Good morning, and happy Friday! Today we’re taking a look at a pair of low-mileage American all-wheel-drive SUVs with a specific purpose in mind. We’ll get to them after we take a look at the results from yesterday’s convertible battle:
It’s a close call, but the Mustang wins it by a nose. Or more likely, by a clutch pedal, from some of the comments. I tried to find a manual BMW for a more even match, but just as nobody walks in L.A., nobody drives a stick there either.
Today’s matchup is a little nearer and dearer to my heart. As I mentioned yesterday, on Wednesday evening Portland was unceremoniously transformed into something resembling Hoth. I made it up our steep dead-end road in 4WD in my truck, but my wife’s Infiniti QX4, being only two-wheel-drive, is marooned at the bottom of the street, a block away, unable to climb the hill until the snow melts. This used to only happen every three or four years; now it seems like every year, at least once. We have come to the conclusion that 2WD SUVs are stupid, and we need to find her something that can drive up the road when it’s snowy.
I’m not a huge fan of Japanese vehicles; I know, they’re “excellent” and all that; I just never seem to like ’em much, and they always have too many miles on them. So I’m thinking domestic, low-mileage, and underappreciated is the way to go. Something like these two. Let’s take a look.
2002 Oldsmobile Bravada – $6,495
Engine/drivetrain: 4.2 liter dual overhead cam inline 6, four-speed automatic, AWD
Location: Milwaukie, OR
Odometer reading: 122,000 miles
Runs/drives? Just fine
Oldsmobile isn’t the first name that comes to mind when you think of SUVs. Or even the seventh. But their version of Chevy’s S-10 Blazer, the Bravada, was the nicest of the bunch. As the S-10 Blazer became just the Blazer, and then the Trailblazer, the Bravada came along for the ride, offering a more luxurious interior and “SmartTrak” all-wheel-drive. Earlier Bravadas were powered by Chevy’s 4.3 liter V6, an engine I know well, but this final generation came with something cooler, and a lot more powerful: a 4.2 liter twincam inline six.
This engine was an evolutionary dead end for GM engines, but it has its fans, and I bet it’s a hell of a lot smoother than the old 4.3. It’s backed by GM’s old standby 4L60E four-speed automatic, powering all four wheels. Since this is a traditional body-on-frame SUV, it has a nice high 6,100 pound towing capacity, more than enough to tug around our beloved vintage Aristocrat trailer.
Inside, it looks like a nice place to be, and it’s in good shape. Granted, GM plastic bits aren’t exactly high-class, but they work fine, and it has all the basics covered as far as equipment goes. Plus it has a tape deck, whic is important since my darling wife still has all her old cassettes.
This Olds looks like it’s in good shape, but it’s for sale at a dealership in one of those parts of town that is nothing but row upon row of used car dealers, so a careful inspection is in order, and maintenance records are likely out of the question.
2011 Ford Edge – $7,900
Engine/drivetrain: 3.5 liter dual overhead cam V6, six-speed automatic, AWD
Location: Beaverton, OR
Odometer reading: 104,000 miles
And here we have something newer, something much more modern: the Ford Edge. Instead of a truck chassis, this is the dreaded “C word:” a crossover, with unibody construction, a transverse engine, and better road manners, but less brawn: the Edge will only tow 3,500 pounds with the towing package. It would still work; our trailer is only 2,100 pounds empty.
The Edge is nice inside, but far from luxurious. It has more modern toys than the Bravada, including heated seats, satellite radio, and backup sensors. This SEL model does not, to my knowledge, have Ford’s trouble-prone MyFord Touch infotainment system. Nor, sadly, does it have a cassette deck. I dig the big double sunroof, but I hope it has shades you can draw for the summertime.
This Edge looks like it’s in good shape, and it has covered only 104,000 miles. The seller doesn’t give us much information to go on, other than the typical “runs good.” Early Edges have a hit-or-miss quality reputation, so again, an inspection is prudent. Since this is a private seller, I think I’d ask if any service records are available.
The whole crossover thing has never really been my cup of tea, but damn if this doesn’t look like a practical solution for modern living. It’s spacious, well-appointed, has everything we’d need, and would be more comfortable and economical than a more traditional SUV.
We’re just starting the search, and still tossing around ideas, but these two jumped out at me when looking at ads today. Two different beasts, very different in execution, but either would suit our purposes, I think. Which one looks like a better deal?
(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)
Edge for sure. Yeah, it’s not as capable, and the Bravada seems well-cared for, but I’d get a bus pass before trusting that era of GM vehicle to meet my transportation needs.
The GMT360s had/have notorious appetites for body control modules which are not plug-and-play, so that makes them an easy pass. Add in unobtanium parts from it being an Olds and it’s not even worth a passing glance.
The Edge is still sorta modernish, the Bravada so deep in the bowels of dated-but-not-yet-retroness that I’d be tempted to keep looking for a Cutlass Ciera wagon if I were Olds-inclined.
Bravada because it means I don’t have to listen to the Ford SYNC chime every time I power on.
I love this take. That chime is one of the few things I dislike about my Focus. And get reminded of every single time I drive her.
It was close until you mentioned that your wife misses her Explorer. That gave the Edge a 51/49 win over the Bravada. She can stream “Spring Session M” from her phone.
I was completely ready to unload on the Bravada for being a whored-up Blazer that existed only to separate marks from their money. Then I realized that this is the later Trailblazer-based version, which was vastly superior to the prior generation. That makes this a much more interesting comparison.
The Edge is the better choice if you want a vehicle for schlepping kids and groceries in comfort with moderni-sh features and decent fuel economy. If you need it to do truck stuff as a side gig though, the Bravada will handle that easily. I’m voting for the Bravada because you can do a lot more with it and I already have an efficient daily to handle my mundane tasks.
I absolutely love the 4200 engine and what you can do with it (such as 600+HP on a stock block https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8JA-HHjjvg)
However, if we’re looking for something for a winter 4WD vehicle, I’m gonna go with whatever has heated seats and less years/miles
I like the edge, I always kind of did think I wanted one, but the water pump buried behind the timing chains on these transverse duratecs scares me. I don’t mind wrenching, but timing chains/belts are something I usually farm out and luckily it is rarely required because it is pricy. but having to pay for that, if you catch the water pump failure before the Oil turns to milkshake is a criminally insane design IMHO
I6 all day.
‘ never cared for the styling of the Edge, nor its stance. Posture is important, mates.
It’s a nice-looking Bravada, but the RCR episode on it influenced my vote for the Edge.
As of his more recent videos, Mr. Regular of RCR still called the Bravada the worst vehicle he’s ever reviewed, which I think says a lot.
I knew even before seeing the front the Blue Oval would be peeled off in the front of the Edge. What supplier did Ford use around the early 2010s that meant this happened to virtually every vehicle they made? A level of commonality like the GMT800s with a single burned out DRL from ~10 years before that.
A few months ago Ford ran out of badges on new cars and held on shipping them until the supplier caught up, they should have shipped them anyway and billed it as a feature since it was just going to peel off anyway. 10 years would count it as retro right?
Anyway, I think the powertrain should be pretty stout in either one, the Edges seemed hit or miss but I see quite a few early ones, when it was 3.5 only, running around. I did some searching for an Edge brochure and think it is MyFord Touch, because those are touch-sensitive buttons, just the backlit piano-black trim design is more common (think that was with the Sony sound system?). I like the Bravada more personally, but I don’t really love either as a replacement for the QX4.
There are only a few vehicles I reject based solely on stereotyping their owners, but the GMT360 SUVs top that list.
Ford by default.
Yeah, there are definitely connotations that come with these, unfortunately. The Charger/Challenger are those cars for me. I think they are great cars, but I just don’t want to be lumped in with that crowd. No offense to owners – just like any stereotype, it isn’t applicable to all in a certain group. I have just had too many experiences with buttholes in those cars weaving in/out of traffic at triple digit speeds on the highway to ignore it as a trend.
Know what you mean – I own an ’02 Mustang that I got new. :-O
I’ve always loved her, but one of the benefits of no longer having the latest/greatest of the species is that I also don’t have nitwits in Camaros revving at me at stoplights, no more dirty looks from old ladies, and nobody assumes I’m going to recklessly endanger everyone by doing something foolish.
Tough call. The edge looks a lot better but the tow rating makes me lean towards the Olds.
I have in my head that the Edge is a Mazda CX-9? If that’s true I would lean towards the Edge. Our Cx9 has been a great car
Yes, the CX-9 is essentially a 3-row Edge/MKX. They are based on Mazda’s GG-platform Mazda6, which is a very good platform.
There’s some transmission issues on earlier models, and the water pump requires removing the timing cover to replace but that’s only every 100K miles, not a huge deal and less problematic than, say, a timing belt on a Honda/Acura V6.
Nope to the Edge. Transverse V6 engines suck, and the internal water pump in those is fucking scary.
So I chose the 4.2L I6. The only modern DOHC I6 from an American car company (until Chrysler’s comes out next year). GM should’ve used it more and even sold it as a crate engine. It would’ve made for an awesome successor to Toyota’s 2JZ. How come they never installed it in the Colorado/Canyon? It would’ve also been good for the Camaro, Silverado, Suburban, and full-size Holdens too.
I’m actually surprised they didn’t make a Holden-badged GMT360
I always wondered why they kept it out of the Colorado. That inline 5 (same atlas family as the 6) was a disaster.
Upon initial inspection I was going to vote Bravada anyway, but the Walmart-sourced boy-racer rubber floor mats in the dingy Ford interior sealed the deal for me, I’ll take the Olds haha. Full frame SUV that can at least entertain the thought of going off-road vs the ubiquitous dull mall-crawling “Mom’s Taxi”? “Oldsmobile, bitch, Oldsmobile!” 🙂
Big Daddy GM’s straight six and a bullet proof trans.
GM doesn’t always allocate funds wisely, but when they decide to spend money to engineer something, it damn well gets engineered.
vs. Ford’s early crossover.
In sum: don’t buy either of these. If you have enough cash to get either, go finance something new that will serve the same purposes with better safety tech and modern phone integration without being over a decade old and/or from a dead brand. The problem box these are solving has so, SO many options nowadays that I see no value in picking up something old and potentially unreliable to do the same thing.
There are going to be very few Shitbox Showdowns involving an Oldsmobile that the Oldsmobile does not win. This is not one of them.
That Olds looks new! I’m a sucker for a straight six and that Vortec 4200 is a great motor. Plus it looks like the Bravada has been very well cared for.
I didn’t know they even offered a ‘QX2’.
Anyway, the Ford’ll be nicer to drive, and you could put your fuel savings toward any possible repairs. Besides, you can get a better idea of its history.
3.5 and 6 speed is a pretty proven powertrain, and those Edges are ridiculously comfortable.
If you don’t need the towing capacity, get the crossover.
I know a few people that have owned Edges of that vintage and they have generally been happy. A person in my old building had a Bravada or one of its siblings of that vintage and it was towed out of the underground parking multiple times a year. Based on that I’m going Edge. Plus its a decade newer.
The Bravada (never heard of one before, ever), even if it is an objectively worse choice. Don’t care, it’s weird and has a straight six. That’s good enough for me
“Bravada” is Oldsmobile for “Chevy Trailblazer”
I vastly prefer the Chevy or GMC grille over the Olds version.
I owned an Envoy for a long time and really loved it. I traded it in for a 4 door Wrangler. The Bravada is the same as the Trailblazer, Envoy, Izuzu somename and the Saab 9-7x. The Saab was the beast version but they lost a cupholder due to the Saab ignition design.
We looked at an Edge for our daughter. Good looking ride, outwardly nice-had the twin sunroof thing. The shade was not working. I looked up the part & the fix. It was something like $1900.00 for the parts & then headliner removal. Yikes. Then there’s the transmission some years were very bad. Not a GM person, but in this case that’s the only choice.
I’m not voting today because I refuse to contribute to any divorce proceedings after you replace your wife’s Infiniti with an old Ford or an older Oldsmobile.
She still mourns her Explorer, and only tolerates the Infiniti.
So maybe go get her a new explorer pursuit? Or a suburban? Or anything other than these hot piles of garbage like a rusty bike.
Lower miles and probably better to live with on a daily basis gives the Edge the edge from me.
Also, all those Oldsmobile only cosmetic bits are probably going to be unobtainable these days. Low production and a dead brand? Better pray your winter driving doesn’t result in a collision.
Harlequin edition, but using pieces from the 5 other brands that had a version