What's New for 2000
A performance suspension is newly optional on GL models. The four-cylinder gets a composite intake manifold, while all models benefit from the addition of three rear-shelf anchors for child safety-seat restraints. If glitz is your thing, you can now opt for a new gold package on GL and GLS versions.
Introduced to the public at the 1998 North American International Auto Show, the Oldsmobile Alero was an instant hit with the automotive press and consumers alike. Both a sedan and a coupe are available, with your choice of three trim levels and two engines. While the Alero is technically a replacement for the Achieva, this stylish compact is light years ahead of previous attempts by the division to build and market a small car.
Like big-brother Intrigue, the Alero is entertaining to drive. GX and GL models come with a 2.4-liter dual-overhead-cam four-cylinder engine that makes 150 horsepower. A four-speed automatic is standard. Optional on GL and standard on GLS is a 3.4-liter V6 that makes 170 horsepower mated only to the automatic. Both engines now meet low-emission vehicle (LEV) standards.
While neither engine is particularly quiet during operation, they both deliver spirited performance. Alero employs what Olds engineers call an Active Response System (ARS) to increase driver enjoyment. ARS is simply a combination of 16 desirable attributes, such as a stiff body structure, four-wheel independent suspension, all-speed traction control and four-wheel disc brakes with ABS. New this year is a performance suspension that previously was offered only on the GLS Coupe. As part of an optional sport package for the GL or GLS Sedan, the firmer-riding suspension rolls on upsized, V-rated 16-inch performance rubber.
Inside, the Alero is a four-fifths version of the Intrigue. Well laid-out with seating for five, this car has features such as air conditioning, power locks, rear window defogger and split/folding rear seats all standard. But side airbags, offered by some under-$20,000 competitors from Toyota and Chevrolet, aren't available or planned. On the minus side, the cloth upholstery isn't very attractive, and the leather looks and feels too much like vinyl for our tastes.
Overall, the Alero is a stylish, powerful, sporting car that is willing to play if you are. It can serve family duty when necessary, won't embarrass the owner when pulling up to a swanky restaurant, zooms confidently along when the road turns twisty, and won't break the bank when the payment book arrives in the mail. However appealing, it will need continuous refinement and a reputation for durability to avoid the destiny met by previous small Oldsmobiles.