Its shape is not unlike its
cousins, the Chevy TrailBlazer and GMC Envoy, but it is not as distinctive or striking as
the other two. The Bravada is more rounded on the edges and is cleaner but its Olds
derived nose and plain tail keep it out of the running for beauty queen. The front end
treatment follows the current, and last, Olds styling theme that bears a familial
resemblance to the Aurora, Intrigue and Alero. The new Olds logo at the center with the
head and turn signal lights to either side with no traditional grill, just a lot of
plastic covering the front bumper.
Comfort for a vehicle in this class is an important attribute. The
Bravada is comfortable, but you have to work for it. It took about three days before we
found a really comfortable driving position, and the jury is still out on that one. We
found the seats to be more bench than bucket in feel; we thought more than once that we
were sitting "on" the seat rather than "in" it.
In the rear folding the back seat down is a two-step process. First,
you pull up on the tab at the rear of the bottom seat cushion then lift the lever on the
side of the seat and pull it forward. This causes the headrest to fold back, resulting in
a neat and tidy appearance and no storage issues for the headrests.
Opening the rear liftgate is an easy affair as well. Lift up on the
handle and it opens effortlessly, with the help of gas-filled struts. The glass opens
separately with a push button just below the handle. The button will not work if the
vehicle is locked, and there is no keyhole in or near the button, making it necessary to
unlock the vehicle either from the inside or a hit to the key fob.
The best rear seat feature is the combination audio and climate
controls. When you hit the power button for the radio control back there, the rear
speakers cut off for better listening with headphones. The unit gives freedom to the rear
seat passengers to listen to what they want, as long as it isnt what the front seat
passengers are listening to. For example, if the front seat wants to listen to a CD then
the rear seat has to listen to the radio or vice versa.
The rear seat climate control unit is like a "mini-me"
version of the main controls. Fan speed, direction and temperature setting are chosen by
pushbutton, an intuitive design that makes life a bit easier to cope with in the back
There are two cupholders and one power point in the center console
geared toward rear seat occupants. Appointments in the rear seat are well thought out and
make the rear as comfortable as the front, as long as no one sitting in front is over
6-feet-tall. The rear door openings are on the small side but seating space is more than
adequate for mid-size adults.
There is nothing brash or harsh in driving the Bravada. The
transmission shifts smoothly and theres never any bad vibrations coming from the new
engine. The only strange thing we encountered was a big-truck-like whine coming from the
engine when the air conditioning was on full blast. The strange thing about this noise was
that its pitch lowered as engine speed increased and then cut out after a few minutes.
Since the air coming out was cold and this didnt adversely affect performance too
much so we didnt think much else about it.
For those that have an "active" lifestyle, Olds put an air
pump in the rear cargo area. As well as serving as the pump for the load leveling rear
suspension, it comes with attachments for blowing up inflatable rafts, sporting equipment
and car tires, to name a few uses. We didnt get a chance to use this neat little
feature but appreciated it being there.
We averaged 16.3 miles per gallon with the Bravada, which isnt
very good for this class, considering that full-size Utes are comparable in this
department and the new engine has been touted as a gas-sipper.
Our onyx black Bravada had no options, which means our as-tested
price of $34,767.00, including $600.00 for getting the truck to the dealer, is at the
upper end of the mid-size SUV category. Were not sure this vehicle is really worth
the price when there are many great SUVs available today for much less money.
In a few more years, Oldsmobile will be going the way of Plymouth
and cease to exist. From what weve seen with this Bravada, bland products like this
will not stay the execution. We can wholly understand why GM is sending the oldest
carmaker out to pasture.