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By Richard Truett
May 12, 1994
The 1994 model year is proving to be a historic one for Oldsmobile. The General Motors division finally seems to have put the brakes on its years-long sales skid. Oldsmobile's sales figures are up sharply over a year ago. The improvement in
Oldsmobile's fortunes can be attributed to two things: The division's effort to re-invent itself in the mold of the highly successful Saturn Corp., where easy dealing, courtesy and customer service are the driving forces. Oldsmobile's value-driven
pricing program, which cuts prices on many popular models. One of those models is this week's test car, the Achieva S sedan. Like the Saturn, the Achieva is built well and comes packed with features and equipment. It also ranks as an
outstanding value when compared with most similar-sized imports. PERFORMANCE The standard engine in the Achieva is a 2.3-liter overhead cam four-cylinder, which makes 115-horsepower. An optional 155-horsepower version of that engine also is
available. But our test car came with yet another optional engine - a 160-horsepower 3.1-liter V-6 paired with a four-speed computer-controlled automatic transmission. As with a Toyota Camry or a Honda Accord, the front-wheel drive Achieva's
performance is smooth, predictable and pleasing. The new transmission, designed by GM, is an excellent gearbox that is tuned to shift based on how hard the engine is working and how fast the car is going. That V-6 engine, by the way, is quiet, smooth
at all times and frugal. On a trip to Pensacola, the Achieva averaged 30 mpg. In the city it got just better than 25 mpg and that was with the air conditioner running. HANDLING In normal driving the Achieva S is generally a well-handling,
easy-to-drive vehicle. But I found that over large bumps the suspension can bottom out, or else make the car bounce quite a bit and lose its composure momentarily. This can be a problem with soft suspension systems. However, if you prefer a stiffer
ride, the Achieva line includes the sporty SL model, which has a firmer sports-tuned suspension system. The power-assisted steering and standard anti-lock brakes are well-engineered, making the Achieva easy to steer and stop. FIT AND FINISH
When you log 1,000 miles on a car in two days, you learn a lot about the way it is put together. Olds has done a first-rate job with the Achieva - except for one minor thing. The fuel gauge, located at the lower right of the dash with a round
face, is obscured by the steering wheel. You have to either look over the edge of the wheel to see the gauge or shift your head to the side. That was somewhat bothersome. But that gauge, like the others, was nicely styled with bright orange needles
and clean, easy-to-read faces. The seats are excellent in terms of the lower back and thigh support they provide on long trips. But the black cloth used on them seem
ed bland. One of the things I really liked about the Achieva is the visibility. From the driver's seat, it was very easy to see what is behind and to the side of the car. Also, the controls are nicely designed and placed where they were easy to
get to and use. For instance, three round knobs adjust the heating and air-conditioning system. And the cruise control switch, mounted on the steering column, has been redesigned for easier use. The back seat and trunk offer plenty of room. A baby
seat is easy to install because the rear door opens wide. This year, a driver's side air bag is standard. So are anti-lock brakes. If you are looking to get a lot of car for your money, the V-6 powered Achieva S is one car that should rank high on
your list of prospective purchases. Truett's tip: The value-packed Oldsmobile Achieva S sedan is a sporty four-door with plenty of power, a comfortable and functional interior, and a conservative appear