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New Car Review

Oldsmobile Silhouette Premiere

Larkin Hill

On another note, while at the Alero press introduction, I had the pleasure of being exposed to the 1999 Oldsmobile Silhouette. Not being as interested in minivans, I prepared myself to concentrate all my efforts on the debut of the Alero. That was until the words "video screen" and "Nintendo, Saga, and Genesis hook-ups" were stated in the same sentence. My ears perked and mouth dropped, a large sigh of relief was uttered and a boost of adrenaline made me come alive. Finally! Someone got smart and built the screen into the interior, to be both attractive and convenient.

With side airbags, duel sliding doors and an extended wheelbase, the new Silhouette Premiere not only provides an attractive and comfortable ride, it also entertains its passengers. The factory installed video entertainment system, manufactured by Rosen Products, includes, among other things, a compact disk unit, 5.6" color video monitor, video cassette player with storage, headphone jacks, and rear seat controls to manage all of the features. Cushy leather captain seats with armrests replace the typical second row bench seat, and there's separate rear air conditioning and heating system controls: now even the pickiest of passengers will be satisfied.

"Can you watch TV?" you may ask, well, the answer is "No". First of all it would require an antenna capable of picking up television signals, and second it would be illegal. The video screen is as far as the law will allow for an automobile classified as a car in all states except Minnesota. Minnesota will not allow the system at all, tough luck for all those parents and kids who got their hopes up...sorry.

This "Oldsmobile exclusive" will let any family who has gone cross-country with the entire tribe think about doing it again. The system is easy to use, and gives all parties traveling the choice of providing their own entertainment. The earphones in the back give the driver and front passenger the opportunity to listen to their own cassette, radio, CD, or voices. Games such as "I spy", "A-Z", "Slug Bug", and miniature board-games are fun for a while, however, they only last so long, and if you're stuck in the middle of desolate stretch of highway the scenery can be rather dull. I'm sure everyone can recall a time when they seemed trapped in a car for what seemed like an eternity. Wouldn't it have been nice to watch a movie or play a video game to pass the tedious hours? For all those who live in the city and must commute, imagine being able to turn on your child's favorite movie or show during a particularly long wait...traffic could become manageable again.

For the skeptics who are thinking of price and warranties, rest assured. The video entertainment system meets General Motors' requirements for coverage and is included in Silhouette's bumper-to-bumper 3 year/36,000mile limited warranty. As for the price, you can expect to pay a little extra for the entertainment system. However, the Oldsmobile Silhouette is able to provide substantial value; at approximately $31, 000, you are still paying less than competitors' premium minivans. Coupling the video entertainment system, with the vehicle's superior design and engine specifications, the word bargain comes to mind.

Bottom line: Oldsmobile, you've done it now! Not only have you built a superior minivan, but you've also begun to shed your shell of being a "grandparents" auto manufacturer. With the Intrigue, Aurora, Alero, and Silhouette you've truly completed your Centennial Plan by creating a next generation of Oldsmobile enthusiasts. As stated before "Welcome to the world of Oldsmobile".