SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 23,720 Price As Tested $ 26,070 Engine Type DOHC 24-valve 3.5 Liter V6 w/SFI* Engine Size 211 cid/3473 cc Horsepower 215 @ 5600 RPM Torque (lb-ft) 230 @ 4400 RPM Wheelbase/Width/Length 109.0"/73.6"/195.9" Transmission Four-speed automotive Curb Weight 3517 pounds Fuel Capacity 17.0 gallons Tires (F/R) P225/60R16 all-season Brakes (F/R) Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS) Drive Train Front-engine/front-wheel-drive Vehicle Type Five-passenger/four-door Domestic Content N/A Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) 0.32 PERFORMANCE EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 19/28/23 0-60 MPH 8.0 seconds 1/4 (E.T.) 16.5 seconds @ 87.0 mph Top speed 125 mph * Sequential fuel injection
(Oldsmobile has been in the business for over a century and has shown its age in recent years, says Bob Hagin. Matt Hagin says cars like the Intrigue will help restore the company's performance reputation.)
BOB - When the Olds Rocket 88 first came out in '49, it was the hottest production car on the street and it soon became one of the cars to beat in the fledgling NASCAR racing circuit that was just getting started in the Deep South. Oldsmobile backed several teams that campaigned its cars, but it soon stepped out of racing and let Chevrolet in with its even hotter V8 to carry the GM banner on NASCAR race tracks. Olds had Musclecars in the '60s, but they were rather refined and didn't have the panache of some of the others. It wasn't long before the Oldsmobile became the car that only older folks bought.
MATT - The company has made an effort to shake that image in the past few years, Dad. When the Indy Racing League took over the running of the Indianapolis 500 and designated that only two "stock-block" engines would be used, the 4.0-liter Olds Aurora twin-cam engine was one of them. And like the V8 in the Aurora, the V6 engine in the new Intrigue is the same basic design - twin overhead cams, 90-degree block and chain-driven cams. It puts out 215 horses and a bit more on the torque side. In fact, it seems to be essentially the Aurora V8 with two cylinders cut out of the middle. It's the only engine available in any of the three Intrigue models, which is a blessing. Oldsmobile finally got away from antiquated pushrods and two valves per cylinder in the '98 model, presumably to meet the technology of its overseas competition. The only transmission that's available on the car is the old reliable four-speed 4T65E GM transmission which is very smooth but it drags down the performance a bit.
BOB - It really doesn't make a whole lot of difference, Matt, since over 90 percent of the buyers of cars in this mid-sized class don't want a manual transmission. The fuel mileage would be a little bit better, but even that isn't much of a criteria anymore. Smoothness and comfort are much more important and Oldsmobile has gone to great lengths to hit these goals. To negate the engine and transmission shake that sometimes shows up in front-engined, front-wheel drive cars, the Intrigue has motor mounts that are hydraulically dampened, just like shock absorbers. It also has some re-engineered cowl bracing to stiffen up the chassis, which really helps keep the car from flexing.
MATT - The Intrigue has other hardware to enhance its performance, too. To help keep drivers from getting into more trouble than they can get out of, the Intrigue has a suspension control system that uses sensors to pick up on wheel slip angles, chassis yaw angles, the speed of the four wheels individually and a hydraulic control unit. All these are linked together to detect when the car is sliding sideways or plowing ahead and applies pressure to the appropriate brake or brakes to get the Intrigue back on track. It's all done automatically and the driver doesn't even realize that the system has gone into action. All the Intrigues are equipped with disc brakes on all four corners, a feature that works better than drum brakes and ought to be standard on all cars, especially those cars in Intrigue's price range.
BOB - And while all this is happening, the driver and passengers are all enjoying a pretty comfortable ride. The front bucket seats can be supplied with heaters on the upper-level GL model like the one we had, but it's standard on the top-line GLS version. The upholstery on our rig was leather and while it's very classy, I'm not sure it's worth the extra $1000 that it adds to the price. Our sound system was pretty slick, but for a few hundred more, it could have been upgraded to carry a six-disc CD changer in the trunk. If I was going on a fairly long trip, I'd enjoy having continuous long-term music than have to depend on the radio stations along the route.
MATT - If you went on that long trip with Mom, you'd have to load it up with swing music, Dad. She isn't very enamored by that classical stuff that you usually play.