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2000 Oldsmobile Bravada SUV

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SAN FRANCISCO:  Many people like the go-anywhere, go-anytime capability available with four-wheel-drive. However, some don't like to turn knobs or pull levers to get in and out of 4WD. The answer could be the SmartTrak Road Management System that is standard equipment on Oldsmobile's sport utility vehicle (SUV), the Bravada. Unlike all-wheel-drive (AWD) where the vehicle is always in 4WD that is offered by other manufacturers, SmartTrak normally operates in an "all-wheel-drive standby" mode.

Under normal driving conditions, only the rear wheels are powered. When one rear tire begins to lose traction, the locking differential instantly transfers more torque to the other rear wheel, enabling both rear wheels to work together to help get you down the road in complete control. If additional rear-wheel slippage is detected, torque is delivered to the front wheels for the added traction needed in snow, on ice and for other slippery conditions. Working with the locking rear differential and the anti-lock braking system, it is done automatically and happens within a quarter of a second.

The Bravada is the most upscale member of GM's family of medium-sized SUVs. I call them "just the right size", and that also includes the Chevrolet Blazer and GMC Jimmy.

Exterior-wise the Bravada differs from its siblings with a distinctive grille and minor trim items. Standard features include a plush leather interior, more comfortable seating, center-mounted shifter for the four-speed automatic transmission, climate control, and power everything.

The Bravada is powered by a 4.3 liter Vortec V6 engine rated at 190-horsepower at 4400 rpm and 250 lb-ft of torque at 2800 rpm. Performance is quite good, even when climbing hills with five adults and all their stuff, or pulling a trailer. The towing capacity is a very respectable 5000 pounds with the optional towing package. Also respectable for an SUV is the EPA rating of 16 mpg City & 20 mpg Highway. The fuel tank holds 18 gallons.

Handling, steering, braking and ride quality are all very good. Indeed, it is hard to believe that the Bravada has a truck heritage. Like the Chevy Blazer and GMC Jimmy, the Bravada is based on the Chevrolet S10 and GMC Sonoma compact truck platform. But then again, these pickups are not like trucks of the old days. I found very little of the road noise often experienced in 4WDs, since the vehicle was usually in 2WD and street Mud & Snow tires were fitted. About the only time I knew I was riding in a truck is when I took a speed bump too fast.

The bottom line is that the Bravada combines the best features of both the family sedan and an SUV. Indeed, if getting into and out of sedans is getting more difficult for you, then consider an SUV or pickup truck. The chair-height seating means very easy entry and exit. The dashboard with large knob controls for both the radio and climate functions are especially user-friendly, and sitting up high offers excellent visibility through the windshield and for rear view safety.

The Bravada might be just the ticket for those that just want the security of 4WD but plan to drive it mainly on paved roads. The window sticker on the Bravada starts at $32,335 and goes up from there. A test drive at your local Oldsmobile dealer should be all that you need to make the final decision to buy one. By Bill Siuru AutoWire.Net - San Francisco

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Byline:  By Bill Siuru AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Column Name:   "Bravada combines the best features of the family sedan and the SUV"
Topic:  2000 Oldsmobile Bravada SUV
Word Count:   639
Photo Caption:  2000 Oldsmobile Bravada SUV
Photo Credits:  Oldsmobile Internet Media
Series #:   2000 - 38

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