|Manufacturer General Motors|
Model years 2002–2007
Class Mid-size crossover SUV
Assembly Ramos Arizpe, Mexico
|Designer Elizabeth Wetzel (1999)|
The Buick Rendezvous, introduced in the spring of 2001 as a 2002 model year vehicle, is a mid-size crossover SUV that was sold by Buick for the 2002-2007 model years.
The Buick Rendezvous and its corporate cousin the Pontiac Aztek were GM's entry into the crossover SUV segment. As a four-door crossover with a front engine and four-wheel drive, the Rendezvous featured a four-speed automatic transmission with a V-6 engine. The SUV used the same platform as GM's short version minivan, Pontiac Montana and Chevrolet Venture. It assumed the load carrying duties that were previously handled by the Buick Estate station wagon.
Technology and notable features
Buick's first truck in its lineup since 1923, the Rendezvous was billed as a combination of the best attributes of a minivan (large cargo capacity, seating for up to seven), a luxury automobile (ride, handling, smoothness) and a sport utility vehicle (truck styling and available all wheel drive).
The Rendezvous was produced at General Motors' Ramos Arizpe, Mexico assembly plant, where it shared an assembly line with the Pontiac Aztek.
In lieu of four-wheel drive, the Rendezvous offered Versatrak, a full-time, fully automatic all-wheel drive system which provided sure-footed traction in the snow and wet, could handle moderate off-road surfaces, but was not meant for boulder-climbing Rubicon Trail-type activities.
Like the Pontiac Aztek, the Buick Rendezvous is based on a shortened version of GM's second generation U platform minivans.
Buick benchmarked their Park Avenue sedan as the prototypical target for ride and handling for the Rendezvous. In order to provide a luxurious and responsive car-like ride, all Rendezvous came equipped with a fully independent rear suspension system regardless of optional content or trim level.
The Rendezvous' instrument cluster detailing featured teal illuminated needles and numbers set in a silver face accented by chrome trim rings that was meant to evoke the luxurious look and feel of an expensive watch or designer bracelet.
The Rendezvous boasted the ability to carry seven passengers when equipped with a third-row bench, a class-leading feature that Buick brought to market before its competitors.
The Rendezvous is able to carry within its interior a standard 4'x 8' sheet of plywood.
In support of the Rendezvous' intended role as a versatile accoutrement for busy people with families, it provided a center console with storage space and power points for a laptop computer as well as a separate spots to hold a purse, a cell phone, pager or other small items that the owner would want to keep organized and readily accessible as well as an optional rear cargo organizer system and rear seat stereo system controls with headsets.
On the uplevel CXL model, a driver information center on the instrument panel provided the outside temperature, compass functions, a trip computer that included readings of fuel economy, range and fuel used. An optional second generation heads-up display was also available.This was also available in the CX model.
An optional tire inflation monitoring system provided readings of tire pressure and warned if out of the specified range was a clever feature in the wake of the Ford Explorer/Firestone debacle that was in large part attributable to underinflated tires.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives Rendezvous an overall Acceptable rating in their frontal offset crash test for fair structure performance and poor dummy control. However the IIHS never did a side-impact test on the Rendezvous.
The Rendezvous was a badly needed success for Buick, given the decline of its aging customer base, and singlehandedly brought a large number of younger, wealthier "conquest" buyers into Buick showrooms who otherwise wouldn't have considered purchasing a Buick.
Certainly a major contributor to the Rendezvous's success was an aggressive value-pricing strategy that made the Rendezvous US$6,500 less than a comparably equipped Acura MDX and US$8,000 less than the Lexus RX300.
The Rendezvous handily exceeded GM's predictions of 30,000 to 40,000 units a year by a large margin, which helped offset the poor sales of the Pontiac Aztek with which it shared its Ramos Arizpe, Mexico, assembly line.
The last one rolled off the assembly line on July 5, 2007
Commercials featuring Tiger Woods aired during the Buick Classic golf tournament. "Tornado" featured a tornado picking up Woods, three waitresses and their minivan, two storm chasers in a competing SUV, and one man in a luxury car. All the participants ended up inside a Rendezvous, with Woods driving and saying, "I guess we're not in Kansas anymore." "Igor" had three vehicles driving from a cemetery at night into a castle, followed by a lightning strike, and Woods exiting the castle in a Rendezvous as "Frankenstein" plays. Woods says, "What? You were expecting Igor?".