Buick introduced the Rendezvous crossover vehicle — which blends sedan, sport utility vehicle and minivan characteristics — for 2002. For 2006, the Rendezvous' available trims have been revised slightly and a new engine is available. Both front- and all-wheel-drive models continue to be offered. CXL Plus editions feature a 242-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 with variable valve timing; this engine is optional in the CXL. The new base engine is a 3.5-liter V-6.
A touchscreen navigation system is optional, and 17-inch wheels are standard. Several features become standard for 2006, including rear park assist and General Motors' OnStar communication system.
Described by Buick as having a "refined ruggedness," the Rendezvous has an overall shape like that of an SUV. Sharp lines take precedence over curves, and Buick gave it a rear slope in contrast to the typically boxy SUV shape. It shares styling elements with other Buicks, and gets a new grille for 2006.
Chrome wheels are available on models with the 3.6-liter V-6. Each Rendezvous rides a 112.2-inch wheelbase, measures 186.5 inches long overall and stands 68.9 inches tall. A fully independent suspension is installed.
In standard form, the Rendezvous seats five occupants, but its reconfigurable interior can be equipped with third-row seats that hold two additional people. The second row can have either a three-place split bench seat or two captain's chairs. The second-row seats flip and fold for access to the rear. Cargo volume totals 108.9 cubic feet when the seats are folded, and a 4-by-8-foot panel can be loaded through the back door. Low doorsills ease entry and exit.
The standard Ultrasonic Rear Park Assist system can warn the driver of obstacles to the rear. XM Satellite Radio and DVD entertainment are optional.
Under the Hood
The 3.5-liter V-6 develops 201 hp in front-wheel-drive Rendezvous models and 196 hp in all-wheel-drive editions. A 242-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 is available. Both engines employ a four-speed-automatic transmission.
Side-impact airbags and antilock brakes are available.
Automatic-transmission responses are quick and easy in the Rendezvous. Acceleration is good, if not exactly inspiring. The Rendezvous runs very quietly and offers plenty of versatile space. The gauges are notable in appearance, but they're not the easiest to read at a glance.
The Rendezvous delivers a generally soft ride, but its suspension hits some bumps rather hard. Handling is reasonably precise with good steering feel and feedback, very much like what drivers might expect from a minivan.