1999 Chevrolet Lumina LTZ Sedan (264)

This 1999 Chevrolet Lumina LTZ is a pretty basic sedan, but it comes with a price to match at about $20,000. The model was introduced in 1990 to be Chevrolet’s high-value, six-passenger midsize sedan. They were aiming at the family market where nearly 75% of buyers are married and said price was the primary reason for their choice. The Lumina is available in a base, LS and this LTZ model.

Recently I tested a Mercedes S500 with electronic controls that I hated. This Lumina is the antithesis of that over complicated system. It has easy-to-use controls that provide everything you really need at literally one fourth the cost of the S500. It also hangs tough against its competition noted below. I’ve tested all and a lot of the reason to buy one over the other will depend on personal preference. Daughter Jenny think foreign built is better, but that ain’t necessarily so. In fact they just bought a Dodge Ram. It’s all the rage you know. Of all those noted here I tend to lean to the Toyota Camry, but I’m becoming more impressed with the fit and finish of American cars including this Lumina. US automakers have come a long way over the past 35 to get back at the Japanese auto industry who dealt such a blow our US autoworkers back in the 1960‘s. Detroit was set up by the fat cat union bosses when they pushed salaries so high US carmakers were unable to compete effectively with their hungry Japanese counterparts.

Historically, Unions did a lot of good after the turn of the 20th century, but outlived their usefulness by post WW II days. That appendage is yet to be cut out because too many people have come to depend on unions for their living. Such necessary organizations like laws of the land should both have “Sunset” clauses in them. Thus they go away after they’ve done their jobs. Gets complicated, eh?

In any case a new generation of American car buyers couldn’t be influenced to buy American. They were too many, and they didn’t have loyalty to the war veteran union workers who were making our cars. They bought foreign products in record numbers and had no clue it would ultimately hurt them by contributing to a failing economy decades later. The recent move back to American made cars wasn’t so much a conscious effort to shore up the economy as it was a renewed confidence in the Big Three who have earned their way back into favor. I also believe the revival was in part due to yet another generation of buyers who would reverse their parent’s exodus to foreign made – everything.

And yes, I’m guilty. I was in that exodus generation that abandoned the American carmakers. I had returned from the orient and Japan in particular where I found the enterprising, hard working Japanese people worthy of my support so they could rebuild their broken country. But then I wasn’t around to experience Pearl Harbor and all that followed during the war years. Even if I had been, seeing Hiroshima would still have altered my sense of duty to my own country. I was ashamed and felt guilty for something I had no control over. Plus I was a poor struggling student in the 1960’s and Japanese cars cost a lot less. I sold out for a little bit of what I thought should be the American dream. It was a matter of individual economics.

Bottom line: American cars are now the best value in the world. Nice job Detroit – or is that Germany and Japan. Who owns Detroit, anyway?

The competition:

Buick Century $18,855 – $20,225, Dodge Intrepid $20,390 – $22,085, Ford Taurus $17,560 – $29,115, Honda Accord $15,350 – $24,550, Mitsubishi Galant $17,357 – $23,757, Oldsmobile Intrigue $21,640 – $25,020, Subaru Legacy $19,195 – $24,295, Toyota Camry $17,098 – $25,058, Volkswagen Passat $21,200 – $28,150.

Good News:

Well priced, powerful engine, fuel-efficient, roomy interior and spacious trunk

Bad News:

Uncomfortable seats, plain wrap styling.

Standard Equipment:

3.8 liter 200-hp V6 engine, four-speed automatic trans, dual airbags, child safety locks, daytime running lights, anti-lock brake system, air conditioning, power steering, windows and door locks, cruise control, theft-deterrent system, tilt steering wheel and stereo with tape.

Gas Stats:

19 City and 30 Highway MPG.


MSRP $20,360.

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