Used 2002 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 2002

The biggest news for the 2002 Alero is an all-new four-cylinder engine on GX and GL1 models. Redesigned 15-inch wheels, a revamped interior console and two new exterior colors round out this year's changes.

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. For 2002, both a sedan and a coupe are available, with your choice of four 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.

GX and GL1 models now feature an all-aluminum 2.2-liter DOHC four-cylinder that generates 140 horsepower. With twin balance shafts to smooth out vibrations and offering much improved fuel economy, this engine is a welcome improvement over the previous powerplant. A four-speed automatic is standard on all models with a five-speed manual optional on models equipped with the new four-cylinder. Optional on GL and standard on GLS is a 3.4-liter V6 that makes 170 horsepower but is offered only with the automatic. Both engines now meet low-emission vehicle (LEV) standards.

Like big-brother Intrigue, the Alero is entertaining to drive. It employs what Oldsmobile calls an Active Response System (ARS). ARS is a combination of 16 desirable attributes, such as a stiff body structure, a four-wheel independent suspension, all-speed traction control and four-wheel disc brakes intended to deliver a safer, more enjoyable driving experience. If that's not enough, the Alero can be ordered in GL2 trim that includes a sport suspension, high-performance 16-inch tires, fog lamps, decklid spoiler and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. New for this year is a Sport package for the base GX model that specifies the five-speed manual transmission, 15-inch alloy wheel, a decklid spoiler and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

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. A revised center console with more storage and a cupholder have been added this year, but unfortunately side air bags are still not available. We're still not fans of the cloth upholstery , 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, zooms confidently along when the road turns twisty and won't break the bank when it's time to make the monthly payments.

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.