2003 Oldsmobile Alero

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Key specs

Base trim shown


3 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

  • GX

  • GLS

  • GL

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2003 Oldsmobile Alero trim comparison will help you decide.

2003 Oldsmobile Alero review: Our expert's take

Vehicle Overview
Oldsmobile’s most popular model has been the compact front-wheel-drive Alero coupe and sedan. Both are offered with a four-cylinder or 3.4-liter V-6 engine and either a manual or four-speed-automatic transmission. The Alero’s engines and basic design are shared with the Pontiac Grand Am, but each model has considerably different styling.

Three new body colors and the addition of an XM Satellite Radio are the only significant changes for the 2003 model year. The Alero was introduced for the 1999 model year. According to GM, the Alero is expected to remain in production until sometime in 2004, even though the Oldsmobile brand is being phased out.

Four Alero models are available: GX, GL1, GL2 and GLS. Its rivals include the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry and the two-door Toyota Camry Solara.

The Alero’s styling has been one of the main points used by Oldsmobile to differentiate it from Japanese-brand automobiles. Both the coupe and sedan share some design themes with Oldsmobile’s full-size Aurora. The Alero has more rounded fenders and quarter panels, as well as a low-nose/high rear-deck profile.

Both body styles ride a 107-inch wheelbase, measure 186.7 inches long overall, stretch 70.1 inches wide and stand 54.5 inches tall. They are available with 15- or 16-inch tires. The coupe models sport a rear spoiler.

Each body style has a five-passenger capacity and features front bucket seats. Because the coupe’s rear seat is narrower than the sedan’s, three people in the backseat is a tight squeeze. Trunk volume is 14.6 cubic feet, but the rear seatback folds to expand cargo capacity.

A CD player, tilt steering wheel, air conditioning and power door locks are standard in the base GX. The GL1 and GL2 add fog lamps, remote keyless entry and power windows. Topping the line is the GLS, which gets GM’s OnStar communication system, CD and cassette players, power mirrors and leather seating surfaces.

Under the Hood
A 140-horsepower, 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine is standard in GX and GL1 models and optional in the GL2, which is the performance-oriented Alero. This engine teams with either a four-speed-automatic or five-speed-manual transmission. Only the automatic transmission is available with the 170-hp, 3.4-liter V-6 power plant, which is standard in the GL2 and GLS and optional in the GL1.

Traction control and daytime running lights are standard. Antilock brakes are standard only on GL2 and GLS models.

Driving Impressions
The Alero is light on its feet and very easy to steer, but handling talents are closer to average. Calling the Alero “average” is a good way to describe this car — it’s a cut above in some areas but nothing special in others.

The four-cylinder engine delivers rather snappy performance, especially with the manual transmission. The Alero’s ride quality actually beats that of many cars on the road. Even the performance suspension in the GL2 model absorbs its fair share of bumps.

Space is ample in the coupe, and the slide-forward passenger seat helps pave the way to the rear, which has more room than many two-door models on the market. The four-cylinder engine growls a little, but not enough to be annoying.


Reported by Jim Flammang  for cars.com
From the cars.com 2003 Buying Guide
Posted on 2/10/03

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 3.8
  • Interior design 3.4
  • Performance 3.4
  • Value for the money 3.7
  • Exterior styling 3.8
  • Reliability 3.6

Most recent consumer reviews


Best used car I ever bought!

I bought my 2003 alero in 2017 with 75000 miles. I do regular oil changes. It took 3 yrs before I had to spend a dime on maintenance. Finally had to buy a motor for the automatic window. Drives smooth and steering is superb. Only downside is the mpg could be better.


One of the best cars I've ever owned.

This car meets all of my needs. Has plenty of leg room in the front and back. My favorite feature would have to be the radio.i love the sound system.


Great highway car, reliable if well maintained

Just drove about 2800km from Saskatchewan to British Columbia in a GL1 with the 3.4L V6. It handled winter road conditions quite well, even loaded down with all my stuff. The interior design is pretty good but cupholder placement was not great and the tilt steering doesnt adjust quite high enough for me (Im tall). Ive owned the car since 2016 and have never had any mechanical issues other than routine maintenance like spark plugs and oil/filter changes. As a highway car this vehicle is excellent. Cruise control works well and is conveniently located. It also has enough power that if you need to pass all you have to do is tap the accelerator and youre gone. Rides like a dream over bumps and potholes, steering is a bit numb though. It will cruise at 120km/hr (75 mph) all day with no problem. The only work Ive had to put into it is regular maintenance. Oil change, fuel filter, spark plugs and wires and a new air filter (K&N). Its been very reliable, starts easily every time even in -30C winter conditions and never overheats. I hit the speed limiter on a back road in SK once, a base model camaro (my buddy) wanted to drag and this car blew his doors off, no sweat. Im currently sitting at about 240000km (150,000 miles) and shes going strong. I expect that if I keep up on the maintenance schedule I could easily get 400,000km (250,000 miles) out of it. Great little car, fun and comfortable to drive and reliable.

See all 13 consumer reviews