Midsize car; Built in USA
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,400 – $2,400*

1998 Oldsmobile Cutlass

1997 Oldsmobile Cutlass

1998 Oldsmobile Cutlass interior

1997 Oldsmobile Cutlass

1997 Oldsmobile Cutlass

  • Acceleration
  • Standard antilock brakes
  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Engine noise
  • Steering feel

Unlike the midsize Intrigue that debuted for 1998, Oldsmobile’s Cutlass catered to conservative American tastes. Performance and accommodations are similar to the Chevrolet V6 Malibu. Offering an admirable blend of utility, driving fun, and features, Cutlass and its Chevrolet Malibu counterpart are intermediate-sized sedans that warrant serious consideration. They score well in both quality and value.


Oldsmobile launched a new midsize sedan with an old name for 1997, to replace the aged Cutlass Ciera–which had often been the company’s best-selling model. Sharing basic structure and styling with the also-new Chevrolet Malibu, the latest Cutlass came with a higher level of standard equipment. Differences included a standard 3.1-liter V6 engine (an option on Malibu), as well as styling and trim variations. For one more year, Oldsmobile continued to offer a Cutlass Supreme, continuing the confusion about Cutlass models. Two price levels were offered: base and GLS. Standard equipment included air conditioning, antilock brakes, power locks, a split folding rear seat, daytime running lights–plus a system that automatically turned on headlights, taillights, and dashboard lights when darkness fell. Weighing about the same as the previous Ciera, the new Cutlass was 400 pounds lighter than a Cutlass Supreme. Its engine was borrowed form the Supreme. Only a 4-speed automatic transmission was available. Rivals included the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, and Toyota Camry.

Yearly Updates

1998 Cutlass
Oldsmobile finally dropped the Cutlass Supreme, leaving only the one model with a Cutlass name. Cutlass stood at the entry-level end of the midsize class, while the new Olds Intrigue occupied the higher spot. A new GL replaced the previous base model, including a cassette player and a smoker’s kit (ashtray and lighter) as standard fare. The instrument panel’s background changed from gray to black, to produce more contrast.
1999 Cutlass
Emergence of the compact Alero and midsize Intrigue were making Cutlass redundant, so 1999 was its final season. Changes were limited to a newly optional Gold Package that featured gold-accented exterior trim.


transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Cutlass buyers had no choices beneath the hood. All models held a 3.1-liter V6 engine, driving a 4-speed automatic transmission.

ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.1/191
Engine HP 150-160
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 180-185
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic



Road Test

Acceleration is strong off the line and around town, and the V6 engine is smooth, but Cutlass does not feel markedly more energetic at highway speeds. The automatic transmission shifts without jarring. Our main complaint has been the coarse-sounding 3.1-liter V6 engine, failing to exhibit the refinement of a Camry or Accord.

Charging down a freeway off-ramp may produce substantial body lean, as well as tire scrubbing. Steering is a little slow and vague, too, during spirited cornering. Most owners aren’t likely to push it that hard. In daily driving situations, Cutlass feels agile, maneuverable, and secure. Most of the time, steering response is quick and handling competent. Cutlasses ride comfortably and stably on the highway. Although the well-controlled suspension prevents Cutlass from floating as much as some other GM cars and absorbs rough pavement quite well, there’s a lot of suspension and tire thumping over ruts and potholes. Wind noise is tolerable, but the level of engine and tire noise yields less-than-serene cruising. Braking power is adequate, with good pedal modulation and moderate nosedive in hard braking.

For four adults, Cutlass is spacious for its size. Front head room is adequate and leg room more than adequate all around. Rear head room is sufficient for folks under 6 feet tall. Front bucket seats are firm and nicely contoured, but the rear bench is harder and flatter than it should be. The interior has an airy feeling, thanks to large windows. Gauges are large and clear. Radio and climate controls are easy to reach and use, as are convenient stalks for wipers and headlamps. Interior storage space ranks above average, including a large glovebox, generously sized center console/armrest, and front-door map pockets.

Trunk space is generous, helped by a flat floor, huge opening, and a near-bumper-level sill to ease loading. Thin roof pillars and large outside mirrors offer good visibility. However, the rear parcel shelf is high enough to block the driver’s view of the trunk while backing up.


Model Tested: 1999 Oldsmobile Cutlass GL/GLS

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 4
Fuel Economy - 5
Ride Quality - 5
Steering/Handling - 4
Quietness - 5


Controls/Materials - 6
Room/Comfort Front - 5
Room/Comfort Rear - 4
Cargo Room - 3


Value - 5

Total: 46


4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
107.0 192.0 69.4 56.9
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
17.0 15.2 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.4 37.6 42.1 38.0
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1999 Cutlass 4-door sedan


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
Front Passenger Injury - 4

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 1
Rear Passenger Injury - 3


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 70
Injury 72
Theft 21

Trouble Spots

Alarm system
Description: If the key reminder continues to sound after the key is removed from the ignition and the power door locks do not work, the lock cylinder must be replaced. (1997-99)
Climate control
Description: The accelerator cable can jump off the throttle cam making the pedal hard to press. (1997)
Door handles
Description: On white cars, the door handles turn yellow from the lock-cylinder grease. The company will replace the cylinders under warranty and there is a colorless grease available. (1997-99)
Description: The power door locks fail, due to a rubber part breaking on the actuator arm inside the door. (1997)
Description: Because of the way it is routed, passengers can accidentally disconnect the antenna cable with their foot. (1997-99)
Description: The leather on the bucket seatback wears prematurely and the company will replace the seat cover and install extra padding under warranty. (1997-99)
Suspension noise
Description: Noises from the front end may require replacement of the lower control arms or rack-and-pinion. (1997-98)

Recall History

Description: A buildup of snow or ice restricts the movement of the passenger-side windshield-wiper arm, the pivot housing can crack and the wipers will not operate.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.