The Alero, Oldsmobiles most popular model, gets a handful of new features but no major changes. The midsize Alero comes in two-door coupe and four-door sedan body styles with front-wheel drive and a choice of four-cylinder and V-6 engines.
Sized and priced below the midsize Intrigue sedan, the Alero made its debut in the 1999 model year. Oldsmobile lists the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, and the Toyota Camry and Camry Solara as the Aleros key rivals. The front-drive Alero is built from the same design as the Pontiac Grand Am and uses the same engines but has different styling.
The Alero uses styling as one of its main attractions to compete with the Japanese-brand cars. Both the coupe and sedan share some of the styling themes found on the Olds Aurora and Intrigue, but the Alero has more-rounded fenders and quarter panels, and a low nose/high rear-deck profile.
Both body styles ride a 107-inch wheelbase and are 187 inches long a little shorter than the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.
Standard equipment on the base GX model includes air conditioning, power locks, a tilt steering wheel and a split rear seatback that folds for extra cargo room. GL and GLS models add power mirrors, a power sunroof and a cassette player. The GLS also gets a CD player.
All models come with front bucket seats, as Oldsmobile no longer offers front bench seats on its cars. The front seats have ample room for taller passengers. The coupes backseat is narrower than the sedans, so two adults is the practical limit.
The rear seatback on all models folds to expand the trunks cargo capacity of 14.6 cubic feet.
Under the Hood
A 150-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is standard on GX and GL models and comes with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. A 170-hp 3.4-liter V-6, which comes only with the automatic, is standard on the GLS and optional on the GL.
All models have standard antilock brakes and traction control.
The Alero may not blow away the imports in performance, features or price, but it is an attractively styled, well-equipped midsize car that is worth a look. Olds is aiming at a much younger audience than its traditional buyers, and the Alero is its most youth-oriented model, offering more adventurous styling than most Japanese rivals.