1997 Oldsmobile Bravada Review

Pros & Cons

  • Loaded with equipment, rugged good looks, superbly comfortable driver's seat, great sound system, powerful V-6 engine
  • No passenger airbag, poor front passenger crash test scores
Other years
List Price Estimate
$965 - $1,945

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Vehicle overview

After a one-year hiatus, the Oldsmobile Bravada returned for the 1996 model year, based on the same platform that serves as the basis for the Chevrolet Blazer and the GMC Jimmy. We said we doubted Oldsmobile would find 20,000 buyers for the Bravada in 1996, partly because of myriad choices in the luxo-SUV market, and partly because we didn't think the Bravada was worth the price of admission over similarly equipped Chevy Blazers and GMC Jimmys. By August 31, 1996, Olds had sold 6,650 Bravadas, falling short of sales goals by half.

That's too bad, because the Bravada is a great truck. No tacky fender flares and no dopey two-tone paint schemes here. The interior is swathed in leather, and offers one of the most comfortable driver's seats we've encountered in an SUV. The sound system is outstanding. Controls are easy to see and use, though they look and feel somewhat cheap. Bravada's Smart-trak all-wheel drive system makes off-roading carefree. This year, the split rear tailgate is gone, replaced by a liftgate with separately opening rear glass. Best of all, this is one speedy, fun-to-drive truck that can easily swallow a full-size dryer. Truly, the Bravada is what a luxury sport-utility is all about.

The Bravada comes loaded with nearly every conceivable luxury option; appropriate since this is Oldsmobile's entry into the quickly expanding luxury sport-ute arena. This market niche is quickly filling to capacity, with luxury SUV's from Acura, Lexus, Mercury, and Infiniti reaching showrooms recently.

Is the Bravada worth the price of admission over the Blazer and the Jimmy? Well, the front seats are exclusive to Oldsmobile, and the Smart-trak all-wheel drive system is standard on the Olds (it's optional on the Chevy and GMC). In fact, most of the standard equipment on the Bravada is available on the Chevy or the GMC, with an end result that is less expensive than the Oldsmobile.

Just eight options are available on the Bravada. Buyers can order a heavy-duty 5000-pound towing package, an engine block heater, a CD player that replaces the cassette deck, white-letter tires, and a gold-trim package. New this year is a power tilt and slide sunroof. Cloth seats are a no-charge replacement for the standard leather hides. Olds says the Bravada has a "two-fold mission: keep the driver moving in the face of adverse weather or road conditions and deliver all occupants in comfort and style to the destination of their choice."

Styling is pretty much identical to the Chevy Blazer and GMC Jimmy. The Bravada gets a unique grille and headlamp treatment, bumper trim, and body cladding. The overall effect distances the Olds far enough away from its corporate siblings to make it look and feel unique in a world populated by look-alike Jeep Grand Cherokees and Ford Explorers. A 4.3-liter Vortec V6 engine that makes 190 horsepower propels the Bravada's four wheels. Though strong, we find the V6 a strange choice when the Jeep and the Ford can be equipped with a V8 engine. The Explorer-based Mercury Mountaineer also has all-wheel drive, like the Bravada, along with standard V8 power. Rear disc brakes debut for 1997, replacing rear drums and combining with the front discs to make stopping distances shorter.

The original Bravada, which competed in a market populated by few luxury-oriented SUV's, never sold very well. It was based on ancient technology, and buyers saw through the first-generation Bravada quicker than they did the ill-fated Cadillac Cimarron. Oldsmobile has come up with quite an enticing package with the second-generation Bravada. However, the luxury market is becoming saturated with very good trucks, which will inevitably push demand for any particular model down. We also think that aging, affluent Boomers are going to tire of climbing in and out of these things in time, depositing their aching legs and backs into the seats of the Cadillacs, BMWs and Acuras that they're currently trading in like baseball cards for the more rugged, outdoorsy, SUV image. Finally, the lack of a passenger airbag, combined with very poor front passenger crash test scores, makes the Bravada a gamble of sorts. Currently, not many are taking a chance on Oldsmobile's luxury SUV.

1997 Highlights

Bravada drops the split-tailgate arrangement at the rear in favor of a top-hinged liftgate with separately lifting glass. So, tailgate parties aren't as convenient, but loading cargo sure is easier. Also new to the options list is a power tilt and slide sunroof. Included with the hole in the roof are a mini-overhead console, a pop-up wind deflector and a sun shade. Rear disc brakes replace the former drums, combining with the front discs to provide better stopping ability.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 1997 Oldsmobile Bravada.

25 reviews
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Most helpful consumer reviews

I got a good one!!!!!
200000 miles and still going! i have traveled all over the us with this truck and i must say i am very impressed! wish they would build suvs like that now a days! my new jeep.....junk compared to my trusty Bravada which I might add is still running and driving to this day! all in all its all in how you take care of it! I would buy another Bravada any day!
Not a bad car, Not great either
I have had this car for about 4 years. Bought the car used with 40k on it and now it is up to 100k. Have not had any major problems with it until now. The ball joints need to be replaced and the mechanic I took it to wants to replace all the seals and steering rods in the front with the ball joints. Other than that only small things have gone wrong with it. The fuel gauge broke and I replaced it and then it broke again so I just go by the mileage now. The car gets horrible gas mileage, An average of 12 to 15 mpg.
Bravada, our generation's EDSEL!
HI all, I am "mad as hell and I am not going to take ti anymore". Mostly at myself for buying what was meant to be a practical purpose, but the shine and the bells and the whistles sucked me in.To keep it as brief as possible, I bought this car as I needed a vehicle that could tow a boat and a small trailer. It fit the bill perfectly and I traded my SW2 Saturn Wagon, a good car, for this nightmare on elm street. I have been able to use it twice in two years to camp and to boat, a short trip. Overheating was # 1, Bad gas #2, complete cat replacement with 6 oxy sens #3,a 300 spider fuel injection unit #4,batt drain, as the genius who designed the switch made it too easy to leave on,more...
Not bad if you ask me.
We have only had this vehicle for a year but have been really happy with it. I bought it with 35k miles and have put about 10k on it since then. Other than less than average fuel economy and having to replace a belt tensioner pulley I can't say anything bad about it.


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver3 / 5
    Passenger1 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 1997 Oldsmobile Bravada

Used 1997 Oldsmobile Bravada Overview

The Used 1997 Oldsmobile Bravada is offered in the following submodels: Bravada SUV. Available styles include 4dr SUV AWD.

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Which used 1997 Oldsmobile Bravadas are available in my area?

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Find a used Oldsmobile Bravada for sale - 1 great deals out of 17 listings starting at $12,073.

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Should I lease or buy a 1997 Oldsmobile Bravada?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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