Technology and notable features
It was Buick’s first truck in its lineup since 1923, and 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. Like the Pontiac Aztek, the Buick Rendezvous is based on a shortened version of GM’s second generation U platform minivans. 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 inclement weather and could handle moderate off-road surfaces.
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. 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 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 and 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.
Year to year changes
2002–2003 Buick Rendezvous CXL
2004–2005 Buick Rendezvous
- Front turn signal/parking lights changed to clear from the previously used amber.
- The Ultra was added as a top-line model, with all comfort options standard, 17 inch aluminium wheels, leather and ultrasuede seating as well as a theft deterrent system.
- OnStar is now available on the Rendezvous as an optional feature.
- The Ultra was available with front-wheel drive.
- The 3.6 L V6 was now an option for the front-wheel drive CXL.
- Received chrome Buick tri-shield steering wheel.
- Leather-wrapped steering wheel standard.
- Quiet Tuning added to model
- OnStar is now standard on the Rendezvous
- Rear park-assist is also now made standard on the Rendezvous
- 3.5 liter V6 Standard
- Received chrome Buick tri-shield in grille
- A black faced instrument cluster replaced the all silver one used in prior years (2005 in some models)
- Ultra Dropped for CXL+
- OnStar Direction and Connections with turn-by-turn navigation
- Available in CX, and CXL Trims
- Available only in Front Wheel Drive
- Standard Mahogany Trimmed Wheel on CXL, Optional on CX
- Standard Third Row Seat on CXL Trim
- Last Year for the Buick 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 would not have considered purchasing a Buick. 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 RX. 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 Rendezvous 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?».