Midsize SUV; Built in Mexico
  • 4-door wagon
  • transverse front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $3,300 – $11,300*


2002 Buick Rendezvous


2003 Buick Rendezvous


2004 Buick Rendezvous


Buick Rendezvous interior

Pros:
  • Cargo room
  • Interior storage space
  • Passenger room
Cons:
  • Acceleration 3.4-liter
  • Fuel economy
  • Steering/handling

Though Rendezvous has been promoted as a lower-priced alternative to the Acura MDX and Lexus RX 330, it fails to match those luxury SUVs, or leading mainstream models. GM’s 3.6-liter engine is as refined as any competitor’s V6, but the Rendezvous falls well short of the polished moves and high-end ambience of premium SUVs. Although a Rendezvous might have cost more than top midsizes like the Pilot and Highlander when new, it sells for considerably less on the used-vehicle market.

Overview

Introduced for 2002, Buick’s new midsize crossover sport-utility vehicle was related to the Pontiac Aztek, but had a four-inch longer wheelbase and body, to allow third-row seating. Like Aztek, the Rendezvous was based on GM’s front-wheel-drive minivans and used a 3.4-liter V6 and automatic transmission.

Rendezvous came with front-wheel drive with optional traction control, or GM’s Versatrak all-wheel drive that lacked low-range gearing. Base CX and better-equipped CXL trim levels were offered. Both had antilock four-wheel disc brakes and front side airbags.

Second-row seating could be a three-person split bench or optional twin buckets. Both types had reclining backrests and moved fore/aft. The optional two-passenger third-row seat folded flush with the floor.

Options included GM’s OnStar assistance system, rear obstacle detection, a head-up instrument display, rear self-leveling suspension, and a 3500-pound trailering package. Buick expected to compete against such premium SUVs as the Acura MDX, Lexus RX 300/330, and Mercury Mountaineer, as well as the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, and Ford Explorer.

Yearly Updates

2003 Rendezvous
A DVD rear-seat video system joined the 2003 options list, while front side airbags were no longer standard on the least-expensive Rendezvous model. ABS was optional on the two-wheel-drive CX and standard on other models. That switch also applied to front side airbags, which had been standard on all models. The 3500-pound trailering package included a rear self-leveling suspension. Also newly optional for 2003 were XM satellite radio and an electric liftgate release.
2004 Rendezvous
A new top-line Ultra model with a larger V6 highlighted 2004 for Buick’s crossover. CX and CXL models again came with a 185-horsepower, 3.4-liter V6 and a choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The Ultra arrived with AWD and GM’s new 245-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6, which became optional for the CXL.
Second-row bucket seats were the only choice for the Ultra, which had a standard two-passenger third-row seat that was optional for other models. Additional Ultra features included rear obstacle detection, satellite radio, and a head-up instrument display. OnStar assistance was standard on all except the CX. A navigation system was available for the first time, as part of a combination radio/navigation unit that put the navigation screen in the audio faceplate.
2005 Rendezvous
2005
Equipment revisions marked the 2005 model year. Standard 17-inch wheels replaced 16s on all but the base CX version. A CXL option group added a wood/leather steering wheel and woodgrain interior trim. A sunroof was newly available for the CX model. CXL and Ultra editions were actually trim packages for the base Rendezvous.
2006 Rendezvous
A more powerful base engine and added standard equipment mark 2006 for Buick’s crossover SUV. Newly standard is a 195-hp 3.5-liter V6, replacing a 185-hp 3.4. OnStar assistance is also newly standard for ’06.
2007 Rendezvous
Rendezvous loses its optional V6 engine and available all-wheel drive for 2007, which Buick says is this vehicle’s final model year.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive

Two V6 engines have been available under Rendezvous hoods. A dual-overhead-cam 3.6-liter that makes 245 horsepower went into the Ultra that arrived during 2004, and has been optional for CXL. Other versions get a 185-horsepower, 3.4-liter overhead-valve V6. All Rendezvous models have a four-speed automatic transmission and either front-drive or all-wheel drive. Newly standard for 2006 is a 195-hp 3.5-liter V6, replacing a 185-hp 3.4. Rendezvous loses its optional 242-hp 3.6 V6 engine in 2007.

ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.4/207
Engine HP 185
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 210
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

18/24

ohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.5/213
Engine HP 195
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 215
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

18

23

dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.6/217
Engine HP 245
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 232-235
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

17/24

Road Test

Two-wheel-drive models don’t labor quite like AWD versions, but no 3.4-liter Rendezvous accelerates quickly. All of them slow markedly on upgrades, even with just two aboard. The transmission is mostly smooth and responsive, but can lurch on full-throttle downshifts. Buick’s stronger 3.6-liter V6 is responsive enough for most situations.

A test AWD CXL with the 3.4-liter V6 averaged 19.7 mpg in mostly highway driving, while an AWD Ultra got 13.6 mpg when driven mainly in the city. Both engines use regular-grade fuel.

Bump absorption is decent on 2WD versions, but subpar with AWD. On any model, the body rocks and sways on uneven surfaces, inducing queasy floating and residual motions. A Rendezvous is stable on smooth highways, but washboard surfaces trigger jiggly wheel patter.

Even with AWD, a Rendezvous feels less settled than a GM minivan. Steering is vague, if accurate, and early onset of body lean demands slowing way down for tight corners. Tire grip is modest, too. With ABS, brakes are adequate but with a spongy pedal feel. Versatrak unobtrusively sends power aft, when the front wheels start to slip, but if the front wheels are turned during hard acceleration from a stop, front-drive models tug to the side with unwanted torque steer.

Expect marked coarse-surface tire roar and prominent wheezy full-throttle noise from the 3.4-liter V6, though it may fade into the background at moderate cruising speeds. The more-refined 3.6-liter emits a pleasant growl at full throttle and is nicely subdued at highway speed. Wind-noise suppression is just average.

Instruments and controls are mostly well laid-out, but odd turquoise-on-silver main-gauge markings are difficult to read, and small graphics on the Ultra and CXL’s automatic climate display are inconvenient. Interior decor is attractive at first glance, but close inspection reveals a mix of some hard-plastic sections with a nice array of soft-touch surfaces. GM’s combination navigation/audio system is a relatively easy-to-use mating of map-screen, navigator functions, and radio controls.

Space is good up front, with easy entry/exit for adults, though head room isn’t generous if you’re six feet or taller. Seats lack contour, softness, and comfort. Thick middle and rear roof pillars disrupt the view of surrounding traffic, and while the large door mirrors aid lane changes, they are positioned to actually block the driver’s vision to the front quarters.

Second-row seats must be moved fully aft to yield decent adult leg space behind a tall front rider. There’s little toe space beneath the front seats, and moving the second-row back leaves virtually no knee clearance in the third row. Neither rear bench offers much leg support, and seat padding is subpar. Available second-row buckets are acceptably comfortable, but don’t tip/fold to help third-row access. Large rear entryways help, but doors swing out wide to crowd things in tight parking spaces.

Cargo spaced is ample, with small-items storage and many load-carrying options. Still, there’s barely enough room for grocery bags behind the third seat. Lowering the liftgate demands muscle, but a pull-down strap eases closing. If you fold the third row and remove the manageably light second-row seats, the Renezvous claims 108 cubic feet of cargo room–the most of any midsize SUV.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2004 Rendezvous AWD CXL w/3.4-liter V6

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 4
40%
Fuel Economy - 5
50%
Ride Quality - 4
40%
Steering/Handling - 3
30%
Quietness - 5
50%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Front - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Rear - 5
50%
Cargo Room - 9
90%

Other

Value - 3
30%

Total: 48

Specifications

4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
112.2 186.5 73.6 68.9
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
108.9 18.0 7
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.9 40.1 40.5 39.0
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2004 Rendezvous AWD CXL w/3.4-liter V6 4-door wagon

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 3
60%
Front Passenger Injury - 4
80%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Rear Passenger Injury - 5
100%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Air conditioner
Description: The air conditioner compressor (Mitsubishi) may cycle on and off too rapidly and cooling may be insufficient due to a problem with the high pressure valve. (2002-03)
Automatic transmission
Description: Automatic transmission problems include a leak from the side cover gasket (2004), servo cover seal leak (2002-04), lack of reverse/second gear or fourth gear requiring more robust parts (2002-05), and no reverse or slips out of reverse when hot 2003-04).
Coolant leak
Description: Like many other GM vehicles with the 3.1L or 3.4L V6, oil and/or coolant may leak from the area of the intake manifold requiring a redesigned gasket and replacement bolts. (2002-03)
Engine temperature
Description: The engine may get close to overheating (and the gauge will read high) in hot weather requiring reprogramming the powertrain computer to run the cooling fan more often. (2004)
Steering problems
Description: Casting flash on the steering knuckle causes damage to the tie-rod end and must be sanded off prior to tie-rod replacement. (2002-03)
Electrical problem
Description: The ABS light, traction control light or the AWD disabled light may illuminate caused by excessive play in the front hub/bearing assemblies. (2002-03)

Recall History

2002-04
Description: Exposure to high ambient temperatures may lead to the fracture of the fuel tank inlet check valve. A fracture may allow fuel vapors to pass through and leak. Dealers will replace the fuel tank.
2004
Description: Contamination of ignition relay contacts may cause high resistance, causing intermittent engine stalling; if this occurs, engine cannot be restarted immediately.
2005-06 Rendezvous w/aftermarket leather seats
Description: Testing has indicated that the aftermarket leather seat covers can cause the passenger sensing system to malfunction. If the passenger sensing system malfunctions, the front air bag on the passenger side may be disabled when it should be enabled, or enabled when it should be disabled. GM will purchase these vehicles for the full price paid for it (not exceeding the fair market value at the time it was bought), including taxes and fees, if the vehicle is returned to GM’s possession by January 31, 2007. Through January 31, 2007, GM will also pay for the removal of any aftermarket accessories that may have been installed and return them to the customer.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.