2004 Rendezvous New Car Test Drive
When it debuted in 2002, the Buick Rendezvous crossed over all the lines that had previously separated sedans, minivans, and sport-utility vehicles. Rendezvous was, and is, a perfect example of the new category of crossover vehicles, a category that defies categorization. The Rendezvous combines aspects of SUVs, minivans, and wagons. Just don't call it a minivan or a wagon.
Rendezvous is a versatile vehicle seating five to seven passengers. Its styling is nice. It has fine manners on the highway, a benefit of unit-body construction normally associated with sedans. Four-wheel-drive is available to cope with gnarly weather and marginal off-highway tracks with dignity.
New for 2004 is the Rendezvous Ultra, which comes with a higher level of standard equipment and an all-new, more powerful and more sophisticated V6 engine.
The Buick Rendezvous is priced well and easy to like, with solid engineering, useful flexibility, and a handsome appearance. The three-row interior compares favorably with the passenger capacity of costlier vehicles. Satellite radio, electronic navigation, and a rear-seat DVD system are available as options.
Rendezvous is offered in five trim levels: CX, CX Plus, CXL, CXL Plus, and Ultra. All Rendezvous models have automatic transmission, four-wheel independent suspension, and four-wheel disc brakes. Rendezvous CX, CX Plus, CXL and CXL Plus are powered by a 185-horsepower 3.4-liter V6 engine, and are available with front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD). Rendezvous Ultra comes with a new 3.6-liter V6 rated at 245 horsepower and all-wheel drive.
CX FWD ($26,020) comes standard with cruise control, remote keyless entry, a theft-deterrent system, AM/FM/CD/cassette stereo, and power outlets for all three seating rows. CX AWD ($29,170) adds the all-wheel-drive system plus anti-lock brakes (ABS) and side-impact airbags. CX Plus FWD ($27,880) and CX Plus AWD ($31,030) add OnStar, a driver-information center, ultrasonic rear parking assist, manual dual-zone air conditioning and 16-inch alumium wheels.
CXL FWD ($30,935) and CXL AWD ($33,140) add leather upholstery, six-way power seats, automatic dual-zone air conditioning, heated mirrors, premium eight-speaker stereo with steering-wheel-mounted controls, separate rear-seat audio controls and headphone jacks, tire inflation monitor, and unique exterior trim. Both FWD and AWD CXL models have side-impact airbags and ABS. Additionally, front-drive CXL's come with traction control. CXL Plus FWD ($32,420) and CXL Plus AWD ($34,445) 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), XM Satellite Radio, cross bars for the luggage rack and P215/70R16 touring tires (replacing the standard all-season tires of the same size).
Ultra ($39,045) comes with all of the above, plus the more powerful 3.6-liter V6, leather seats with suede inserts, second-row captain's chairs, a six-disc CD changer, a head-up instrument display, and an electronic release for the rear liftgate. Tires are upgraded to P225/60R on 17-inch aluminum wheels.
Nearly all of the features that come with the higher-line models are available as stand-alone options. Even the Ultra's more powerful engine is available as an option on CXL models. 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 ($885) is available on any Rendezvous except the base CX, and you have to spring for at least a CXL before you can order DVD entertainment ($1,100) or the multi-media/navigation system ($1,995). A towing package ($325) is offered on all models, and includes a high-output alternator, transmission oil cooler, heavy-duty engine cooling and automatic load leveling. Properly equipped, Rendezvous can tow 3500 pounds.