1998 OLDSMOBILE BRAVADA BASE
Used Truck - 1998 Oldsmobile Bravada Base in Chicago, Il
Actual costs may vary.
Major Accidents, Lemon History and Odometer Problems
» Get A Free CARFAX Record Check
1998 Oldsmobile Bravada ReviewThis car review is specific to this model, not the actual vehicle for sale.
Toughness in a tuxedo.
Some observers scoffed when Oldsmobile, purveyor of high-tech luxury sedans, entered the SUV market. It was, after all, a crowded playground with demand sure to peak in short order. Oldsmobile entered the fray with no track record and just one model available in only one trim and equipment level. On the face of it, this seemed a recipe for sales disaster.
And the Bravada did get off to a rocky start. At one point, it seemed to be on the brink of extinction, but Oldsmobile persevered and, thanks to some timely upgrades, has brought Bravada sales up to a level that will ensure its continued presence on the SUV scene. There has been no shortage of potential buyers; the public's appetite for sport-utilities increases every year.
From the beginning, Oldsmobile management played it smart. Rather than developing an all-new vehicle, they based the Bravada on the proven, high-volume Chevy Blazer/GMC Jimmy platform. Taking this simple and direct route reduced development time and kept costs down. Oldsmobile isn't the only automaker to follow this formula: Mercury's Mountaineer is based on the Ford Explorer.
More important, perhaps, was the decision to aim the Bravada at the SUV world's equivalent of Oldsmobile sedan buyers. For these folks, fine furnishings and quiet, smooth operation are paramount; they're not inclined to participate in the more rugged sorts of off-road adventures.
As the Bravada has evolved, so has its market niche. The Mercury Mountaineer, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Infiniti QX4 compete in this luxury SUV segment. Other, more mass market, sport-utilities vie for these same buyers when optioned out to their leather-lined limits.
Even casual observers will have little trouble distinguishing a Bravada from a Blazer or a Jimmy, as Oldsmobile has branded the Bravada name on the front, sides and rear of the vehicle. Trim details reinforce the Oldsmobile brand. Up front, the Bravada receives the modern Oldsmobile family identification in the form of larger headlight assemblies and dual grilles separated by a body color panel carrying the Oldsmobile division logo. Lower body-side cladding looks quite similar to that seen on Oldsmobile's Aurora.
Otherwise, the Bravada looks similar to the other four-door SUVs from General Motors. It's a clean, attractive design that features an aerodynamic front end, semi-formal roofline and muscular stance with minimal overhang. Front and rear bumpers, lamp clusters and other details are new this year, but the basic shape is familiar and easy on the eyes.
The major difference between Bravada and its General Motors siblings is in packaging. Blazers and Jimmys are available with two- or four-door bodies, two- or four-wheel-drive systems, suspensions designed for off-road driving or highway cruising, manual or automatic transmissions and a choice of interiors from plush to Spartan.
But the Bravada comes one way--with everything. That includes four doors, an automatic transmission, a V6 engine, and every luxury feature imaginable. The driveline consists of electronically controlled all-wheel drive with a locking center differential for when the going gets really slippery. The options list is short: heated seats, a sunroof and an audio system with CD player.
That's reflected in the base price, which sits right at the top of the GM compact-SUV heap. Said price is, however, in the ballpark when compared to stickers on similarly equipped competitors. In fact, it undercuts many of them.
Comfort was a top priority for the Bravada's designers. The result of their efforts is a space that is friendly to passengers and cargo alike. The well-padded seats are excellent, providing better than average support and adjustability. The driver's seat offers a six-way power adjustment. Electric seat heaters are available. Stretch-out room is ample.
Leather is standard equipment, but cloth upholstery is offered as a no-cost option.
Much effort has been expended on giving the Bravada's interior a passenger-car appearance. Results are mixed. The dashboard, though redesigned this year to accommodate a passenger-side airbag, is big and blocky. Everything is placed for good access, with easy-to-use rotary knobs controlling headlights and climate control functions. The grade of leather provided is the same type used in the Aurora.
Along with the soft leather, Oldsmobile's interior designers have applied a dollop of wood to door panels and center console, and have called for attractive deep-pile carpet on the floor. Overall, the Bravada interior looks handsome and has an appropriate high-dollar air about it, though the quality of both the various switches and the plastic panels that surround them is a notch below what you'd find in a Ford Explorer.
Triple door seals keep wind noise and dust at bay, insulation masks most tire noise, and the engine makes only a soft hum at highway speeds, though induction and fan noise are noticeable during hard acceleration.
Bravada's new rear step bumper is handy for loading mountain bikes and other cargo onto the roof.
Driving the Bravada in an urban setting is in many respects no different than piloting an Intrigue or any other 6-cylinder Oldsmobile. The seating position is higher, of course, which is beneficial in terms of seeing what's going on around you, but steering and braking required no more effort than their sedan counterparts. A turning circle only slightly larger than that of most passenger cars aids maneuverability
The Bravada is equally at home on the highway. It is still relatively effortless to drive and has a softer than normal ride. The brake pedal is mushy, a common trait among General Motors trucks and sport-utilities.
Performance from the V6 engine is good, and there is adequate power in reserve for carrying a full load. In a few instances during our test, we wished for a V8 option, which would be helpful when ascending steep grades with a heavy load. But more power would increase fuel consumption, and that's one of the negatives of SUV ownership. Our test gas mileage was slightly below expectations at 17 mpg, but included more off-pavement driving than most Bravadas would face. When equipped with the towing package as our test vehicle was, the Bravada can pull a loaded trailer weighing up to 5000 pounds.
We took our test Bravada on an all-day excursion through the Southern California desert on a run just beyond the capabilities of a front-drive passenger car. The SmartTrak system, which engages all-wheel drive instantaneously and unobtrusively when needed, performed as advertised, and there was plenty of traction available for crossing rocky ground and sand washes. Attempts to bog the Bravada down were unsuccessful, though we caution against trying this away from sources of aid; the absence of a low range of gears in the transfer case makes wading through deep sand, snow or mud an exercise in caution.
With sales running at less than 10 percent of those posted by the class-leading Ford Explorer/Mercury Mountaineer, the Bravada caters to a more limited market. Volume aside, though, it serves its purpose admirably, giving Oldsmobile dealers and customers a versatile vehicle that slots neatly into the company's product structure.
Handsome outside and roomy inside, the Bravada provides all expected amenities inside and out, encased in a well-constructed and solid structure that will breeze through normal use and absorb more off-road punishment than it is likely to experience. Workmanship in the examples we've seen has been very good as well.
Some entries in the Bravada's class are equipped with features unavailable here--some have V8 engines and most offer two-speed transfer cases--but the Bravada is a good choice for skiers and campers who want a vehicle that combines traction with classy looks, and has a smooth ride and enough interior enhancements to make travel luxurious. It will look right at home in front of an upscale restaurant or a mountain chalet, and has the hardware to make the trip to any place safe and comfortable.
Options As Tested
AM/FM/cassette/CD audio upgrade, trailer towing package, raised white-letter tires.