Used 2001 Oldsmobile Alero Review

Edmunds expert review

The Alero combines attractive styling, potent engines and extensive standard equipment in a crisp-handling package.




What's new for 2001

A five-speed manual transmission is now available with the four-cylinder engine; an eight-speaker premium sound system is now standard on the GLS (optional on GL); and a refined ABS system and 16-inch wheels are now standard on the GLS.

Vehicle overview

Introduced to the public at the 1998 North American International Auto Show, the Oldsmobile Alero was an instant hit with the automotive press and consumers alike. Both a sedan and a coupe are available, with your choice of three trim levels and two engines. While the Alero is technically a replacement for the Achieva, this stylish compact is light years ahead of previous attempts by the division to build and market a small car.

Like big-brother Intrigue, the Alero is entertaining to drive. GX and GL models come with a 2.4-liter, dual-overhead-cam, four-cylinder engine that makes 150 horsepower. A four-speed automatic is standard with a five-speed manual optional for those who prefer to row gears. Optional on GL and standard on GLS is a 3.4-liter V6 that makes 170 horsepower mated only to the automatic. Both engines now meet low-emission vehicle (LEV) standards.

While neither engine is particularly quiet during operation, they both deliver spirited performance. Alero employs what Olds engineers call an Active Response System (ARS) to increase driver enjoyment. ARS is simply a combination of 16 desirable attributes, such as a stiff body structure, four-wheel independent suspension, all-speed traction control and four-wheel disc brakes with improved-for-2001ABS. As part of an optional sport package for the GL or GLS Sedan, the firmer-riding suspension rolls on upsized, V-rated, 16-inch performance rubber.

Inside, the Alero is a four-fifths version of the Intrigue. Well laid-out with seating for five, this car has features such as air conditioning, power locks, rear window defogger and split/folding rear seats all standard. But side airbags, offered by some under-$20,000 competitors from Toyota and Chevrolet, aren't available or planned. On the minus side, the cloth upholstery isn't very attractive, and the leather looks and feels too much like vinyl for our tastes.

Overall, the Alero is a stylish, powerful, sporting car that is willing to play if you are. It can serve family duty when necessary, won't embarrass the owner when pulling up to a swanky restaurant, zooms confidently along when the road turns twisty, and won't break the bank when the payment book arrives in the mail. However appealing, it will need continuous refinement and a reputation for durability to avoid the destiny met by previous small Oldsmobiles.






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.