Pros: Ride, power, braking, styling, and luxurious content
Cons: De-contented for 2003 and gone after 2004
I bought my 2003 AWD Bravada in October 2002 for dealer invoice price less the factory rebate. Because Oldsmobile will cease to exist after the 2004 model year, many Olds dealers are willing to cut good deals. This adds to the already impressive "bang-for-the-buck" ratio.
I started looking for a replacement mid-size SUV at the Denver Auto Show in March 2001. Several of the new or near-new offerings were impressive, but my wife and I were stunned with the styling beauty of the the new Bravada. In June of 2001 I got to test drive the Bravada, as well as a Toyota Highlander, Acura MDX, and Dodge Durango at a GM traveling test track (included a slalom course). The Bravada and the MDX lead the pack and the Bravada had price, a quieter ride, and non-premium fuel over the MDX.
By the time the March 2002 auto show rolled around, I had my SUV selection down to the Bravada or the new Ford Explorer Limited. The Bravada won out based on horsepower, gas mileage, and interior appearance.
I had intended to purchase a Bravada in summer of 2002, but delayed that purchase based on Internet information regarding engine problems (piston slap) with some of the 2002 Bravadas and their GM "sisters", the Envoy and Trailblazer. The 2003 models received an engine revision that not only corrected past problems, but boasted horsepower and engine efficiency. However, the 2003 Bravadas also were de-contented by GM and many standard features became optional.
None of the de-contenting should affect a purchase decision, but it is an aggravation. De-contented items included articulated headrests, glovebox light, under-hood light, windshield antenna, and anti-glare side-view mirror.
My Bravada is Pewter with the Gold Package, polished Al wheels, upgraded Michelin tires, Bose sound system, load leveling suspension, side impact air bags, heated front seats, memory package, travel note, and rain sense wipers. With the Bravada's stunning front and side look, plus the Oldsmobile rocket symbol in gold, I've had numerous folks ask me how I like my Lexus. Not a bad vehicle to be confused with!
The leather interior in Pewter is gorgeous. The front seats are wide enough for a person and a half, but wear your seat belt so you don't slide around on them. The multi-position, electric, lower lumbar adjustment is great for my problematic lower back.
But the high point of the Bravada is driving and riding. The engine is an engineering marvel. So smooth and powerful, yet so quiet. The ride is like that of a large American luxury passenger car due to the pneumatic suspension and road noise is almost non-existent. When you have to stop, the brakes are the best I encountered in any vehicle. A linear application of pedal pressure provides a linear degree of stopping power. No sudden grab on the front or back end of the pedal's travel.
I haven't encounter even one warranty issue with my Bravada to date. Everything works and sounds like it did the day I bought it. This is good since I generally keep my vehicles for an average of 7 years and over 100K miles. However, GM provides a generous, 5-Year/60K Mile, extended warranty for all Oldsmobiles as an incentive to still by a "lame-duck" brand.