1994 Chevrolet Lumina Van

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1994 Chevrolet Lumina Van
Available in 3 styles:  Lumina Passenger Van shown
Asking Price Range
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Estimated MPG

15.8 city / 19.2 hwy

Expert Reviews

    Expert Reviews 2 of 2

By 

chicagotribune.com
Amazing what a little plastic surgery can do for appearance and appeal.

At Chevrolet, the stylists lopped about 3 inches off the Lumina APV mini-van's honker, and a butterfly emerged from the cocoon.

To say Lumina was blessed with an ample proboscis is an understatement. The long, low-slung hood on the Chevy van resembled a ski slope sans snow.

Some will argue that taking a scalpel to the van's nose was emergency surgery. Had Chevy spent a bit more time in reshaping and restyling the hood/grille/bumper, it would have turned out more attractive than it did.

In fact, some might say the new front end looks a bit like gramps when he removes his uppers. Even if the front end looks chopped off and stubby, its an improvement from the ski slope and should silence many critics.

A bit of chicanery was used inside. The hood was shortened, but the top of the dash in the passenger cabin still is the size of a football field.

To make it appear smaller, Chevy divided the dash into two fields, vinyl from the driver halfway to the windshield, and black felt-like material the rest of the way to the windshield. And the black felt portion is raised a few inches to make the dash a double decker. The styling gimmick makes the dash top look less ominous in depth, but still raises the question, "How are you going to clean the black cloth that's more than an arm's length away?"

In fairness, as the wife points out, that expanse of dash provides the feeling of safety because you see a mass of crush space between you and any vehicle ahead.

The van is restyled again in 1996, so anyone still piqued by this look won't have to wait long for a change.

In dropping 3 inches off the nose, Chevy also dropped the APV (all-purpose van) designation from Lumina for 1994.

Though these changes seem significant, they are minor in the overall scheme of things.

The real appeal of the Lumina van for 1994 comes from two additions-a driver-side air bag and a power sliding side door.

It would have been nice if Chevy had added dual bags, but that will have to wait at least a year, or at the longest until the next styling change in 1996.

Chrysler offers dual bags in its mini-vans and you can expect the No. 3 automaker to mention that a few times in its ads and promotions in the new model year. Still, one is better than none, which is what Lumina had before.

What Chrysler doesn't have that Chevy does is the power sliding side door-though Chrysler and Ford had developed prototypes of the system but decided against it.

The sliding door is a dream, though for a while it looked as if it was going to be a nightmare: It was delayed more than a year after first shown to the media in Oklahoma and promised for 1993 by Oldsmobile, which, like Chevy and Pontiac, will offer the system on its mini-vans.

It's now here, it adds only $295 to the sticker, an d it will pay more than $295 in dividends to those who take advantage of it.

You can activate the power door by pushing a button in the overhead roof console when in the van, by pressing a button on the key fob when inside or outside the van or by pulling on the handle from inside or out.

No more sitting in the van waiting for little Tommy or Sally to attempt to close the sliding door 15 times because they don't have the strength or are so busy wrestling they forgot what they were doing the first 14 tries.

No more hit and miss, miss, miss closing the door because you are parked on a sharp incline.

No more having to fight with a key to open the door when it's raining and you're trying to balance three sacks of groceries while little Tommy and Sally continue to wrestle and won't open the door.

Should you fear that little Tommy or Sally might get caught in the door when it's closing, Chevy has built in protection-the power door won't func on when the vehicle is running and in gear. And if the door should be closing with little Tommy/Sally in its path because they don't hear the chimes that sound when the door moves, the door stops and retreats so the munchkins aren't bent, spindled or taught a lesson.

Should you want to ensure the door's stop/retreat mechanism works, give it a try at the dealership before taking delivery. If little Tommy or Sally won't volunteer as guinea pigs, you can always try a cat or a ferret.

At one time, GM officials were saying the power door lock would be a $500 option, and even at that GM would lose money. Kudos for keeping it at $295.

It will be interesting to see how consumers choose between Chrysler's dual air bags and Chevy's single bag but power sliding door. We suspect that those in the delivery business won't have a difficult time making a decision.

To get the power sliding door, you must order the optional power door locks. This system automatically locks the doors once the ignition key is turned on and you slip the lever out of park. The doors stay locked after you stop and move back into park until you press the unlock button. Unlike most other GM vehicles for 1994, the Lumina van can't be reprogrammed so the doors automatically unlock once you stop and put the lever in park.

Another new safety feature for 1994 finds Chevy adding integrated child seats in back with the optional seven-passenger seating configuration. The seats are just like those in the Chrysler mini-vans, and for good reason. Chevy got them from Chrysler's supplier.

Lumina also offers four-wheel anti-lock brakes as standard.

Still another safety feature is coming at Chevy for mid-1994-traction control. We had the opportunity to drive a Lumina with traction control at a media preview during the summer in Wisconsin. There was no snow to check out the system's capabilities, but there were several gravel inclines that the Lumina handled with steady footing.

We test-drove the '94 Lumina LS version, which carries a base price of $16,815 and provides as standard an air bag, ABS, power brakes and steering, an AM/FM radio, dent/ding/rust-resistant composite body panels (the salesman who tries to sell you rustproofing would consider you a real rube), Scotchgard interior fabric treatment, side-door guard beams and a 3.1-liter, 120-horsepower, V-6 engine teamed with a 3-speed automatic.

The test vehicle came with the power sliding door, seven-passenger seating with integral child seats ($225), front and rear air conditioning ($450), a manual pop-up sunroof ($300), which is a must in a vehicle as big as a mini-van to help vent/circulate air, an upgraded AM/FM stereo with digital clock, CD player, extended-range rear speakers ($256), roof carrier ($145 and the reason the sunroof is manual because a power sunroof won't fit with a roof rack).

A $3,843 preferred equi pment group added such amenities as power locks, power windows, power tailgate release, speed control, tinted glass and remote keyless entry.

Our test Lumina also added the optional 3.8-liter, 170-h.p., V-6 engine for quicker off-the-line starts and faster response when merging or moving into the passing lane. The 3.8 goes for $619 and is teamed with a 4-speed automatic ($200) rather than the 3.1-liter's 3-speed. The mileage rating with the 3.8-liter engine is 17 miles per gallon city/25 highway.

The sticker tickled $23,000.




    Expert Reviews 2 of 2

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