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Buick: Buick Rendezvous 2002


Rendezvous, Buick's exciting new entry in the booming truck market, brings together an innovative combination of many of the best features of sport utility vehicles and premium sedans, with seven-person seating capacity.

"We're proud to introduce Rendezvous as the Buick crossover vehicle - one that goes beyond the usual vehicle categories," said Buick General Manager Roger W. Adams. "It's really the best of all worlds - in terms of capability, security and comfort.


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"With our reconfigurable interior, we believe this is the most capable vehicle in the utility market. It's a great product for today's active families - and a great example of General Motors' strategy to reach beyond traditional constraints and become the industry's product innovation leader."

Third Row of Seats or Huge Cargo Space

Unlike traditional SUVs of about the same size, Rendezvous offers seven-passenger seating with its optional - and comfortable - third row of seats. Need fewer seats? Rendezvous can be easily reconfigured to create a huge cargo space of 108.9 cubic feet.

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Rendezvous can be ordered with Versatrak, GM's innovative all-wheel-drive system that provides sure-footedness on all roads. And it can be equipped to tow up to 3,500 pounds.

Introduced as 2002 Model

Rendezvous will be introduced as a 2002 model, with production beginning in the spring of 2001. Why create a truck-based Buick? There are several reasons. One, of course, is that today's U.S. vehicle market is about half trucks. Another is that a specific opportunity was seen for Buick to reach out to new customers.

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Rendezvous Brand Manager Jack Bowen said that "by combining the best features and design elements of today's SUVs and premium sedans, we've been able to create a vehicle with real comfort, all-road and all-weather driving security and flexible cargo versatility. Buick Rendezvous is ready to handle the pace and diversified tasks of today's hectic life."

And Mark L. Reuss, its vehicle line executive, noted that Rendezvous is the first crossover vehicle with a combination of three-row seating, a low flat load floor, all-wheel drive and independent rear suspension.

"Our primary objective was to design a more innovative vehicle than those available today," Reuss said. "The marketplace is congested with three of these and a dozen of those. To stand out and be recognized as something special, you need to be dramatically distinctive. This is one goal I am sure we have achieved."

Design Theme: 'Refined Ruggedness'

Of Rendezvous' design, Liz Wetzel, its design chief, said her team used Buick's "heritage of distinctive styling, power, comfort and security as a foundation, but took Rendezvous even further to add simplicity, practicality and durability - characteristics that are gaining in importance."

Rendezvous has a look of "refined ruggedness," Wetzel said. The new Buick's overall appearance is suggestive of an SUV, yet it sets its own course with such elements as a striking grille that is a stronger, more substantial version of the Buick vertical-bar design. The oval-shaped grille is "unmistakably Buick," she said, but the grille bars are stronger than the fine-pitched type in Buick automobiles. Instead of chrome, she noted, the grille is finished in an attractive paint treatment that's more appropriate to its mission.

"Our mission was to create a design that visually supports the vehicle's versatility, reinforces Buick's brand equity and heritage, and portrays a youthful image," Wetzel said.

    Interior Elegance

The design team also provided a feeling of interior elegance with a two-tone theme for all three trim levels - leather, flat-woven cloth with leather bolsters, and all cloth with pile fabric. Instrument-cluster detailing provides a look of precious stones set in polished metal - like jewelry. Needles and numbers are set in a silver face to resemble an expensive watch or designer bracelet. A new metallic accent trim lends a sophisticated and technical air to the interior.

Said Bowen: "The idea is to provide one vehicle that avoids the compromises inherent in traditional vehicles. With Rendezvous, consumers can have both style and functionality, performance and comfort, handling and roominess. Plus we're providing an impressive array of safety features, outstanding fuel economy and great overall value."

Key Features - Among Rendezvous' many features:

Low door sills, compared with traditional SUVs, providing low step-in height for easy entry and exit. A newly designed independent rear suspension to provide superior road-holding - and ride characteristics more like a Park Avenue Ultra than an SUV.

Various seating combinations - handling up to seven passengers - that are the key to Rendezvous' superior versatility. The two front seats are buckets. Two second-row choices are offered - a three-across split bench or two captain's chairs. Second-row footrests are optional. The optional third row has comfortable seating for two adult passengers and can be folded flush, with the release of a lever, to provide even more space in Rendezvous' large cargo area.

A new-design center console large and versatile enough to handle a full-size laptop computer - and with a special area for a purse. The console may be easily accessed by either front passenger. The console also offers secure storage and space for the ubiquitous cell phone. A full range of instruments, a number of them visible on a new-generation head-up display as well as on the instrument panel. There are three audio entertainment systems, including one with optional rear-seat controls and headphones for rear-seat occupants.

Versatrak All-Wheel Drive

Rendezvous will be one of the first vehicles to offer Versatrak, General Motors' innovative "on-demand" all-wheel-drive system. Versatrak uses front drive under normal road conditions and adds torque to the rear wheels on slippery roads. Versatrak is standard on Rendezvous' uplevel CXL model and optional on the CX.

With Versatrak, there are no buttons to press or levers to throw, according to Reuss. "No special driver action is needed beyond stepping on the accelerator. Versatrak is always poised to make the best use of the traction available."

The CX model without Versatrak, which is a front-drive vehicle, may be ordered with an all-speed traction control that employs both powertrain and brake system intervention to avoid wheel spin on slippery surfaces.

Powerful, Economical V-6

Rendezvous' powerful 3.4-liter V-6 engine, attached to an electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission, generates 185 horsepower at 5200 rpm and 210 lb-ft of torque at 4000 rpm. It provides exceptionally good fuel economy with EPA estimates of 19 miles per gallon city and 26 mpg highway for the front-drive version and 18/24 with all-wheel drive.

Safety Features The new Buick has numerous safety features, such as new dual stage inflation on frontal air bags, side air bags on both the driver and passenger sides, safety-cage construction and four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes.

Personal Choice Like Buick automobiles, Rendezvous has many features that can be personalized, such as exterior lamp exit delay, interior lighting functions, automatic door lock and unlock operations, delayed locking, remote door unlock with remote keyless entry and feedback with remote keyless entry. On the uplevel CXL, a driver information center on the instrument panel provides an outside temperature reading, compass and readings for trip average fuel economy, range and fuel used. There also is an optional tire inflation monitoring system that lights a warning lamp if low tire pressure is detected.

Rear Obstacle Detection An optional rear parking aid system uses four ultrasonic sensors to warn the driver of obstacles in the blind spot immediately behind the rear bumper. While backing at low speeds, the sensors alert the driver by a chime and warning lights if the car nears an obstacle that is ten inches tall or taller.


GM's OnStar communications and information system is available as a factory installed option. OnStar uses Global Positioning System satellite technology to link drivers to a center where advisers are available to provide many kinds of assistance, such as emergency services and travel support.

Benchmark Pricing

Rendezvous' pricing sets the benchmark for value in premium crossover vehicles. The manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) for an all-wheel drive Rendezvous equipped with Versatrak, General Motors' innovative "on-demand" system, is $28,027. (Price includes $575 destination charge.) That places Rendezvous over $6,500 below the all-wheel drive version of the Acura MDX ($34,850) and over $8,000 below the four-wheel drive Lexus RX300 ($36,150).

Also a great value, the front-wheel drive CX model without Versatrak has a base price of $25,499. It can be ordered with an all-speed traction control system that employs both powertrain and brake system intervention to avoid wheel spin on slippery surfaces. Versatrak also can be ordered as an option on the front-wheel-drive Rendezvous CX.

"Our MSRP for Rendezvous really sets us apart from the competition," said Jack Bowen, Rendezvous brand manager. It opens up the premium crossover vehicle market to a whole new group of customers who up until now couldn't afford this kind of vehicle.

"In true Buick tradition, Rendezvous represents the combination of great value and a premium vehicle," said Bowen. It is the first crossover vehicle that makes available the combination of a third-row seat, which can accommodate two full-size adults comfortably, a low flat-load floor, all-wheel drive and independent rear suspension.

A New Direction for Buick

Adams pointed out that Rendezvous is an important new direction for Buick. "Rendezvous will be a significant product - a vehicle that's segment-leading and on-target to the market," Adams said.

"As Buick moves into the new millennium, and heads toward its second century as a provider of premium contemporary family vehicles, we'll be introducing a number of fresh concepts," said Adams. "We're very pleased that the first one is Rendezvous"

(April 2, 2001)

all photos: General Motors

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