Daewoo continued to crank out cars, and GM needed a place to sell them.
So GM tapped Chevrolet to sell the Daewoo-built Aveo as Chevy's entry-level model. And it tapped Suzuki, the Japanese company that is a GM partner, to sell two larger Daewoo models as the Suzuki Forenza and Verona. After a year under that arrangement, Suzuki began selling the Reno, which is essentially a hatchback version of the Forenza.
To recap: The Reno is a Korean car built by a company owned by an American automaker and sold by a Japanese brand. If you aren't confused yet, how about I mention that the engine is built in Australia?
Regardless of its passport, the Reno is a reasonably nice little car with lots of standard features. At the base price of $13,199 before shipping -- and the test car was a base model -- our Reno had air conditioning, power windows, side air bags, an eight-speaker stereo with CD player and four-wheel disc brakes. That's a lot of stuff.
The Reno, which is bigger than, say, a Kia Rio or Hyundai Accent, isn't a tiny car. There's plenty of room up front, and the rear seats are usable by genuine adults, even if they won't be enthusiastic about riding back there.
At this price, though, don't expect a Honda. The Reno's 127-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine isn't particularly smooth, and the manual transmission is stiff and vague. Everything works well enough, but the car isn't as sporting as some lower-priced competitors.
The Reno's highway ride is pretty good, accomplished by what feels like a softish suspension that allows a lot of body roll on tight corners. The tires, P195/55R-15 radials, don't do much to help with cornering prowess. But if consumers are thinking they'll get a sports car for $13,000, well, they won't, from any manufacturer.
The Reno is plenty competent, and fuel mileage -- EPA-rated 23 mpg city, 30 highway -- isn't bad. But for whatever reason, this vehicle seems to work better as the Forenza sedan than the Reno hatchback, and the price is comparable.
If you want a hatchback, by all means consider the Reno, but drive the Forenza before you make up your mind.
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Sentinel Automotive Editor Steven Cole Smith's TV reports air Thursdays on Central Florida News 13.