Midsize SUV; Built in USA
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear- or 4-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,700 – $3,700*

1996 Oldsmobile Bravada

1996 Oldsmobile Bravada

1996 Oldsmobile Bravada

1996 Oldsmobile Bravada

1997 Oldsmobile Bravada

  • Acceleration
  • Antilock brakes
  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Ride
  • Fuel economy
  • Rear-seat comfort

Except for its posh extras, Bravada isn’t really better than a Blazer or Jimmy. None of the three sport utilities ranks at the front of the compact sport-utility field, but they’re close enough to deserve a look and a trial run.


After a year off, Olds rejoined the sport-utility race with an updated Bravada in 1996. Bravada shared its basic design and 190-horsepower, 4.3-liter V6 engine with Chevrolet and GMC. An electronically controlled 4-speed automatic was the only transmission offered, with a console-mounted gearshift lever. Exterior trim was unique to Oldsmobile, and Bravadas came with standard leather upholstery and wood interior accents. Oldsmobile offered only a 4-door 4×4 model. Bravadas also featured a standard permanently engaged 4-wheel-drive system, called SmartTrak. Standard equipment included a driver-side airbag, antilock brakes, and air conditioning.

Yearly Updates

1997 Bravada
Few changes were noticeable in the 1997 Bravada, apart from a new one-piece liftgate to replace the original two-piece tailgate. Four-wheel disc brakes now were standard, and a power sunroof joined the option list.
1998 Bravada
Bravada gets a fresh look for ’98 with new headlights, bumpers, and grille. Also, a redesigned instrument panel adds a passenger-side airbag and new radio.
1999 Bravada
Steering wheel controls for the audio and climate systems were a new option, as was the pewter-colored Platinum Edition. It included a number of driver-convenience features and bodyside cladding.
2000 Bravada
A “cargo-management system” with vertical dividers joined the Bravada options list. So did GM’s OnStar emergency assistance/communications system.
2001 Bravada
Main changes for 2001 were standard instead of optional memory driver’s seat and power front passenger seat.


longitudinal front-engine/rear- or 4-wheel drive

Just one powertrain was offered: a 4.3-liter V6 engine producing 190 horsepower, driving a 4-speed automatic transmission. A new inline 6-cyl engine with 80 more horsepower replaced the V6 for 2002.

ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.3/262
Engine HP 190
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 250
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic



dohc I6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.2/256
Engine HP 270
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 275
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic


Road Test

The 4.3-liter V6 has more than enough power and the automatic transmission shifts smoothly. Though we saw 18-plus mpg, expect only about 15 mpg around town. GM boasts inline-6 has V8 power and 6-cyl fuel economy. That engine is strong, with good passing performance, but doesn’t feel as potent as power ratings might imply. Permanent 4-wheel drive is another bonus. It lets you concentrate solely on driving, while a computer determines how to apportion power among the four wheels. You never have to give the system a thought.

Ride quality also is impressive for a sport-utility vehicle, as the Bravada’s suspension absorbs bumps more effectively than that of an Explorer or Grand Cherokee.

The Bravada’s interior layout is virtually identical to Blazer/Jimmy, which means ample space for four adults. Cargo space also is abundant. Front bucket seats are comfortable for long drives, but the rear bench has a low cushion. Therefore, back-seat occupants are forced to sit with knees pointed toward the ceiling. The dashboard has clear gauges and convenient, easy-to-use controls, highlighted by easy dials for the climate system. Interiors also feature numerous cupholders, while the split rear seat folds easily, providing more cargo storage space, without removing headrests.


Model Tested: 1996 Oldsmobile Bravada

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 5
Fuel Economy - 4
Ride Quality - 4
Steering/Handling - 3
Quietness - 3


Controls/Materials - 6
Room/Comfort Front - 5
Room/Comfort Rear - 3
Cargo Room - 7


Value - 3

Total: 43


4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
107.0 180.9 66.5 67.0
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
74.2 19.0 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.7 38.6 42.4 36.1
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1999 Bravada 4-door wagon


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 3
Front Passenger Injury - 4

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Rear Passenger Injury - 5


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 64
Injury 56
Theft 84

Trouble Spots

Engine knock
Description: Engine knock when the engine is first started is usually eliminated by using an oil filter with a check valve. If this doesn’t work, GM has revised PROMs for the computers and may even replace the main bearings. (1995)
Engine misfire
Description: A problem with the powertrain-control module may cause a lack of power, early upshifts, late shifting in the 4WD-Low range, and otherwise erratic performance. (1996)
Engine noise
Description: The exhaust valves may not get enough lubrication causing a variety of noises. The same engine may consume excess oil because the valve-guide seals on the exhaust valves are bad. (1996)
Engine temperature
Description: Overheating and coolant loss may be due to rough surface on radiator filler neck. Neck should be sanded smooth and cap replaced. (1999-2000)
Transmission leak
Description: 4L60 automatic-transmission pumps may leak. A revised pump bushing is available. (1995-96)
Transmission problems
Description: If automatic transmission goes into neutral while driving and check-engine light comes on, there may be debris collecting in the transmission valve body. (1999-2002)

Recall History

1996 w/AWD or 4WD
Description: During testing, prop shaft contacted fuel tank, rupturing the tank; fuel leakage was beyond permissible level.
Description: Solder joints can crack, causing windshield wipers to work intermittently.
Description: The windshield wiper motor may fail on certain vehicles. Dealer will inspect and replace affected parts.
Description: Failure of an upper and lower control arm ball joint assembly could occur due to corrosion, resulting in impaired steering or steering loss, or a partial or complete collapse of the front suspension.
Description: During a severe crash, seat belt buckles with an energy absorbing loop may malfunction, leading to full or partial ejection from the vehicle. Dealer will inspect and replace affected buckles.
Description: Fatigue fracture of rear-axle brake pipe can occur, causing slow fluid leak and resulting in soft brake pedal; if pipe breaks, driver would face sudden loss of rear-brake performance.
1998 w/AWD or 4WD
Description: On a few vehicles, one or both attaching nuts for lower control arm were not properly torqued; can result in separation from frame and loss of control.
Description: The multifunction switch could develop an open circuit condition that results in the stop lamps and the rear hazard lamps becoming inoperative. The center high-mounted stop lamp and turn-signal functions are not affected. Dealers will replace the hazard-switch carrier.
Description: Brake lights and rear hazard flashers may fail if the multifunction switch develops an open circuit condition.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.