range, putting the Dakota up against full-size pickups. Styling is new for 1997, taking many of its character lines from its full-size sibling, the Ram truck. Dakota is the only pickup available with a choice of four-, six- and eight-cylinder engines. Although the Dakota has suffered tom a reputation for poor quality, it does have the advantage of versatility. Dakota is available in regular- and long-bed nodels, plus a Club Cab model.
The option list literally runs on for pages, making the choice more than a bit confusing. Underneath the sheet metal. this remains a basic work truck–so don’t expect sophisticated ride and handling.
Mazda has made some mild improvements to its successful Millenia. Outward appearance changes a bit with a new headlight and, on base and L models, new wheels. Inside, there is a new console. A new audio system that includes a CD player provides simpler, more useful ergonomics, eliminating that excessively oversized volume knob of before.
What didn’t change is an affordable luxury sedan that offers refined ride and handling, elegant, understated styling and a smooth drivetrain. Starting at $29,445, the base model has a very smooth and efficient 170horsepower 2.5-liter V6 sending power to the front wheels through a smooth-shifting four-speed automatic. Although not the fastest, few rivals can match the refinement of this engine and the athletic ability of the Millenia’s suspension.
Upgrading to the L model will cost $4,000 and add leather, keyless remote entry, power moonroof and larger wheels and tires. The performance version is the S, with its 210-horsepower Miller cycle engine topping the line at $37,045. This adds a supercharger-like boost to a small, 2.3-liter V6 without creating extra noise or fuel consumption. The S also gets a traction control system for better foul weather grip and a Bose audio system for splendid audio quality.
In many ways, Oldsmobile’s Bravada resembles its siblings at Chevrolet and GMC Truck, the Blazer and Jimmy, respectively. And while the other two can be equipped similarly, the Bravada makes it simpler for the consumer to choose a fully equipped four-door sport-utility vehicle.
There is just one model of the Bravada. For $30,800, it comes with virtually everything. Items like air conditioning, power everything, remote entry, leather upholsory, alloy wheels, fog lights and luggage l rack all come standard. There are just a handful of options, including a CD player, heavy-duty towing package and a power moonroof. If you prefer, you can switch to cloth upholstery.
For $2,400, this is one of two cars available where the dealer can install Oldsmobile’s Guidestar system. (Oldsmobile’s Eighty Eight is the other.) This is a unique system that includes a satellite navigation system and monitor to show a map and provide directions to a specific address. It will even find the nearest restaurant, gas station, museum or golf course, among other interesting sites. Maps are available for
every major urban area and all major highways in the U.S. It’s a Technology that we’ll be seeing more of, and is remarkably useful.
Other features include a