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Oldsmobile's Silhouette is a highly refined minivan. It handles well and is actually fun to hustle down a challenging road. With its long wheelbase, the Silhouette seats seven comfortably and comes with thoughtful interior touches that make trips with kids go easier. The Premieree edition features a state-of-the-art video entertainment system.
GM's V6 engine is a powerful workhorse with good throttle response and efficiency. It produces strong low-rpm torque for quick acceleration, even when loaded down. You can feel the engine growl slightly through the steering wheel. Traction control is optional, and is a good idea for easier control in winter driving. Without traction control engaged, you can spin one front wheel during a spirited take-off. With a powerful V6 and front-wheel drive, torque steer is sometimes noticeable -- a slight tug on the steering wheel under hard acceleration. Though it works well, the output of GM's V6 is less than that available in Ford, Chrysler, Honda and Toyota minivans. The four-speed automatic is programmed to shift up as soon as possible, which improves fuel economy but makes it less fun to drive.
Oldsmobile's Silhouette does a better job of filtering road vibration than Pontiac's Montana or Chevy's Venture. Perhaps the touring tires of the Premieree we drove are tuned for less harshness. These same tires likely contribute to the Premieree feeling a little less grippy in corners; body lean is also more noticeable in the Silhouette than in the Montana.
The brake pedal of the Silhouette feels spongy, especially when you compare it to Oldsmobile's more modern sedans, such as the Alero, Intrigue, and Aurora. The anti-lock brake system, however, works well, with steady and unobtrusive feedback when it's engaged on slick surfaces.
The Oldsmobile Silhouette makes all occupants feel they have control over their personal space, with spots for drinks, trinkets, and volume controls for headphones. You could live in here if you had to, and it sometimes seems that way when you're stuck on the 405 in Los Angeles, shuttling distractible youths to after-school Tai Chi lessons.
We've driven minivans with aftermarket video and television setups, and none of them match the sound quality, picture quality, and ease of operation found in the Premieree edition. The GLS model gets most of the same equipment without the video system for $2,910 less. That makes the video system an expensive option and the Premieree Edition a relatively expensive model.
With or without video, the Silhouette is fun to drive. It rides and handles better than the previous generation of minivans from GM and is an excellent choice.
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