1995 Oldsmobile Aurora: Too Innovative?
First the good: The car handles wonderfully for a full size. The magna-steer makes the steering feel the same at any speed. Very little sway or roll on corners or clover leafs. Excellent acceleration and braking. The throaty growl of the 4.0 Northstar motor is exhilarating. The interior is quiet even at highway speeds. At night the cockpit is surrounded with soft aqua backlighting, making the gauges, command center, Steering wheel and door mounted controls very easy on the eyes. The gas mileage is surprisingly good for a V-8 in a vehicle this size. You can get 27 to 30 at 60 mph. With its 20 gallon tank, I drove from VA Beach to FL and didn't have to stop for gas until almost Savannah. The design of the AC system with the blower away from the cabin makes the circulation of air much quieter than most cars, even on high. There were only 5 options available: heated seats, sunroof, chrome wheels, BOSE stereo, and what they called Autobahn Package which was a different geared transmission paired with Michelin speed rated tires. EVERYTHING else possible was already standard equipment. It has ABS and stainless exhaust neither of which I have had to service since I've had the car (7 yrs and 45k miles). The body is galvanized steel and the hood, aluminum. You will never see rust on an Aurora. The visual design, with its ray-like nose, sweeping roof-line and accentuated wheel stance was ahead of its time. There was nothing remotely like it on the road when it came out. Considering the pittance you can buy one of these for nowadays, almost any Aurora is a bargain.
Now the bad news. As with any new design, certain flaws arise, some of which were never corrected. The engine has poor oil seal design and its main upper/rear seal was already leaking when I bought it with 77k miles. The dealer quoted me $2300 to fix it. "Um... no." The plastic air dam intended to draw air up through the radiator can come loose in front, catching the wind and essentially blanketing the radiator, causing the car to overheat. This cause often goes undetected, as it its only happens while the car is at speed. MANY overheating problems are due to this easily repairable problem. Note: Auroras normally run a little hotter as they age. I've never found an explanation for this. There is a FUEL RAIL RECALL (fire hazard) for model years '95 through(?) I finally had mine replaced early this year at NO COST.
The rest of these items are of less importance. Because of a tight engine compartment, Old's got creative with placement of: the Starter (under the intake manifold, essentially INSIDE the engine) and the Battery (under the back seat). The gas gauge is deceptive, barely moving from FULL the first 100 miles, and dropping faster as you approach 1/4, at which point you may have 3 gallons left. The rear window has a tendency to distort the appearance of anything in the central horizontal line. While the interior is roomy and durable, you will eventually hit the protruding lip of the dash cover (where it meets the door panel) with your knee, while entering, and crack it. The "innovative" fold-away cup holder on the front console is essentially useless for any container, and there is no suitable alternative surface. If you replace the stereo with an aftermarket model you CANNOT retain use of the steering mounted radio and climate controls.
I have heard of a myriad of other varied issues with Auroras, but none seem to be chronic to the model.
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