1997 Oldsmobile Bravada

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1997 Oldsmobile Bravada

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Available in 1 styles:  Bravada AWD shown
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Asking Price Range
$592–$6,008

Estimated MPG

16.1 city / 20.9 hwy


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Expert Reviews

    Expert Reviews 1 of 2

By 

The Morning Call and Mcall.com

GM, in an effort to halt its slide in market share, has hired a bunch of executives known as brand managers. Their job is to guide each vehicle through its creation and position it correctly in the marketplace.

This is to help ensure that badge engineering doesn't occur. This is when a new model is created by putting a new name on it along with a new grille.

They have their work cut out for them with Bravada, a vehicle that shares its good and bad points with its corporate twins.

The Bravada is basically a fully loaded, top-of-the-line compact GM sport utility that also comes in Chevrolet Blazer and GMC Jimmy guises. The truck is distinguished from its corporate cousins by the required badging, along with a vertical-bar grille.

The grille's bars were spaced so far apart however, that leaves and small autumnal debris made its way past the grille to the base of the radiator, where it could easily cause problems if left unattended. But the vehicle looked great, painted in a muted dark green with discreet gold accents.

Powering the Bravada is a 4.3-liter V6 featuring 190 horsepower at 4,400 rpm and 250 pound-feet of torque at a low 2,800 rpm. Despite the 4,184-pound curb weight, this engine moves this vehicle with authority, thanks mostly to the huge amounts of low-end torque.

Power is fed through a four-speed automatic transmission with shifts as smooth as we've come to expect from GM. The rather ordinary suspension set-up (independent front, live-axle rear) delivered good handling with only modest amounts of body lean while cornering, less so than most competitors.

The steering had good road feel, yet seemed ideally mated to its mission. Combine this with a truly compact size (107-inch wheelbase, and overall length of only 180 inches, less than most compact cars) and you have a highly tossable sport utility.

Just leave plenty of room to stop. The front disc, rear-drum anti-lock brakes are small and it takes half the pedal travel before the brakes seem to take hold. The pedal seems squishy and unprogressive, but the brakes still provided average stopping power.

But handling isn't the main reason people buy trucks -- it's the all-wheel-drive capability. GM's "SmartTrak" system consists of full-time four-wheel drive, four-wheel anti-lock brakes and a locking rear differential. The whole system is automatic, requiring no inputs from the driver. The Bravada's differential delivers 65 percent of the power to rear wheels, 35 percent to the front.

Payload capacity is 1,116 pounds, with a total cargo area of 36.8 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 74.2 cubic feet when they're folded. For 1996, the rear hatch is split, with a fold-down tailgate and lift-up glass. For '97, it's a one-piece, lift-up unit.

The rest of the interior is familiar to any GM compact truck owner. The dash is high, squared-off and easy to use. The buttons can be operated with gloves on. T he overhead console holds an outside temperature gauge, trip computer and compass. Also on board is a built-in garage-door opener. The center floor console is equally convenient, with plentiful storage and open trays.

The leather-covered "Aurora-style" front bucket seats proved comfortable, but the side bolsters squeak as they rub against the center console. The rear seats were moderately comfortable, but lacked rear headrests. All seats lacked seat heaters, a real concern for leather lovers come winter.

While lacking the finely detailed polish of some competitors, the Oldsmobile Bravada provides a vehicle without a maze of options to work through. Its compact size, good handling and competence are easy to see.

What's less easy to see is the distinction from its corporate cousins. But this truck is good, no matter what name you call it.

Olds Bravada Standard: 4.3-liter overhead valve V6, four-speed automatic transmission, driver's side air bag, anti-lock brakes, keyless entry, all-wheel drive, variable-effort power steering, P235/ 70R15 tires with aluminum wheels, full-size spare tire, leather trim package, front bucket seats, power driver's seat with lumbar support, split folding rear seats, overhead console, luggage rack, intermittent wipers, AM/FM cassette audio system, air conditioning, cruise control, power door locks and liftgate release, power mirrors, power windows, fog lamps, tilt wheel, rear window defroster, retractable cargo cover with cargo net, two auxiliary power outlets, trailer towing harness. Options: CD player, gold trim package. Base price: $29,505 As tested: $30,169 EPA rating: 16 mpg city, 21 mpg highway Test mileage: 18.5 mpg


    Expert Reviews 1 of 2

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