What's New for 2000
GM's OnStar communications system is now available as a dealer-installed option, and a new cargo management system is expected sometime this year. Special color treatments include a new Jewelcoat Red option that features a deep red base color finished with a red-tinted final top coat in place of the usual clearcoat. There's also a Platinum Edition option that adds pewter-colored lower body cladding.
After a major freshening both inside and out in 1998, the Oldsmobile Bravada soldiers on with a few minor revisions this year. Not only must Bravada do battle in the hotly contested luxury compact-SUV market, but it is up against similarly equipped GM sister trucks, the Chevrolet Blazer and GMC Jimmy, which are based on the same S-Series platform.
Styling is similar to the Blazer and Jimmy. But Bravada gets a unique grille and headlamp treatment, bumper trim and some body cladding. As a luxury sport-ute, Bravada comes loaded with nearly every conceivable feature to battle a world full of Ford Explorers and Jeep Grand Cherokees. And its options list includes such extras as a six-disc CD changer, redundant radio and climate controls for the steering wheel, heated seats and a power sunroof, just to name a few. The downside is that this may not be your best choice to go bounding down a rocky trail. In fact, Oldsmobile makes no bones about designing Bravada to be a comfortable on-road SUV.
GM has improved its 4.3-liter Vortec V6 this year to make it quieter running and more durable with better fuel economy and lower emissions. Horsepower remains at 190, and despite sending a stout 250 foot-pounds of torque through the Bravada's four wheels, we find the V6 not up to par with V8-equipped Jeeps and Fords. The Explorer-based Mercury Mountaineer also has all-wheel drive, like the Bravada, but can be had with V8 power. The Oldsmobile's four-wheel disc brakes provide very good stopping ability, though we could do without the mushy feel to the brake pedal.
The Bravada has its strong points. The leather-lined interior offers one of the most comfortable driver's seats in an SUV. The sound system is outstanding. Controls are easy to see and use (though they still look and feel flimsy). Bravada's SmartTrak all-wheel-drive system makes finding grip in a variety of road conditions carefree. Best of all, this is one comfy, fun-to-drive truck that can easily swallow a full-size dryer. Truly, the Bravada is what a luxury compact SUV is all about.
But you need to ask yourself if the extra cost for the Bravada is worth the price of admission over the Blazer and the Jimmy. Better seating and the addition of GM's AutoTrac electronic transfer case in the Chevy and GMC variants have diminished the appeal of the Olds' exclusive front seats and SmartTrak all-wheel-drive system. There's not much left to differentiate Bravada from its corporate twins. In fact, most of the standard equipment on the Bravada is also available on the Chevy or the GMC, with an end result that may be less expensive than the Oldsmobile.