Kelley Blue Book ® - 2003 Oldsmobile Alero Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2003 Oldsmobile Alero Overview

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Get One While You Still Can

The Alero is nearing the end of its time in this world, as is all of Oldsmobile. But unlike so many other companies that have passed into history, Oldsmobile has the backing of the largest car company in the world, so any concerns about service or parts availability should not deter you from putting a car like the Alero at the top of your shopping list. The Alero shares a common platform with the Pontiac Grand Am and most of their mechanicals are interchangeable. General Motors has assured Olds customers that it will keep a large inventory of body and trim pieces, so you'll never have to go hunting to find replacement parts. And the General is backing all Oldsmobiles with a 5-year/60,000 mile warranty. If all this sounds to you like General Motors is bending over backwards to reassure Oldsmobile buyers, you'd be right on the money. Though the Olds name is being retired, the product line as it stands may be one of the best in decades and certainly contains some of the most stylish and sophisticated designs in the General Motors portfolio—a shining example resides in the midsized Oldsmobile Alero.

As we mentioned earlier, the Alero shares its body, engine and transmission with the Pontiac Grand Am. Unlike the Grand Am, Oldsmobile has chosen not to adorn the car with additional body cladding and racy add-ons, opting instead to let the smooth clean sheet metal make its own statement. The result is a truly lovely midsized sedan and coupe with a European-like charm. The sleek wedge-shape is tapered by rounded edges and punctuated by two over-sized taillight assemblies that make the Alero unmistakable when viewed from the rear. There are four trim levels in the Alero lineup, they include: GX, GL 4cyl., GL V6 and GLS.

For 2003, GX and GL trims are powered by GM's all-new Ecotec 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine. We think this is one of the best four-cylinder engines ever produced by GM; it provides great low-end torque, silky-smooth operation and great gas mileage. The Ecotec was designed in conjunction with GM's Opel and Saab divisions and employs many features found on much more expensive six- and eight-cylinder engines; like counter rotating balance shafts to quell vibration and hydraulic roller finger valve operation for better engine breathing with less mechanical noise. The Alero is also the only Oldsmobile to offer an optional five-speed manual transmission, which is available only with the Ecotec engine. We think you'll enjoy the sporty feeling the Getrag-built 5-speed manual imparts on the Alero and you'll definitely love the way it helps get the most from the 140-horsepower 2.2-liter engine. Of course you can always rely on GM's excellent 4-speed automatic, which is standard on all Aleros. If more power is your preference, the Alero GL V6 and GLS provide it in abundance. A 3.4-liter V6 engine is standard on both trims and with an output of 170 horsepower it delivers smooth, linear acceleration and abundant torque for passing and climbing.

On the road, you'll find the Alero to have exceptional manners. As you would expect from an Oldsmobile, the ride is smooth and controlled, but a pleasant surprise awaits you upon your first s-curve; the Alero is also an adept road car. Oldsmobile chose stiffer shock and spring rates than other GM divisions giving the Alero an edge over its distant cousins. For the Alero GLS, Olds has designed an especially nice Performance Suspension Package that includes 16-inch wheels and tires and an even stiffer performance suspension.

We'd be shirking our duties if we didn't mention the Alero's tasteful interior. The clean lines, simple design and choice of quality materials easily make this one of the best interior layouts in the midsized-sedan class. GX, GL1 and GL2 Aleros feature standard bucket seats covered in a luxurious brushed cloth that also adorns the door panels. Standard features include ABS, cruise control, air conditioning, AM/FM/CD with six speakers, power door locks and traction control. The GL1 adds a power height-adjustable driver's seat, power windows, power mirrors, keyless entry and 15-inch alloy wheels. The top-of-the-line GLX adds in everything else but the kitchen sink and includes a gorgeous leather interior with a stitch pattern and seat design that could easily have come from Cadillac.

In all, the Alero is an outstanding vehicle, and it brings a tear to our eye when we think it will cease to exist after 2004. Our advice: Get one while the getting is good.

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