Oldsmobile For 1999
By Carey Russ
Oldsmobile is doing very well for a manufacturer that was nearly given up for dead not too long ago. In the space of a few short years, the company has almost completely revamped its image and lineup. This year's new star is the sporty compact Alero line of coupes and sedans. It completes the revolution led by the Aurora luxury sports sedan, introduced in 1995, and the mid-size Intrigue that debuted last year. The Intrigue gets a sophisticated new engine this year, and most other vehicles have enhancements as well. Premium Oldsmobiles feature the availability of the GM OnStar communications system for security and assistance.
The first all-new car of Oldsmobile's second century is aimed at import-oriented buyers. It is a sleek, stylish small car with a very strong resemblance to the Intrigue and Aurora. With sedan and coupe body styles, and three trim levels, there is an Alero for all niches of its market class.
All Aleros feature a high level of standard equipment. An automatic transmission, air conditioning, and four-wheel antilock disc brakes are found on all trim levels. Coupes and sedans have a very similar roofline, for a high-style sedan and a coupe with real rear seat room. Interiors should appeal to import buyers, with a contemporary two-tone color scheme and other features commonly found in Japanese and European cars. Uplevel models even have a tire pressure monitoring system.
Alero GX and GL models have a 2.4-liter four-cylinder, 150 horsepower, dual-overhead-cam engine. Optional on the GL and standard on the premium GLS is a torquey 170 horsepower 3.4-liter V6.
Even though the Intrigue was new last year, it hasn't been left alone for 1999. The original two trim levels, base and GL, were joined by a premium GLS model in mid-1998. The Intrigue GLS competes directly with the premium Japanese-brand V6 sedans. For the 1999 model year, the base Intrigue has been rebadged GX, and the GLS gets a new engine.
The new Oldsmobile engine is a 215-horsepower, 24-valve, dual-overhead-cam 3.5-liter V6 that was developed from the Aurora V8. It gives the Intrigue technological parity with its import competition. It is the standard powerplant for the Intrigue GLS, and will be optional on the GX and GL models. The 195-horsepower 3800 Series II V6 will continue as standard power for GX and GL Intrigues until the new engine reaches full production.
Oldsmobile's luxury-performance flagship has undergone continuous refinement since its introduction in 1995. This year it has revised engine mounts for smoother operation and new interior and exterior color choices. A derivative of its 250-horsepower 4.0-liter V8 has dominated all Indy Racing League events, including the Indianapolis 500.
The Cutlass is the Oldsmobile for the smaller end of the mid- size sedan marketplace. It has a spacious interior, and a high-value list of standard equipment including a V6 engine, automatic transmission, air conditioning, and antilock brakes. New in 1997, the current version enters its third year with minor trim changes.
As might be expected, Oldsmobile's minivan is a luxury- oriented family-mover. Redesigned in 1997, and updated last year, the Silhouette is available in short-wheelbase GS and long-wheelbase GL and GLS form, and the premium, entertainment-oriented Premiere model introduced midway through 1998. The Premiere features integrated videocassette and video game systems to keep rear-seat passengers busy during family vacations.
The 3.4-liter V6 in the Silhouette has more power this year. Additionally, there are interior enhancements for increased comfort and security and new heated outside mirrors.
Oldsmobile's sport-utility benefits from a philosophy of continuous refinement, with important interior improvements this year. The steering wheel has a new, smaller airbag module, allowing a better view of the instruments. Instrument panel changes improve safety and convenience. There are new option packages as well. Reflecting the real-world use of sport-utilities, the Bravada is designed for on-road, all-weather traction. A 190-horsepower 4.3-liter V6 engine, four-speed automatic transmission, and SmartTrak all-wheel drive are standard fare.
The Eighty-Eight nameplate celebrates its fiftieth anniversary in 1999. The current model is a well-equipped, spacious sedan powered by a 205-horsepower version of the 3800 Series II V6. It has minor exterior trim changes this year.
The LSS is Oldsmobile's stealth sports sedan. Underneath its conservative, Eighty-Eight-based exterior is a 205-horsepower naturally-aspirated or 240-horsepower supercharged version of the 3800 Series II V6. It has only minor exterior revisions for 1999.