By itself, the 2003 Oldsmobile Bravada makes a nice sport utility vehicle, but closer examination reveals that it looks very similar to the other GM midsize SUV offerings. In class the Bravada offers a solid choice due to engine power, extensive features, and the fact that it falls more on the luxury end of things than its stable mates.
Body Styles: SUV
Engines: 4.2-liter six-cylinder
Transmissions: four-speed automatic
Models: Oldsmobile Bravada
For 2003, two-wheel drive Bravadas offer standard traction control while all-wheel drive versions now feature a coil spring rear suspension. The previously standard air-spring setup still remains an option on all-wheel drive models. Side airbags no longer come standard but exist as options on any type of Bravada while the standard 4.2-liter engine sees a slight increase of five horsepower.
The 2003 Oldsmobile Bravada comes in just one base trim level. On the outside it offers a limited-slip differential, Bilstein shocks up front, 17-inch alloy wheels, a rear wiper, a rear defogger, a roof rack, power door mirrors, heated door mirrors, a trailer hitch, and trailer wiring. A power sunroof remains one of the few standalone options.
The Bravada gets its styling cues from its GM label mates in the midsize SUV class as well as the Aurora sedan. This results in an interesting mix of style that doesn’t look unpleasant or typical. A rear liftgate comes standard, along with power windows and remote power locks. The bumpers sit two inches closer to the ground so that the Bravada doesn’t destroy cars in auto accidents like many high-riding SUVs.
The one Bravada trim level offers a lot of cabin gear as standard equipment, such as leather upholstery, eight-way power front seats with adjustable lumbar support, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, cruise control, a tilt steering wheel with audio controls, dual-zone climate controls, OnStar, and an audio system with an AM/FM radio and a single in-dash CD player. Standalone options include a back-seat entertainment system with a DVD player, heated front seats, and a six-disc CD changer. A TravelNote recorder and rain-sensing wipers come in option packages.
Performance & Handling
The Bravada only offers one powertrain: a four-speed automatic transmission linked with a 275-horsepower, 4.2-liter, inline-six-cylinder engine that develops 275 lb-ft of torque. While this marks the first Bravada offered with two-wheel drive, SmartTrak automatic all-wheel drive remains an available option. An IntelliStart feature prevents the starter from engaging unless the engine is stopped, thus preventing that awful grinding sound that can push a driver’s buttons. This six-cylinder boasts V-8 power, and it handles traffic situations admirably but doesn’t produce the expected results based on specs and ratings.
The 2003 Oldsmobile Bravada handles well, especially since it uses a truck platform. It outdoes its label mates in this respect with precise steering and grip. It experiences a lot of body lean, but it feels controlled just the same. The brakes seem above average as well.
The ride feels soft and light on the highway with the coil springs and firmer with the air springs. Either way the Bravada meets the comfort standards expected by SUV buyers now that this class has become so popular. It experiences a little bit of highway noise although wind noise seems more noticeable and prevents serenity.
The 2003 Oldsmobile Bravada contains all-disc anti-lock brakes, traction control for two-wheel drive models, a remote anti-theft system, electronic brake force distribution, seat-mounted side-impact airbags, and dual-stage front airbags as standard safety equipment. The Bravada sits a few inches lower to the ground than most SUVs. This makes it more level with passenger cars in the event of a collision and therefore less deadly. Both bumpers can handle twice the impact commonly found on trucks.
In NHTSA testing the Bravada earns five out of five stars for side-impact front and rear safety and three stars for driver, passenger, and rollover safety. In the only IIHS test performed the Bravada receives the second lowest rating of ?Marginal? for frontal-offset crash safety. Like most SUVs, the Bravada does a solid job of protecting occupants, but without being so dangerous for the other vehicle.
EPA Fuel Economy
Oldsmobile Bravada: 14/20 mpg city/highway
- Engine power
- Standard features list
- Highway ride
You Won't Like
- Resale value
- Handling while cornering
Identical models from Chevrolet and GMC make better buys.
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