The 2003 Oldsmobile Silhouette minivan shares a great many traits with its GM siblings, although it tends to offer more features and better power and handling. It leads the class, and only the Chrysler Town & Country can truly compete with the Silhouette at this price point. This marks one of the more recommendable minivans although it has a few issues with crash safety that weigh on most buyers’ minds, since the minivan typically serves as a family car. Otherwise the Silhouette has a lot going for it.
Body Styles: minivan
Engines: 3.4-liter V-6
Transmissions: four-speed automatic
Models: Silhouette GL, Silhouette GLS, Silhouette Premiere
For 2003, two-wheel-drive models of the Silhouette get traction control and 16-inch wheels as standard equipment.
The 2003 Oldsmobile Silhouette minivan comes in three trims: GL, GLS, and Premiere. The GL features 16-inch alloy wheels, a rear wiper, a rear defogger, a roof rack, sliding doors on both sides, an auto-leveling suspension, power door mirrors, and heated door mirrors. The GLS adds power to the driver’s side sliding door, a reverse sensing system, and the option for all-wheel drive and/or four-wheel independent suspension. The Premiere adds power to the passenger-side sliding door, a feature that remains optional for the GLS. Oldsmobile doesn’t offer any standalone options for the exterior.
In the cabin the GL starts off with plenty of gear: cruise control, rear HVAC, air-conditioning, remote keyless entry, a tilt steering wheel, OnStar, an audio system with AM/FM plus a CD player and rear audio controls, and a power driver’s seat. The GLS adds memory seat settings, dual-zone climate control, steering wheel audio controls, a power passenger seat, leather upholstery, and leather trim on the steering wheel. The Premiere trim includes an entertainment system and heated front seats. Standalone options remain sparse as almost everything comes with one of the three trims.
While the interior has some build quality issues, most of the materials seem sound. The cabin feels comfortable and spacious with a nice ergonomic situation. People have little to say about the design, which looks typical for Oldsmobile. The 2003 Oldsmobile Silhouette actually provides quite a bit of luxury for this price range and has just about everything a buyer could ask for without moving up a few classes to the real luxury price range.
Performance & Handling
The Silhouette shares the same power plant with its GM and Chevy label mates: a 185-horsepower, 3.4-liter V-6 that produces 210 lb-ft of torque and hooks up to a four-speed-automatic transmission. The Versatrak all-wheel drive remains available for the GLS and Premiere editions, while front drive comes standard. The Silhouette has decent acceleration from a stop or with a head of steam already built up. As such it should handle most if not all traffic situations. Acceleration off the line slows down because of the weight added from the all-wheel drive, but it doesn’t affect performance otherwise.
Handling feels rather sporty, or at least more so than average for a minivan. The 2003 Oldsmobile Silhouette suffers worse body lean than average for a minivan, but overall the Silhouette maneuvers well and almost feels agile.
The ride quality seems more than good with a soft and absorbent suspension aided by the optional load-leveling feature. Noise can be an issue in certain areas of the cabin, especially wind at highway speeds and tire sounds from bumps.
The 2003 Oldsmobile Silhouette includes standard safety equipment such as anti-lock brakes, side-impact airbags for the front seats, traction control, electronic brake force distribution, and a remote anti-theft system. A rear parking-assist system comes standard on the GLS and Premiere models. This feature gives an audible warning when the vehicle comes close to an obstacle while backing up.
Crash safety test scores come in a mixed bag for the Silhouette. In NHTSA testing, the Silhouette earns five out of five starts for side-impact front safety, four stars for passenger, driver, and side-impact rear safety, and three stars for rollover safety. In the only IIHS test conducted for frontal-offset crash safety, the Silhouette receives the lowest rating of ?Poor.? For minivan buyers placing a priority on all-around safety, it’s best to shop around.
EPA Fuel Economy
Oldsmobile Silhouette GL: 17/24 mpg city/highway
Oldsmobile Silhouette GLS: 17/24 mpg city/highway
Oldsmobile Silhouette Premiere: 17/24 mpg city/highway
- Standard features
- Optional features
- Available all-wheel drive
You Won't Like
- Interior build quality
- Resale value
- Some low crash test scores
Luxury, feature-filled minivan at the head of its class for now.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Mazda MPV
- Chrysler Town & Country
- Chevrolet Venture
- Toyota Sienna
- Honda Odyssey
- Ford Windstar