Oldsmobile Alero

"Beginning with the exterior form, we wanted an uncluttered but distinct design for Alero which set it apart from all else and signaled that this isn't just another car out of a GM mold," said Alero's chief designer, Kip Wasenko.

Initial plans for Alero called for a car fashioned from the same structure as Chevrolet's Malibu sedan, but Wasenko confided that overall dimensions and shape of such a family car did not work with the type of dynamic and sporty lines he hoped to achieve with Alero. Thus, Wasenko proposed a switch to a lower platform — the one supporting Oldsmobile's Cutlass sedan — and the ultimate fluid lines evident on Alero trace to that switch.

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The design of the Alero was originally previewed in 1997 with the Alero Alpha concept car, a futuristic V6-powered sport coupe that featured many design elements seen in the production Alero as well as some that were never meant for production.

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The Alero shares styling with Oldsmobile's mid-size Intrigue and luxurious Aurora models. The Aurora was firmly established as Oldsmobile's flagship and the similarly styled Intrigue was doing extremely well in the showrooms. The addition of the Alero successfully created a unified Oldsmobile family look in the showrooms.

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Typically for a domestic model, the Alero shared its General Motors "N-Body" platform and much of its running gear with two other GM cars: the redesigned Pontiac Grand Am that was introduced in 1999 and the 1997-2004 Chevrolet Malibu. Oddly enough, given Pontiac's propensity for "excitement," the Alero tended to be the sportier of the two, with a tighter suspension and less garish looks. Pricing was a little different too, with the Alero's M.S.R.P. starting out cheaper at the low end of the range and topping out higher for fully loaded models.

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The Alero was also sold in select European countries as the Chevrolet Alero, although only available as a sedan. The car still featured its Oldsmobile badges even though sold under the Chevrolet brand, since most European consumers would not recognize what the badge stood for. Chevrolet badges were added to the grille and rear fascia during the 2000 model year. Since the phase-out of the Alero, it was replaced in Europe and Canada by the GM Daewoo-sourced Chevrolet Evanda/Epica.

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Year to Year Changes

2000 Oldsmobile Alero: A 5-speed manual transmission supplied by Getrag was available for 2000. "GL" models came in three levels: 1, 2, and 3, the latter equipped with the V6 engine. Manual shift was standard on GX and GL1 versions, with automatic an option. Three child-seat anchors on the rear parcel shelf were new this year. A new Sport package for GLs included the firmer performance suspension, previously reserved only for the GLS, including 16-inch alloy wheels and wider tires.

2001 Oldsmobile Alero: Alero's V6 engine was more widely available this year, newly optional for the GL and GL2, and additional standard equipment was installed. The GL3 edition was dropped. GX models gained power windows, cruise control and a standard CD player. The GL1 added keyless remote entry, while the GL2 gained a sport suspension and rear spoiler. In December 2001, General Motors announced that the Oldsmobile brand would begin a phaseout, but Aleros continued into the 2002 model year.

2002 Oldsmobile Alero: GX and GL1 models got a 140-hp 2.2-liter 4-cyl engine. It replaced the 150-hp 2.4, which had lower EPA fuel-economy ratings.

2003 Oldsmobile Alero: Available XM satellite radio and deletion of standard antilock brakes on lower-line models were the only significant changes for 2003.

2004 Oldsmobile Alero: Alero remains unchanged for 2004.

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A supposed preview of the planned replacement for the Alero was shown in 2001 with the unveiling of the Oldsmobile O4 concept, designed by Bertone. The car was an open top 4-seater with European styling but some Oldsmobile traits, and powered by the latest Ecotec I4 engine. The name had multiple meanings, including "Oldsmobile 4-Seater" as well as implying the year 2004 as a planned date for production.

Just weeks before the O4's unveiling, GM announced the phase out of the Oldsmobile brand. By the time of the O4's unveiling, the O4 was called the GM O4, with the Oldsmobile name taken out.
Alero was Oldsmobile's last compact car as well as the last vehicle sold under the brand.

 

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References:
1) www.thecarconnection.com/fullreview/oldsmobile_alero_1999
2) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alero
3) automotive.com/1999/43/oldsmobile/alero/reviews/walkaround/
index.html
4) canadiandriver.com/articles/cc/99-04alero.htm
5) consumerguideauto.howstuffworks.com/
1999-to-2004-oldsmobile-alero-6.htm