General Motors has long wanted to breathe new life to Oldsmobile by building a car that’s entirely different from the typical Oldsmobile vehicle. From that aim, the Oldsmobile Aurora was born. This midsize luxury sports sedan was Oldsmobile’s first attempt to get into the luxury segment and pose direct competition against Japanese and European imports. It was designed to attract younger yet more affluent buyers.
What made the Aurora a good buy was its long list of standard features and very short options list. While it was marketed by Oldsmobile, Aurora didn’t carry the Olds nameplate until 1997. This is because the marketing executives of the said GM division wanted to give their new car a sort of breathing space as it gets into a fight against its highly competitive European and Japanese rivals.
1995 - 1999: First-generation Aurora
After years of extensive research and development, production of the Aurora finally started on January 1994. It was launched in the market for the 1995 model year, sporting a host of modern and luxury features. It was powered by Oldsmobile’s 4.0L L47 V8 engine that was able to produce 250hp. During that time, the Aurora was highly regarded due to its refined engine, excellent construction, balanced ride, as well as its structural reliability. Aurora’s first five years in the market were so successful, selling more than 45,000 units. However, sales began to drop in 1996.
The 1996 Oldsmobile Aurora had some slight revisions. The car’s climate control and safety alarm were also tweaked. New rear glass and revised keyless entry alarm system were added. 1997 was marked by the addition of a new in-dash CD player for its BOSE sound system as well as the appearance of Oldsmobile’s old badge that was first seen on this model, placed on the right corner along with the Aurora name.
For 1998, majority of the changes done to the Aurora were aimed to improve its already excellent suspension system. The year 1999 was the last year for the Aurora, and the vehicle got better engine stability with the addition of engine mounts.
2001 - 2003: Second-generation Aurora
No Oldsmobile Aurora models were produced for the 2000 model year to give way to the might-have-been upscale version. However, Buick dropped the Riviera, so Olds needed to come up with a re-engineered Aurora in just a short time. The result was a new Aurora with G-body design and powered by a 4.0 V8 Northstar. And for the first time, Oldsmobile also offered an Aurora with a V6 engine, called the Shortstar.
The second-generation Oldsmobile Aurora remained competitive, but it failed to draw the same sales and attention the way the original did. One of the reasons for these was GM’s announcement about the phasing out of the Oldsmobile marquee in the coming years. Production of the last 500 Auroras ended on March 28, 2003.