This week I tested the 2004 Buick Rendezvous all wheel drive AWD 4-door SUV. Why not just stop making all other cars. Then the SUV will make manufacturers more profitable and there would be one class of vehicle on the road.
We’re nearly half way there with SUV’s capturing about 40% of all cars on the road. The profit motive is all-powerful and explains Buick’s emergence a couple of years back into a market even Porsche thought worthy of the effort. Buick hasn’t built anything resembling a truck since the early 1920’s.
The only reason I can think of for everyone in the country wanting to drive an SUV is the perceived freedom to go anywhere, any time. Of course that just isn’t true and this Buick recognizes the actual limited off road use people subject their SUV’s to. A few consumers will sneer at the Buick as a true contender because it is not built for off roading.
Parts – n/a
Assembly – Mexico
Class: – Special Purpose
Cars: – Century, Le Sabre, Park Avenue, Rainier, Regal and Rendezvous.
Handling & Performance:
The model I tested was equipped with the 3.6-liter engine at 245 hp vs. the 185 hp 3.4-liter engine. I understand the 185 horses is wanting for power, but surely the 3.6-liter engine is very adequate.
In front drive you get about 2-mpg better mileage.
This is a luxury version first and thus has a soft passenger car ride. That translates to a smooth ride and seamless transfer of power to the rear wheels as needed with primary drive to the front wheels. It also has smooth quiet and comfortable braking.
Naturally beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but Buick didn’t go out on a limb here. It is boilerplate and non-controversial styling setting on the Pontiac Aztek chassis. Ho-hum, maybe to some, but I chose to view it as having clean lines and standard styling for the day.
Fit and Finish:
Very good, and I just love the partial wood steering wheel to add that touch of class.
7 seating is becoming even more popular as time goes on and although the cargo area with all seats up is verrrrry small, the roof rack should save the day on road trips. With third row seats down the cargo area is abundant. And the seats fold away easily.
Hey, Tiger, can you spot me 40 grand to buy one?
This is a cross over mix of the popular SUV and lesser popular mini van. It therefore has better fuel economy, lower to the ground for easy entry and exit and leaning to good control without the off road prowess. A good choice if you must have an SUV with a luxury feel and appointments. If you need a more prestigious badge, you’ll pay much more for not much more. If you must have Ralph Lauren, or other labels in your closet you’ll likely buy the Mercedes, BMW, Lexus or Porsche.
Buick Rendezvous $26-39,000, Mitsubishi Endeavor $25,500-33,000, Lexus RX 330 35-37,000, Pontiac Aztek $21-24,000, Honda Pilot $27-33,000, Saturn Vue $27-24,000, Mercedes Benz S-Class $74-123,000, Infiniti Q45, $52-62,000.
Easy entry and exit, all wheel drive safety and decent fuel economy.
Common styling, small cargo area with 3rd row seats up.
3.6 liter 245 horsepower V6 engine, 4-speed auto trans, leather first and second row seats and suede fabric inserts, wood trim steering wheel with radio controls, heads up display, audio system with 6 disc CD changer, tire inflation monitor, computer, OnStar system – 1 yr. included, XM satellite radio w/ 100 channels, memory for seat and outside heated power mirror settings, front heated seats, driver 6-way power seat and passenger power seat, dual climate control, roof rack, theft deterrent system, rear seat audio, rear parking aid, power windows and door locks.
18 City and 25 Highway MPG.