actually quite good: with a few minor exceptions, it’s totally covered in genuine old-school padded vinyl; a reasonably credible imitation of the “fat” V30 Camry from the  early nineties. In fact, it’s pretty obvious that Daewoo had that car in its visor when it developed the Leganza. For a kid who always wanted a Lexus LS400 for his first car, this is actually an appropriate (and quite acceptable, to him) substitute. Times change, tastes change.

Although the Daewoo is no Lexus, there is a connection. The Leganza was styled by no less than the by Giorgetto Giugiaro’s Ital Design, and heavily based on his Jaguar Kensington concept (above), a design he also recycled into the Toyota Aristo/Lexus GS 300 (first generation). Maybe something got lost in the translation; now it’s forgettable and invisible: once again, mission appropriate.

What else is there to consider in a short drive? The brakes still work; good enough. As does the sunroof, automatic climate control, cruise and electric seats. The only flaw: the electric window controls. Sometimes they work, sometimes only when the door is open; other times, it sets all the door lockers in a nervous spasm. Anybody have any suggestions?

We return, and I let him negotiate a price: $500. It’s the other extreme of the depreciation scale, the one to be on when buying. The original sticker folded in the glove box reads $19+k. Not likely someone actually paid that, but still…

“We’ll be right back; there’s an ATM a couple of blocks away”.

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48 Comments on “Capsule Review: 2000 Daewoo Leganza...”


  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Eh why not?  The kid needs to learn a thing or two about cars and a Lexus sure ain’t gonna teach him that.  I had a 1982 Chevy Celebrity as my first car (In the mid 1990s) and the only thing on that car that DIDN’T need attention was the transmission.  Started driving it at 100,000 miles, passed to my sister at 150,000, destroyed in a county fair demo derby around the 200,000+ mark.

  • avatar

    We may be brothers, but we sure are different. Will wanted leather and a sunroof in his first car, I wanted a manual transmission and rear-wheel drive. Thanks to dad, we both found what we wanted for $500. Of course my ’80 Mazda 626 was $400 plus $100 in parts, and though it had the sunroof, there was no stereo of any kind. I loved that car for the two years or so that I had it, but in retrospect the little brother comes off as having far more practical taste.
    Dude, you’re getting a Daewoo!

    • 0 avatar
      ott

      Yeah, but it’s got leather! and a sunroof! Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah… (sticks out tongue)

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, but let’s see you do pirouettes in the community college parking lot!

    • 0 avatar

      Now that’s funny! My brother and I are different, too. My brother thought cars were appliances until he got his Prius. He LOVES his Prius. He loves seeing the gas mileage being double what his Passat got. And he claims he loves the handling, and never experienced such handling before. But a ’94 Legacy he had handled distinctly better.

    • 0 avatar
      Acc azda atch

      I have nothing positive to say about it.
      Except I cant believe how similar the concept is to the vehicle itself… amazing to hear about how the design has . . . graduated.
       
      Now,
      Would the car would be so bad.. if it was a manual and a front driver, in a light tan cloth? Honestly, I cant stand: leather, dark interior colors, power seats, or moonroof or the awful shiny primer or the shitty black interior.
       
      I just cant imagine someone driving this POS.. and “graduating” into a Cabrio. Sounds like a longitudinal grade to me, not up, not down, just over.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Acc –
      I’m with you on the cabrio, I test drove one once and it was painfully slow, so no thanks for me.
       
      As far as the rest, De Gustibus non disputatum est (have to balance out the Hebrew with a little Latin after all).  I love leather, dark interiors, and power seats.  I’m neutral on moonroofs and primer.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Sure why not. If you are handy you can diagnose the window controls switch relay etc or spend a few bucks. Even if you get a couple of yrs out of it it’s cheap wheels. Oh yeah check the timing belt. If the prior owner did not do one you might have to change it.

  • avatar
    Omoikane

    I believe I know what’s wrong with the electronic window control: corrosion due to water damage/invasion of the connector and wiring going from the main driver door controls to the main car body. The said connector could be found under the dashboard somewhere around main fuse box around driver’s knee level. Also check the connector from the passenger side door to main body, again hidden somewhere underneath the glovebox .
    I suggest disconnecting the car battery before pulling on the wiring and meddling with the connectors- one accidental short circuit and you’re likely to blow al 4 window control modules (each door has one, one “master” at driver door and 3 “slaves”)- been there done that.
    A good electrician could easily fix the issue remove the corroded connectors and splice the wiring. The trick is finding a good auto electrician…

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      Thanks. I was thinking/hoping along the same lines.

    • 0 avatar
      PVDave

      +1. Feedback through the lock system indicates wiring problems, not component faults.

      Start with the ground point for the driver’s door. The window’s and locks both use that ground, and if it fails the power window current finds a path through the door lock solenoids to another ground.

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    I always loved the styling of this car. $500 for a car in this nice of shape [at first glance ] and for a new driver makes a whole lot of economic sense. Much better than co signing a $15,000 loan on a new car just to watch it be beat into the ground by an inexperieenced driver.

    Mr N1: you just made your kid’s day. [and for not a lot of money…]. Hopefully he has inherited the sort of respect for machinery [any machinery] that you have exhibited on TTAC.

  • avatar
    HoldenSSVSE

    Perception versus reality.  A common theme among those who love cars.

  • avatar
    Amendment X

    I remember the commercials for these.
     
    “German engineering meets Italian design…”
     
    They forgot to include “…made by Koreans”

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    Just as long as the brake work well – this $500 Korean Daewoo make a good first car.  Save some money for college.

  • avatar

    Is that ’58 Plymouth on the CC list?

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    59, Mr Holzman. I hope it is on the CC list too

    • 0 avatar
      MarcKyle64

      All the owner of the Plymouth needs to do with it paint it red and play only early rock & roll!!
      Oh, and call people he doesn’t like “[email protected]#tters”

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Wrong.  Christine was a ’58.  And it drove me nuts in the chapter where King writes that he grabbed the shift lever, slammed it into drive, and stomped the pedal.
       
      If you’ve ever noticed, Steven King writes wonderful slices of life of past years, but gets one or two small details horribly wrong.  Usually the ones that really stick out to an absolute anorak for the time period.  Like an auto-trans ’58 Plymouth with a shift lever.  Shrudder.

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      May dad owned a 58 Belvedere several yrs before Christine was even written. I remember sitting on the fender when he did a valve and ring job. It was navy blue w/318 and pushbutton auto. He sold it in 1968 and bought a 63 Valiant and 62 Impala. My gramps owned a 59 similar to the one in the pic.

  • avatar
    Flybrian

    These cars have such a huge black cloud hovering over them that they’re without a doubt incredible used car bargains as long as you’re aware of a few caveats:

    1) 3rd and 4th (sometimes 2nd) owners purchased these cars at the same accelerated depeciation as you are, so expect routine maintenance to be neglegent at best. People who own these cars locally in my part of the Sunshine State either tend to be ‘hood and dumb, poor and dumb, foreign and dumb, or elderly.

    2) Leganza and Nubira wagons are the bargains to look for because of the reason stated above – typically owned by the elderly and pampered like a Buick.

    3) Nubira sedans and the entire Lanos line are largely junk for some reason, even compared to the Daewood stable in general.

    A few years ago, these used to be a pretty common sight at some auctions around here and could’ve been bought for unbelievable prices – less than an early-90s Protege/323 or Sentra with rust and bad paint even. However, they have absolutely ZERO book value and most finance and warranty companies won’t even touch these. Kind of funny to see a 3rd party warranty rate sheet read “NO V12s, EXOTICS, KIT-BUILT, AMG, GREY MARKET, SALVAGE/REBUILT TITLES, OR DAEWOOS.”

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      This is a one, or possibly two owner car, and has been maintained well.

    • 0 avatar
      lzaffuto

      The Nubira gets a lot of hate here. While it was a cheap car built out of cheap materials and lacking any sort of refinement in an era when we were expecting more than that from our economy cars, the truth is that it was reliable and economical transportation. The engine was an old GM unit and quite dependable. We bought a Nubira for $1000 in 2003 as my wife’s first car. She got into four(!) fender benders with it denting up every body panel but otherwise it refused to die. I sold it for $500 to a guy that worked at a body shop that preceded to replace or fix every dent on the car and is still driving it today with over 120,000 miles on it. He has never had any mechanical or electronic failures on the car. Not too bad for something most people consider a POS.

    • 0 avatar

      A coworker of mine also has a Nubira. It’s not much to look at, but ditto your experience — the damn thing will not die. And it’s easy for him to work on.
       
      A $500 Leganza sounds like a much better first car than my $1200 Plymouth Turismo “2.2” was!

  • avatar
    pleiter

    Also, check the battery terminal strap; any of that fuzzy corrosion on today’s paper thin steel straps can weaken the strap, making it a poor contact and browning out things like window logic boards. $4 for a good thick lead-based strap and you’re good to go.

  • avatar
    thirty-three

    Only $500? Sounds like a steal. I just bought an older, higher mileage, slightly rusty, well worn, base model Civic for $1000.

  • avatar
    Uncle Mellow

    This car was much too good to carry a Daewoo badge.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    I had a Lanos hatch, the “Sport” version with two-tone leather interior (well, they call it leather), and alloys.  It was actually a nice looking car, but my way-too-spoiled daughter literally refused to drive it.  I paid $1500 for it, and then dropped another $500 with my mechanic friend to properly install the timing belt that was due to be replaced.  After he did that, it was like a different car; apparently before the timing was wacky and it was way down on power.

    During my long nights of internet research, I found out that the engine and many other parts are still in use today on the current Aveo.  I also discovered its not a bad car, just misunderstood.  I drove it for a few months until I just got tired of the jokes from coworkers… lol… ended up selling to an extremely appreciative teenage girl for $2500.  She was thrilled with it… for $500 your son should be even more thrilled.  I learned a lesson with that car about the shallowness of my daughter, we had something to work on.

    My only warning:  parts are nearly impossible to find, as is advice from the internet.  Its not car fanatics that buy these, so there is a lot of bullshit advice online from guys who bought a really cheap car and cant afford to hire mechanics.  These cars are extremely popular overseas, so talk to them instead.  When you find good deals on parts that are probably going to break eventually… buy it… that way when the water pump goes, you arent waiting 3 weeks to find one.

  • avatar
    obbop

    I’d personalize it with JC Whitney curb feelers.

  • avatar
    genuineleather

    I have always had a thing for the Leganza; as a kid, I thought the Daewoo lineup was FAR more attractive than anything Hyundai or Kia was selling. Given the choice between that car or most any other econobox of the period, I would’ve gone Daewoo too.

    Then again, when it came time for me to get my own car, I ended up with an MB W123 with an oil leak and soon-to-be massive repair bills, so my automotive choices have never fallen on the practical side.

  • avatar

    Heck of a deal for $500. Can’t go wrong – just ditch it at the signs for the first big repair.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    And that Fiero in the driveway well that’s another story. At least the Leganza (sounds like some dish at the Olive Garden) is not likely to burst into flames.

  • avatar
    ajla

    So does this mean that the Suzuki Verona and Reno aren’t terrible?

  • avatar
    twotone

    A 2000 with a FOUR SPEED automatic? Hmmm…. Free would still be too expensive.

    Twotone

    • 0 avatar
      Acc azda atch

      Seriously?!
       
      Every Japanese car, every domestic, most Koreans had the 4speeds. The Germans might have had 1 speed extra..
       
      But they pretty much had all had 4speed autos…
      Try finding a manual wagon, not in black, dull primer, shiny primer or white.. and you’d have something good.

      Its only the “rage” now to have 6-7-8+sped autos.. only for the sake of competition!
      Fuel economy in these high speed autos is a FARCE.

      WHEN CHRYSLER.. who couldn’t build / design or shit out a decent trans combo / P.O.S to save their god damn life.. or actually produce 2 CONSECUTIVE model cycles of any one vehicle (not including their truck).. decides to build a 9 speed transmission…

      That tells ya something is in the water = ya don’t need anymore than 4speeds. (Bad enough ya got cars doing 250-500hp in overweight piles of shit, for the only compensation of the vehicle’s LARD ASS weight issues.)

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      There are new cars being sold with four speeds today.

    • 0 avatar
      Stingray

      …with a FOUR SPEED automatic? Hmmm…. Free would still be too expensive.
       
      Go and tell that to the Toyota stealership when you go and buy your 2010 Yaris or Corolla.
       
      That’s a lot of car for $500
       
       

    • 0 avatar
      PG

      My old 02 Corolla was a 4-speed auto, and this Daewoo is a a hell of a lot nicer inside than it was…

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Congrats on the buy…
    I once bought a Nubira sedan for $300 that had only 41k. Engine was grenaded due to a failed tensioner. I was sure that I could find at least one in a Georgia junkyard.
    And I was wrong… none in Georgia… none in Florida… nine in Tennessee… none in Alabama… the ones I found were well into the four figures and far away.
    The Leganza may be a steal for now. But I eouldn’t rule out owning a spare for all the parts you will eventually need.
    Here’s a site for him
    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2203139687
    and one for you…
    http://townhall-talk.edmunds.com/direct/view/.ef0922f
     

  • avatar

    Would I be better off with this or a 2000 Dodge INtrepid?

    Sounds like replacement engines and parts should be compatible with Chevy Aveos?

    500. as loaded as this car would totally tempt me.

  • avatar
    phantomwolf

    OMG, I am having flashbacks to my Lanos that was a miserable mistake first perpetrated by my mother and then purchased for a mere 800 when it only had 40k.  I am still convulsing late at night at the sight of the roller skate styling, remarkably unbalancing riding, and the nightmare electrics that kept me up late at night.  To top it off I only ever got 32mpgs on I-90 on my glorious commutes between Syracuse and Utica.  My brown 89 Sedan Deville with the V8 PFI 4.5 got almost the same highway miliage!!!!  I am starting to convulse again from the memory of that automotive mental sodomy session…..was I so glad I got rid of it when the head cracked, I know, go figure.

  • avatar
    Stingray

    Daewoos sold reasonably good locally. The Cielo/Nexia sold like hotcakes to taxi drivers and some of them are still alive. It was usual to see 3 year old examples with 350K kms.
     
    The Lanos also was sold for taxi duty, but didn’t have the success of the Cielo because it was more expensive.
     
    The Nubira also sold decently. The Leganza instead, didn’t, but having Camry and Accord as competition I’m not surprised
     
    The Matiz also sold well. My uncle had one until recently. The little thing is bulletproof, and fitted with a fart can you forget you have a 3 cyl under the hood and start believing there’s a V6 because of the sound.
     
    In 2002 supply dried up. Then GM started selling the Optra, Aveo, Spark and Epica as Chevys *rolleyes*
     
    For 500$ it’s a lot of car.
     
    I’ve seen that some people has swapped that 2.2 engine with some mods into the Corsa we got, smoking 05-08 Mustang GTs in the process

  • avatar
    k8tblueyes

    By now you should know your son got a DEAL! I bought a new Leganza in March, 2000.. I am still driving it(a thousand miles a week to work), by the time I get home tonight it will have 370k miles.. and she’s still purring. I could use some new headlights, and my dash is a little disconcerting around the defroster.. but it’s fall again and my heater works just fine(so does the defroster!), the A/C will freeze you in the summer and I change the timing belt every spring (that’s what a tax refund is for).
    I did my homework before I bought The’Woo; I said at the time I expected to get 500K out of it, and I still think I will. My dad was a mechanic, he taught us all, “IF you drive a car, you WILL maintain it.. if you don’t maintain it, you ain’t gonna drive it very long.” Parts can be a challenge to find, but we’re still kicking on down the road, planning ahead, and I am keeping this one for myself!

    • 0 avatar
      car13

      HI MR. k8tblueyes,
      PLEASE PROBABLY I WOULD NEED YOUR HELP TO BUY A 2000 DAEWOO THAT I THINK I GOT A GOOD DEAL FOR THE PRICE, IT IS NOT IN GOOD SHAPE BECAUSE LEFT TIRE HAD HIT ON SMALL ACCIDENT AND IT IS OUT AS THE OWNER SAID. I AM GOING TO BE CAREFULLY BEFORE TO BUY IT I AM LOOKING FOR A MECHANIC TO FIX IT AND HOW MUCH IT WOULD TO COST ME? IF YOU HAVE SOME ADVISES FOR ME PLEASE LET ME KNOW I COULD SEND THE CAR’S PICS AND I WOULD APPRECIATE ANY ANSWER FROM YOU, I READ ALL THE COMMENTS HERE AND I THINK I COULD SAVE SOME MONEY THAT I NEDD FOR MY HOUSE AS YOU DID WHEN YOU BOUGHT AND STILL RUNNING YOUR The’Woo UNTIL 500K AS YOU WILL HOPEFULLY.
      IT IS MY FIRST TIME HERE AND I DON’T SEE THE PICTURES THAT THEY SHOW ABOUT THIS CAR AND OTHERS PLEASE TELL ME IF YOU WATCHED GOOD ALL THE PICS OR IS MY INTERNET SERVICE NOT WORKING GOOD AT THIS TIME? PLEASE LET ME KNOW YOUR ANSWER AND HAVE A NICE DAY. YAHWEH BLESS YOU!!

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