1999 Oldsmobile Alero Reviews and Ratings

Coupe 2D GL

NADAguides Consumer Review

Be the first to review this 1999 Oldsmobile Alero.

Rate This Vehicle

My Rating

Fuel Economy
Interior Comfort
Ride Quality
Overall Rating

My Review

Type your review and click the Submit button
600 of 600 character remain

Expert Reviews ( 1 )

1999 Oldsmobile Alero
Jim McCraw

We recall it as though it were yesterday. Six years ago, we took our first ride in the new Oldsmobile Achieva. It was at a product preview and we were riding in the new Achieva with a representative from Oldsmobile. We hadn't driven 200 feet when we turned to the Oldsmobile representative and said, "You've got to be kidding!" We then went through a long list of the car's deficiencies and asked him if any of the people who designed the Achieva had ever been in or near a Japanese car. He said he wasn't sure--and he was the marketing guy for the car line.

Things sure have changed at Oldsmobile in the past few years.

This time around, the folks at Oldsmobile closely studied the competition from Japan. The result is that the Alero is a vastly superior automobile. And it offers an exceptional value with a long list of features and creature comforts. This makes a worthy competitor for both Japanese and domestic cars--something we could not say for the old Achieva.

The Alero's key competitors include the Ford Contour, Dodge Avenger, Chrysler Sebring and Chrysler Cirrus. But Oldsmobile hopes the Alero will woo buyers away from the Honda Accord, Mitsubishi Eclipse, and Nissan Altima.

The Achieva has been discontinued and we won't miss it. Oldsmobile will also be phasing out the Cutlass. That leaves the Alero as the entry-level car in the Oldsmobile family. Oldsmobile expects to sell about 150,000 Aleros a year, making it the company's volume car line. Walkaround
The Alero shares styling with Oldsmobile's mid-size Intrigue and luxurious Aurora models. This is a good thing. The Aurora is firmly established as Oldsmobile's flagship and the similarly styled Intrigue is doing extremely well in the showrooms. The addition of the Alero successfully creates a unified Oldsmobile family look in the showrooms.

The Alero shares its underpinnings with the all-new 1999 Pontiac Grand Am. These are the only two cars built on this particular platform, and that gave engineers time to make the platform better without worrying about creating variations for four or five sales divisions. The result is a rigid body structure that allowed a suspension to be developed that provides good ride and handling. Tubular door beams and strategically placed foam blocks help guard against side-impact injuries.

Coupe and sedan body styles are available along with a choice of two engines: a 2.4-liter inline-4 and a 3.4-liter V6. Three trim levels are offered: GX, GL, and GLS. A Touring tire and wheel package is available for the top-of-the-line GLS Coupe and Sedan, while a Performance tire and wheel package is available for the GLS coupe.

All Oldsmobile Aleros come standard with a 4-speed automatic transmission. A five-speed manual gearbox is expected to be available for the 2000 model year, but only for the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine.

The standard 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine produces 150 horsepower at 5600 rpm and 155 foot-pounds of torque at 4400 rpm. The 3.4-liter V6 comes standard on GLS models and is optional on GL models. It produces 170 horsepower 4800 rpm and 200 foot-pounds of torque at 4000 rpm. Interior
The Aurora's influence on the Alero appears to carry through to the interior as well. Like the Aurora, the Alero interior is a solid design. Everything seems natural and sensible without being ordinary or boring, a difficult combination to master these days. Instruments are large and legible, located under a deep, curved hood. Audio controls are positioned in the center of the dash above the climate controls, where they belong. The climate control layout uses rotary switches, a familiar design that is elegant and easy to use.

Interior colors, textures, and shapes reinforce our feeling that Oldsmobile's design team benchmarked every Japanese car in the segment as well as some of the domestic competition. It looks rich and expensive inside the Alero and fitment of the pieces was remarkable in the GLS Sedan we drove.

Blocky in design, the Alero's seats look similar to those found in many GM vehicles, but they provide good support when cornering. Interior space is comparable to other cars in this class and my 6-foot, 4-inch frame was comfortably ensconced. We especially liked the seat-mounted three-point seat belts, which move fore and aft with the seat; they seem more comfortable around the shoulder than traditional belts mounted to the door frames. Driving Impressions
We were surprised and delighted that the Alero was so much fun to drive. Everything we hated about the Achieva's weak powertrain and mediocre chassis has been banished from the Alero.

The Alero GLS offers more grip than we would have expected from Oldsmobile's high-end, high-volume family car. Some of this comes from the GLS model's larger P225/50R-16 Goodyear Eagle LS Touring tires mounted on wider alloy wheels. At the same time, there is little harshness or vibration transmitted through to the passengers. The larger tires impart a somewhat heavier feel to the steering. But the steering is responsive and makes the driver feel better connected to the road. Like most cars from GM, there's a slight dead spot at straight-ahead, but overall the package is nicely balanced.

The ride quality is smooth and much more controlled than the Achieva. The Alero feels taut, yet there's a noticeable absence of shimmy and shake and rattles over potholes. Front and rear suspensions comprise MacPherson struts attached to the car with intermediate subframes. This design allows the springs to keep the tires in good contact with the road without transmitting a lot of harshness to occupants. Oldsmobile engineers designed an ultra-stiff floor pan and a compliant suspension with increased travel that provides a level of quietness and smoothness that the Achieva never had. Bushings, springs, strut damping, and front and rear anti-roll bars were all developed to provide the ride and handling performance demanded by import-oriented customers.

The 3.4-liter V6 that came on our GLS is a lineal descendant of the 2.8-liter V6 introduced in 1980. It was later increased to 3.1 liters and then 3.4 liters of displacement. Along the way, it was blessed with hundreds of mechanical and system improvements. It may not be a fire-breather, but it produces more power than most of its competitors.

We also spent some time with the standard 2.4-liter engine. With its relatively flat torque curve, this engine delivers plenty of power around town and offers good acceleration for tackling freeway on-ramps. The four-speed automatic offers smooth, positive shifts and seems a good match for the engine.

The four-speed automatic is the same transmission found in the Oldsmobile Silhouette minivan, but has been recalibrated for quicker downshifting-a welcome improvement.

All Aleros come standard with anti-lock brakes and electronic traction control. Aluminum brake calipers are 20-percent lighter than cast-iron designs; decreasing this unsprung weight reduces oscillations of the wheel over bumps for better handling and a more controlled ride. The traction control system uses ABS wheel-speed sensors that detect when the front wheels are spinning; torque is reduced by upshifting the transmission, retarding ignition timing and, if necessary, cutting fuel to the injectors. Oldsmobile says this system has proven to be more effective than traction control systems that use both power reduction and brake application to maintain control. A switch allows the driver to turn the system off when needed. Summary
The Alero GLS may not break any new ground in the great features race, but it provides a good combination of driving dynamics and safety. It looks like a baby Aurora, it sounds and feels like a Japanese import, and it is attractively priced.

It has been years since people walked into Oldsmobile showrooms looking for smaller cars. After all, the Achieva was not a great product. In a single stroke, however, the Alero erases all the memories of that car and puts a viable candidate in the Oldsmobile stores along with the Aurora, Intrigue, Bravada, Eighty Eight and Silhouette.

Model as tested
GLS Sedan
Basic Warranty
3 years/50,000 miles
Assembled in
Lansing, Michigan
Destination charge
Gas guzzler tax
Base Price
Price as tested
Options as tested

Model Line Overview
Model lineup
Safety equipment (standard)
Dual airbags
Safety equipment (optional)
2.4-liter dohc 16v inline
4-speed automatic

Specifications as Tested
(GLS Sedan) ABS, traction control, air conditioning, passive anti-theft system, cruise control, power steering, power brakes, power mirrors, tinted glass, remote locking/security system, tilt wheel, alloy wheels, AM/FM/cassette/CD stereo, rear defrost

Engine & Transmission
2.4-liter dohc 16v inline
Drivetrain type
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)
170 @ 4800
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm)

Brakes, front/rear
Suspension, front
Suspension, rear

Seating capacity
Head/hip/leg room, middle
Head/hip/leg room, front
Head/hip/leg room, rear

Fuel capacity
Trunk volume
Turning circle
Towing capacity
Track, front/rear
Ground clearance
Curb weight

J.D. Power Rating
Overall Quality Not Available
Overall Quality - Mechanical
Not Available
Powertrain Quality - Mechanical
Not Available
Body & Interior Quality - Mechanical
Not Available
Features & Accessories Quality - Mechanical
Not Available
Overall Quality - Design
Not Available
Powertrain Quality - Design
Not Available
Body & Interior Quality - Design
Not Available
Features & Accessories Quality - Design
Not Available

Overall Dependability Not Available
Powertrain Dependability
Not Available
Body & Interior Dependability
Not Available
Feature & Accessory Dependability
Not Available

Search car listings & find the right car for you
Click here for 1999 Oldsmobile Alero Coupe 2D GL local listings
Vehicle History Report
Get answers to buy with confidence. Save when you purchase multiple reports.
  • Check whether an accident has been reported on the vehicle
  • Check for severe damage, salvage, and theft
Vehicle Identification Number

Car Buying and Selling Resources

Oldsmobiles for Sale
Find 1999 Oldsmobile Alero listings near you.
Car Selling Services
List your car in minutes on AutoTrader.com.
Free Dealer Price Quotes
Get free quotes from dealers near you.
New & Used Auto Loans
Compare real, custom loan offers from multiple lenders in minutes!
Official loan marketplace source of NADAguides.com
Insurance Quote
Get a free insurance quote provided by GEICO and save 15% or more.
Auto Refinance
Is your car payment as low as it should be?

J.D. Power Rating Legend
Among the Best
5 / 5
Better than Most
4 / 5
About Average
3 / 5
The Rest
2 / 5

* The J.D. Power Ratings are calculated based on the range between the car manufacturer or car model with the highest score and the car manufacturer or car model with the lowest score. J.D. Power generates a rating of a five, four, three, or two. If there is insufficient data to calculate a rating, “Not Available” is used in its place.

J.D. Power Ratings may not include all information used to determine J.D. Power awards, visit the Car Ratings page to learn more about awards and ratings.