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2003 Buick Rendezvous

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San Francisco: Like Buick's sedans, the Rendezvous exudes a sense of classic American style without looking blatantly retro. Yards of chrome trim and a handsome body give it a unique look, while the grille is unmistakably Buick.

Yet when it comes to mid-size luxury SUVs, it seems imports get all the glory. Let's see, with such an all-star lineup, you'd think there would be no room left for another competitor. Yet, like the Helen Keller of automakers, Buick has bravely, and perhaps naively, entered the mix to produce a car based luxurious SUV called the Rendezvous.

Unlike the gutsy Miss Keller, Buick could see its hard to beat competition and knew it would be virtually impossible to whip those stalwarts on their own turf, so the company decided to offer a lower priced alternative that matches the competition in most areas. Better yet, while it doesn't have the horsepower of those fancy imports, it has something even more important: star power from Tiger Woods.

In any event, the Rendezvous turned out to be a nice SUV at a very nice price when it was introduced as a 2002 model. At a price many people can live with it offers the best attributes of luxury SUVs, like a smooth ride, comfortable cabin, and controllable handling. And still with a starting sticker well under $30,000, it holds its own against competitors that can cost twice as much.

Its strong points are a smooth ride and terrific handling, both helped by a taut unibody frame similar to those used on modern sedans. The ride is velvety, soaking up bumps and potholes like homemade bread in Mom's beef stew. Plus, with good steering, a well-tuned suspension, and grippy tires, the Rendezvous handles more like a Sport SUV than you would expect.

And no matter what the snooty Europeans and Japanese may think, there's something to be said for the Rendezvous' All American Style. Sweeping lines, chrome trim, and vivacious curves give it an air of class rarely seen this side of the new Ford Thunderbird, yet it's conservative enough to pass as a very modern SUV.

Inside, the cabin is nice and comfortable without being ostentatious. Materials and colors are above expectations, and the leather seats are particularly soft and comfortable. The back seat is roomy as well, but no third-row seat is available. Nice materials and pleasant colors are a surprising find in the Rendezvous.

Attractive new options for 2003 include XM Satellite Radio and a rear seat DVD player. These two new options will keep gadget lovers very happy. XM Satellite radio is particularly nice for long road trips, and the DVD player can keep back seat passengers entertained for hours.

Power comes from a 3.4-liter V6, which makes an acceptable 185 horsepower. It's adequate for climbing hills or accelerating onto highways, but it's far from the ample horsepower and torque expected in today's luxury SUVs. A little more horsepower would be greatly appreciated.

Overall though, it's hard to argue with the Rendezvous' near perfect mix of luxury and economy. It has a roomy, sumptuous cabin and a supple ride that's difficult, if not impossible, to beat at its entry luxury price. By Derek Price AutoWire.Net - San Francisco

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Byline:  Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo AutoWire.Net
Column Name:  Bargain-priced Rendezvous matches fancy imports
Topic:  2003 Buick Rendezvous
Word Count:   593
Photo Caption:  2003 Buick Rendezvous
Photo Credits:  Buick Internet Media
Series #:   2003 - 34

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Publisher - Editor:   Tony Leopardo
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