Sporty/performance car; Built in USA
  • 2-door hatchback
  • transverse front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,000 – $2,100*


1991 Plymouth Laser RS


1990 Plymouth Laser


1990 Plymouth Laser


1991 Plymouth Laser RS


1993 Plymouth Laser RS

Pros:
  • Acceleration (RS and RS Turbo)
  • All-wheel drive (AWD model)
  • Optional antilock brakes
  • Handling/roadholding
Cons:
  • Acceleration (1.8-liter automatic)
  • Cargo room
  • Engine and road noise
  • Rear-seat room
  • Visibility

Mixing fun with frugality, Lasers and their Mitsubishi/Eagle coupe cousins have ranked among our favorites, especially with the midlevel engine.

Overview

Similar in appearance and mechanical details to the Mitsubishi Eclipse and the Eagle Talon, Plymouth’s sporty front-drive coupe debuted in January 1989. Base-model Lasers carried a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine, whereas a 135-horsepower, 2.0-liter twin-cam four was optional under Laser RS hoods. The top-flight RS Turbo used a turbocharged 2.0-liter rated at 190 horsepower. A 5-speed manual transmission was standard; 4-speed automatic optional, except with the turbocharged engine, which was manual-shift only.

Yearly Updates

1991 Laser
Antilock brakes joined the option list this year, and the Laser’s turbocharged engine could now be ordered with an automatic transmission instead of manual shift. This year too, the Laser RS came only with the midlevel engine: 2.0-liter rated at 135 horsepower.
1992 Laser
Lasers earned some cosmetic changes for 1992, and a new all-wheel-drive (AWD) model joined the lineup. Plymouth’s RS Turbo AWD came only with manual shift. Front and rear ends got a fresh look, with exposed aerodynamic headlamps replacing the previous hidden units.
1993 Laser
All-wheel-drive Lasers could be ordered with an automatic transmission this year. With automatic, the horsepower rating of turbo models dropped to 180. All Lasers except the base model could be equipped with antilock braking.
1994 Laser
For its final season, Laser got only detail changes.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive

Lasers came with one of three engines: a 1.8-liter 4 cylinder rated at 92 horsepower, in base models and 1990 RS models; a dual-overhead-cam 2.0-liter four, which made 135 horsepower, available in the Laser RS; or a turbo 2.0-liter for the RS Turbo. Only 5-speed manual shift was available for the 1990 Turbo and ’92 AWD, but all other models might have a 4-speed automatic transmission instead. Engines and transmissions were produced by Mitsubishi.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/122
Engine HP 135
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 125
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic
5-speed manual
22/29
22/27
26.4
22.6
Turbocharged dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/122
Engine HP 180-195
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 203
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
21/28
19/23
18.4

ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.8/107
Engine HP 92
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 105
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
23/32
23/30

Road Test

The 1.8-liter engine lacks punch, especially with automatic, though it runs smoothly. Sending just 92 horsepower to an automatic transmission simply does not do justice to the car’s sporty appearance. Performance is better with the 2.0-liter engine, faltering less with automatic. Because it lacks low-end torque, however, manual shift is still the best bet for peppy motoring. Turbos take off with fury, but suffer from “torque steer.” The all-wheel grip of the AWD model, added in 1992, eliminates the torque-steer problem and provides all the excitement of turbo power.

Ride quality is decent, and roadholding is good. High-performance tires and a stiffer suspension on RS models harden the ride somewhat, though they help boost handling from good to great. Tire noise is a problem on any model.

The dashboard layout is excellent, with easy-to-read analog instruments and a simple arrangement of smooth-operating controls. But, because the dashboard and beltline are rather high, some drivers might feel a bit claustrophobic. Also, cargo space and visibility aren’t top-notch, and the back seat is for children only.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1994 Plymouth Laser RS 5-speed

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 6
60%
Fuel Economy - 6
60%
Ride Quality - 2
20%
Steering/Handling - 6
60%
Quietness - 3
30%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Front - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Rear - 2
20%
Cargo Room - 2
20%

Other

Value - 7
70%

Total: 43

Specifications

2-door hatchback
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
97.2 172.8 66.7 51.4
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
10.2 15.8 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.9 34.1 43.9 28.5
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1994 Laser 2-door hatchback

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
80%
Front Passenger Injury - 4
80%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 115
Injury 124
Theft 66

Trouble Spots

Brake noise
Description: The rear disc brakes are prone to squealing or squeaking. A shim kit has been released. (1992-94)
Hard starting
Description: Hard or no starting, and possibly no cooling fan, may be caused by corrosion of a splice in the wiring harness near the left headlight caused by water getting into the wiring. (1990-94)
Vehicle shake
Description: Severe vehicle shake and vibration may require replacement of the engine and transmission mounts. (1990-94)

Recall History

1990
Description: Operation of factory-installed sunroof in “nonstandard” manner may cause hinge disengagement.
1990
Description: Diluted primer may have been used on windshield-opening flanges of a few cars, which would not provide required retention of glass.
1990
Description: Headlamp-wiring harness on some early models may break due to stress created by their pop-up devices.
1990-91
Description: Front-seatbelt release button can break and pieces can fall inside.
1992-94 w/AWD
Description: Lockup of transfer case can occur.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.