Used 1996 Oldsmobile Achieva Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1996

Substantial upgrades make the Achieva palatable for 1996. A new interior with dual airbags, standard air conditioning, a new base engine, daytime running lights, a theft-deterrent system and optional traction control make this Oldsmobile an excellent value in the compact class.

Vehicle overview

Oldsmobile has taken great steps toward changing the "Under Achieva" reputation of its entry in the compact marketplace. Improved base and optional engines debut, and dual airbags have been installed in a redesigned dashboard. Seatbelts have been relocated to the door pillars, rather than the previously unsafe arrangement that had the restraints attached to the door. Air conditioning is now standard equipment, and all Acheivas equipped with an automatic transmission get traction control as part of the deal. GM's PASSlock theft system is also standard for 1996, as are daytime running lights.

Similarly, Buick has made substantial improvements to the formerly underwhelming Skylark. We're impressed by the efforts made with both cars, but the changes to Acheiva don't register with quite the amount of surprise and delight provided by the amazing transformation of the formerly horrid Skylark. Maybe part of the reason is because Oldsmobile didn't make changes to the Acheiva's clean exterior styling. The Buick gets much-needed revision to its front and rear styling for 1996, but the Achieva makes do with a handsome new wheel design.

Sitting in the Achieva you are faced with simple, large analog gauges and controls that are placed where they can easily be found and operated. The new dashboard is welcome, but the high beltline and restrictive greenhouse results in an unpleasant enclosed feeling. Open and airy this car is not. The oversize steering wheel makes the inside of the Achieva feel even smaller, and overly grippy seat fabric seems to want to hold you in the Achieva whether you want to stay or not. The back seat is tiny and difficult to access.

Overall, the Achieva is a much better car than it has ever been. It provides excellent value in the compact segment. However, we think a Toyota Corolla, Geo Prizm or Honda Civic would be far more satisfactory to own than this Oldsmobile.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.