Used 1998 Oldsmobile Silhouette Minivan

1998 Oldsmobile Silhouette
List price range
1998 Oldsmobile Silhouette

Pros

  • Standard ABS. Standard side airbags. Optional traction control. Optional power sliding right-side door. Powerful V-6 engine.

Cons

  • Uncomfortable rear seats (to an adult, anyway).

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Edmunds' Expert Review

vehicle overview

After years of unsuccessfully peddling a plastic four-wheeled version of the Dustbuster found in your hall closet, Oldsmobile went back to the drawing board and introduced a fresh, conservative, steel-bodied, fun-to-drive minivan to market. Available in four trim levels and three body styles, the new Silhouette is indeed one minivan consumers need to consider.

Why is this Oldsmobile so good? You name the convenience, and Olds has thought of it. Want a sliding driver's side door? You can get one here. Wish that passenger's side sliding door was power operated? Oldsmobile has you covered. Want leather? A CD player? Separate audio controls for rear passengers? Traction control? A powerful V6 engine? Easy-to-unload seats that can be configured in a variety of ways? It's all here, depending on the body style and trim level you select. Even a TV/VCP for rear seat passengers to enjoy.

Silhouette is available in four flavors; regular length three-door and extended length four-door equipped in GS, GL, GLS or Premiere Edition trim levels. All Silhouettes are front-wheel drive, and are powered by a 180-horsepower 3.4-liter V6 mated to an electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission. Dual airbags, side airbags and antilock brakes are standard.

GS models come with air conditioning, tilt steering wheel, cruise control, power door locks, power windows and fog lights. Optionally available are traction control, alloy wheels, integrated child seats, leather upholstery, and eight-passenger seating.

The GL trim level adds remote keyless entry, a theft deterrent system, power sliding right side door, power seats, and deep tinted glass to the GS equipment list. Next up is the GLS, which adds a touring suspension package, rear climate controls, alloy wheels and rear audio controls to the GL standard equipment roster.

A new model appeared in the spring of 1998. Called the Premiere Edition, it comes with nearly every goodie standard, including a combination television and video cassette player for rear seat passengers. The only available options on the Premiere Edition are a towing package, a gold package, On Star communications, and an engine block heater.

We've driven the Silhouette and came away from our ride quite impressed. The van is smooth, powerful, and fun-to-drive with excellent road feel provided by sharp steering and easily modulated brakes. Our complaints are limited to uncomfortable rear seating and a noticeable amount of cheap-looking plastic inside the cabin.

Some of you may have seen the Dateline NBC expose in which several minivans were crashed into a deformable offset barrier at 40 mph. While there is no standard regarding offset crash protection in the United States, and the Silhouette does meet all current federal safety standards, this test showed that GM's new minivans did not do a good job of protecting the driver in such an accident. General Motors responded that the test represented a tiny percentage of real world crashes.

Later in the year, the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) ran a new GM minivan into a fixed barrier at 35 mph during official crash testing, and the van scored well for both front seat occupants. If GM's contention is correct, and head-on crashes are more common, the Silhouette should protect passengers adequately. But here's the Catch 22; after several GM vehicles performed poorly in NHTSA's side-impact testing in 1997, the company denounced NHTSA's procedure, claiming it did not adequately correlate with real world crashes. Go figure.

While we like the Oldsmobile Silhouette, and find its exterior styling to be the most attractive of the three GM minivans, we can't help but wonder just how crashworthy this model really is. Maybe the new-for-1998 side-impact airbags will help.

1998 Highlights

Side-impact airbags are standard for front seat passengers, and Oldsmobile is building more short-wheelbase vans with dual sliding doors. Front airbags get second-generation technology, which results in slower deployment speeds. Midyear, a Premiere Edition debuted, loaded with standard features including a TV/VCR setup in back.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1998 Oldsmobile Silhouette.

Overall Consumer Rating

Most helpful consumer reviews

98 Oldsmobile Silouette
cyberbro,04/17/2002
I was not disappoint in purchasing this used vehicle with just 22000 miles on it. At lease that is what I was told. So far the only problem that I have is the brakes sometimes squeak when coming to a stop.
davan
tulamusa64,07/16/2002
This is a fun van to drive. The gas mileage is exceptional for its size. Lots of room!
Silhouette - convenient but trucky
laurie,04/23/2002
I owned a '98 Silhouette for three years (65,000 miles). The vehicle gave me no problems and was exceptionally convenient for me with my pre-schooler. We took out the middle-row captain's seats and had enough room for bikes, strollers, etc. Plus, kids can't kick the back of the driver seat from way back there. The high-profile made it rock a little in heavy winds, and it rocked like a pickup truck when I pulled out of my driveway and hit dips. On husband's insistence, moved on to an Intrigue sedan - more stylish and fun to drive, but I will be going back to a minivan with my next vehicle.
Nice van, but what a piece of JUNK!!!
Todd,05/23/2008
I loved everything about this van when I first bought it, but oh my god, what a nightmare! I had to trade it in the week that my extended warranty expired. I was scared to keep it without the warranty. Van had 30,000 when I got it and I put 60,000 more on it-in that time the warranty paid out nearly $9000 in covered repairs and not just on 1 or 2 major items. It was $1000 here, $700 there, etc. Van left us stranded on 2 out of town family vacations and gave us problems on several others. Don't buy one of these, even though the purchase price may seem like a really good deal!You will be sorry. Easily the worst vehicle I have ever owned, as far as reliability.
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Features & Specs

MPG
16 city / 23 hwy
Seats 0
4-speed automatic
Gas
180 hp @ 5200 rpm
MPG
16 city / 23 hwy
Seats 0
4-speed automatic
Gas
180 hp @ 5200 rpm
MPG
16 city / 23 hwy
Seats 0
4-speed automatic
Gas
180 hp @ 5200 rpm
MPG
16 city / 23 hwy
Seats 0
4-speed automatic
Gas
180 hp @ 5200 rpm
See all Used 1998 Oldsmobile Silhouette Minivan features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger3 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Poor

More about the 1998 Oldsmobile Silhouette
Used 1998 Oldsmobile Silhouette Minivan Overview

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Should I lease or buy a 1998 Oldsmobile Silhouette?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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