by Bob McHugh
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“The bigger they are, the further they fall,” is an old saying that’s also applicable to high-priced luxury cars. Rapid depreciation can allow a canny used car hunter to get a loaded-with-all-the-toys big car for a small price. And the full-sized Oldsmobile Aurora, our used car review of the week, is a very fine example of a potential luxo-bargain.
Introduced in 1994 as an early 1995 model, the all-new Oldsmobile Aurora was built on an ultra stiff 25-hertz body platform that it shares with the Buick Riviera. Big and also on the heavy side, this four-door sedan was designed to compete with high-end sporty import challengers from Japan and Europe.
A powerful 250 hp 4.0 litre 32-valve V8 engine drives the front wheels through a 4-speed automatic transmission. A computer-controlled limp-home feature allows the engine to keep running, even if it suffers a total loss of engine coolant. This is achieved by alternately firing just four cylinders, while the other four just pump air and lower internal engine temperatures below the damage point.
Fuel consumption is 14.2 L/100km in city and 8.9 L/100km on highway, which isn’t bad when you consider that it’s pulling almost two tons of hardware around. The variable power-assisted steering is electronic rather than hydraulic and Aurora also came with a better than normal (for GM) 4-year/80,000-km warranty.
The sleek exterior is free of the then-familiar Oldsmobile rocket badges or anything, for that matter, to indicate who manufactured it. Inside, the Aurora has a luxurious and roomy interior that features a cockpit style dash panel that surrounds the driver. Leather upholstery is standard. Additional audio controls are on the steering wheel and a dual-zone climate control system completes a deluxe passenger environment.
Enhancements to the Aurora in 1996 included a revised keyless entry system with new features added. Larger front brakes, lightweight aluminium suspension components, an in-dash CD player for a BOSE sound system highlighted the improvements made in 1997. An interesting new feature also added that year was a tilt-down right-outside mirror that enhances the driver’s view of close objects, whenever the shifter is placed in reverse. The 1998 version of Aurora had a few relatively minor refinement changes to the brakes, suspension, steering and emissions controls.
A malfunctioning warning system that signals both “key in the ignition” and that the driver seat belt is unbuckled with a chime and an indicator lamp, was the subject of a limited recall on some Aurora’s made in ’96. Dealers will inspect and, if required, will replace the “mall module”.
Combining size, luxury and spirited performance, a previously-owned Oldsmobile Aurora could be that dream-machine you’ve always wanted, but never thought you could afford.
Oldsmobile Aurora Used Prices (Canadian Red Book, January 2002)
Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.