What's New for 2002
Olds brings out a new Bravada that's dramatically improved over its predecessor. A roomier interior, refined suspension, unique style and an all-new inline six packing more power than most competitors' V8s highlight the changes made to Oldsmobile's luxury ute.
Now much more than an archaic design hiding behind fancy cladding and wood trim, the new Bravada is ready to challenge any vehicle in its class.
With exterior styling elements borrowed from the Aurora, such as the front facade and fender blisters, the Bravada no longer looks like a Chevrolet with a different grille. Unique 17-inch wheels are the largest fitted to a GM midsize SUV and further separate the Olds from its Chevy TrailBlazer and GMC Envoy cousins.
A revamped chassis with a longer, yet stiffer frame, double A-arm front suspension, multilink rear suspension and variable-ratio rack-and-pinion steering improve the handling and ride dynamics of the Bravada immeasurably, though we felt the steering could be a bit quicker. Greater frame rigidity helps eliminate chassis flex (which can affect handling and produce squeaks and rattles), and the rear suspension utilizes air bladders that automatically inflate and deflate as needed to keep the vehicle level, even under rough driving conditions. Increases of 10 inches in length, 6 inches in wheelbase and 5 inches in width translate into a much roomier cabin than before, with enough space for five adults to stretch out. Maximum cargo volume also increases from 74 to 83 cubic feet.
Buyers have a choice of SmartTrak all-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive, and braking has been upgraded via four-wheel vented disc brakes. Of course, ABS is standard.
An all-new DOHC 24-valve inline six-cylinder engine powers the Bravada. The Vortec 4200 has a 4.2-liter displacement (hence the 4200 designation) and kicks out an impressive 270 horsepower and 275 foot-pounds of torque. Peak torque occurs at just 1,600 rpm, meaning power is always on tap for passing and merging with ease. Another benefit of all this muscle is that there is enough power to allow a Bravada to tow up to 6,400 pounds (two-wheel-drive model).
Dual-zone climate control and perforated leather seating are just two of the many luxury features standard on the Bravada, which only comes in one loaded-up trim level. And an increase in the use of soft-touch materials gives the cabin a feeling of solid quality that the previous Bravada lacked. Side airbags are standard, and the dual front bags have dual-stage technology, which determines deployment force based on the severity of the impact.
Just as the Bravada was introduced came the news that GM would phase out the Oldsmobile division over the next three years or so. This sad news shouldn't deter anyone from considering the competent new Bravada, as its chassis is shared with the GMC Envoy and Chevrolet TrailBlazer, and it would be serviced under warranty at either one of those dealerships if need be.