Before the Oldsmobile, one of the oldest American marques, was phased out in 2004, it was able to make an indelible mark in automotive history with some of its top-rated vehicles. The Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera was one of the Oldsmobile vehicles to leave a good impression. It was a highly rated auto by J.D. Power and Associates. Among other accolades, it was named Best in Price Class and a Top-ranked American-Made Car in 1992. During the same year, it was cited by Prevention Magazine as Safe Car of the Year. The iconic Oldsmobile even made an appearance in films such as Fargo and the TV series Revolution. It had a 14-year run from 1982 to 1996. During its prime, it became one of the top-selling Oldsmobile models.
1982-1988: From initial production to a series of redesigns
The Cutlass Ciera first rolled out of the assembly line in 1981, initially released as a 1982 model. The mid-size vehicle came in three body styles: 2-door coupe, 4-door sedan, and 5-door station wagon. The Cutlass Cruiser station wagon model was integrated into the Cutlass Ciera's platform in 1984. Two trim levels were available for the Cutlass Ciera--the base and Brougham. Base models were equipped with 2.5L 4-cylinder Tech IV engine, while the Brougham came with various engine options: 2.8L V6 engine, 3.8L Buick V6 engine, and 4.3 L Oldsmobile Diesel V6 engine. The Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera was given a new look for 1985. It was redesigned with a new grille, sleek headlamps, and a different set of tail lights. For the following year, the grille was designed with expanded ventilation. The coupe got a more rounded roofline compared to the 1985 model. Another facelift was done for 1987, with a new grille and repositioned logo on the steering wheel. The 2.8L LE2 V6 engine no longer became an option for the Cutlass Ciera. International series models were later introduced for 1988, while the Brougham was finally dropped. Available in three body styles, these models featured a standard Buick V6 engine, a dual exhaust system, and a 4-speed automatic transmission, among other things.
1989-1996: Upgrades up to the final model year
A newer, better Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera came out in 1989. It had a modern roofline and was designed with revised body-side moldings. To compete with the Ford Taurus, the updates on the Cutlass Ciera involved less chrome trim. The coupe and sedan both had upgraded rear-end treatments. For 1990, the International Series was officially dropped. Upgrades for 1991 included a better-looking, more functional instrument cluster. For 1992, the coupe was discontinued; the lineup consisted only of sedans and wagons. Although other models from Oldsmobile were launched, the 10-year old Cutlass Ciera was still a top-seller. It was able to sell more than 132,000 sedans and around 7,700 wagons that year. For the following year, the 2.5 L Tech IV engine was dropped and was replaced by the 2.2L OHV engine. Available as an option in sedan or wagon, the Cutlass Ciera S came with better features. A 3.1L engine with a 4-speed automatic transmission was a standard on the wagon but an option for the sedan. In 1996, the Cutlass Ciera was renamed as Ciera SL. This was the final model year.
Although Oldsmobile released other models that fit the lineup of a European-styled, high-end vehicle brand, they failed to create the same following or fan base the dated Ciera had enjoyed over the years.