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I Think I Like the Buick Rendezvous

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Used 2007 Buick Rendezvous CXL
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author photo by Eric Brandt September 2018

The Pontiac Aztek has firmly cemented its place in history as being one of the ugliest automobiles of all time. So ugly, in fact, that it played a role in killing an 84-year-old brand. But it has a corporate cousin that isn't nearly as reviled as the Aztek -- and it's a crossover that I think I actually kind of like. I'm talking about the Buick Rendezvous.

The Rendezvous was a weird-looking crossover. It was the very first Buick SUV (unless you count pre-war Buick trucks), which is significant, considering Buick now sells way more crossovers than it does cars, at least in the United States. The Rendezvous wasn't nearly as ugly as the Aztek and had a few design details that I think are actually pretty cool.

I especially like the back of the Buick Rendezvous. I like that one long line going from the top of the rear quarter, down across the back, and up to the roof on the other side, creating the rear windshield and taillights. The front of this Buick isn't as pretty, but the whole thing has a design that's surprisingly weird for a Buick while still having a premium look to it.

The Rendezvous didn't have as many of the weird quirks and features as the Aztek, but it did offer a lot of features that normal people wanted in SUVs. It had an available third row of seats, making it more versatile than the Aztek -- and it could also be had with a DVD player, parking sensors, leather seats and Buick's "Quiet Tuning." Unfortunately, there were no model-exclusive tents for the Rendezvous like you could get with the Aztek.

Whether you love or hate crossovers, I think GM deserves some credit for getting into the crossover game as early as it did with the Aztek and the Rendezvous. They took the U-body minivan platform, made it shorter, put on SUV bodies and boom: The crossover revolution, in one of its early stages. Something people forget about the Aztek -- and by extension, the Rendezvous -- is that they weren't actually bad cars. The Aztek was just so ugly that its quality didn't matter.

And the Rendezvous was a hit! It was enough of a sales success to offset the massive failure of its Pontiac relative, exceeding sales expectations by a good margin. In its best year, Buick sold more than 72,000 units of Rendezvous, which helped out a lot in giving Buick an image as something other than just a car for taking old folks to church. In much the same way that the Aztek was part of the death of Pontiac, I think the Rendezvous is part of the reason Buick still exists in the U.S.

The Buick Rendezvous is a crossover that no car enthusiast has any business liking, but I think it deserves some praise. It was an uncommon risk for Buick that ended up paying off and shaping its product lineup that we see today. Its funky aesthetic, cool name and unexpected success make it an automotive oddity that I admire.

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Used 2007 Buick Rendezvous CXL
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
I Think I Like the Buick Rendezvous - Autotrader