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


2001 Oldsmobile Aurora


2001 Oldsmobile Aurora


2001 Oldsmobile Aurora interior


2002 Oldsmobile Aurora


2002 Oldsmobile Aurora

Pros:
  • Acceleration (V8)
  • Passenger room
Cons:
  • Climate controls
  • Rear visibility

Few other sedans in this class offer a V8, but an Aurora isn’t likely to tempt Lexus or BMW owners. Even so, this is a pleasant, slightly sporty sedan that should appeal to value-minded near-luxury buyers. Resale-value dropoff due to the decline of the Oldsmobile brand could produce some good buys on the used-car market.

Overview

Oldsmobile’s near-luxury Aurora was redesigned for a spring 2000 debut, as a 2001 model. In the fall, Oldsmobile’s flagship gained a standard automatic load leveling suspension. GM’s OnStar system became standard on all Auroras in fall 2000.

Smaller than the 1995-99 first-generation design in most dimensions, the 21st century Aurora shared its basic platform with the Buick LeSabre and Pontiac Bonneville. Both V6 and V8 engines were offered. The only transmission was a four-speed automatic. Certain rivals, such as the Lincoln LS and Acura TL, offered a five-speed automatic.

Seating five, the Aurora had standard front side airbags, antilock four-wheel disc brakes, automatic climate control, leather upholstery, and wood interior trim. The V8 versions rode 17-inch wheels, in place of the V6’s 16-inchers, and included traction control and Oldsmobile’s antiskid Precision Control System. Both of those systems were optional with V6 sedans.

Yearly Updates

2002 Aurora
Oldsmobile’s flagship lost its V6 version part way into the 2002 model year, as part of GM’s phaseout of the Olds brand. A tire-inflation monitor was standard. New for 2002 was a “navigational radio” system that stored maps on CDs and gave directions via a dashboard-mounted screen or by audio instructions. Chrome exhaust tips became standard for 2002.
2003 Aurora
For the Aurora’s final year, the V6 engine was gone and all models used V8 power. Production came to a halt in late spring of 2003. The final 500 Auroras had Collector Edition trim with special wheels, paint, and badging.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

In 2001-02, Auroras came with a choice of dual-overhead-cam engines. The 3.5 liter V6 produced 215 horsepower, versus 250 hp for the 4.0-liter V8. Both engines drove a four-speed automatic transmission. Only the V8 remained into the 2003 model year.

dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.5/212
Engine HP 215
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 230
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

18/27

21

dohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.0/244
Engine HP 250
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 260
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

18/26

14.1

Road Test

Oldsmobile’s Aurora was a credible attempt at an import-flavored near-luxury sedan, but a nose-heavy front-wheel-drive configuration keeps it from being as athletic as most European sport sedans. Overly firm suspension settings upset body control on rough pavement, resulting in an unsettled, stiff-kneed ride–not unlike a Cadillac Seville STS. That drawback apart, the suspension copes comfortably with most surfaces and the steering provides good feedback.

In acceleration, the V6 proves to be a pleasant surprise, feeling nearly as strong as a V8 from a stop, and also in highway passing situations. Impressive at all speeds, the V8 has the edge in 30-50 mph passing response. Automatic transmissions are different for each engine, but both are smooth and alert.

Fuel economy can vary considerably. A test V6 Aurora averaged 21 mpg, and a V8 just 14.1 mpg. Oldsmobile has recommended 89-octane fuel for both engines.

A stiff structure helps keep wind and tire noise low. Engines are fairly subdued even when pushed, though they don’t sound as classy as the best import brands. Braking is strong and drama-free, although some Auroras tested when new had an overly firm brake pedal that was difficult to modulate.

Despite its trimmer exterior dimensions, the 2001-03 Aurora is roomier than the original version. Six-footers get plenty of knee clearance in front or back, and have more than adequate head room even with the intrusion of a sunroof. Adjustments are sufficient so any driver can get comfortably situated, although the front lumbar support might feel too prominent.

Though spacious, back-seat comfort is subpar. The cushion is too small and too soft to provide much support. Entry/exit poses no problems.

The dashboard layout generally works well, although the audio unit sits low in the center and requires a long look away from the road to adjust. Redundant steering-wheel audio buttons help. Climate controls are a tad complex, too. Aurora’s transmission gear selector has a notched gate that encourages do-it-yourself shifting, though it’s not as precise as the separate shift gate on such rivals as the Acura TL and Lincoln LS.

Visibility directly astern is marred by the high tail and a bulky center stoplamp. The trunk is generous, with a large opening and low liftover, but the lid hinges dip into the cargo area. Padded interior surfaces abound, and real wood is a genuine luxury. But these upscale cues were mitigated by creaking dashboard panels on most Auroras tested as new cars.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2001 Oldsmobile Aurora V8

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.

Performance

Acceleration - 7
70%
Fuel Economy - 3
30%
Ride Quality - 6
60%
Steering/Handling - 6
60%
Quietness - 7
70%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Front - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Rear - 5
50%
Cargo Room - 4
40%

Other

Value - 3
30%

Total: 53

Specifications

4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
112.2 199.3 72.9 56.7
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
14.9 18.5 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.6 37.7 42.5 38.0
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2001 Aurora 4-door sedan

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
80%
Front Passenger Injury - 4
80%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

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

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Air conditioner
Description: Body joints in the area of the cabin air filter allow water to saturate the filter, causing poor A/C and defroster performance, especially at high blower speed. (2001-02)
Air conditioner
Description: On early production vehicles, the temperature sensor in the air conditioning compressor pops out causing refrigerant loss and no A/C. (2001)
Poor transmission shift
Description: Late shifts and flares between shifts may be due to a faulty shift solenoid. (2001)
Poor transmission shift
Description: Certain transmissions may suffer harsh engagement in reverse (2001); delayed upshifts (2001); slipping in 4th gear (2001); or poor pickup, slips, delayed shifts, and flares (2001-02).
Steering noise
Description: A problem with the power steering gear valve causes a moaning noise during slow speed turns. (2001-02)
Electrical problem
Description: A loose electrical connector at the transmission illuminates the check engine light and makes shifting rough. (2000-03)

Recall History

2001
Description: Brake hydraulic control unit may have internal leak, leading to failure of rear brake proportioning, antilock brake, traction control, or stability control features. Dealers will inspect the ABS hydraulic modulator and replace the hydraulic modulator if necessary.
2002-03
Description: Driver’s side airbag inflator could fracture at a weld during a deployment, leading to potential injury. Dealers will inspect, and replace if necessary, the driver side air bag module assembly.
2002-03 V8
Description: Faulty fuel tank sensors may have been installed in certain vehicles, leading to fuel leakage. Dealer will inspect and replace all affected parts.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

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.