A redesigned Aurora luxury sedan was the first 2001 model to go on sale when it arrived in January with new styling, trimmer dimensions and a V-6 engine option. The original Aurora debuted as a 1995 model, starting an overhaul of Oldsmobiles lineup aimed at making the brand more appealing to import owners.
The original Aurora came only with a V-8 engine, but the new version also comes as a V-6 model priced about $4,000 less than the V-8 version. Starting with July production, General Motors OnStar communication system became standard and a three-point lap-shoulder belt replaced the lap belt for the middle-rear seating position.
Auroras new styling retains the muscular look of the original model, but the overall shape and appearance are more conservative to broaden the cars appeal. The front bears a family resemblance to other Oldsmobiles, but the large taillights create a Jaguar-like appearance at the back. Rear fog lamps are a new standard feature.
The 2001 model is built on a new front-drive platform, and at 199.3 inches is half a foot shorter and 165 pounds lighter than its predecessor. V-6 models ride on 16-inch-diameter tires, and V-8 models have 17-inch rubber.
Olds says the new Aurora is roomier inside despite the smaller exterior. Though there is enough headroom and legroom for taller passengers in the rear seat, the cushion is low and the seatback is reclined a position some find uncomfortable.
Trunk volume is 1.2 cubic feet smaller at 14.9 on the new model, though a wider trunk opening makes it easier to load and unload cargo. A small pass-through from the trunk to the rear seat allows carrying long objects such as skis.
Under the Hood
New for 2001 is a 3.5-liter V-6 engine with 215 horsepower, also used in the Olds Intrigue midsize sedan. The 4.0-liter V-8 is unchanged at 250 hp, but now it can run on regular gas instead of premium. Both engines team with a four-speed automatic transmission.
Standard features include antilock brakes, traction control, side-impact airbags for the front seats and active front head restraints that move up and forward in a collision to reduce the chances of whiplash.
The V-6 engine doesnt result in a huge loss of acceleration, but the V-8 clearly furnishes stronger off-the-line pickup and passing power. A bigger difference might be found in the tires. The larger tires on the V-8 versions produce a stiffer, less absorbent ride that makes for tedious travel over rough pavement.