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New Car/Review


Oldsmobile Aurora Sedan (2001)

By Tom Hagin


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 34,305
     Price As Tested                                    $ 36,870
     Engine Type              DOHC 32-valve 4.0 Liter V8 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 243 cid/3994 cc
     Horsepower                                   250 @ 5600 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               260 @ 4400 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  112.2"/72.9"/199.3"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     3978 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  17.5 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                         P235/55R17 performance
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/four-door
     Domestic Content                                 80 percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.32


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            17/25/21
     0-60 MPH                                        8.0 seconds
     1/4 (E.T.)                          15.5 seconds @ 89.0 mph
     Top-speed                        (Governor limited) 131 mph
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

When it was introduced in 1994, the Oldsmobile Aurora represented a significant step in General Motors' import-fighting direction. Its futuristic look, modern mechanicals and affordable price were more than enough to compete with the best off-shore offerings.

For 2001, Olds made a good car better and it's available with either a 3.5-liter V6 engine, or as our tester, the V8-powered Aurora 4.0.

OUTSIDE - The redesigned Aurora now has a mainstream look. Elegant, yet understated. Our staffers felt Olds stayed true to the Aurora mission of being a sleek and sporty sedan. Olds engineers shortened the wheelbase by 1.6 inches and reduced the overall length by over six. To save weight, aluminum was used for the hood and trunk lid, and the windshield was moved forward to gain interior room. Like the older version, long, slender headlamps are used and projector beam lamps are used. There's a longitudinal crease running the length of the sides, while larger mirrors are now attached at the lower front corner of the side windows instead of bolted to the tops of the doors. It retains its grille-less avant-garde look, though now the fresh air openings have cross slats across the two openings. Seventeen-inch alloy wheels are standard on 4.0 models, with a chrome-plated set available optionally.

INSIDE - Olds set out to make the Aurora interior better. Even though the exterior has been reduced, they've improved visibility by narrowing the A-pillars and lowered the cowl. There's also more room inside except that front and rear legroom have been slightly reduced. The driver's seat is great with the walnut-trimmed center console canted in this direction and intuitive steering-wheel controls for the radio and climate system. Leather upholstery is standard, as are heated and powered front seats. The gauges are trimmed with in chrome, and the dual zone climate controls have been an Olds fixture for many years now. Standard Aurora 4.0 features include an AM/FM/cassette/CD stereo, power windows, mirrors and door locks, universal garage door opener, remote keyless entry, rear window defogger, auto-dimming rearview mirror, OnStar security system, cruise control and air conditioning.

ON THE ROAD - Aurora's all-aluminum, 32-valve, twin cam powerplant has been subtly massaged for more efficient operation. Redesigned cylinder heads now have revised combustion chamber and port shapes for cleaner firing. Larger intake valves give better breathing and smaller exhaust valves increase flow velocity. Company engineers reduced the compression ratio, enabling lower octane fuel to be used, and roller valve followers have reduced internal friction. Its power remains the same as before, but its delivery is smoother, more responsive and a bit quicker to 60 mph. Its four-speed automatic transmission shifts imperceptibly, with little or no gear "hunt" under normal operation. Traction control is standard.

BEHIND THE WHEEL - Oldsmobile bases the Aurora on GM's advanced G-platform, a chassis shared with other divisions in GM's stable of vehicles. It uses one-piece side "rings" with internal quarter panels for rigidity, along with new aluminum suspension pieces to reduce unsprung as well as total weight. As a result, the new Aurora V8 is 165 pounds lighter than the model it replaces. MacPherson strut suspension is found up front, and in back there is a multi-link setup. Handling feels solid, secure and firmly planted, with a bit of safety-factored understeer that's to be expected due to the weight of a V8 engine and front-wheel drive components. Magnasteer variable-assist rack-and-pinion steering is standard, and gives good feedback and quick input response. Better response to bumps and turns is a result of stiffer springs, shocks and anti-roll bars, along with new changes to front-end alignment and better tires. Braking is handled by four-wheel discs, which give is great stopping power on wet or dry pavement. An anti-lock braking system (ABS), is standard.

SAFETY - Dual dashboard and side-impact airbags, ABS, traction control and daytime running headlamps are standard.

OPTIONS - Chromed wheels, $800; power sunroof, $1095.