- The Washington Times - Friday, November 17, 2000

MODEL: Oldsmobile Aurora
VEHICLE TYPE: 4-door luxury sedan
PRICE-AS-TESTED: $32,469
MILEAGE: 19 city, 27 highway

Motoring down a freshly paved thoroughfare in the V-8-powered Oldsmobile Aurora is one of life's more sublime experiences.
Driving the same car with a V-6 is nice, too, but you can tell the difference.
You wouldn't think that 35 horses would be missed once you get above the 200 mark. At 215 horsepower, the V-6 in the Aurora is one of the strongest engines in its class.
But when it comes to cruising, nothing beats a 4-liter engine that has earned its victory laps in the Indy Racing League.
So, why would anyone buy the Aurora with the V-6?
"Today's luxury car buyers want choices not everyone is looking for V-8 power," said Aurora brand manager John Gatt. "The new Aurora will maintain its heritage as one great luxury car, but consumers will be able to choose from two great engines. The V-6 will not only appeal to a younger audience, but it will also help bring a greater number of women into the Aurora mix."
In the Oldsmobile version of "Let's Make a Deal," Monty Hall is offering you a choice between automotive Nirvana (the V-8) or more than $4,000 in cash, plus $400 per year in fuel cost savings (the V-6). To make the choice even tougher, the V-6 comes with the same styling and most of the standard equipment found on the V-8 version.
You can hear the audience shouting, "Take the cash. Take the cash."
"OK, Monty, I'll take the cash."
I wouldn't anticipate an outbreak of buyer's remorse with either version of the car. The redesigned 2001 body of the Aurora is a thing of beauty that puts most other luxury cars to shame. I parked a silver Aurora next to an Infiniti Q45, and I could swear I saw the Q blush.
The first redesign since the Aurora's introduction in 1994 is one of General Motors' more successful efforts in the styling department.
You can really picture this car emerging from a hunk of clay in the hands of a talented sculptor. The midline stripe, for example, is quite elegantly executed, as if carved into the clay. The swept roof line, short deck and muscular profile bespeak stability and power.
The redesign cost Aurora some longitude about six inches between the bumpers. But designers were actually able to add some room where it counts, in the passenger compartment.
Aurora's trunk lost a cubic foot of capacity but remains generous in its proportions. While the back seats have a small pass-through portal for long, skinny objects, you do not have the ability to fold the seats down for expanded cargo space.
At 3,686 pounds, the V-6-powered Aurora is a very substantial sedan, but the redesign actually reduced the curb weight through the miracle of aluminum. In addition to engine components, the Aurora features aluminum hood and deck lid.
To improve sound quality in the passenger compartment, engineers isolated joints with rubber and added lateral tie bars to the chassis for a stiffer front end. Control of the car is improved through aluminum control arms and lateral toe links to control wheel alignment in tricky situations.
Among the amenities are a six-way power-adjustable driver's seat, a panoply of instruments and gauges within easy reach or eyeshot. As with some other GM models, the Aurora features an ignition switch on the dash so that you don't have to reach around the steering wheel to start the car.
Also new to 2001 models is the advanced front and side air bag system, with bags fitted into the seat backs.
One of my favorite features in the Aurora is the location of redundant controls for the ventilation system and stereo on the steering hub. The imports have tried to copy this design without complete success. Sometimes, they put stereo controls on the hub but not switches for ventilation. Aurora gives you both so that you never have to take your eyes off the road or move your hands too far from the wheel.
As a rival to the European imports, the Aurora is a more beautiful car with more standard equipment at a very reasonable price. It's extremely important to Oldsmobile that younger, import buyers feel comfortable in this sedan. The General Motors division that once seemed to be fading into the sunset is fighting for the loyalty of every pre-AARP buyer it can find.


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