1999 Oldsmobile Alero GL Coupe (256)


This weeks Oldsmobile Alero reminds me of youth when dad wouldn’t drive anything but Olds. Some folks are just that way and no matter what YOU think, they simply see beauty where others don’t. Does that sound familiar to you? Viva la diff-er-ence.

Dad felt Olds was the testing ground for Cadillac cars and thus he thought you got some pretty neat stuff for less dough. Made sense to me and thus I always looked at it as the Cadillac of cheaper cars.

There has been some talk recently that GM may have been considering dropping Oldsmobile from its fleet of great cars. Sorry dad, I think it’s a bad idea too, but it’s still with us, and I expect this 100-year-old car will be with us for a long time to come. The Alero went on sale last summer and it simply replaces the Achieva. It shares a platform with the new Pontiac Grand Am and continues the Oldsmobile styling trend with a look similar to the Intrigue and flagship Aurora.

Inside styling is simple and nice and the quality is not unlike more expensive cars. However, I was a little miffed at the way the air conditioning ducts direct the flow of air. They couldn’t be adjusted upward which I think is a design flaw. It bugged me so I had to mention it. But all the rest was pretty nice. The inline 4 cylinder engine provides decent power and I never felt I needed more. It is a bit shorter than Achieva was but wider and taller so interior space is better and the trunk is good sized for a coupe. It has independent suspension with MacPherson struts up front and control arms on the rear, and handling is really good and thus fun to drive.

Alero is available in six trims: GX, GL, and GLS, in either coupe or sedan. Relative to the competition, it is a good value for the money and I liked it a lot.

The Competition:

Chevrolet Malibu $16,000 – $18,960, Dodge Avenger $15,585 – $17,860, Ford Contour $14,560 – $22,665, Honda Civic $10,650 – $17,445, Mazda 626 $17,815 – $22,245, Mercury Cougar $16,390 – $16,890, Nissan Altima $14,990 – $19,990, Plymouth Breeze $15,290, Pontiac Grand Am $16,130 – $21,090, Subaru Impreza $15,895 – $19,195, Toyota Corolla $12,258 – $14,908, Volkswagen Jetta $16,700 – $23,500.

Good News:

Simple, affordable, nice styling and handling, powerful and efficient engine, NHTSA crash tests are tops, assembled in the United States.

Bad News:

Poor air conditioning duct design.

Standard Equipment:

2.4-liter 150-horsepower inline 4 cylinder engine, 4-speed automatic trans, dual airbags, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brake system (ABS), traction control, daytime running lights, air conditioning, tilt steering wheel, power door locks, intermittent wipers, cloth interior, AM/FM stereo with cassette, power windows, cruise control, fog lights, tire inflation monitoring system, power driver seat and theft deterrent system.

Gas Stats:

21 City and 29 Highway MPG.


Base Retail Price Range is $16,355 – $20,975 and the GL model I tested was $18,655.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is movello@earthlink.net.

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