2003 Rendezvous New Car Test Drive
The term 'crossover' has become part of our automotive lexicon. When introduced, the Buick Rendezvous crossed over all the lines that used to separate sedans, minivans, and sport-utility vehicles. It's a perfect example of the new category of crossover vehicles, a category that defies categorization. Rendezvous combines aspects of SUVs, minivans, and wagons.
For starters, it's versatile, seating five to seven passengers. The styling is nice. It has fine manners on the highway, a benefit of unibody construction normally associated with sedans. Four-wheel-drive is available to cope with gnarly weather and marginal off-highway tracks with dignity.
No matter what you decide to call it, the Buick Rendezvous is priced well and easy to like. There is much to like here in terms of engineering, flexibility, and appearance. The three-row interior compares favorably with the passenger capacity of costlier vehicles. Satellite radio and a rear-seat DVD system are now available as options.
Buick Rendezvous comes with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. All models come with a 185-horsepower 3.4-liter V6 engine and an electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission. Rendezvous rides on a four-wheel independent suspension and comes standard with four-wheel disc brakes.
CX FWD ($25,445) is the base front-wheel-drive model and it comes standard with cruise control, remote keyless entry, a theft-deterrent system, AM/FM/CD stereo, and power outlets for all three seating rows. CX AWD ($28,545) adds the all-wheel-drive system plus anti-lock brakes (ABS) and side-impact airbags.
The CX Plus package ($1925) adds OnStar, a driver-information center, overhead console, ultrasonic rear parking assist, a tire-inflation monitor, aluminum wheels and other features, but not ABS and side airbags.
The AWD CXL package ($3530) and FWD CXL package ($4655) include all that plus dual-zone air conditioning, leather upholstery, six-way power seats, premium stereo with cassette and CD capability, rear-seat audio controls and headphone jacks, and unique exterior trim. FWD CXL models also get traction control and ABS.
CXL Plus adds a head-up instrument display, heated seats, memory for seats and mirrors, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, P215/70R16 touring tires (replacing all-season tires on other models), and a luggage rack. Third row seating, optional ($465) on all other models, is standard on CXL Plus. The head-up display projects salient information on the windshield (low enough to be unobtrusive but clearly visible). This allows the driver to read, with a minimum of eye deflection, the car's speed and radio or CD information.
A lot of these features are also available as stand-alone options, so you can pretty much build a Rendezvous to your personal tastes. Two new options for 2003 are XM Satellite Radio ($325) and a DVD Entertainment Center ($1000). XM Satellite Radio features 100 coast-to-coast digital channels, including 71 music channels (more than 30 of them commercial-free) and 29 channels of sports, talk, children's and entertainment programming. The DVD system includes a fold-down seven-inch monitor integrated into the ceiling.