A navigation-assistance radio is optional in the 2002 Aurora, which gets chrome exhaust tips and a trunk-entrapment release lever. Redesigned with a fresh look as a very early 2001 model, Oldsmobiles full-size near-luxury sedan slimmed down in size and gained a V-6 engine option to join the original V-8. The V-6 version was priced lower and was intended to make the Oldsmobile brand more appealing to import-oriented shoppers. Oldsmobile first launched the Aurora back in 1995 but sought higher sales for the latest version.
In December 2000, General Motors announced that the Oldsmobile brand would be phased out, but the Aurora is expected to remain on sale for some time. It serves as the largest Oldsmobile on the market and is a model that has no direct relative in other GM divisions.
New styling for 2001 retained the muscular look of the original Aurora, but the sedan became more conservative in overall shape in an attempt to broaden its attractive powers. Its resemblance to other Oldsmobiles is most evident up front, but the large taillights are suggestive of Jaguars back lights. Rear fog lamps are among the standard features.
Built on a new front-drive platform for 2001, the Aurora rides a 112.2-inch wheelbase and measures 199.3 inches long overall, 72.9 inches wide and 56.7 inches tall. Cast-aluminum wheels hold 16-inch tires on V-6 models, and V-8 models come with 17-inchers.
The Aurora has seats for five passengers and sufficient headroom and legroom for taller folks in the front and rear. The back cushion is low and its seatback is reclined, which might not please everyone who sits in the rear. A wide opening makes it easy to load and unload the trunk, which has a capacity of 14.9 cubic feet. A small pass-thru from the trunk to the backseat allows owners to carry long objects. GMs OnStar communication system is standard.
Under the Hood
The Auroras 3.5-liter V-6 engine develops 215 horsepower and is the same engine used in the midsize Oldsmobile Intrigue. The 4.0-liter V-8 power plant is rated at 250 hp. Both engines work with a four-speed-automatic transmission and can run on regular gasoline.
Standard safety features include antilock brakes, traction control and side-impact airbags for the front seats. Active front head restraints move up and forward in a collision to reduce the chance of whiplash injury. All five seating positions have three-point lap-and-shoulder safety belts.
The V-6 engine performs almost as potently as the V-8, though passing power is greater with the latter. It actually ranks as more vigorous than most owners need. With either engine, the Aurora is a highly pleasing road car that has a light overall feel considering its still-ample dimensions. It handles with a very light touch. The bigger tires on the V-8-powered version produce a stiffer, less absorbent ride that can get tedious when traveling through rough pavement.