Oldsmobile For 1998
By Carey Russ
Oldsmobile enters its second century looking better than ever. Its mission as the import-fighting division of General Motors is becoming more defined with the introduction of the new Intrigue, following the new Cutlass and Silhouette last year. The Aurora and Silhouette now offer the "OnStar" cellular phone and global positioning system-based electronic assistance system. The Achieva is being phased out to make way for the Alero next year, and will be made for fleet sales only. All 1998 Oldsmobiles feature reduced-force airbags.
The all-new Intrigue is the first Oldsmobile for the 21st century and Oldsmobile's own second century. It is focused on the upper end of the midsized sedan market, so even the base-model Intrigue is comprehensively-equipped with nearly all of the comfort, convenience, and styling features desired by customers in its market segment. The Intrigue GL adds extra sport and luxury equipment.
Both Intrigue models feature styling inspired by the Antares show car and the Aurora. One powertrain is available: a 195- horsepower naturally-aspirated version of the 3800 Series II V6, matched to a 4-speed automatic transaxle. A sporting-but-comfortable suspension calibration that compares well with that of competitive imports helps make the Intrigue a driver's car. Four-wheel antilock disc brakes, optional on most imports, are standard.
Oldsmobile is committed to the sport-utility market, and its Bravada SUV has internal and external upgrades this year. New headlights and front and rear bumpers, and a new grille and lower body cladding highlight the outside. Inside is a new instrument panel with dual reduced-force airbags. Befitting the Bravada's luxury SUV status, leather upholstery is standard.
The Bravada has featured the "SmartTrak" all-wheel drive system since its introduction in 1991. New for 1998 is a second generation SmartTrak system that incorporates an electronically- controlled transfer case that allows for rear-wheel drive operation under normal conditions and a very quick, automatic engagement of 4- wheel drive when necessary. This reduces driveline wear and noise, and increases fuel economy.
As the Intrigue focuses on the upper end of the midsized sedan class, the Cutlass is aimed at the smaller and less-expensive end of that segment. Since the current Cutlass was the new star at Olds last year, it has only minor trim changes this year.
Along with the Cutlass, the Silhouette minivan was completely re-engineered last year. The short-wheelbase GS model now has a standard power-operated right-hand sliding door and available left-side sliding door. There are various interior upgrades on all models, including side airbags and more versatile seating arrangements.
All Silhouette minivans are powered by a 3.4-liter, 180- horsepower V6 engine and 4-speed automatic transmission.
The 1998 version of the Oldsmobile flagship looks the same outside except for new paint colors. Suspension and steering refinements give it better road manners.
The more traditional, full-sized Olds Eighty-Eight has a new automatic transmission and improvements to its standard antilock braking system.
Oldsmobile's full-sized stealth sports sedan has a new automatic transmission and various mechanical and interior upgrades.
The Oldsmobile for the Oldsmobile faithful is largely unchanged for 1998 except for reduced-power airbags.