Pros: Low Price, Heated Seats, Bose Stereo, You can easily clean the cheap plastic interior!
Cons: Ride, Handling, Noise, Interior Quality, Seat Comfort on Long Trips, Safety, Reliability, Play-Dough Structure, Service
Sadly, this Bravada was my third in a long line of horrible transportation. My first, a 1994, was the best of the three I have owned. However, it still rattled more than the tin cans behind a just married couple (wait, so did the 1997 and the 1999), and the digital dashboard blew out. Hey, it was never boring. After the lease expired, I was assured that the new model was far better. So, I leased a 1997 model. At 500 miles, the alternator and battery exploded, and it rattled like the first. Then, not long after the 500 mile mark, on the way to a baseball game with my family, the thing fried itself and left us stranded in a bad section of town. But no fear, Oldsmobile's roadside assistance helped us, and we only waited three hours!!! Later, while on the highway, the back end started smoking and burning. My family ended up leaping from the moving piece of junk. From that point onward, my two children so hated the Bravada that they started chanting Burn, Baby!, BURN!!!!! But NO! It lived. We waited four hours by the highway for Oldsmobile's roadside assistance. After they finally summoned a tow truck in a completely different county, they towed the Bravada to a dealership 15 minutes away from where we had previously been. The dealership acted as though they had never even seen a Bravada, but by an act of God, the thing was fixed*. (The * indicates that it was fixed as Bravadas go, meaning the wheels turn again.) I went back to my normal dealership, Robbins Oldsmobile (they were almost as bad as the Bravada), and they played sorry for me. They cut me a fabulous deal on a 1999 model, so I leased that one. (I was going to purchase a Lexus RX300, but I could get the Bravada for considerably less with this pity offer.)
Well, except for the rattles, squeaks, groans, roars, etc., this Bravada has been decent. For the first time, I was able to experience how the Bravada was engineered: pitifully. The thing is awful. The best thing about it is the Bose stereo. Unfortunately, the bass is so good in the thing that it causes more rattles. Eventually, it becomes more entertaining to listen the the rattles than use the stereo. Needless to say, I ended the lease early and leased a new Infiniti I35, which is unbelievably better than the Bravada. Anyway, here is how the Bravada fairs:
The Bravada accelerates fairly quickly bu SUV standards, but the engine is coarse, load, and gets poor fuel economy. It roars so loud in the morning that I wake up everyone in the neighborhood taking the kids to school.
The thing spends more time on its side than it does upright. The steering is numb and vague; you can only tell which way the vehicle is pointed by looking at the Oldsmobile badge on the steering wheel hub.
The brake pedal feels like applesauce, but braking is acceptable for an SUV.
The ride is sooooooooo bad. The thing jumps, bounds, rattles, squeaks, and groans down the road.
Road and tire noise is well suppressed. However, the engine is very loud, and on the highway, wind noise is very noticeable.
Seat Comfort: 6/10
The front seats are excellent for around town travels. However, after more than a half hour, the rear begins to go numb. The rear seats are about three inches off the floor, and offer poor comfort for anyone over four feet tall.
This is the Bravada's strong suit. Except for a severe shortage of foot room front and rear, there is ample room in all dimensions. There is also a large amount of cargo space.
Standard safety features include: ABS, Front and Rear Crumple Zones, Collapsible Steering Column, Side Impact Door Beams, Dual Front Airbags, and Outboard 3-Point Seat Belts. The Bravada received a Poor score from the IIHS, three out of five stars for the driver and four out of five stars for the front passenger in a full frontal crash, five out of five stars for the driver and rear passenger in a full side impact, and two out of five stars for rollover resistance. (The last three crash tests were conducted by the NHTSA.) Overall, the safety equipment and crash test results are far below average.
Fit and Finish: 0/10
As I said above, the interior is all hard, cheap plastic. The wood is obviously fake, and the leather feels and looks like vinyl. Wait, the door trim is vinyl, and it feels better than the seats. The seams are off, and the exterior body panels are misaligned, with gigantic gaps.
It could be a 0/10, but the wheels do turn... However, keep a fire extinguisher handy.