I visited my doctor today to understand why I can’t stop thinking about the second-generation Oldsmobile Bravada. “It’s just a Chevy Blazer,” I told her, “This makes no sense!” When she asked what I though might be the cause of my ailment, I guessed that perhaps it’s the trusty and torquey 4.3-liter V6 luring me in. “No,” she replied, “Chevy put that in damn near everything.” She had a good point. “Maybe it’s the styling?” I guessed. “No,” she said again, “It’s a Blazer with a weird grille.” Again, this is why she gets the big bucks. “Maybe it’s the nice leather interior?” I tried once more. “Nice? Psshh,” she chuckled. Again, she’s not wrong. “Could it be the fully boxed frame?” I blurted out haphazardly. “Do you think it’s the fully boxed frame?” she asked me. No. She was right. I don’t give a crap about the 1996 to 2001 Oldsmobile Bravada’s fully boxed frame. That’s when it hit me. “Oh god, it’s the SmartTrak Road Management System, isn’t it?” I mumbled, mentioning the automatic transfer case that sends power to the front wheels when the rears—which had a locking function in their diff—lost traction. “Bingo!” she yelled, spiking a pen on the notebook sitting on her desk. “So, what do I do?” I inquired, shivering. “What’s the antidote against an automatic transfer case in a 1990s GM SUV?” She grabbed my head, with each hand’s palm over an ear, shook twice and declared: “You’re screwed.” And she walked away.
Sr. Technical Editor, Jalopnik. Always interested in hearing from auto engineers—email me. Cars: Willys CJ-2A ('48), Jeep J10 ('85), Jeep Cherokee ('79, '91, '92, '00), Jeep Grand Cherokee 5spd ('94).