What's New for 1999
Olds is headlining its Premiere Edition, a loaded-up model that debuted in mid-'98 with a standard integrated video entertainment system in back. But other news for 1999 includes a horsepower and torque increase for Silhouette's 3.4-liter V6, plus the addition of a theft-deterrent system and heated outside rearview mirrors as standard equipment. And if four new exterior colors (Sky, Ruby, Silvermist and Cypress) weren't enough, then consider the availability of a new Gold Package (but only if you must).
After years of unsuccessfully peddling a huge four-wheeled version of the plastic Dustbuster found in your hall closet, Oldsmobile went back to the drawing board and introduced a fresh, conservative, steel-bodied, fun-to-drive minivan to market in 1997. Did we actually say "fun to drive?'' Yes. Available in four trim levels and three bodystyles, the Silhouette is indeed one minivan today's consumers need to consider.
Just why is this Oldsmobile so good? Because you name the convenience, and Olds has thought of it. Want a sliding driver-side door? You can get one here. Wish that passenger-side sliding door was power operated? Oldsmobile has you covered. Want leather? A CD player? Separate audio controls for rear passengers? Traction control? A powerful V6? How about easy to unload seats that can be configured in a variety of ways? It's all here, depending on the bodystyle and trim level you select. There's even a TV/VCR for rear seat passengers to enjoy.
Silhouette is available in four flavors (all with dual sliding doors standard): GS rides on the regular wheelbase while GL and GLS get the extended length (120-inch) wheelbase as does the Premiere Edition, which is actually a gussied-up GLS with touring suspension and rear-mounted air inflator. All Silhouettes are front-wheel drive, powered by a 185-horsepower 3.4-liter V6 (up five ponies from '98) mated to an electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission. Dual airbags, side airbags, antilock brakes and fog lamps are standard, and for '99 GM adds heated outside mirrors and its PASSKEY III anti-theft system.
GS models (with a 112-inch wheelbase) come with air-conditioning, tilt steering wheel, cruise control, power seats, windows and door locks, power passenger-side door, keyless entry, overhead console and dual lighted visor vanity mirrors. (Rear wiper, rooftop luggage carrier, deep-tint glass and AM/FM stereo cassette are standard on all models.) Options include traction control, alloy wheels, integrated child seats, leather upholstery, CD player and eight-passenger seating.
The GL model gets you the longer, 120-inch wheelbase, but costs you the power seats and passenger-side door, remote entry, overhead console and vanity mirrors. If you need the long wheelbase with all the bells and whistles, then go for the GLS, which adds a touring suspension package, traction control, 15-inch alloy wheels, rear A/C, heat and audio controls, leather seating and steering-wheel mounted radio controls to the GS standard equipment roster.
A new model appeared in the spring of 1998. Called the Premiere Edition, it comes with nearly every goodie standard, including a combination television and video cassette player for rear seat passengers. The only available options on the Premiere Edition are a towing package, OnStar communications, an engine block heater and a new gold package.
We've driven the Silhouette and came away quite impressed. These well-equipped minivans are smooth and powerful. Thanks to excellent road feel provided by precise steering and easily modulated brakes, they are actually fun to drive which can't be said about some of today's best-selling makes. Our complaints are limited to uncomfortable rear seating and a noticeable amount of cheap-looking plastic inside the cabin.
As you've probably guessed, we like the Oldsmobile Silhouette, and find its exterior styling to be the most attractive of GM's trio of sister minivans.