Two years after it was first introduced, the Oldsmobile Toronado remained a paradox. Was it an advanced front-wheel-drive flagship illuminating a new direction for high-end cars? Or was it nothing more than an upper-echelon Personal Luxury car replete with all the style, comfort, gizmos and trick features needed for success in the style-conscious segment? Could it be both? Or neither? Car and Driver took a test drive to find out in April 1968.
Car and Driver’s perspective at the end of the test was that the Toronado didn’t gain any meaningful advantages from front-wheel-drive. Not that the car was flawed (other than the brakes), but it was not clearly superior to rear-wheel-drive Personal Luxury rivals. And since Oldsmobile did not even promote the Toronado as being uniquely different and better than conventionally engineered competitors, front-wheel drive gave no added bragging rights.
So the Toronado was left to rely on nothing more than its looks and luxury trappings to succeed, and it wasn’t a superstar in that regard. At $7,023 ($51,280 adjusted) as tested, this particular Toronado veered into Cadillac Eldorado pricing territory, but without the added cachet of the Wreath and Crest.
And when it came to sales, the 1968 Toronado was no standout either:
|Pontiac Grand Prix||31,711|
Yes, the Olds beat the Cadillac by 1,926 units, but otherwise trailed all other segment players, including the faltering Pontiac Grand Prix. Hardly a ringing endorsement for the extra effort required to deliver a front-wheel-drive flagship, and vindication of Car and Driver’s assessment.