Compact car; Built in South Korea
  • 4-door hatchback
  • 4-door sedan
  • 4-door wagon
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,000 – $2,100*


2001 Daewoo Nubira 4-door sedan


2000 Daewoo Nubira 4-door wagon


2000 Daewoo Nubira interior


2001 Daewoo Nubira 4-door sedan


2001 Daewoo Nubira 4-door wagon

Pros:
  • Fuel economy
Cons:
  • Automatic-transmission performance
  • Engine noise
  • Rear-seat entry/exit

Overall, the Nubira is an average subcompact from a company whose future is in grave doubt. Buy one only with great caution, and only if the price is truly hard to pass up. Daewoo resale values were low even before the big financial ills loomed, so finding a low-priced example shouldn’t be difficult. Still, it would be wiser to pay a few dollars more for an alternative model, such as the impressive Ford Focus.

Overview

Falling squarely in the middle of Daewoo’s three-car lineup, the Nubira was a relative large front-drive subcompact. Somewhat bigger and more powerful than the entry-level Lanos, it was smaller than the “flagship” Leganza sedan. Rivals included the Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Mazda Protege, Toyota Echo, and Chevrolet Prizm.

Initially, Nubiras came in three body styles: four-door sedan, four-door hatchback, and four-door station wagon. The hatchback would last only a single season. Sole engine was a 2.0-liter, dual-overhead-cam four-cylinder, mated to either a manual gearbox or optional automatic transmission. The Nubira CDX was unusual for its class, with standard antilock braking (optional in the SX).

Daewoo was the third South Korean automaker to enter the U.S. market, trailing Hyundai and Kia. Rather than starting with regular dealerships, Daewoo initially recruited teams of students to promote the car on college campuses. As that program was found wanting, conventional dealerships began to spring up around the country. Buyers got a roadside assistance program as part of their new-Nubira purchase.

Yearly Updates

2000 Nubira
Hatchbacks were gone, leaving only an SE sedan, along with a sedan and wagon in upscale CDX guise. Although more Daewoo dealerships were emerging, the South Korean company was facing serious financial troubles–bad enough to prompt consideration of a possible takeover by one of the Big Three automakers.
2001 Nubira
Nubira wagons got revised taillamps this year. All Nubiras switched from handwheel-type front backrest recliners to a ratcheting lever adjustment setup. An optional convenience package could upgrade the SE sedan to CDX features, including power windows and locks, a tilt steering wheel, CD/cassette stereo, foglamps, and a keyless entry/alarm system. Antilock braking again was standard in the CDX, but unavailable for the SE.
Although the increasingly suffering Daewoo company continued to ship cars to the U.S. market, financial woes were mounting rapidly back in South Korea. Prospective purchasers emerged, then backed away, and Daewoo’s ultimate fate seemed dubious.
2002 Nubira
Antilock braking no longer was available as the 2002 model year began. The lineup included an SE sedan and upscale CDX wagon. Cutting the CDX price by $1,200 meant losing its ABS, cruise control, CD player, keyless entry, foglamps, theft-deterrent system, and alloy wheels. All of those items, except for ABS, were offered as an option package.
In spring 2002, General Motors bought a big share of the assets of the Daewoo organization–but not its sales arm in the U.S. That move left Daewoo dealers hanging in the wind, selling only leftover cars with no new models on the way. Owners, meanwhile, remained unsure how their vehicles would be repaired under warranty.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

A dual-overhead-cam, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, making 129 horsepower, propelled all Nubiras. Either a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic could be installed.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/122
Engine HP 129
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 136
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
22/31
22/30

Road Test

Ranking as a midpack performer in every way, the Nubira seems to have several personalities. Some examples behave nicely, while others deliver more annoyance than driving pleasure. Considering its origins, though, the Nubira is generally a surprisingly pleasant and capable small car.

As for acceleration, a CDX wagon with automatic ambled to 60 mph in 10.1 seconds, averaging about 20 mpg in hard driving. Neither figure is great, but both are passable.

The ride is fairly supple, turning choppy only when the pavement gets rough. Handling is front-drive safe, if ordinary, though with some body roll evident. Braking is competitive if ABS is installed, with fine “panic” braking prowess.

Nubira’s automatic transmission sometimes shifts with a lurch. The manual gearbox can be balky and uncertain, seemingly mismatched to a mediocre-acting clutch. The coarse-sounding engine gets loud when pushed and its noise intrudes even in gentle driving.

For its exterior dimensions, the Nubira is pretty roomy inside. Two medium-sized adults should not feel cramped in back, at least on shorter trips.

Gauges and switches are mostly handy and legible, but audio controls could be more convenient. Workmanship is generally good–in line with the Nubira’s moderate new-car price, if spoiled by a few second-rate details. Interior ambience comes across as discount-store level rather than designer-inspired.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2001 Deawoo Nubira CDX 4-door wagon

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 - 3
30%
Fuel Economy - 7
70%
Ride Quality - 3
30%
Steering/Handling - 3
30%
Quietness - 3
30%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Front - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Rear - 3
30%
Cargo Room - 7
70%

Other

Value - 1
10%

Total: 40

Specifications

4-door hatchback
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
101.2 167.2 66.9 56.1
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
11.3 13.7 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.3 38.0 41.9 34.7
4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
101.2 175.4 66.9 56.1
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
13.1 13.7 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.3 38.0 41.9 34.7
4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
101.2 177.7 66.9 56.4
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
19.4 13.7 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.3 38.0 41.9 34.7
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: N/A

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
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 N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Brakes
Description: Water can enter the parking brake cables and freeze in cold weather rendering the parking brakes inoperative unless rubber boots are installed on the cable ends. (1999-2000)
Fuel gauge
Description: Incorrect fuel gauge readings are caused by a defective resistor card in the fuel sender. (2001-02)
Check-engine light
Description: Crankshaft position sensor fails causing check-engine light and drivability problems. (1999-2002)

Recall History

1998-02
Description: Camshaft position sensor on some engines may melt, resulting in burning smell and visible smoke that could lead to melting of camshaft cover and wire harness, possibly causing underhood fire.
2000-02
Description: A crack in the front brake hose could become a rupture and allow leakage of brake fluid.

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.