Sunday, August 12, 2012

2004 Buick Rendezvous Long Term "Test" Part One.

Call me a wiseacre, but this is in response to those long term tests from car reviewers reviewing late model cars. The prolonged recession, as well as the fact this madman isn't making a lot of money from blogging necessitates the need to review what he already has. Surely, most of my readers, or a tiny fraction of 1/100th of 1% can agree that new cars are probably out of reach anyway. Besides, the worst car you can have is one with a payment book. This is going to have all the flash of a professional review and 0% of the hyperbole . The Buick Rendezvous was GM's answer to the Lexus RX series plain and simple, and aimed to the professional woman from her late thirties to late fifties. In my line of work, she would be called a "Debra" and she would have little automotive knowledge. From the console that can hold a purse underneath, a compartment large enough to hold a laptop computer, as well as an overhead bin and Homelink controls, this vehicle was as purpose built a passenger truck available. The Rendezvous was also the first truck under the Buick brand in decades, but truck like it is not. The sloping third quarter windows ape the RX as does the side view to some extent.
However, because this is a shortened minivan platform, the roof is much higher compared to the wheelbase than the RX is and can have a third row of seats if so ordered. The taillights and niche for the number plate seem higher than the headlights, giving the truck a weird downhill look to it. It also looks not unlike the Buick LeSabre's rear, which looks great. On the Rendezvous, it looks a bit unimaginative and doesn't belong. The front view is innocuous enough, and the composite headlights and front grille are all Buick and look handsome. The mirrors are some of the largest on any vehicle of its size, but are fabulous for towing a trailer. Unlike many contemporary vehicles GM has tried body cladding on, it got it right on the Rendezvous. The wheels on most of these are also very pleasing, but mine are plain and have aftermarket covers.
Inside, the driving position is very adjustable. You can raise or lower the seat, as well as front and back and there is a lumbar support on both driver and passenger seats. Mine doesn't have power on either seat, nor warmers, but this is a plus as it is one less thing to try and fix. What is not a plus is the material these seats are made of. It reminds the writer of an old mattress and unless you are very careful cleaning it, it will show water stains like same. With over 150,000 on mine, the driver's seat has about had it; even with an aftermarket cover.  The instruments are clear and easy to get at, but blue and silver gauges are a nightmare to read in the daytime when the lights are on. The numbers are just the right hue and brightness to make them unreadable at the top. The only way to cure this is to dim or shut off the lights to the cluster. 2005 and later models got a better, less avant garde' design. However this is no consolation to those stuck with a 2004 or earlier and there are no aftermarket skins available for this one either. If so inclined I may take a cluster out of an Aztek or later model Rendezvous and run with it.
Compared to many newer cars and trucks, the interior is almost 1990's in both function and form. There is now rhyme or reason to where the radio, heater, as well as the rear wiper and traction control live. The headlight switch lives in the usual spot and the ignition lock is where is had been on GM cars since the 1970's. The cruise control is also a throwback as is the front wiper control. These were a staple on 1970's GM products and alive and well on this 2004. Even with a huge console the shift lever is on the steering column as is the parking brake. In all fairness, there would be no room for either. It also makes reaching for the glove compartment an exercise in futility. I use the visor for my auto papers and keep precious little in that compartment as a result.
I wished time and again this model had a third row of seats, as well as place to put a full sized spare. Since the tire winch failed last year, I've resorted to putting the compact spare in the cargo area and since I pull a trailer with this beast, I pray that I don't get a flat. The compact spare would be dangerous trying to hold up the weight of same at anything more than a crawl. Because of safety issues of using plugs or sealers on a flat tire, this is not a great option either. Part of the problem is the rear suspension that limits clearance as well as the short length of the rear end. Eventually, if I keep this vehicle long enough I'll devise a way to put a full size spare on the inside rear quarter. That shouldn't be too tough. Maranatha!

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