CC Outtake: 1998 Oldsmobile Achieva SL – The Grass is Still Greener


Introduced as a 1992 model, Oldsmobile’s intermediate-sized Achieva was part of the brand’s attempt to modernize and cleanse itself of its much-overused Cutlass name. The Achieva was also part of Oldsmobile’s attempt to broaden its import-buyer appeal with simpler equipment groups, no-haggle pricing, and allegedly more import-like vehicles.

Oldsmobile heavily benchmarked the Honda Accord in advertisements and press material for the Achieva, though it’s unlikely the Achieva did much to help Olds achieve many Honda conquests. Essentially a cosmetic re-skin of the vintage-1985 N-body Cutlass Calais, the Achieva indeed sported more rounded, aero sheetmetal. Unfortunately, the Achieva’s styling wasn’t so easy on the eyes as its predecessor.


Echoing the styling of the very subjective 1991 Ninety-Eight, the larger sedan’s styling translated even worse to the compact N-body. With its overly angular nose and split vertical bar grille, overextended underbite front bumper, rear doors that excessively protruded at the beltline, skirted rear wheels, and uninspired rear end, the Achieva came across as horribly frumpy. Honda buyers stayed on their side of the fence, and after a few years, Oldsmobile stopped targeting import buyers and accepted that most buyers were probably rental fleets. In fact, for its final year of 1998, all Achieva sales were limited to fleet customers, meaning that this car was likely once a rental. The fact that its still on the roads after years of abuse and reuse is quite an achivea-ment.

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GM N-body

1996 Buick Skylark

1990 Honda Accord