New Car Review

1995 OLDSMOBILE BRAVADA SPECIAL EDITION SPORTS UTILITY VEHICLE

by: BILL RUSS

The Bravada is Oldsmobile's most versatile vehicle. First introduced as a 1991 model it has remained at the high end of the appointments and luxury scale in the increasingly popular sports/utility vehicle field. It is engineered to insure a surefooted drive over very tough terrain. Paraphrasing Mark Twain, reports of the Bravada's demise are greatly exaggerated. The current Special Edition Bravada will be available until the introduction of the new 1996 model.

As a Special Edition model the Bravada comes fully equipped at a uniform national price. Some of the items included in the Special Edition package that were formerly added cost items are custom leather trim, swing-away spare tire carrier, and the heavy duty towing package. Among its standard features are an automatic transmission that is hooked up to the SmartTrak drive system which includes all-wheel drive and anti-lock brakes. It also offers posi-traction, air conditioning, AM/FM/cassette stereo, cruise control, luggage rack, remote lock-unlock, plus many other convenience items. With Value Pricing this fully equipped model is about the same price now as it was in 1991, and it has a more powerful engine and an improved automatic transmission.

In addition to my normal testing I participated in an off-road training course and found that the Bravada performed admirably and provided a relatively smooth ride in comfort and quietness.

APPEARANCE: The Bravada looks like a sports utility vehicle; short, high and square. It has many touches of practicality; lower body plastic cladding that matches the bumper line for protection against gravel and other annoyances, a high wide stance for stability on back roads and cross-winds, a roof rack and a swing-away tire carrier for extra cargo capacity. There's a tail-gate and lift rear window for easy loading or partying. Its turbine style aluminum wheels are shod with Tiger-Paw all-season tires.

COMFORT: The Bravada is no Conestoga wagon. Its interior abounds with convenience and comfort. The drivers seat is power adjustable, the steering wheel tilts, and the windows, locks and mirrors are powered. For added storage the rear seat easily folds down with one hand , while the heater provides even temperature with rear seat ducting, and the rear window is kept clear with a wiper/defogger. The electronic instrument panel is easy to read, and an overhead storage area provides outside temperature and direction information as well as an space for a garage door opener and sunglasses. The dual sun visors are wonderful, as front and side glare can be covered simultaneously. In the back there are tie-downs as well as a slide-away cover. An AM/FM/cassette package provides good pickup and fidelity. There are cupholders and a center console/armrest.

SAFETY: Sports utility vehicles are classified as trucks and are not yet required to have the same safety equipment as passenger cars. However the Bravada does have three-point seat belts, anti-lock braking, limited-slip differential, energy-absorbing steering column and a self-aligning steering wheel.

ROADABILITY: One of the advantages of an SUV is the good visibility from the high cabin. The Bravada is no exception. It makes driving in heavy traffic as well as on back roads much easier. The Bravada's full-time all-wheel drive plus posi-traction provides good steering, handling and contact with the road surface, be it pavement, grass, dirt or slush. On an off-road demonstration course I found that it handled quite predictably and smoothly without heavy bouncing. On the highway and in the city it behaves just like a conventional car, and is easy to park, too. All around visibility is excellent, and the cabin is quiet at highway speeds.

PERFORMANCE: A 200 horsepower overhead-valve V6 engine smoothly propels the Bravada. It also develops 230 pound feet of torque, which gives this vehicle good pulling power to tow up to 5,500 pounds with its standard trailer hitch. There are no levers to move or buttons to push as power is delivered to all four wheels all the time via the SmartTrak drive system. This system also controls the anti-lock brakes. The electronically controlled four-speed Hydra-matic transmission utilizes the engine management computer system to smoothly shift up and down the gear range. The Bravada delivers good pickup and cruising power in all weather and road conditions with reasonable fuel economy.

CONCLUSION: The Special Edition Bravada is a luxuriously equipped sports utility vehicle. It combines the comfort and convenience of a passenger car with the ruggedness and handling of an off- road hauler. It is equally at home in the back woods as it is at the country club.

SPECIFICATIONS:
1995 OLDSMOBILE BRAVADA SPECIAL EDITION SPORTS UTILITY VEHICLE

	   
	   Base Price              $ 25,020
	   Price As Tested         $ 25,495
	   Engine Type             V-6, ohv - pushrod, cpi*
	   Engine Size             4.3 liter/262 cid   
	   Horsepower              200 @ 4500
	   Torque (ft/lbs)         260 @ 3600
	   Wheelbase/Length        107"/179"
	   Transmission            4-speed auto w/od
	   Curb Weight             4040
	   Pounds per Horsepower   20
	   Fuel Capacity           20
	   Fuel Requirement        Unleaded regular  (87 octane)
	   Tire                    UniRoyal TigerPaw XTM P235/75R15 M+S
	   Brake                   anti-lock standard   vented disc/drum
	   Drive Train             front engine/full-time all-wheel drive
	   
	   * cpi - central point fuel injection
	   
			 PERFORMANCE    
	   
	   EPA Economy - miles per gallon,        
	     city/highway/observed      16/21/18.9     
	   0 to 60 mph                  9.1 sec
	   1/4 mi (E.T.)                16.9 sec  
	   Coefficient of drag (cd)     .44

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