New Car/Review

Oldsmobile

Oldsmobile Aurora V6 (2001)

By Matt/Bob Hagin

SPECIFICATIONS

     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 30,130
     Price As Tested                                    $ 31,815
     Engine Type              DOHC 24-valve 3.5 Liter V6 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 214 cid/3473 cc
     Horsepower                                   215 @ 5500 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               230 @ 4400 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  112.2"/72.9"/199.3"
     transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     3861 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  18.5 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                              225/60R16 H-rated
     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                            19/28/24
     0-60 MPH                                        8.0 seconds
     1/4 (E.T.)                          16.0 seconds @ 90.5 mph
     Top-speed                                           130 mph
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

BOB - The Oldsmobile name has been around a long time, Matt. It pioneered the American automobile business over 100 years ago and I'm sentimental enough to shed a tear to think that it's facing its final hurrah. I well remember when it was the "star" of the GM lineup in the early '50s and although its corporate parent has been starving it for the past few years, it managed one last burst of pizzazz with this new Aurora model. The '01 model is all-new and the chassis has been refined to the point where it's almost a match for the off-shore sports sedans.

MATT - The version of the Aurora that comes closest to being a match for the imported road-rocket sedans is the V8 version, Dad, but the one we evaluated was the V6 model, which has a little less power, a little less torque, a little less speed and a much lower sticker price. Our V6 is nonetheless a pretty sophisticated package. It sports twin overhead cams on each head and it's all aluminum. It puts out 215 horses and 230 pound/feet of torque and it runs on regular 87-octane fuel. The final drive ratios are slightly different than the V8, which I think accounts for its better-than-average EPA fuel mileage of 28 MPG in the highway. Around town, it drops down to 19.

BOB - The handling of the new Aurora seems to be better than the old model, too, although for whatever reason, the turning circle of the car seems to be pretty big. Not enough to affect curbside parking or maneuvering in tight places, but it's more than I expected. I've been told that the V8 model tends to plow a bit and that the Oldsmobile all- speed traction control helps negate it, but I didn't find that to be true in the V6 model. It may have something to do with the weight differential between the two. The V8 version weighs in at 3800 pounds, while the V6 model is about 125 pounds lighter. Those extra pounds no doubt comes from the heavier V8 engine up front. Being lighter in front gives the V6 Aurora better balance in the turns. It rides on P225/60R tires that are mounted on 16-inch aluminum wheels. The suspension on the Aurora is pretty conventional with MacPherson struts up front and semi-trailing arms in back. All Auroras have a four-wheel anti-lock braking system, and it's encouraging to see disc brakes at all four corners. Many cars of the same design parameters use drum brakes in back and this leads to longer stopping distances. In a tight situation, shorter stopping distances can mean the difference between a close call and a catastrophe. The only transmission available is a four-speed automatic and since the Olds Aurora is now a "lame duck," it's unlikely to be updated to a five-speed.

MATT - There's been a lot of media attention given to failing tires that cause roll-overs on sport/utility vehicles, so tire condition and how much pressure they're holding should be a concern for all drivers. uNFORTUNATELY, This isn't the case, as I consistently see cars with visibly low tires on the road every day. With new cars going longer between scheduled inspections, it's easy to let tire pressures get low but the Aurora has a monitoring system that warns the driver if the tires have developed low air pressure. This is fed back to the driver through the dash-mounted "driver information" monitor. The monitor also reads back 26 other bits of information so that the driver will be spared as many unpleasant surprises as possible.

BOB - The Aurora also has a load-leveling device built into the rear suspension. It works when heavy weight is added to the back seat and helps keep things on an even keel. And speaking of the back seat, it can hold two full-sized adults easily but three is a squeeze. And there's a pass-through for long stuff, but the seatback doesn't fold down for extra cargo capacity. Leather upholstery is standard on both Auroras.

MATT - All things considered, the Olds Aurora is a sweet semi-sports sedan that could have been developed even further in future years. Regrettably, by 2005, the Oldsmobile name will just be a historical side note.

BOB - Sad to say, there's no room for historical sentimentality in the car business, Matt. It's driven by a bottom-line mentality.

 

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