Midsize car; Built in Canada
  • 2-door coupe
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,000 – $1,800*


1990 Chevrolet Lumina 4-door sedan


1994 Chevrolet Lumina Euro 4-door sedan


1991 Chevrolet Lumina Z-34 2-door coupe


1991 Chevrolet Lumina Z-34 interior


1990 Chevrolet Lumina interior

Pros:
  • Acceleration (3.4-liter V6)
  • Antilock brakes (later models)
  • Handling (Euro, Z34)
  • Passenger and cargo room
Cons:
  • Acceleration (4-cylinder)
  • Instruments/controls
  • Ride
  • Steering feel

Though quiet and capable cruisers, Luminas don’t quite match Taurus in overall style, features, or performance. On the other hand, a reasonable secondhand price can overcome at least a few of those objections.

Overview

Midsize, front-drive 6-passenger sedan arrived in late spring 1989 as GM’s challenge to the Ford Taurus. A coupe joined the sedan that fall on the same 107.5-inch wheelbase, roughly replacing the old Monte Carlo. Chevrolet’s sedan was the first 4-door from the GM design that produced the 1988 Buick Regal, Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, and Pontiac Grand Prix coupes. Luminas came in base or sportier Euro guise. Euros wore blackout body trim and had a sport suspension, and either 15- or 16-inch tires. Base Luminas made do with 14-inch rubber. Standard equipment on all models included 4-wheel disc brakes, power steering, and a fully independent suspension all around. Euros added air conditioning.

Yearly Updates

1991 Lumina
A high-performance Z34 coupe arrived during 1991, powered by GM’s new twin-cam 3.4-liter engine. The Z34 was the only Chevrolet model to get that potent V6. Special styling touches included a louvered hood, ground-effects body add-ons, and a rear lip spoiler. In addition to the hotter engine, the Z34 contained a sport suspension, high-performance tires on alloy wheels, analog gauges, and sport-bucket seats. A body-colored, louver-style grille replaced the black-out unit on Luminas, and Euros got “touring” tires for a softer ride.
1992 Lumina
Antilock braking became available in ’92, standard in the Euro and Z34, but optional in base models. Also, the 3.4-liter engine was offered in Euro sedans as well as in the Z34 coupe. The 3.4-liter Euro option package came only with a 4-speed automatic, so the engine was rated at 200 horsepower.
1993 Lumina
A 2.2-liter 4-cylinder engine replaced the 2.5-liter in base Luminas, but all coupes carried a V6 this year.
1994 Lumina
All ’94 Luminas had a V6 engine and 4-speed automatic transmission with new electronic controls. The base coupe departed, leaving only Euro and Z34 coupes. A new design was in the works for 1995.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

A 110-horsepower, 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine was standard in early Luminas. A 135-horsepower, 3.1-liter V6 went into Euro editions, or could be installed in base models. Standard transmission was a 3-speed automatic, but a 4-speed overdrive automatic was optional with the V6. The 3-speed can be found in many V6 Luminas, however. GM’s new twin-cam 3.4-liter V6 went into the high-performance Z34 coupe, which arrived during 1991. That engine was rated at 210 horsepower with standard 5-speed manual shift (200 with automatic). Base engines lost 5 horsepower in 1992, but the potent dual-cam 3.4-liter could be installed in Euros (automatic transmission only). A smaller (2.2-liter) 4-cylinder engine went into ’93 models, making 110 horsepower; but a year later, all Luminas had V6 engines.

ohv I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.5/151
Engine HP 105-110
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 135
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
3-speed automatic

21/28

ohv I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.2/133
Engine HP 110
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 130
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
3-speed automatic

21/29

ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.1/191
Engine HP 135-140
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 180-185
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
3-speed automatic
4-speed automatic
19/27
19/29
20.1
dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.4/207
Engine HP 200-210
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 215
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
17/27
17/26
17.6

Road Test

Lumina’s base 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine delivers only so-so action. The 2.2-liter of 1993 isn’t sufficient, either. The 3.1-liter V6 is snappier, especially with 4-speed automatic transmission. However, the automatic’s aversion to downshifts makes the car feel sluggish. Acceleration off-the-line is quick, but once underway, a heavy throttle foot is needed to overcome the transmission’s reluctance. Highway cruising is quiet and relaxed, however.

The twin-cam 3.4-liter engine, available from 1991 onward delivers outstanding acceleration, but most of its power is concentrated at high engine speeds.

Body lean in turns is well-controlled. While the suspension absorbs most bumps without much disturbance, freeway dips set the body to jouncing. Steering feel is imprecise and heavy, contributing to the car’s ponderous feel in urban driving. All-disc brakes have good stopping power, but the pedal is too firm and hard to modulate.

Non-Euros lag a bit in performance and handling, though both versions deliver a solid feel on the road. For competent handling, the Euro’s sport suspension and bigger tires are a necessity. Even so, Euros have proved to be disappointing. Their suspensions fail to filter out the bumps well, and still allow too much bounce over wavy surfaces. With its sport suspension, the Z34 is quick but rides rougher than its more sedate mates.

Gauges are not easy to read at a glance, and some controls are hard to reach. Climate controls are large and simple. Luminas are roomy inside for adults, front and rear, with plenty of cargo space on a flat trunk floor. Rear seat cushions are too short for long-distance comfort. Every door has a map pocket, and the center storage console is handy, but the glovebox is tiny.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1994 Chevrolet Lumina Euro sedan

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 - 4
40%
Ride Quality - 5
50%
Steering/Handling - 6
60%
Quietness - 5
50%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Front - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Rear - 5
50%
Cargo Room - 4
40%

Other

Value - 7
70%

Total: 53

Specifications

2-door coupe
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
107.5 198.3 71.7 53.3
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
15.7 16.5 6
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.5 37.1 42.4 34.8
4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
107.5 198.3 71.0 53.6
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
15.7 16.5 6
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.7 38.0 42.4 36.9
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1994 Lumina 4-door sedan

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 2
40%
Front Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

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 64
Injury 69
Theft 11

Trouble Spots

Automatic transmission
Description: 4T60E transmissions may drop out of drive while cruising, shift erratically, or have no second, third, or fourth gear because of a bad ground connection for the shift solenoids. Poor grounds also allow wrong gear starts. (1991-94)
Automatic transmission
Description: TH-125 or 440-T4 automatic transmissions may shift late or not upshift at all. The problem is a stuck throttle valve inside the transmission. (1991-93)
Engine noise
Description: An engine rattle at startup may be due to too much wrist-pin-to-piston clearance. (1993-94)
Engine noise
Description: A rattling noise at startup is often caused by automatic-transmission pump starvation or cavitation, or a sticking pressure-regulator valve. (1991-94)
Oil leak
Description: The plastic valve covers on 3.1-liter engines were prone to leaks and should be replaced with redesigned aluminum valve covers. (1992-94)
Steering noise
Description: The upper bearing mount in the steering column can get loose and cause a snapping or clicking, requiring a new bearing spring and turn-signal cancel cam. (1994)
Transaxle leak
Description: The right front axle seal at the automatic transaxle is prone to leak. GM issued a revised seal to correct the problem. (1992-94)

Recall History

1990
Description: Front seatbelt may not properly restrain passenger in an accident.
1990
Description: Front-shoulder safety-belt webbing may separate at upper guide loops on either side of front seat.
1990
Description: Brake lights may not illuminate or, in some cases, will not stay illuminated all the time when brakes are applied, due to faulty stoplight switch.
1990
Description: Cracks may develop in mounting surface of certain Kelsey-Hayes steel wheels; wheel will separate from vehicle.
1990-91
Description: Due to corrosion at the front subframe, the steering shaft could separate from the steering gear, resulting in a crash.
1990-91 in 15 states
Description: Corrosion due to road salt could permit one or both front engine cradle bolts to pull through retainer; could result in steering-gear separation.
1991
Description: Front-door shoulder-belt guide loops may be cracked and not in compliance with federal standard; occupant faces increased risk of injury in a sudden stop or accident.
1992
Description: Reverse servo apply pin of 4-speed automatic transmission may bind, which could cause loss or slipping of reverse, poor performance, or transmission to remain in “Reverse” while the indicator shows “Neutral” position.
1993
Description: Some front seatbacks may recline without prior warning.

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.