By Bob McHugh
Achieva joined the Oldsmobile product line as a replacement for the Calais for the 1992 model year. Sharing both a common platform and mechanical components with fellow GM vehicles, the Pontiac Grand Am and Buick Skylark, Achieva is the one with clean simple styling lines and a smart ‘business suit’-like appeal.
A compact two-door coupe or four-door sedan, Achieva also offered the buyer a choice of S or SL trim-levels. The first two years of production were without air bags, however every Achieva came with, what was at that time, a class leading active-safety feature – an anti-lock braking system.
The four-cylinder engine choices were a SOHC 2.3 litre motor rated at 120 horsepower and a DOHC high-output 2.3 litre, know as the Quad IV, that’s rated at 160 hp. A 3.3 litre V6 was another option and although it’s also rated at 160 hp, it has a lot more muscle (185 lb/ft torque @ 2000 rpm) at low engine speeds. Of the three engines the one to avoid is the Quad IV, which is known to have cylinder head and valve gear problems.
The base engine with a 5-speed manual transmission has a city fuel consumption rating of 9.4 L/100 km (30 mpg) and 6.1 L/100 km (46 mpg) on the highway. The other and generally better transmission is a conventional but very reliable three-speed automatic.
In ’93 some changes were made to reduce engine noise and a battery run-down protection system was added. A new and clever rear seatbelt adapter that adjusts the shoulder belt to make it fit small children better was also included. On the down side, some of the ’93s have a faulty transmission neutral start switch that can cause a no-start condition or allow the engine to be started in gear.
A new lighter and more fuel-efficient 3.1 litre V6 and a new 4-speed automatic transmission were offered for the first time in ’94. A driver side air bag and CFC-free air conditioning were also added to the standard features list. However, some ’94 Achieva’s may have rear compartment pan welds that do not meet manufacturing standards.
In ’95 an extra 25 hp was squeezed out of the base engine and balance shafts were added to make it run smoother. A new ‘spring on centre’ rear suspension improved ride and handling and variable effort power steering was added with the V6 engine option.
For some unknown reason, Oldsmobile dropped the SC coupe and SL sedan trim levels in ’95, leaving just the S coupe and S sedan. Then in ’96 it did a flip-flop and dropped the base ‘S’ trim and brought back the SC coupe and SL sedan.
The ’96 Achieva also came with a new 2.4 litre 4-cylinder engine, which had more low-end torque. An ‘enhanced’ traction control system was added to the automatic transmission option and a revised interior included a passenger side air bag. Adjustable front shoulder belts came with the sedan version and GM’s excellent PASSLock anti-theft system was embedded in a new two-sided key.
Recalls on the ’96 Achieva include a faulty hazard warning lamp (four-way flasher), a problem with deployment of the passenger side air bag and a “possessed” interior light that turns itself on and off.
The relatively short production life of the Oldsmobile Achieva ended with the 1997 model year. There were no changes of any importance, however some of the ’97s may be missing a cover on the under-hood fuse centre. If left unprotected this could eventually lead to an electrical short.
The constantly evolving Oldsmobile Achieva received numerous changes and modifications during its six-year existence. By the time it was pulled out of
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.