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Oldsmobile Intrigue GL (2001)

By Matt/Bob Hagin


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 24,150
     Price As Tested                                    $ 27,260
     Engine Type              DOHC 24-valve 3.5 Liter V6 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 214 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 automatic
     Curb Weight                                     3609 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                                 96 percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.32


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            19/28/25
     0-60 MPH                                        8.0 seconds
     1/4 (E.T.)                          16.5 seconds @ 88.0 mph
     Top-speed                                           125 mph
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

("Oldsmobile is the oldest brand name in the American auto business," says Matt Hagin, Bob Hagin notes that it was around when Matt's grandfather was born.)

BOB - The first Oldsmobile was a typical high-wheeled horseless carriage, Matt. Ransom E. Olds started the company in 1897 and after he was aced out by the "powers that were" at General Motors in 1905, he started the REO Motor Car Company that built cars until it was struck down by The Depression 30 years later. The Intrigue is the latest model to come out bearing the Oldsmobile logo and it was designed to be the company's "import fighter" in the midsized segment. It's been labeled the little brother of the Olds Aurora which is pretty well acknowledged to be the hottest sports sedan in the G.M. lineup. The Intrigue more or less replaced the Cutlass Supreme in '98 and unfortunately, it was initially introduced with the old G.M 3.8-liter pushrod V6 that had been around since the '60s. But in short order, it was replaced by a twin-cam V6 that was in essence the 4.0-liter Aurora V8 with a couple of cylinders surgically removed. It puts out 215 horses and its torque rating is 230 pound/feet, an good indication that it was tuned for pulling power rather than high speed. It uses four valves per cylinder but the designers drew the line at going for variable valve timing and other exotic technology.

MATT - The newer engine doesn't have the pulling power of the older, larger unit, so Olds engineers lowered the axle ratio a bit which had a detrimental effect on the fuel mileage. Even though it went down a bit, its current 19 mpg in town and 25 on the highway isn't too bad. But on the plus side, it's "tuned" to run on 87-octane gasoline, an advantage in this era of high-priced gas. It's also graced with an extended service schedule and the company states that the engine oil and filter needn't be changed until it reaches 100,000 miles but I think I want to check that out a couple of times before I kept the hood sealed. Motor oil and filters are cheap compared to fried engines. The camshafts are chain driven and that eliminates the need for periodic and expensive timing belt replacements. The Olds promotional brochure states that an Intrigue owner will save more than $1000 in maintenance costs over the lifetime of the Intrigue but it doesn't say how long that is.

BOB - The only transmission available is an automatic four-speed that's it's a bit "sudden" with its downshifts. The power train uses front-wheel drive, of course, but the Intrigue has a neat device that's called the Precision Control System. It uses information on individual wheel speed, road speed, front wheel steering angle and some other sensor-supplied data to apply brake pressure to one of more of the four disc brakes to guide the car through potential trouble like oversteer or understeer. That, along with anti-lock braking and traction control, makes it hard for a driver to get into too much zeal-induced trouble.

MATT - The interior is posh but not overly so. The upholstery in our middle-of-the-line GL was leather and true to the American Code of providing back-seat comfort, three abreast in back isn't an unwelcome snuggle for average-sized adults and half of the seatback pulls down for a long-item pass-through. And to make sure those back-seat riders are comfortable regardless of the weather, the heat and cooling system has outlets back there. The individual front seats are adjustable six-ways as part of the Leather Premium Package, which also includes seat heaters. The analog instruments and floor-mounted shift lever give the Intrigue a sporting air and due to independent MacPherson strut suspension on all corners, the handling is surprisingly good. I assume the Precision Control System had something to do with it.

BOB - Lately, the nightly news has been full of info about the fact that the Oldsmobile brand name will be dropped in a couple of years, Being an "old-timer, I hate to see American traditions die.

MATT - It isn't the first American auto name to bite the dust in recent memory, Dad, and judging by current international car business events, I don't think it's going to be the last.