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Minor changes this year. The ABS is upgraded, it's easier to get at the rear seatbelts, colors are revised and the "unleaded fuel only" label is removed from the inside of the fuel door.
You're kidding, right? After years of rhetoric about the new Oldsmobile, the 1997 model year brought a warmed-over 1992 Eighty-Eight with whitewall tires and chrome trim. The Regency, as this plush full-size sedan is named, is the replacement for the dearly departed Ninety Eight. Oldsmobile sold over 20,000 Ninety-Eights during its final year of production, and wasn't about to let those customers go hunting in other showrooms for their fix of traditional, ahem, style.
Last year's Oldsmobile press kit touted the Regency as tasteful, expansive and luxurious. We would dispute this claim. "If Oldsmobile could provide an easy chair for customers to watch the division perform its repositioning decathlon, the new, full-size, four-door Regency would be it," said the press kit. Well, that's not the way to attract import buyers, guys. They actually likened the Regency to an easy chair! John Rock, former Oldsmobile general manager, knew the real score, and characterized the Regency as a final chance for long-time Oldsmobile buyers to buy the type of car they've gotten from the division for the past several decades. Rock told Car and Driver magazine, "This is the last Buick we will sell." Attention traditional buyers; you've been forewarned.
At least the Regency is fully loaded. Options are few, and the car meets side-impact protection standards while offering antilock brakes, dual airbags and traction control.
It is sad and pathetic to find a car like the Regency in the 1998 Oldsmobile lineup. The new Cutlass, Intrigue and Silhouette, along with the Aurora and Bravada, represent the real Oldsmobile, a division dedicated to providing well-equipped values to buyers who otherwise might be shopping Toyota, Honda or Lexus. At least the general public had forgotten about the Ninety-Eight. It shouldn't be long before buyers dismiss the chrome-plated, whitewalled Regency, which is currently serving to slow some of the momentum toward remaking what Oldsmobile means to the typical import buyer.
Laura's old car was costing her a small fortune every month for gas and repairs. She didn't even want to drive her kids to the park any more. But buying a new Kia Soul changed all that.