1995 OLDSMOBILE CUTLASS CIERA 4 DOOR SEDAN
Used Car - 1995 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera 4 DOOR SEDAN in Spokane Valley, Wa
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1995 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera ReviewThis car review is specific to this model, not the actual vehicle for sale.
A good value that refuses to disappear.
Wines improve with age, but only up to a point. The same is true of vehicles.
Oldsmobile's venerable Cutlass Ciera line is an excellent case in point. True, after 12 years on the market, Olds has made many modest - and even some major - improvements to the Ciera, wagons and sedans alike.
But even cupholders aren't enough to disguise the fact that this is unquestionably one of the most dated designs in the midsize wagon segment.
But before we dismiss the Ciera wagon out of hand, let's consider the buzzword of the '90s: value. In the Ciera, the word rates a capital V.
If you're not worried about styling or technology - if you want cargo space and transportation with an affordable price tag - maybe this is the car you've been looking for.
At $18,078 rolling out the dealer doors, our '95 Ciera wagon tester came in thousands of dollars under the cost of many of its more modern competitors.
Another plus: Oldsmobile has had plenty of time to work out most of the bugs. The Ciera wagon's reliability has improved dramatically in recent years. It has ranked at the top of the J.D. Power and Associates charts in terms of defects per vehicle, an impressive achievement.
So whether you're hauling a passel of kids or a pile of packages, it's nice to know you've got dependable wheels.
Our '95 Ciera SL tester was a preproduction model, and accordingly, we agreed to overlook glitches that would presumably be absent in a showroom-ready vehicle. Why the preproduction caveat should include odd variations in body-panel fit is a mystery, though. There are no changes in the Ciera's styling, which means these same body panels have been around for a long time. Olds has had a dozen years to get this right.
The biggest change to this year's Ciera is a small but welcome one. The fake woodgrain trim used on the previous Ciera's inner door panels is gone, and good riddance. It was a look that anchored the Ciera in another era.
Again, you don't look to the Ciera for state-of-the-art styling. This is the same boxy design that characterized most of General Motors' early and mid-'80s cars. The word stodgy comes to mind.
But the square shape also helps to maximize cargo space, which is often compromised by the swoopy rear-end designs of some of today's more modern wagons.
There are no surprises here. The cargo door is easy enough to open, though a remote release lever would be more in step with the times. The hatch also took a surprising amount of muscle to raise, which might bother an older driver.
Access to the cargo bay is good, however. And you're not climbing or stretching to load up.
On the safety side, all members of the Ciera family come with standard anti-lock brakes (ABS). There's still only one airbag, though, and the Ciera still uses GM's ill-conceived 3-point seat belts.
With their outboard anchors mounted in the doors, these are supposed to be passive belts. They're supposed to remain fastened, and the belts extend on inertia reels when you open a front door. Then you're supposed to wriggle under the belt, with the inertia reel taking up the slack when you shut the door.
The net effect of this system is that it encourages many drivers to leave the belt unfastened. This setup has disappeared from most GM products, but it'll be in the Ciera until the vehicle itself is retired.
Here's where the Ciera really shows its age. The interior seems to have been cobbled together from a variety of off-the-shelf pieces that don't quite work as a single package.
The pod on the driver's door that holds the power window switches looks like a bolted-on afterthought. It's also awkward to use. So is the radio, which has been recessed just enough to force you to lean well out of your seat just to adjust the volume.
The instrument panel is a clumsy rectangle in an era of fluid, organic curves. How-ever, if you don't mind a bare minimum of gauges, the displays are large and easy to read, which is good news for the older buyers who seem to favor the Ciera.
Dated as it may be, though, the Ciera does include a lot of comfort and convenience features - air conditioning, power windows, cruise control, an AM/ FM/cassette sound system - as standard equipment. That's an important part of the value equation.
The wagon's seats are benches, adequate though far from attractive. There's plenty of room up front and more than acceptable space for rear passengers.
There's also a rear-facing third seat, a great benefit if your wagon is the designated kid-carrier in your neighborhood.
There's plenty of cargo space that can be expanded by folding the rear seats flat.
Security is always a concern with station wagons, and the Ciera addresses this issue with two locking storage bins in the back.
Like most modern wagons, the Ciera has a window-shade privacy cover for the cargo bay. However, the roller is mounted nearly a foot behind the rear seats, leaving a gap that dilutes its effectiveness.
As we noted earlier, cup-holders have found their way into the Ciera. That's a plus. Their location - tucked inside the center armrest - isn't terribly handy, though, and they're too small to accommodate a large takeout soft drink cup. We had to resort to the old cup-in-lap trick, which can dampen your driving spirits considerably.
Ride comfort isn't the Ciera wagon's strongest suit, but the suspension components - spring stiffness and shock-absorber damping - are soft enough to keep the ride from being too harsh.
When it comes to handling, however, the Ciera is distinctly behind the times. This is a dated chassis with basic MacPherson struts up front and a beam axle in the rear.
The net result is a car that refuses to be hurried through corners, an activity that produces plenty of tire noise and body roll to go with it.
On the other hand, there are no nasty surprises in the Ciera's personality. And the combination of front-wheel drive with standard ABS gives it acceptable all-weather driving credentials.
All '95 Ciera wagons are powered by GM's 3100 V6 engine - it replaced the previous 3.3-liter V6 last year - bolted to a 4-speed automatic transmission, which was also new last year. Ciera sedan versions list a 2.2-liter 4-cylinder and 3-speed automatic as basic equipment, so that's a plus for the wagon.
Another plus is the 3100's durability record. This isn't the most potent V6, nor is it the smoothest. It was easy to feel its vibration at idle through the steering wheel and shifter. But the 3100 does seem to be bulletproof, and it'll probably be running long after the Energizer Bunny has run out of juice.
It also produces slightly better- than-average fuel economy performance for a midsize wagon.
For all its reliability, the Ciera wagon loses a lot of its appeal when it's compared with more modern midsize wagons such as the Ford Taurus, Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.
That's not too surprising. After 12 years, most models would either be redesigned from stem to stern or put out to pasture.
Nevertheless, the Ciera's high value quotient is keeping it in the game for at least another year. It's admittedly low on flash, and no better than adequate in terms of performance.
But applying the value template, it still stacks up pretty well - lots of standard features in a roomy, unpretentious pack-age for a reasonable price.An updated study in midsize values.
Although the sales performance of General Motors' GM-10 cars - the Oldsmobile Cut-lass Supreme, Pontiac Grand Prix and Buick Re-gal - hasn't been the success the company may have hoped for, these midsize front-drive sedans and coupes do represent an attractive blend of roominess, comfort, performance and value.
Thanks to Oldsmobile's value pricing programs, this has been particularly true of the Cutlass Supreme - and it's truer still with the Supreme's updates for 1995.
When we mention the Supreme, Grand Prix and Regal in the same breath, we don't mean to suggest that they're identical cars with different emblems. Although the basic unibody structure and layout are the same, each car has its own exterior, its own suspension package and its own character.
Consistent with Pontiac's overall marketing strategy, the Grand Prix is the sportiest of the bunch. The Regal emphasizes traditional comfort and the Cutlass Supreme takes an international approach. The latter's ride and handling qualities are comparable with the Grand Prix's, but its exterior styling is more subdued.
All the GM-10 cars fall into the upper range of the broad and ill-defined midsize class, and their general dimensions are essentially the same. However, the Cutlass Supreme is the only member of the GM-10 family that's available as a convertible.
To put a finer point on dimensional definition, the Cutlass Supreme sedan is a little bigger than the Mercury Sable, one of its key competitors. It's also several inches longer than the Honda Accord, the new Chrysler Cirrus and the Toyota Camry, and several inches shorter than the redesigned Chevy Lumina.
As a result of Oldsmobile's efforts to simplify pricing, the Cutlass Supreme coupes and sedans will all be SL models, with two trim levels: Series I (base) and Series II. Prices start at $17,995 for the Series I coupe and sedan; $18,995 for the better-equipped Series II cars.
The series designations don't apply to the Cutlass Supreme convertible, which starts at $24,895.
The standard engine in all three body styles is GM's 3.1-liter 3100 V6, which was extensively redesigned last year. The standard transmission is one of GM's latest computer-controlled 4-speed automatics.
All Cutlass Supremes are essentially package deals - there aren't many free-standing options - which makes shopping easier. The short list of add-ons includes two audio system upgrades, steering-wheel touch switches for radio and climate controls (Series II models only), an engine block heater and a much more powerful 3.4-liter V6 engine.
Our test car was a Series II Cutlass Supreme coupe, powered by the 3.4-liter V6, which added $1223 to the bottom line. All the GM-10 cars made their market debut in 1988 as coupes, and we think the Cutlass Supreme looks best in this body style.
Although the Cutlass Supreme and its cousins are only two years from a complete redesign, GM made a pretty big investment in this car's interior for 1995 - and it shows to good effect.
The greatest improvement is the long-overdue addition of a passenger airbag to the Cutlass Supreme's inventory of passive safety features. Adding that second airbag has allowed Oldsmobile to replace the Cutlass Supreme's passive seat belt setup.
This marginal system was designed to meet federal passive safety regulations without the added expense of airbags. The old system had its outboard anchors in the doors, rather than the central roof pillar, which limited effectiveness.
The new system fastens conventional three-point belts with adjustable upper anchors up front and is a much better arrangement.
Better also applies to the new instrument panel. The major instruments, which are analog dials, are grouped under a curved cowling that creates more of a command-center impression than the old panel. It's much more attractive and also a little easier to take in at a glance.
We do wish the climate controls had been redesigned along with the rest of the layout. The small buttons and sliders are difficult to adjust when the car is moving.
Another Cutlass Supreme strong suit is interior roominess. This is a particularly appealing trait in a moderately sporty coupe because rear-seat roominess is usually conspicuous by its absence in vehicles of this type.
Then there's the issue of standard equipment - what you get for your basic-model money. In a Cutlass Supreme, basic is far from basic. Series I coupes and sedans include anti-lock brakes, air conditioning, power mirrors/locks/windows, an AM/FM/cassette sound system, cruise control, tilt steering, full carpeting, map pockets and 16-in. alloy wheels.
Roominess and luxury features equate pretty closely with comfort in any car, and the Cutlass Supreme measures up very well on this index.
No one would ever characterize the Cutlass Supreme as a sports car, but its all-around ride and handling traits strike a surprisingly good balance between comfort and agility.
Our coupe did a nice job of damping out the small bumps that register as irritations in many sporty cars. In fact, we were pleasantly surprised by its overall ride quality, because the suspension settings convey an initial impression of firmness.
Firmness usually goes hand in hand with good control - less body roll in hard cornering, less front-end dive during hard braking - and our Cutlass Supreme gave a good account of itself in this area without rattling the teeth of the occupants.
Although the variable-assist, rack-and-pinion power steering could provide a little better road feel, we think that this car's ability to respond to quick maneuvers is better than average, and higher on the fun-to-drive scale than we anticipated.
We were also favorably impressed by our test car's bucket seats, which provided a good range of adjustability as well as an attractive appearance. Although there could be a little more side bolstering to help keep the driver centered in hard cornering, we think most occupants will find the comfort level just fine.
Our only criticism here is that the front seatbacks don't lock into position, which means the passenger seatback could flop forward during hard braking when you're driving solo.
Our test car's optional 3.4-liter V6 provided real urgency to forward progress when we wanted it. Although the Taurus SHO V6 offers more horsepower at high speed than our test car's engine, the 3.4 V6 has excellent punch at low- and midrange speeds, as well as impressive giddy-up for passing.
There's a certain amount of noise that goes with hard acceleration on the Cutlass Supreme, but we don't think most drivers will find it annoying. It just lets you know there's a lot of power going to work for you.
Although we regard more power as a plus, we should add here that the standard 3.1-liter V6 also delivers pretty good performance. The optional 3.4-liter V6 unquestionably makes the Cutlass Supreme more exhilarating to drive, but we don't think anyone will feel short-changed, performancewise, with a basic Series I model.
The Cutlass Supreme will provide a nice surprise for most first-time drivers. It's an appealing blend of comfortable ride, sharp handling and subdued good looks.
With the changes for '95, it's up to date in terms of safety features, and the redesigned instrument panel improves both appearance and functionality.
And the high comfort/convenience content that goes with Oldsmobile's value packaging makes the Cutlass Supreme a midsize bargain.
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