What's New for 1998
Status quo in Auroraville, but second-generation airbags have been added.
We really want to like the Aurora. On paper, it seems to have everything in place to whip the competition. Strong performance, a Northstar-derived V8 engine, standard antilock brakes and traction control, svelte sheetmetal and prices that top out just over $40,000, fully loaded. Sounds tasty, doesn't it?
While slick overall, the Aurora looks like a 1995 Saturn SL that underwent minor reconstructive surgery. It weighs two tons. The wheels look like Aunt Polly's holiday condiment dishes. It barely avoids the dreaded gas-guzzler tax.
We can't argue that the Aurora hasn't proven to be an image-maker for Oldsmobile. We also can't argue that the Aurora has been selling to expectations, despite continuous improvement with each model year. From a design and engineering standpoint, the Aurora lit the way toward a new kind of Oldsmobile. From a sales standpoint, it is becoming obvious that luxury car buyers do not look to Oldsmobile to meet their needs.
The Aurora has lots of little luxurious goodies. The right exterior mirror dips down while reversing to help the driver see the curb or other obstructions to the rear of the car. The rearview mirror has an integrated compass. A three-channel garage door opener is standard and the Bose sound system provides an in-dash CD player. Every one off the assembly line is fully loaded; there are few options.
So, what is the Aurora's competition? The Buick Park Avenue Ultra and Pontiac Bonneville SSE are worthy alternatives, but aren't as coolly sophisticated. Acura's 3.2TL hovers around the Aurora's price tag, but this Japanese near-luxury sedan isn't nearly as stylish or roomy as the Aurora. Chrysler's LHS is nice, but lacks oomph under the hood. Lincoln's Continental offers a wonderful V8 powertrain, but is too garishly designed. The Audi A6 could be worth consideration, but is somewhat underpowered. The Mercedes E320 and BMW 528i are substantially more expensive than the Aurora when comparably equipped, and lack V8 power.
Yes, it would seem that the Aurora blends the perfect mix of luxury and performance into a highly styled, competitively priced near-luxury sedan. We just can't shake the feeling that this good package could have been much better, particularly in comparison to the slightly more expensive and absolutely stellar BMW 528i.