The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer


By Brendan/Mikele Hagin 


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price               $20,840 
     Price As Tested                                    $ 23,680 
     Engine Type               OHV 12-valve 3.4 Liter V6 w/SMFI* 
     Engine Size                                 205 cid/3350 cc 
     Horsepower                                   170 @ 4800 RPM 
     Torque (lb-ft)                               200 @ 4000 RPM 
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  107.0"/70.1"/186.7" 
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic 
     Curb Weight                                     3102 pounds 
     Fuel Capacity                                  14.3 gallons 
     Tires  (F/R)                                     P225/50R16 
     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 


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon 
        city/highway/average                            21/32/27 
     0-60 mph                                        8.5 seconds 
     1/4 mile (E.T.)                     16.5 seconds @ 84.5 mph 
     Top-speed                                           105 mph 
                * Sequential multi-point fuel injection 
    BRENDAN - Oldsmobile's are not the most popular of General Motor's 
vast models selection and it's understandable. GM has starved the 
company for years in spite of the fact that not long ago the Olds 
Cutlass models were among the top five sellers in the country. But the 
marque has its followers. Mikele's grandmother and her cousin own 
Oldsmobiles, and they love them. The 2002 Olds Alero GL, our tester this 
week, is available in two lineup versions, the GX and the GL. Standard 
in the GX is the 2.2-liter four cylinder that also comes in the GL, but 
our car was powered by a serviceable 3.4 liter V6. Its 170 horsepower 
and 200 pound feet of torque seem low if you compare them to the GM 
muscle machines of the past, but it's enough to get the car moving when 
quick response is needed. Our test GL had a special luxury package so an 
"S" suffix was added. 

    MIKELE - Bren, Grandma's old Olds  88 is comfortable and pleasant to 
drive, but it's nothing like the Alero in terms of get up and go. 
coupled to a smooth shifting, tall-geared  four-speed automatic 
transmission, it gets 20 miles per gallon city and 29 highway. I liked 
the ride. It has true four-wheel independent suspension without a 
stop-gap twist axle in back. The system lets each wheel respond 
independently on uneven road surfaces, allowing for a smoother 
all-around feel. It also has a variable effort power rack-and-pinion 
steering system that varies the power assist by the speed of the car. It 
gives more assist at lower speeds, like maneuvering into a parking 
space, and less assist at higher speeds, like while driving on a 
highway. The Alero is quite cost effective in the maintenance 
department, with platinum tipped spark plugs that let the Alero to go up 
to 100,000 miles between spark plug replacements. Its coolant, brake 
fluid and automatic transmission fluid are formulated to last up to 
100,000 or more as well. But I still think that it lulls a driver into a 
false sense of security so the car should still be serviced at least 
every 3,000 miles. 

    BRENDAN - You sound more like my dad all the time, Mikele. I liked 
the luxury of the Alero's roomy five-passenger interior, with many items 
to gain my attention. The high quality sound system that features a CD 
player standard can have six to eight speakers available, depending on 
model. Solar-coated, tinted glass reduces interior heat and make the 
inside cooler in the summer months. The positive shut-off vents in the 
dash and air conditioning help keep cabin occupants comfortable and the 
heating system has rear-seat heat ducts for faster warm-up in the rear 
seat area. All the normal stuff is included, like power locks, windows, 
and mirrors, as well as tilt steering wheel and cruise control. A bonus 
for guys my size the six-way power front driver's seat and the rear 
seats have a 70/30 split so you can carry long cargo without losing the 
entire rear seating area. 

    MIKELE - Those rear seats that fold down are ideal for when I go 
shopping, because like your mom, I tend to grocery-shop infrequently but 
load up when I do. I never thought much of the past Oldsmobiles in terms 
of exterior beauty, but the new Alero is a pretty machine. The smooth 
lines make it stand up to all those euro-luxury vehicles from Germany, 
and the polished sixteen-inch aluminum wheels make it a cool looking 
ride. Safety- wise, the Alero has it all. From front and rear crush 
zones, steel door beams and interior padding, it make it safe when it's 
out in the wild world of freeway driving. Dual front air bags and 
four-wheel disc brakes with ABS are also included and so is all-speed 
traction control. All-Trac helps to minimize wheel-spin any time when 
the car gets into a precarious road-surface situation. 

    BRENDAN - The new Alero is a very classy car, Mikele. Maybe we can 
talk your grandmother into trading in her old Delta 88 for a new Alero.
    MIKELE - I doubt that very much, Brendan. She's pretty practical and 
I don't think she'd want to take on car payments at her age.