2002 Oldsmobile Bravada Preview

2017
The Car Connection
2017
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

A reviewer's life is rarely quite this strange. I'd just spent three days in Baja California driving pre-production models of the new 2002 Olds Bravada midsize SUV. That is, I drove them

(on-road and off) during the day, got pie-eyed on tequila at night, and in between, was lectured on everything from what women want — the Bravada has the highest rate of women buyers in its segment — to the most arcane details of the new Vortec 4200 engine.

Then I flew back to the States to the announcement that General Motors was pulling the plug on Oldsmobile.

That's the oddest way to launch a new model that I've ever come across. But if Oldsmobile has to go, the Bravada is certainly the perfect way to do it in style.

Not that Olds will disappear overnight. Sales, support, and service for the new Bravada will continue for several years, and even when the Olds brand finally does fade into that good night, the model will be fully serviceable through GMC and Chevrolet, since it's essentially one of three triplets — a sophisticated sister with the same genetic/mechanical makeup as the somewhat more macho GMC Envoy and the more down-to-earth Chevy TrailBlazer.

All-around smooth

The Bravada is the most luxurious and all-around smoothest of the trio. The leather seats and burled-walnut trim are aimed not at hard-core off-roaders or at fervid boat- and camper-towers — though the Bravada can do these things as well as its siblings — but at urbanites and suburbanites who like their sport-utes stylish rather than feral.

GM marketers maintain that this is why the Bravada has particular appeal to women (last year, 45 percent of Bravada buyers were women, and the new model is expected to attract 50 percent). They may be right, though I of course have a couple of other ideas about why women buy Bravadas.

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