1991 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser

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$2,511–$3,231

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IndyStar.com
Reports of the death of the station wagon are highly premature.

At Oldsmobile Division, the station wagon is alive and well, as the 1991 Custom Cruiser model atttests.

While the word Custom as in custom-built might be reaching a bit, the wagon is a Cruiser in the fullest sense of the word. With an overall length of 217.5 inches, the wagon makes one think back to the days when full size was the way to go, whether hauling eight passengers and luggage or pulling up tree stumps.

The Cruiser retains the traditional design of the world's most luxurious automobiles by having its body mounted on a separate frame, and by having a V-8 engine drive the rear wheels. Somehow, manufacturers like Rolls-Royce and Mercedes-Benz think this is the way you should build a motor vehicle.

Traveling in a Custom Cruiser is a trip in itself. The long wheelbase and more than 2 tons of weight tend to smooth out the roughest of pavement. There is enough interior space to hold a dance. And under the hood labors a 170-horsepower, 5.0-liter V-8 that never seems to stop pulling.

The first encounter with Olds' big Cruiser gives the impression it's a journey just to walk around the thing. And sliding behind the wheel is somewhat like sitting down inside an airplane hanger.

The Cruiser that Oldsmobile Division provided for a test wagon was extremely easy to drive, once you got the door shut.

The doors on this wagon are about like those on a bank vault, and seem as heavy. However, a driver soon starts partially closing the door before getting in, and this reduces the reach and effort needed to get it shut.

You're aware of the size of the vehicle, especially if just coming out of a small automobile. Controls and their placement are standard General Motors Corp. And once under way it's surprising how easy it is to maneuver the big wagon.

A big wagon obviously is meant to be a workhorse, not a speed merchant.

A driver may have second thoughts about zipping in and out of small holes in traffic. But visibility is excellent, and the wagon soon imparts a feeling of confidence that it's far more flexible than its size indicates.

Helping make driving pleasurable was an instrument panel full of gauges, not lights. For the passengers sitting in the back seats there is an overhead Vista roof that provides an additional avenue for sightseeing. And safety features included anti-lock brakes and a driver's-side air bag.

Sitting amid leather and a full complement of power accessories, the driver was as comfortable as in any luxury automobile. And as its Custom Cruiser nameplate implies, the wagon is targeted at upscale buyers who want size and durability.

Even if you don't want to pull a 5, 000-pound trailer, or transport mom, six kids and a large dog, driving Olds' Custom Cruiser is a class act. It also provides a lot more panache than can be found driving a minivan.

1991 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser Base price: $20, 495As tested: $23, 686Type: Front -engine, rear-drive, eight-passenger, luxury station wagonEngine: 5.0-liter, 16-valve, 170-horsepower, fuel-injected V-8Mileage: 16 mpg (city), 25 mpg (highway)Acceleration: 0-60 mph in 9.8 secs.Length: 217.5 inchesWheelbase: 115.9 inchesCurb weight: 4, 335 poundsOptions: Leather seats, wheel custom equipment package, aluminum wheelsArea dealers: Collins, Dellen, Russ Dellen, Ed Martin, Pence, Ray Skillman, Dave Mason, Classic, Jaggers-Harris

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