The 2003 Oldsmobile Alero provides a nicely styled car with an impressive list of standard features that offers some performance. For the price, the standard model offers a lot, and most in-class rivals don’t have what it takes to eclipse the Alero as all-around quality vehicle.
Body Styles: sedan, coupe
Engines: 2.2-liter four-cylinder, 3.4-liter V-6
Transmissions: four-speed automatic, five-speed manual
Models: Oldsmobile Alero GX sedan, Oldsmobile Alero GL1 sedan, Oldsmobile Alero GL2 sedan, Oldsmobile Alero GLS sedan, Oldsmobile Alero GX coupe, Oldsmobile Alero GL1 coupe, Oldsmobile Alero GL2 coupe, Oldsmobile Alero GLS coupe
For 2003, the Alero expands its scope of available audio features by offering XM satellite radio as an option, the only Oldsmobile to do so.
The 2003 Oldsmobile Alero comes in two body styles: sedan and coupe. Both body styles offer four trim levels: GX, GL1, GL2, and GLS. The base GX trim includes 15-inch steel wheels, an independent touring suspension, an automatic transmission, a rear window defroster, and automatic headlights. The GL1 adds alloy wheels, power door mirrors, and front fog lights. The performance-oriented GL2 adds a spoiler. The GLS doesn’t really add anything to the exterior of the Alero. A power moonroof remains optional for all models, and all coupe trims get the rear spoiler.
On the inside the GX comes standard with air-conditioning, cruise control, a tilt steering wheel, power steering, and an AM/FM stereo with a CD player. The GL1 adds remote keyless entry, leather trim on the steering wheel and shift knob, and a power driver’s seat. The GL2 looks similar to the GL1 on the inside, and the top-tier GLS adds leather upholstery and the OnStar communication system. XM Satellite radio remains an available option for all Aleros.
The interior of the 2003 Oldsmobile Alero has impressive ergonomics, but the material quality of some parts seems inferior. The build quality seems decent, and the design offers a lot of space. The cabin, generally speaking, feels comfortable but not luxurious. The amount of standard features seems good for the price, but some rivals have a much higher-quality interior that seems more comfortable and luxurious.
Performance & Handling
The Alero uses a 140-horsepower, 2.2-liter, four-cylinder engine that develops 150 lb-ft of torque as the standard power source in the GX and GL1 and remains optional in the GL2. The GL2 marks the performance-oriented Alero. The four-cylinder mates with either a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmission. The automatic transmission only comes as an option for use with the 170-horsepower, 3.4-liter V-6 that produces 200 lb-ft of torque. This engine comes standard in the GL2 and GLS and as an option in the GL1. All 2003 Oldsmobile Alero models use front drive. The performance of the four-cylinder seems predictably common and mediocre. The V-6 models run the zero to 60 mph sprint in about eight seconds, offering some performance fun, and they handle well in traffic.
The Alero handles ok, but not nearly as well as some class-leading rivals. The steering feels heavy and jittery and while the Alero does well in long, wide curves, it has problems when trying to change direction quickly. It feels solid in terms of grip in other situations. The models with the anti-lock brake system move predictably well. At high speeds over rough pavement the Alero tends to get unstable. The ride falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum being neither harsh nor posh, but just kind of ok and dependent on the terrain.
The Alero suffers from some wind noise and a lot of tire noise.
The 2003 Oldsmobile Alero offers standard safety gear that includes traction control, electronic brake force distribution, daytime running lights, and basic front airbags. Anti-lock brakes come standard only on GL2 and GLS models. The IIHS has not performed any crash safety tests on the Alero. In NHTSA testing the Alero earns five out of five stars for passenger safety, four stars for driver, rollover, and side-impact rear safety, but only one star for side-impact front safety. The Alero seems solid on safety, although some low crash test scores cause concern about occupant protection.
EPA Fuel Economy
Oldsmobile Alero GX: 21/30 mpg city/highway
Oldsmobile Alero GL1: 21/30 mpg city/highway
Oldsmobile Alero GL2: 18/27 mpg city/highway
Oldsmobile Alero GLS: 18/27 mpg city/highway
- Standard features
- Ergonomic interior
You Won't Like
- Some inferior interior trim
- Resale value
- Uncommunicative steering
Nice looking, feature-filled, and well-handling car takes its last ride.
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