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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — It's a night made for a James Bond Adventure. Above, a clear sky twinkles like a big-screen planetarium and out the window a full moon illuminates the crest of Mt. Greylock, the state's highest peak. With a touch of a remote control, Diamonds Are Forever begins to play on a monitor overhead. My companion and I settle into our comfortable seats, with drinks and popcorn nearby and pull up a blanket to watch this classic movie.
A modern-day movie theatre? A cabin in the country? Neither, but, in a
sense, both. We are in the Oldsmobile Silhouette, a veritable "living room on
wheels." With a host of upscale features, this six-to-seven-passenger minivan offers many of the comforts of home. And, with the Premiere Edition's standard in-car entertainment system, it can keep young ones occupied during long-distance travel just as well as providing a romantic movie-watching getaway for adults.
The General's Oldsmobile division has enjoyed a strong standing in the
high-end minivan market. But in response to fierce competition in both the
minivan and crossover/sport-utility markets, GM has upgraded its latest versions
of its high-end people-mover. While engine and mechanics remain similar to its previous generation, safety has been upgraded,
styling has been refined and optional packages have been expanded.
As in previous models, all Silhouettes (the base model GL, mid-model GLS and upscale Premiere) are powered by a 3.4-liter V-6 engine that produces 185 horsepower and 210 lb-ft of torque. The engine is mated to a four-speed automatic transmission, and drives the front wheels. All models have anti-lock brakes; traction control is standard on the GLS and Premiere editions, and optional on the GL.
Recent engine upgrades include a more durable water pump assembly, and a
longer-lasting drive belt tensioner as well as a more efficient catalytic
converter and improved spark plugs and wiring. The latter changes help give the
Silhouette engine LEV (Low Emission Vehicle) status in all 50 states, and ULEV (Ultra Low Emission Vehicle)
status in California and the Northeast.
A comfortable ride comes from a MacPherson strut suspension in front and a twist-beam axle in the rear; for carrying heavy loads, an auto-leveling system is standard equipment. Touring tires on the Silhouette are P215/70R15 for the GL and GLS, with 16-inch P225/60R16s standard Limited versions.