Used 1999 Oldsmobile Intrigue Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1999

Last year, Oldsmobile dumped the stodgy Cutlass Supreme for the Intrigue; a suave, sophisticated sporty sedan designed to take on the best of the imports. For '99 Olds is dumping the 3800 Series II V6 that powers the Intrigue for an all-new, 24-valve 3.5-liter twin-cam V6. Until production of the 3.5-liter (a design based on the Aurora V8) can be ramped up to meet the Intrigue build schedule, the new 215-horsepower engine will come standard only in the new top-line GLS model, and optional in the base GX and mid-line GL series. Full function traction control is now available in models equipped with the new power plant. Minor feature revisions, one new color and new badging rounds out the changes this year.

Vehicle overview

A few years ago, Oldsmobile appeared to be gasping its final breaths. Product was not moving, designs were aging rapidly and within the new brand management culture at General Motors, Oldsmobile was hard to define because of models whose missions overlapped with cars from Chevrolet, Buick and Cadillac.

The first step Oldsmobile took to return to viability was to introduce the Aurora. Sleekly styled, solidly engineered and packed full of Northstar V8 powertrain, the Aurora showcased the direction in which Oldsmobile was moving. It was clear that wire wheels and whitewalls were on the way out, to be replaced with attractive, contemporary cars and trucks that would appeal to import-intenders.

Next out of the chute was the Bravada, a mildly reworked Blazer/Jimmy with an impressive all-wheel-drive powertrain. The Silhouette and Cutlass came next, sporting modern style and driver-friendly handling characteristics. The Intrigue, and most recently, the Alero, are the latest in a line of new Oldsmobile models that have attempted to redefine a struggling brand.

The Intrigue features a strong body structure to reduce squeaks and rattles. The interior is functionally designed to deliver a minimum of glitz and a maximum of ergonomic operation. Providing space for five adults, the Intrigue offers appreciably more interior room than major competitors, yet without the bulky exterior size or hefty curb weight. New this year is a thicker, leather wrapped steering wheel (standard on GL and GLS, available on GX), a grid style radio antenna, one extra color (Bronze Mist) and new badging, including the addition of new Oldsmobile script for the decklid.

The GX becomes a fully equipped '99 base model, which now can be optioned with an Autobahn package (including H-speed rated tires and heavy duty brake components) that has already proved popular with GL and GLS buyers. Moving up to the GL nets extras such as a dual-zone air conditioner, fog lamps, keyless entry and upgraded mirrors, seats and sound system. The GLS pops for top-of-the line items such as leather, fake wood trim, CD player and the like.

Driving the Intrigue, you'd swear you were in an import. Speed-sensitive steering provides good feedback, while the brake pedal has lost most of that dreaded GM numbness. Seats are comfortable and supportive. The transmission shifts almost imperceptibly. While the car is big, it doesn't feel like it from the driver's seat, thanks to responsive handling and good visibility. Exterior styling is muscular yet understated, providing a strong family tie to the Aurora in the headlights, front fascia and rear quarters. And if the new 3.5-liter V6 is half as smooth as its Aurora-based V8 brother, the Intrigue fun-to-drive quotient can only get better (and it won't need premium fuel to do itunlike many other performance-oriented V6 powerplants in this class).

Pricing is in line with the Toyota Camry LE and XLE V6, the Nissan Maxima SE and GLE, and the Mercury Sable LS. Offering style, room and even smoother power, the Oldsmobile Intrigue is one sedan priced in the mid-20s that shoppers ought to have on their must-drive list.

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.