What's New for 1996
Royale designation dropped, and the Eighty-Eight gets fresh Aurora-inspired styling front and rear. Standard equipment levels go up, and daytime running lights are added.
The Oldsmobile Eighty-Eight is one of the best full-size family cars you can buy. It sports contemporary styling, an ergonomically correct interior, and a powerful V6 engine driving the front wheels. There is room inside for six adults, and the Eight-Eight has proven to be reliable. Oldsmobile's value-pricing strategy has paid off with the Eighty-Eight; it comes well equipped right out of the box, with few options available. So why aren't these cars selling as well as, say, the Ford Crown Victoria?
We think it must be the uncomfortable seats, because the seats are really this big Olds' only apparent flaw. The rest of the car is admittedly designed to appeal to middle Americans who just want to get from Point A to Point B in relative safety and comfort, but with these mushy, unsupportive seats, the Eighty-Eight doesn't fulfill the comfort portion of the equation.
This year, Oldsmobile has restyled the front fascia, grille, fenders and headlights of the Eighty-Eight to "align this mainstream sedan more consistently with themes initiated in the Aurora," according to the 1996 press kit. Rear moldings, taillights and fascia have been tweaked as well. New wheel covers and alloy wheels top off the fresh, but dull styling exercise. True, the new look is sleek, but last year's car was more distinctive. Gone is the Royale nomenclature, leaving the Eight-Eight and the Eighty-Eight LS. The LSS becomes a stand-alone model for 1996.
Also new are programmable door locks, standard Twilight Sentinel and daytime running lights. The remote keyless accessory control package features a new panic button on the fob, which creates a symphony of honking horns and flashing lights for two minutes after the button is depressed. Perfect for creepy underground garages.
Sadly, new seats are not part of the improvement list for the Eighty-Eight this year. That's too bad. We think the Olds is certainly one of the better values available, but it's awfully difficult to sell a car to consumers who place comfort as a top priority if the car isn't comfortable.