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New Car/Review

2000 Oldsmobile Alero GL Coupe

by Carey Russ

2000 Oldsmobile Full Line Factory Video

Today's Oldsmobile lineup has nothing in common with the company's offerings of only a few years ago. The old Oldsmobile was the purveyor of large sedans to a dwindling, aging clientele. Its future was in doubt. Drastic measures were called for, and drastic measures were taken. Beginning with the Aurora luxury sedan in 1995, Oldsmobile's entire line was revised. Out with the old, in with the new - in the image of the Aurora. And the makeover has been successful. Sales are up, and to younger, more upscale buyers. Today's Oldsmobiles are appealing to people who otherwise would have purchased a non-General Motors car, most likely an import. What a difference a few years and a concentrated effort can make. To discover the sport quotient of the newest Alero, I spent a recent week with a five-speed, sport suspension-equipped GL coupe. Verdict: The new gearbox works very well, and allows full exploitation of the engine's power. The firmer suspension improves handling and the car's fun factor, with little penalty in comfort. It's sportier than any of its larger competitors, and a great step in the right direction towards new territory for Oldsmobile - compact performance coupes.

APPEARANCE: In a class where bland styling is the norm, the Alero turns heads. But it is expressive, rather than excessive, with its sleek shape and unique Oldsmobile grille-less front end. The twin air intakes integrated into the bumper fascia are reminiscent of several high-performance European sports cars, but really come from the larger Oldsmobiles, the Aurora and Intrigue. The low, wide elliptical headlamps and subtle bulge in the sloping hood are the other major Oldsmobile styling cues. The coupe and sedan share a semi-fastback roofline, and discreet chrome trim surrounds the side windows. A high tail gives a noticeable sporty wedge profile and increases luggage space. Large oval taillights help the Alero stand out day or night.

COMFORT: The Alero, like all Oldsmobile sedans and coupes, has an airy, modern, European-inspired interior with anti-glare two- tone coloring and a thankful lack of imitation wood. Very intriguing... The soft-look, soft-touch synthetics used for the instrument panel and door trim and the grippy cloth used for the GL's upholstery give it an upscale look. Instruments and controls are placed to benefit the driver. Leather wrapping of the steering wheel and shift lever make them easier to use. The front bucket seats are comfortable and supportive; the 60/40 split folding rear bench is roomier than some in the class and should be good for people up to 5' 9" or so. Convenient interior storage spaces and a good-sized trunk help make the Olds Alero coupe a good car for everyday use.

SAFETY: All 2000 Olds Aleros have safety-cage chassis construction with side-impact protection, four-wheel antilock disc brakes, dual next-generation air bags, all-speed traction control, and daytime running lights.

ROADABILITY: The sport suspension now offered on the Alero GL is the same setup previously available only on the GLS. It's not hard-core, but its stiffer spring, shock, and anti-roll bar calibrations and 225/50 VR 16 Goodyear Eagle RS-A performance tires give better grip and less body roll than the stock setup in cornering, with little compromise in ride comfort. This is a sporty car for the real world, and provides plenty of fun.

PERFORMANCE: The five-speed Getrag gearbox helps get the most out of the Alero's 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. With 150 horsepower at 5600 rpm, and 155 lb-ft of torque at 4400 rpm, it's well-matched with the Alero's major competitors. It has a flat torque curve, which makes the standard four-speed automatic a good choice, too, but the manual gearbox lets the driver choose when to shift, to get the most possible performance from the engine. And, there is a pleasant surprise in store. Up between 4500 rpm and the 6500 rpm redline, the engine has noticeably more power than below, and a pleasant exhaust snarl. Shift linkage that is better than that of most front-wheel drive cars and a light clutch make driving easy, even in traffic.

CONCLUSIONS: Sport-compact Oldsmobile? You bet! The newest version of the Alero is most definitely not your father's Oldsmobile.

2000 Oldsmobile Alero GL Coupe

Base Price                      $ 18,440
Price As Tested                 $ not available at press time
Engine Type                     dual overhead cam, 16-valve inline
Engine Size                     2.4 liters / 146 cu. in.
Horsepower                      150 @ 5600 rpm
Torque (lb-ft)                  155 @ 4400 rpm
Transmission                    5-speed manual
Wheelbase / Length              107.0 in. / 186.7 in.
Curb Weight                     3026 lbs.
Pounds Per Horsepower           20.2
Fuel Capacity                   14.3 gal.
Fuel Requirement                unleaded regular, 87 octane
Tires                           P225/50 VR 16 Goodyear Eagle RS-A
Brakes, front/rear              vented disc / solid disc,
                                   antilock standard
Suspension, front/rear          independent MacPherson strut /
                                   independent tri-link strut with coil 
Drivetrain                      front engine, front-wheel drive

EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon
    city / highway / observed          22 / 31 / 24
0 to 60 mph                            8.4  sec
1/4 mile (E.T.)                        16.6 sec
Coefficient of Drag (cd)               0.321

NOTE: usually I get a "Monroney" price sheet with test cars. 
Unfortunately, none was available with this car.