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New Car/Review

Oldsmobile Bravada


By Tom Hagin

Oldsmobile Full Line Video footage (14:04)

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 32,652
Price As Tested                                    $ 34,284
Engine Type               OHV 12-valve 4.3 Liter V6 w/SCFI*
Engine Size                                 262 cid/4300 cc
Horsepower                                   190 @ 4400 RPM
Torque (lb-ft)                               250 @ 2800 RPM
Wheelbase/Width/Length                  107.0"/67.8"/183.7"
Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
Curb Weight                                     4127 pounds
Fuel Capacity                                  18.6 gallons
Tires  (F/R)                          P235/70R15 all-season
Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
Drive Train                    Front-engine/all-wheel-drive
Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/five-door
Domestic Content                                 90 percent          
Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A


EPA Economy, miles per gallon
city/highway/average                            16/20/17          
0-60 MPH                                       10.5 seconds
Maximum payload capacity                        1040 pounds
Maximum towing capacity                         5000 pounds

* Sequential Central-point fuel injection

There is only one vehicle out there that can lure SUV shoppers into an Oldsmobile showroom and it's called Bravada.

Built with an upscale customer in mind, it is really a version of the popular Chevy Blazer/GMC Jimmy, though Bravada is equipped with some special features not normally found in its siblings.

OUTSIDE -The current version of the Bravada is in its fourth year of production, and it has been the top-line General Motors compact SUV for many years. To distinguish it from the others, Bravada has an extensive amount of body cladding wrapping its shell, from the body-color bumpers to the arched wheel flares and ribbed lower side panels. Its door handles are black, as is the window trim, privacy rear glass, outside mirrors and roof rack. It has a handy swing-up tailgate with a separate window that opens, along with a step built into the rear bumper so items can be retrieved from atop the roof. Fog lights are built into the front bumper, while stylish five-spoke alloy wheels and all-weather tires are standard

INSIDE -Like other luxury vehicle, leather upholstery is standard in the Bravada. The front bucket seats are sculpted and supportive, with standard power adjustments for lumbar support and seat-track length on the driver's side, plus an optional power adjustment for the passenger side. New last year is a two-position memory feature for the driver that can be activated from the key fob or buttons on the door panel. Back seat passengers could use a bit more room in which to stretch, especially when those up front are tall and must move their seats back to be comfortable. Headroom and toe space is good, however. A very nice feature are the electrochromic mirrors. They automatically dim when nighttime traffic approaching from behind has overly bright headlights. Other standard features include automatic climate control, power windows, door locks and outside mirrors, cruise control, tilt steering, an AM/FM/CD stereo system and a split folding rear seat. Our Bravada came with optional equipment that included a Bose-brand stereo with improved power and better speakers, and a heavy-duty towing package.

ON THE ROAD -Under the hood of Bravada there's a 4.3 liter V6 engine. It's an all-iron design, with pushrod operation of the valves and two valves per cylinder, and over the years it's proven to be a powerful workhorse for all of the GM compact pickups and SUVs. It produces 190 horsepower and a whopping 250 pound-feet of torque, which is enough to propel the 4100-pound Bravada to 60 mph in just above 10 seconds. With all that torque on hand, not only is off-line launch very impressive but its 5000-pound towing capacity means the family boat or camp trailer won't force Bravada into the slow lane on long uphill grades. For the most part, it offers smooth and quite power, until it's given full throttle. Then some engine thrash and vibration makes its way into the cabin. Mated to this is GM's excellent four-speed automatic transmission and an all-wheel drive system that automatically sends power to the wheels with the most traction without driver input.

BEHIND THE WHEEL -Though Bravada is equipped with on-pavement duties in mind, it's built on a rugged truck-like full frame with an equally rugged truck-like running gear underneath. The front suspension is independent and uses upper and lower control arms, torsion bars, tube shocks and a stabilizer bar. The rear axle is rigid, but coil springs are used instead of leaf springs. The ride is smooth and the handling composed, and it doesn't feel top-heavy like some other SUVs we've tested. It also uses variable-assist power steering, wherein the steering wheel is easier to turn when the vehicle is moving slowly, as when it's being parked, but stiffens as speeds rise, giving a firmer connection to the road. Braking duties are handled by four-wheel disc brakes and a standard anti-lock braking system (ABS).

SAFETY -Dual dashboard airbags, ABS and side-impact door beams are standard.

OPTIONS - Value options package: $57; Bose stereo: $495; heated front seat: $250.