The early advertisements for the Buick Rendezvous showed an SUV, a luxury auto and a minivan driving into a gloomy castle. After a bolt of lightning strikes the castle, the Rendezvous emerges, the gist of it being that Buick had combined the best aspects of those three vehicles in its crossover offering.Although clever, that commercial was prone to exaggeration. Although the 2007 Buick Rendezvous presents itself like a tall luxury wagon, its performance can’t match more powerful rivals, and close inspection reveals several instances of lesser-quality materials. The roomy cabin, with seating for up to seven, does make it a capable people mover, like a minivan. But real minivans still have an advantage in third-row seat comfort and space efficiency. Even light-duty off-roading had proven to be a problem for the Rendezvous in past road tests, and with the AWD (all-wheel drive) option dropped this year, this Buick wouldn’t be our first pick for those needing a winter-friendly crossover vehicle. Strongly in its favor, however, is the Rendezvous’ relative frugality with fuel — we’ve averaged 21 miles per gallon in our road tests compared to 18 miles per gallon in the eight-passenger Honda Pilot, one of the Buick’s chief competitors.With its cozy seating, sound ergonomics, generous storage and admirable fuel efficiency, the Rendezvous is a decent choice for a family vehicle. And of course there is the purchase price, which is thousands less than comparably equipped competitors with seven-passenger seating. If you can accept its shortcomings, the 2007 Buick Rendezvous may provide the combination of utility, comfort and affordability you’re looking for in a family crossover vehicle, though we would recommend that you explore the many other alternatives in this segment before making a decision.
Highway cruising yields a cozy drive quality without the typical “float” associated with some Buick sedans. Push the Rendezvous a little bit harder, however, and the physics of its tall, narrow body take over, resulting in considerably more body roll in corners. Placed in a similar situation, newer competitors feel more athletic and stable. The Buick’s steering is also on the slow side and offers minimal feedback. Going off road, especially now that AWD is no longer an option, is not recommended as the Rendezvous’ soft suspension calibrations have it crashing over and through even moderate bumps and ruts.
The Buick Rendezvous comes in two trim levels: base CX and the more luxurious CXL. Included with the CX are 17-inch wheels, keyless entry, power windows and mirrors, air conditioning, automatic headlights, a CD player, rear parking assist and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Moving up to the CXL adds leather seating, power front seats, a third-row seat, automatic dual-zone climate control, front-seat side airbags, traction control, a trip computer, tire-pressure monitor, Homelink, wood-tone cabin trim and alloy wheels. Many of these features can also be had as options on the CX. Exclusive options for the CXL include a navigation system, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, leather and suede seating, a head-up display, a six-disc CD changer sound system and heated seats. Optional on both are a power moonroof, XM satellite radio and second-row captain’s chairs (a three-passenger bench is standard).
A variety of wood-tone and metallic accents lend an upscale ambiance to the roomy Rendezvous cabin. The quality of the interior materials is better than most GM products, though there are still cheap plastics here and there. Space for passengers in the first two rows is generous, but the third-row seat is best left to children. Cargo capacity is more than ample at 109 cubic feet, while towing capacity stands at 3,500 pounds.
Antilock brakes are standard on the CX, but other safety features, such as traction control and front side airbags are optional. They’re standard on the CXL. Stability control is not available on either Rendezvous. In NHTSA crash tests, the Buick Rendezvous scored three and four stars (out of five) in frontal-impact testing, and a perfect five-star rating in side-impact crash tests (though the driver’s door swung open when unlocked during this test.) During frontal offset crash testing by the IIHS, the Rendezvous scored an “Acceptable” rating (the second highest on a scale of four).
The only engine available in the Rendezvous is a 3.5-liter V6. Output is respectable at 201 horsepower and 216 pound-feet of torque, though still quite a bit less than most competitors that offer 40 or more horsepower. A four-speed automatic is the only transmission available. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is not available. Performance is surprisingly peppy around town, as the well-matched and intelligent automatic gearbox makes the most of the engine’s power. Still, passing and merging power at higher speeds lags behind the Rendezvous’ stronger competition. EPA fuel economy estimates are a respectable 19 miles per gallon city/26 miles per gallon highway.
Fold-flat third row seats, cozy ride, abundant interior storage, attractive cabin design, above-average fuel economy.
Although it’s more spacious and fuel-efficient than other midsize crossover SUVs, the 2007 Buick Rendezvous falls short of the competition when it comes to performance and cabin quality. And with all-wheel drive no longer available, its winter-weather utility is limited as well.