General Motors officials tell us we're the perfect family for the 2001 Oldsmobile Silhouette Premiere - empty nesters with college kids who want a classy, chrome-laden minivan with a state-of-the-art entertainment system. Well, at least they're right about the first part. We put the Silhouette to the test over Thanksgiving weekend, ferrying family members back and forth from the airport and on a couple of shopping trips. Like almost all of the minivans we've driven, the top-of-the-line Silhouette Premiere provoked a lot of reaction from front- and rear-seat passengers. Our test vehicle cost $34,560 and goes up against such high-end competitors as the Chrysler Town & Country Limited.

She: Nobody beats GM's minivan entertainment systems. Passengers can watch a video, play video games, plug in a camcorder or listen to music. Our test vehicle had the standard entertainment package with a flip-down TV screen that's supposed to be the biggest offered in the industry. The picture was perfect. I vegged out on the way to the airport and watched That Thing You Do. Very relaxing. Number One son, the college senior, had an insightful reaction from the second-row seat. "I feel like I have as much power as the driver," he said.

He: I'm assuming he wasn't talking about credit ratings. Must have been all those audio and climate controls at his fingertips, plus the new wireless headphones - you get four of them standard - for drowning out mom's lectures.

She: Or dad's singing. GM's probably going to want to shut me up when I say I'm not crazy about the cosmetic changes to the Oldsmobile minivan for 2001. Too much chrome - chrome "grillettes," chrome on the rear and we even had optional $695 chrome wheels. Number Two son, the college sophomore, griped that "you can't ever make a stylish minivan - they're too functional." In that case, don't try to cover it up with chrome. I equate chrome with old people, even though GM insists it's classy.

He: I have an even more basic complaint. The Silhouette, like its siblings the Pontiac Montana and Chevrolet Venture, still lags behind the competition on a number of fronts. You won't be able to get all-wheel drive until the 2002 model. And competitors like the Town & Country and the Honda Odyssey have larger, more powerful engines. The Oldsmobile minivan has only a single engine - a 3.4-liter V-6 that makes 185 horsepower. And the Odyssey is still the only minivan on which you can actually fold the third seat into the floor for lots of extra storage space. I think features like those are more important than what kind of reception you get on the Premiere's TV screen or how much chrome they've slapped on the exterior - particularly on a vehicle that costs as much as a BMW.

She: The Silhouette does have a stowable third seat that's very practical. But GM is still playing catch-up in some respects. Buyers will finally be able to get a driver's-side power sliding door on the Silhouette Premiere as a mid-year option. That will be a plus - even if the competition already offers that feature. There are also a few nifty new features on this minivan, like the standard rear parking aid. It sounds a warning if obstacles are detected and goes beyond the competition with a visual warning, too. Lights mounted in the rear flash from yellow to red when you get too close to another car - or garbage can.

He: Yes, but remember when I was trying to parallel park? I lightly bumped the car behind me and the system sounded only a single chime. So I found that it wasn't completely infallible.

She: Maybe you just don't fit Oldsmobile's demographic of the prototypical minivan buyer, honey. Want to watch a video?

He: As long as we can see it on the big screen in our living room. Now that the boys are back in school, I was thinking about something romantic. How about Reservoir Dogs?

Anita's rating: Above average

P l's rating: Acceptable

Likes: One of the glitziest minivans we've been in. Second-row passengers were impressed with improved entertainment system. New stowable third-row seat. OnStar rescue system is standard for 2001. Decent fuel economy.

Dislikes: Still have to wait until 2002 for all-wheel drive. Competitors like Honda Odyssey have more powerful engines. Overhead controls are difficult to read in daytime. Rear parking aid not infallible (Paul). Not sold on chrome trim. No rear side air bags (Anita). Frightfully expensive (Paul). Noted some rattling noises from rear.

Type: Front-engine, front-wheel drive, seven-passenger minivan

Price: Base, $33,225; as tested; $34,560 (inc. $640 destination charge)

Engine: 3.4-liter V-6; 185 hp; 210 lb-ft torque

Fuel economy: 19 city/26 highway

12-month insurance cost, according to AAA Michigan (*Estimate. Rates may behigher or lower depending on coverage and driving record.): $1,079

Where built: Doraville, Ga.