2006 Rendezvous New Car Test Drive
The Buick Rendezvous is easy to like, with solid engineering, useful flexibility, and a handsome appearance. Rendezvous is what the industry calls a crossover vehicle. It blurs the lines between sport utilities, minivans, luxury sedans, and station wagons. It carries people more efficiently than an SUV, and it drives more like a minivan than a truck.
Rendezvous seats five passengers, or seven with the optional third-row seats. Its seats are roomy and comfortable and the interior is elegantly designed. The controls feature big knobs and are easy to operate.
The new Rendezvous Ultra is luxurious with elegant leather and wood trim. It's roomier and can carry more cargo than a Lexus RX 330, the archetype of luxury crossovers. Though not as quiet as a luxury sedan, the Rendezvous rides better than most SUVs. All-wheel drive is available, improving traction and handling in slippery conditions.
New for 2005 is a passenger-sensing system for the right front seat, which turns off the corresponding airbag if it detects a small-size occupant, or no occupant at all, thereby avoiding possibly injuries to a child or small adult and/or an unnecessary replacement of the airbag. A status indicator on the instrument panel tells occupants if the airbag is on or off. Even with this feature, however, the second or third row is the safest seating position for a child.
Rendezvous is offered in a variety of trim levels: CX, CX Plus, CXL, CXL Plus, and Ultra. For 2005, all models are available with front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD). All come with an automatic transmission, four-wheel independent suspension, and four-wheel disc brakes.
A 185-horsepower, 3.4-liter V6 with an iron block and pushrod overhead valves is standard on all but Ultra. A 242-horsepower, all-aluminum 3.6-liter V6 with dual overhead camshafts (DOHC) and variable valve timing (VVT) is standard on Ultra and optional ($2,025) on CXL and CXL Plus.
The Rendezvous CX ($26,585) comes standard with cruise control, remote keyless entry, PASS-Key III theft-deterrent system, AM/FM/CD stereo, power outlets for all three seating rows, and P215/70R16 all-season tires on steel wheels. CX AWD ($29,775) adds the all-wheel-drive system plus anti-lock brakes (ABS) and side-impact airbags.
The CX Plus ($28,315) adds OnStar, driver's information center, ultrasonic rear parking assist, manual dual-zone air conditioning and 225/60R17 all-season radials on 17-inch aluminum wheels. The all-wheel-drive CX Plus AWD ($31,525) also gets side-impact airbags and ABS, though the front-drive CX Plus does not.
CXL FWD ($30,785) and CXL AWD ($32,850) add leather upholstery; six-way power seats; automatic dual-zone air conditioning; heated mirrors; premium eight-speaker AM/FM/CD/cassette stereo with steering-wheel-mounted controls, separate rear-seat audio controls and headphone jacks; woodgrain interior trim including wood accents on steering wheel; content theft alarm; tire inflation monitor; and unique exterior trim. Both models come standard with side-impact airbags and ABS. The front-drive CXL FWD comes with traction control.
CXL Plus ($32,045) and CXL Plus AWD ($34,110) add heated front seats, a memory function for the driver's seat and mirrors, a folding third-row seat (increasing seating capacity from five to seven), and XM Satellite Radio.
Ultra FWD ($36,025) and Ultra AWD ($38,090) come with all of the above, plus the more powerful 3.6-liter V6, leather seats with suede inserts, second-row captain's chairs, six-disc CD changer, head-up instrument display, an electronic release for the rear liftgate, and P225/60R17 touring tires.
Nearly all of the features that come with the higher-line models are available as stand-alone options. On models that don't come standard with them, we recommend adding side-impact airbags ($350), anti-lock brakes ($600), and traction control ($175) for their safety benefits. A power sunroof ($800) is available. The DVD rear-seat entertainment package ($1,295) includes a fold-down seven-inch monitor integrated into the ceiling, so you can't have both the sunroof and DVD. Multi-media sound with touch-screen navigation ($1,600-$1,995) is available on CXL, CXL Plus, and Ultra. A towing package ($395) is offered on all but the base CX, and includes a high-output alternator, transmission oil cooler, heavy-duty engine cooling and automatic load leveling. This package boosts towing capacity to 3500 pounds.
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