Home » All We’ll Drive: 2002 Oldsmobile Bravada vs 2011 Ford Edge

All We’ll Drive: 2002 Oldsmobile Bravada vs 2011 Ford Edge

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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:

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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.

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2002 Oldsmobile Bravada – $6,495

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Engine/drivetrain: 3.5 liter dual overhead cam V6, six-speed automatic, AWD

Location: Beaverton, OR

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Odometer reading: 104,000 miles

Runs/drives? Yep

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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)

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Myk-El
Myk-El
3 months ago

Ford will sell you the whole seat, but you’ll only need The Edge!

Yngve
Yngve
3 months ago

I’ve had variations on both of these (an Saab 9-7 [a Bravada clone] and a Mazda CX-9 [uses the same AWD system as the Edge])…both need a certain degree of care to keep the AWD from consuming itself.

The Bravada will be fine, so long as you ensure that the tires are rotated regularly. Even a relatively small difference in circumference will cause the AWD to engage, and as long as the roads are dry, grenade. Do *not* replace tires out of sync (which is what the previous owner of my Saab did, killing the transfer case only a week or two after I picked the car up in Michigan and drove it to UT).

The Ford uses a Power Take Off from the transmission which feeds into a clutch pack at the rear axle. In other words, the prop shaft is always spinning. This would be fine, except the PTO is 1) located right next to the exhaust, 2) filled with approximately a thimblefull of oil, and 3) extremely difficult to service (as it is supposedly a sealed ‘lifetime’ unit. As long as you pump the oil out thru the fill hole (there is no drain plug) and replace it every 5-10,000 miles, you’re fine. Failure to do so may result in the oil solidifying, ultimately resulting in a seized PTO and trashed transmission.

I’d go with the Edge, but only as an informed consumer…

ProudLuddite
ProudLuddite
3 months ago

The Olds is, well, older, but not older enough to be vintage, classic or stir any nostalgic feels. The Edge looks better, is nearly half a decade newer and is better equipped. Even in this crazy market the Bravada seems way overpriced.

Timothy Carter
Timothy Carter
3 months ago

Now THAT’S clever! Love this idea

Iwannadrive637
Iwannadrive637
3 months ago

The Edge is so much better looking so let’s go with that. I rented one once and liked it very much. May I salute your wife for her audio media choices?

ChartreuseBison
ChartreuseBison
3 months ago

Neither car is interesting, I’ll take the much newer one unless you need the extra towing.

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
3 months ago

I voted Edge because early oughts GM interiors are dire. I’m a little disappointed that the Edge isn’t white because then it could have been my old neighbor in Beaverton’s car.

mrbrown89
mrbrown89
3 months ago

I have the GMC version of this, pretty much the same car. So many things will go wrong but the car will never die. The asking price is a little too much but they are still running around in the mid west, they are like cockroaches lol if you want a good winter car, the GM product will not disappoint.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
3 months ago

Im voting Brevada solely because Mr. Regular said that the previous gen was the worst car he’s ever driven

steevo1967
steevo1967
3 months ago

I always thought of a Bravada as a S10 Blazer in drag.

Clark B
Clark B
3 months ago

I voted Edge but honestly I’d take a higher mileage Toyota, Honda, or Mazda over the Edge or Olds. The Olds is far too expensive for what it is and how old it is, but I have to say that interior presents very well for its age. And the Edge…well, I’ve always thought they were hideous, like a weird malformed egg, but I seem to be in the minority there. My fiancee had a Fusion just a couple years older than that Edge and it was a hateful car, after about 120k miles things started breaking in a hurry (sunroof, rear defroster, broken door handles, multiple throttle bodies, valve cover gaskets, coil packs, as well as numerous boots and bushings on multiple parts of the front suspension). By 150k miles it needed more work than the whole car was worth. I have owned nothing but VWs and that Ford made them look like Toyotas when it came to reliability and build quality. So maybe I’m biased a bit.

mabus
mabus
3 months ago

Abuela, que es un Bravada? Mijo, es un Oldsmobile!

Inkara1
Inkara1
3 months ago

You’ll want to stay away from any front-wheel-drive Ford product with the 3.5 or 3.7 V6. The water pump is internal to the engine, driven by the timing chain. Given the placement of that, just a few inches from the shock tower, and all that has to be removed, it’s a very expensive job. The really bad part is that when it fails, there’s a good chance it can gush coolant into the oil. Since this one is just over 100K miles, I can’t say how much life is left in that pump. Make sure it’s been changed, and make sure it didn’t fill the crankcase with coolant first and damage all the rod and main bearings. You never know if someone buttoned it up with 20W-50 oil to dump it on the next guy.

I don’t know enough about the Bravada other than the “4L60E go PNNNNNN” transmission and hoping it doesn’t have the same PassLock security as the early 2000s GM cars that thinks you’re stealing your own car and won’t allow it to start.

mrcanoehead
mrcanoehead
3 months ago
Reply to  Inkara1

I rented a TrailBlazer with that powertrain back in the day, and I was actually impressed with the straight six. Smooth and relatively powerful. That particular car is way overpriced, though.

OrigamiSensei
OrigamiSensei
3 months ago

Having had several as rentals I don’t even like the Edge very much, and it’s still the better buy. Asking that much for the Bravada takes a bit of chutzpah even in today’s overinflated market. And what’s with all the people obsessing over the tow capacity? How many of you actually plan to tow with a 20 year-old Olds Bravada?

Chris D
Chris D
2 months ago
Reply to  OrigamiSensei

Towing three tons with a 20-year-old transmission will likely make for a very eventful day.
Neither one for me, thank you very much. If I ever decide to get a genuine shitbox, I’ll have an outhouse put in my backyard.

Pseudotsuga menziesii
Pseudotsuga menziesii
3 months ago

That Olds is worth $3500 max, no way am I paying $6500 for a 21yr old GM product.

BoneStok
BoneStok
3 months ago

I’d go with the Olds, it’ll do a much better job towing the camper. Plus I think the 3.5 in the Edge is the one that fails, and basically requires a timing job to replace

Man With A Reliable Jeep
Man With A Reliable Jeep
3 months ago

Livin’ With The Edge

There’s something wrong with my car today
I don’t know what it is
Something’s wrong with my car
I’ve got different problems on a different day
And God knows what it is
It sure ain’t no surprise, yeah

Living with the Edge
Living with the Edge
Living with the Edge
Living with the Edge

There’s something wrong with my car today
The headlights are getting dim
There’s misfires under load
If you can judge an engine
By the color of its oil
Then mister you know more than I, oh

Living with the Edge
(You can’t help yourself from failing)
Living with the Edge
(You can’t help yourself at all)
Living with the Edge
(You can’t stop yourself from failing)
Living with the Edge
(Anybody, anybody?)

ColoradoFX4
ColoradoFX4
3 months ago

The Edge will be the better driver, and still has plenty of interior room and storage. The 3.5 is fairly reliable as well. But ’11 was the first year of MyFordTouch in the Edge, and this looks to have it (optional on SEL trims). Later MFT systems weren’t as buggy, but this early one is probably going to be a headache.

If you’re really going to tow that trailer fairly often, the Olds is the way to go. And being from the early ’00s, will be less problematic without the “advanced tech” of the Edge.

Mthew_m
Mthew_m
3 months ago

I’d take the Bravada either way, but, the condition on that is outstanding. I don’t like that it’s an ’02 (First year Trailvoys had some issues, but, I think they’ve been resloved through recalls over the years), and, I hate that the Bravada and the Rainier got ‘Full Time AWD’, instead of the selectable case that also had an AWD feature in the lesser variants, but, these are pretty good vehicles. If I were just looking for ‘AWD transportation’, I’d much rather get the Oldsmobile and put an extra $1500 in the bank than gamble on a FWD Ford.

ExAutoJourno
ExAutoJourno
3 months ago

Edge. Newer, lower mileage, not as over-styled as later versions, roomy and comfy. I’ve actually been nosing around for one; if this one weren’t literally across the continent from me, I’d probably give the seller a call. And I’d put in a CD player, as all my cassettes have finally gone to join the 8-track brethren in Audio Heaven.

The Bravada? Not really interested. It was, as others have noted, a tarted-up Blazer, and the frills and frippery didn’t make it more useful or better-looking.

gubbin
gubbin
3 months ago

Heated seat + open sunroof is a delightful combo in cool PNW weather. Get the Ford.
And someone needs to scoop up this 3-pedal $1500 Volvo 850: https://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/cto/d/portland-1997-volvo-850-glt-speed-manual/7589957562.html

ProudLuddite
ProudLuddite
3 months ago
Reply to  gubbin

Volvo–nice price–willing to sort out issues at the pocket change asking price that you can probably negotiate down.

98Z28
98Z28
3 months ago

I have driven both and are good choices. I will go Olds as my parents and I had Trailblazers.

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