1990 Oldsmobile Toronado


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Mar 16, 2007
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Yuma, Arizona... yeah it's hot
1990 Oldsmobile Toronado.

Pros; Comfort, smooth ride, luxury features.
Cons; Engine power, difficult entry/exit, lack of storage.

The Toronado caters to the crowd who want a traditional, full size American luxury coupe in the style of that grand age of American personal luxury coupes; the 1960's and 1970's. At that time coupes ruled, every model from Chevrolet to Cadillac was offered in a coupe form. However, by the 1990's coupes were going out of style as SUV's and fast, nasty imports shrunk the demand for personal luxury coupes. And as such the Toronado died after the 1992 model year.

My particular Toronado is a 1990 which I purchased in February 2007. When I purchased the car it had 32,000 original miles on it and aside from some warped plastics on the interior and a few age related cosmetic issues was nearly a new car. After a minor tune up and a couple cheap fixes under the hood the car runs like new. My car is the standard coupe sometimes referred to as "Brougham" and not an upscale Trofeo. The Trofeo sold much better than the standard coupe making Toronado Brougham's much more rare. Toronados only came one way, loaded. Options such as leather seats, sunroof, upgraded stereo packages, two tone paint schemes and the technologically convoluted VIC were the only real options. Power seats, automatic AC, drivers information center, power lock, mirrors, and windows were all standard.

Driving the Toronado is a treat. The ride is comfortable, stable and the car feels planted to the road thanks to its fully independent suspension. It wallows a bit in turns but handles curves quite well. The seats are excellent, with good quality upholstry, nice deep side bolsters and deep cushions. Everything is easy to reach and easy to use. Controls come to hand easily and the gages are easy to read. One complaint in regards to the dash is that the steering wheel partially blocks the drives information controls, headlight switches and the warning lights on the bottom of the panel. Storage is also scant. The only useable storage is in the center consold which is too deep to be useful and the shallow,pathetic cupholder WILL spill your venti Starbucks within five minutes of taking your hand off it.... ask me how I know this.

Quality is quite good by 1990 GM standards. Fit of body panels is good and the paint is very good quality. Most of the interior panels and plastic trim fits well but some of the interior parts scream cheap, i.e the styrofoam kick panel under the steering wheel held in place with velcro (!!!). The only real squeaks and noises come from the center console and the doors rattle alarmingly when you slam them but close nice and tight. On the subject of the doors; nothing says class like a long, low, sleek coupe. On the other hand the doors on the Toronado could double as wings. They are long and heavy making entering and exiting the vehicle dicey in tight parking lots.

The motor is both a high and low point of the Toronado. GM's 3.8 liter V6 originally derived from a Buick design in the 60's is a teriffic engine in terms of durability, economy and ease of maintenance. In the 1990 Toronado it puts out 165 horsepower and 210 pounds of torque. This is adequate to keep the Toronado neck and neck with other traffic but the cars weight hurts. Passing at highway speeds asks a lot of the motor and it really has to struggle, especially when going up hills. The weight of the car also hurts fuel economy. Cruising at highway speeds on level ground the car averages 26-27 mpg. However, as soon as even a slight hill is encountered fuel economy plummets to 21-22.

The long and the short of it? The Toronado is a throwback, a reminder of the days when class and sophistication ruled the roads, not blaring stereos, lifted suspension and bolt on plastic wings and ground effects. It may be seen as stuffy, frumpy or antiquated but ask yourself this; do comfort and classic good looks ever go out of style? It is a classic touring coupe, a personal luxury coupe of the classic style and an American technoligical tour de force.

Buy an Oldsmobile to show your appreciation of classic styling and comfort but buy a Toronado to really treat yourself.
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