reliability, MPG, known issues, other alternatives
I want a vehicle with style, reliability, and leather... sadly this vehicle also needs to be able to haul a lot of luggage and four people minimum at the same time. I love station wagons, but am having trouble finding one that suits me... then I thought "lets just get a beater minivan..." However, the more I think about it, the more I want a minivan (or vehicle in general) that suits me. I am PRETTY SURE I'm going to go with the Oldsmobile Silhouette... Yeah, the dust-buster minivan. I really like that style of van from GM, and I was considering the ford Aerostar, but I would then have to get it in AWD for wisconsin winters... and that would make the MPG down-spiral. Also, I want leather... which eliminates the Lumina APV (to my knowledge), the Pontiac Tran Sport (though nice) had a different front end in 95 & 96 than the Silhouette. I want at least one airbag, so I know I have to go 1993 or newer, and I would like the edgy angular styling of the silhouette or pre-95 Tran Sport. Now, I am a broke college student and need to take into consideration cost. Yes, domestic vehicles are dirt cheap. That is a plus. However they generally are less reliable. I looks at the Nissan Quest (a.k.a. Mercury Villager) as well, but it's poor side-crash test rating scares me away. So, what are any issues I would likely face with the Oldsmobile Silhouette or pre-95 Tran Sport? This is with the 3800 engine. Do you know of their crash test ratings? I know the last generation post-97 were horrendous... how about for the dust-busters?
The 98 and newer 3800 series GM engine is a great piece of machinery and had been refined from its predecessors. Yes, a GM automobile is inexpensive to purchase, but you have to way in your total cost of ownership. They are however, easier to work on and less expensive to repair in most cases. But be careful, as with any vehicle maintenance is usually the key to owning a health vehicle. Change your oil regularly and replace most critical fluids on an annual basis. Keep close tabs on anything comes up and take care of it quickly. Repairs left unattended usually ends up costing more than if they were addressed early on. Best of luck in your vehicle search. I hope you find what you're looking for.
I think that the Silhouette is a great car. My aunt had a loaded 95 which she liked better than her 00 Town and Country and 04 Silhouette. My good friend had one which he used to deliver newspapers and it had over 220,000 miles before he got rid of it (accident). He had an Aerostar before but like the olds better. The 3.8 is a great engine, even the earlier ones. But they have to be well maintained to be reliable. Typical of older, higher mileage 3.8's are small oil leaks, but don't let this turn you off. If the car leaks about half a quart between oil changes or less, its nothing to worry about and it won't likely get worse. If you do find a silhouette make sure it was well cared for and make sure all the electrical equipment works, the power sliding door usually always broke so don't expect that to work, but other items to pay attention to, ie door locks, seat, windows, etc. As for mpg, the 3.8 gets great mileage on the highway @ 22-24, but it drops in the city, 15-17. The quest is also a great, underrated and unappreciated van. The 3.3 V6 is not as peppy as the 3.8 but virtually bullet proof and as reliable if not more so. Don't let crash tests influence your choice. Mid-90s vans did not do that well anyway, safety was not as important as it is today. If you want a safe car, buy a volvo wagon. Another plus with the GM dust-busters was that they were made of high strength plastic so they will never rust. As opposed to the villager/quest which are rust prone.
The 3.8L V6 motor equipped in the Oldsmobile Silhouettes is in my opinion one of the best engines General Motors released in the last 30 years. It first showed up in the late 1980s and was equipped in a large portion of GM cars. As the above posts say, the Olds Silhouette is the way to go!
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