SAN FRANCISCO: The
Rendezvous is Buick's new entry into the growing SUV craze that has America looking like
the "sportiest nation in the world". The Rendezvous is a cross breed of SUV,
minivan, and sedan that ends up being a surprisingly functional, sweet-driving winner.
It was in Ypsilanti, Michigan at GM's full-line '01 preview, where I first slid behind
the wheel of the Rendezvous and with a critical attitude, and drove it around for a few
miles. The most memorable event was my being stopped at a light, and the cute, young guy
two cars ahead of me gets out of his car, checks out the Rendezvous and hollers,
"What's that your driving?" Without a doubt, the Rendezvous is an eye-catcher!
This Buick is indeed a looker. Staying true to tradition, the oval grille has Buick
written all over it, but instead of chrome, this grille is finished in a black paint
treatment that is better suited to its SUV mission. Loyal Buick sedan fans will be doing
double-takes on the road, knowing they just caught a glimpse of the brand's signature, but
wondering - "Hey, what was that?" This reaction should not be a surprise, as the
Rendezvous is the first truck-based Buick since 1923.
The Rendezvous' appearance is suggestive of an SUV, yet the rear end has an
unmistakable minivan look. Another minivan feature is that the Rendezvous has a relatively
low sill-height, making it easy for passengers to slide in, rather than climb up in, as in
a traditional SUV. The tasteful two-toned body with shaded rear windows has a bold
futuristic look. The wrap-around tail lamps add a gnarly-looking touch.
In fact, the Rendezvous is so distinctively new that it stands out in the heaviest
traffic. On a recent visit to Eugene, Oregon, which is quite a bustling little city, my
friends who knew only that I was visiting in some "new car," consistently
spotted me as I ran around town. An amazing feat, considering that "new" was the
only clue they had.
The inspiration for the interior motif was Luis Vuitton luggage, and Buick's designers
have chosen upscale materials with low gloss levels. The details and finish display
sophisticated craftsmanship throughout. The Rendezvous is offered with two interior color
schemes in shades of gray and oak-toned beige. Choices are leather, flat-woven cloth with
contrasting leather bolsters, and all cloth with pile fabric. Regardless of the materials
chosen, the seats are always two-toned with dark bolsters and lighter center inserts. The
instrument cluster's detailing is very cool, with lights resembling rubies and sapphires
set in polished metal faces.
Instead of the expected wood paneling, a techy-looking hand-etched metal look accents
the door trim and dash. Utility is first rate, with plenty of open and closed storage
compartments. The lockable center console serves multiple functions - offering a charging
area for cell phones, and enough space to hold a laptop computer or even store a large
Comfortable and roomy seating combinations, with an optional fold-flat, third-row seat
big enough for two adults, will hold up to seven passengers. Set up to maximize volume
with the middle-row seats removed, the Rendezvous boasts an impressive 108.9 cu ft of
available cargo space.
The Rendezvous is one of the first vehicles to offer Versatrak, General Motor's
sophisticated "on demand" all-wheel-drive system. This well-engineered
drivetrain operates normally in front-wheel drive, and directs power to the wheels with
grip when slip is detected. No low-range gearset is available in the Rendezvous, so
off-road abilities are somewhat limited, but Versatrak should provide outstanding
All Rendezvous SUV's are fitted with a smooth-shifting, four-speed automatic
transmission. The "get up and go" to cruise to a high summit is provided by GM's
185-hp, 3.4 liter, pushrod V6 engine. Passing is a breeze, and on curvy, climbing mountain
roads the Rendezvous feels confident and steady.
As fate would have it, my week with the Rendezvous covered a 1,300 mile road trip with
two adults and one teenager. The original plan to take a four-seat convertible was nixed
at the last minute when the forecast mentioned rain. David Dunbar Buick, the founder
himself, must have been smiling at us from above when glamour lost out to practicality,
and the Rendezvous was chosen as the vehicle for the trip.
Over- packing became a part of the new plan, as sleeping bags, a tent, two separate
coolers and even a rubber boat were loaded into the spacious cargo area. The independent
rear suspension provided easy road handling. The comfy ride was more characteristic of the
Park Avenue Ultra than an SUV or minivan.
Separate rear audio controls with headphone jacks allowed a bored twelve-year-old to
rock separately to the radio, while we rolled up front with CDs in the six-disc stacker.
The trip was a complete joy ride, and even economical on fuel, averaging 18.6 mpg. Bottom
line, I'd say travel in the Rendezvous proved an "excursion extraordinaire".
Some useful options include a cycling/nature package with two roof-mounted bike
carriers and a set of utility crossbars. A ski package is also available with a
roof-mounted carrier that attaches to the utility bar holding up to six pair of skis, or
four snowboards. Another accessory is the trailer hitch with towing capacity of a hefty
3,500 pounds. The versatile Rendezvous offers something for everyone.
Rendezvous pricing starts at $25,499 for the front-drive CX model. The MSRP for an
all-wheel drive Rendezvous equipped with Versatrak is $28,027. My test car came to $33,437
including the CXL luxury package and the upgraded audio package. True to Buick's tradition
at its best, the "touch of class" Rendezvous adds another score for Buick as
America's leading "affordable luxury" vehicle manufacturer with this
state-of-the-art crossover SUV. Bravo Buick! By Carol Green © AutoWire.Net - San
P.S. I'd like to know what you think. Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Buick Home Page
Byline: Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo ©
Column Name: A Whole New Style Of SUV
Topic: 2002 Buick Rendezvous CXL
Word Count: 1031
Photo Caption: 2002 Buick Rendezvous
Photo Credits: Buick Internet Media
Series #: 2001 - 33
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