Some observers scoffed when Oldsmobile, purveyor of high-tech luxury sedans, entered the SUV market. It was, after all, a crowded playground with demand sure to peak in short order. Oldsmobile entered the fray with no track record and just one model available in only one trim and equipment level. On the face of it, this seemed a recipe for sales disaster. And the Bravada did get off to a rocky start. At one point, it seemed to be on the brink of extinction, but Oldsmobile persevered and, thanks to some timely upgrades, has brought Bravada sales up to a level that will ensure its continued presence on the SUV scene. There has been no shortage of potential buyers; the public's appetite for sport-utilities increases every year. From the beginning, Oldsmobile management played it smart. Rather than developing an all-new vehicle, they based the Bravada on the proven, high-volume Chevy Blazer/GMC Jimmy platform. Taking this simple and direct route reduced development time and kept costs down. Oldsmobile isn't the only automaker to follow this formula: Mercury's Mountaineer is based on the Ford Explorer. More important, perhaps, was the decision to aim the Bravada at the SUV world's equivalent of Oldsmobile sedan buyers. For these folks, fine furnishings and quiet, smooth operation are paramount; they're not inclined to participate in the more rugged sorts of off-road adventures. As the Bravada has evolved, so has its market niche. The Mercury Mountaineer, Jeep Grand Cherokee and INFINITI QX4 compete in this luxury SUV segment. Other, more mass market, sport-utilities vie for these same buyers when optioned out to their leather-lined limits.