Used 1996 Oldsmobile Silhouette Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1996

New 180-horsepower, 3.4-liter V6 makes the Silhouette even better able to imitate Japan's bullet train.

Vehicle overview

GM's luxury-focused front-drive minivan retained the original "Dustbuster" front styling when its APV cousins, the Chevy Lumina Minivan and Pontiac Transport, underwent cosmetic surgery on their prominent snouts a couple of years back. Which shape is more stylish? That's for you to decide. We think the Olds interpretation is modern-looking, and almost attractive, with its blacked-out pillars, tinted glass, and beltline tape stripe.

A new 180-horsepower, 3.4-liter V6 with electronically-controlled four-speed automatic transmission propels the front wheels, delivering swifter response than the former 3.8-liter engine. Otherwise, Silhouette receives no changes as GM prepares an all-new Silhouette for introduction next summer.

Antilock brakes help rein the van in safely. A driver's side airbag and seating for seven is standard. Modular seats are easy to set up and remove, but when they're in place, cargo area is limited compared to rival minivans. Leather seating surfaces are optional. So are such niceties as integrated child safety seats, a CD player, power sliding side door, and traction control.

Plastic body panels resist dents and rust. Occupants have ample space and enjoy a placid and quiet ride. Visibility to the front and sides is better than expected, despite the swoopy, thrusted-nose styling. Not everyone favors the far-away, steeply-sloped windshield, however, which sits ahead of nearly-useless front quarter windows. The dashboard is a remnant of eighties-style GM design. All this will change next year, when GM replaces the Silhouette and its Chevrolet/Pontiac mates with a more conservative, metal-bodied van.

Just one model is offered this season, in two equipment levels. Even the base-model minivan has plenty of comforts and conveniences, and with every option on the list, the price stays below $25,000. Never a strong seller, Silhouette is nevertheless an able contender in the minivan market, delivering excellent value in comparison to many of its luxury-oriented competitors.

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.