Alero rental car

Aurora40

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I was out in the San Fransisco area last week on business, and had a rental Alero for the week. It was pretty bare-bones, as most rental cars are, and a rather bland light gold color.

But it was very familiar to drive. The steering wheel felt nice and thick like the Aurora's, the suspension was nice and firm but not uncomfortable, and the steering was firm but not too heavy. The driving experience reminded me a lot of the Aurora, but scaled down a bit. The engine was strong with good acceleration, though obviously not as strong at WOT, but in part throttle it always felt up to the task.

The steering wasn't quite as firm on the highway, nor quite as light in parking lots, but then the Alero doesn't have Magnasteer II. But it always felt nice. It was a very comfortable and competent car to drive.

What surprised me is that it was the 4-banger. The car felt so strong that I just assumed it was the V6, though I was impressed by the smoothness of the engine. I was actually thinking GM must have done a lot of improvement to the 60-degree V6 since the last time I'd driven one (probably a 1997 Lumina with the 3.1). Not that it's a harsh engine, but it never felt all that refined. The Ecotech felt very refined, though not as smooth as the V8 feels.

I of course missed things like the outside temp display, leather, compass, Bose stereo with speed-compensated volume, etc, but the Alero was plenty nice to drive. And it did have Solar-Ray glass which is a huge plus IMO.

I think a 4-banger Alero would make a great everyday car, and I'd love to try it with a 5-speed manual. I was very impressed with the car given that it probably cost somewhere around $18,000.

What was most amazing was how much nicer it drove than the Regal. I drove back from the airport in the GS, and the steering is so light and the suspension so soft. It was very apparent the difference after driving the Alero for so many days. Of course, the GS has more bells and whistles, and would smoke the Alero in any acceleration category, but it didn't feel as satisfying to drive. Maybe when the Regal has a few more miles on it (it's got about 110,000) we'll look for a lightly used 2004 Alero as a replacement. ;)
 

Sal Collaziano

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Thanks for posting this review. I'm especially surprised about your comparison to the Regal GS. Could it be that the GS is more geared for performance and so the steering would be heavier and suspension stiffer? Which car is more comfortable to sit in on a long trip?
 

Aurora40

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Originally posted by Sal Collaziano@Jun 23 2004, 05:54 PM
Thanks for posting this review. I'm especially surprised about your comparison to the Regal GS. Could it be that the GS is more geared for performance and so the steering would be heavier and suspension stiffer? Which car is more comfortable to sit in on a long trip?
No, it's the other way 'round. The GS has very light steering, almost annoyingly so, and the suspension is very soft. It's borderline floaty. It's not inspiring, even though the car is fast as crap. The soft ride doesn't inspire confidence if you have to manuever quickly.

I'm sure the Regal would be a nicer cruiser, though the Aurora is stiffer and is an excellent cruiser. But the Alero isn't as quiet or plush as the Regal, and certainly nowhere near as quiet and plush as the Aurora. Though it wasn't loud or anything. For the price it was a lot of car.
 

razoredge

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I too just had a Alero loaner car. It was a 90 with the 2.4.

It was pretty quick when asked and handled great, the steering was much faster than I am used to. It used much less gas in one weeks travel to and from work.

I was not overall happy with the car and am glad I did not choose to buy one. This is why. It was two short in the leg room. The left front wheel house was where I wanted to put my left foot, with the seat all the way back. I am only 5-10 and the seat was all the way back. I could feel the uneven curve in the floorboard under my foot too, it was extremely annoying and I would go nuts on a long trip. My drive to work is about 45 minutes couldnt imagine 4 hours. I had to pull my foot back to get away from the curve in the floor board and lay my knee against the door panel. Power seats might take care of this problem by tilting the bottom up. Neither of my legs touched the front of the seat but were rather floating in the air with knees resting on door panel and console. This is not a good driving experience.

I have been driving for 30 years so I do not prefer the new phat steering wheels, I still love those older thin classy inlaid wheels. Driving should be a laid back experience not a death grip on an axe handle. This Aleros wheel was very phat and thank goodness our 90's 88's are at least somewhat thinner. I have also become very used to the light steering experienced in my 91 Regal and our 86 LeSabre as well as my many other older cars and magna steer is fine and Im not downing it but I dont need it. I could throw my 91 Regal around like a toy and never would the wheel be a handfull or a problem.

I despise the new air bag steering wheels with a passion. I always drove at 9:00 one handed, sometimes 12:00 and even sometimes 7:00. When driving hard two hands at 9:00 and 3:00. Never, never, never did I cling to the wheel like a monkey swinging from a tree branch at 8:00 or 10:00. There is a post in the way of my hand all the time with these stupid wheels not to mention that when going from lock to lock for parking you have four posts to avoid getting fingers tangled in and very sensitive horn buttons waiting for your palms to hit while man handling these massive steering wheels. [ The above paragraphs are dramatized to express the point, actual results are somewhat milder ]

Does anyone else that grew up driving before these new wheels find the discomfort I have with them too ?
 

Aurora40

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I love the thick steering wheel on my Aurora, so the Alero's was quite familiar. I agree airbags make steering wheels less friendly, but there isn't too much that can be done about that. My wheel feels softer, though, and the leather is over a thin layer of cushion, so it has a slight give. The Alero didn't have that feel but it still felt nice.

I'm 6' and didn't notice a legroom issue, though I like to have my legs bent a bit while driving, and usually sit straight up. I don't try to recline and lounge in the driver's seat of a car. My rental did have power lower part of the seat, though, so it could be angled and raised/lowered. Actually, in almost every car I drive I have the seat lowered to the max. In the Alero, it wasn't comfortable this way so I raised it up a tad. Maybe the non-power seat is similarly low?
 

razoredge

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What are air bags LAW now ? What does it hold back that a seat belt wont ? The head ? I hear it will make your face look like you just did 9 rounds and mess up your hands and arms if they arent exactly in these two uncomfortable position on the steering wheel.

Thank you lame, spineless, muscleless crash test dummies. We all spend all day running straight on into barriers without turning the wheel , hitting the brakes and tightening our muscles to brace for the impact. :blink:

The electric seat tilted up in the front would have helped Im sure. Thats how I do all the seats in my other cars too. It keeps my knees where I want them and not splayed off to the side.

I do agree that a 5speed two door sportmodel with a electric seat, flat area built for left foot and a aftermarket steering wheel would make a great back road car for me to drive to work. They do handle quite well and the tires stick too, my loaner was fully tested well beyond how I usually drive nearly to the limits of tire grip and surprised the heck out of me.

This car had 37,000 miles on it and had a warped rotor somewhere. Im not sure GM is up to par on this 4 wheel disc brake idea yet. The GI W's warped rotors left and right too. Whats the sence in having them if they are a high maintenence issue ?
 
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