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Whats up with the 2002 Rendezvous? Consumer Reports rating?


NCBRIJEN
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I was reading through my Consumer Reports magazine this weekend and took a look at the rating on the 2002 Rendezvous... They even go so far as to rate it as a used car to avoid? My wife and I were just looking at a used 2002 and now read this report. My question to the forum is.. Does anyone have a 2002 Rendezvous and agree with their rating or should we always trust Buick as we have done in the past and have never regretted it. We appreciate your comments.

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I'm not personally familiar with the 2002 Rendezvous, but I would look to other sources for repair data. A criticism of "Consumer Reports" is that generally accepted statistical sampling techniques are not utilized. The surveys reflect data received only from CR's readers, so the data is not considered to be representative. I know that, in some cases, the samples may also be so small that they are not statistically reliable. I recommend that you keep looking for other sources of repair data, and perhaps others here, like Norb, will have more direct knowledge regarding the Rendezvous.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> I know that, in some cases, the samples may also be so small that they are not statistically reliable. </div></div>

If that's the case they leave the evaluation for that model and year blank. They do hire the occasional statistician. The data <span style="font-style: italic">is</span> from readers only, but it is by far the largest pool if information gathered and the <span style="font-style: italic">only</span> source of information untainted by financial incentive. (Also it should be noted that up until this year GM has been a big winner in the survey for a decade, not that it'll matter to some.)

The only people who don't think <span style="font-style: italic">Consumer Reports</span> is the best source of information for used car reliability are the people trying to bolster the resale value of the cars they bought emotionally, or who have a stake (personal/financial/emotional/otherwise) in defending an unreliable brand.

-----

If you think the Rendezvous took a hit this year, check out the Canyon/Colorado pickup trucks! They went from <span style="font-style: italic">"above average"</span> reliability in 2005 (near the top) to <span style="font-style: italic">"well below average"</span> in 2006 (the bottom category), probably the steepest drop I've seen in the survey as a 25 year subscriber. I can't recall any car or truck that fell that far in one year. (And it's not as if there a only a few of them out there to sample from--this had to have been a <span style="font-style: italic">real</span> decline in assembly quality!) shocked.gif

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">

The only people who don't think <span style="font-style: italic">Consumer Reports</span> is the best source of information for used car reliability are the people trying to bolster the resale value of the cars they bought emotionally, or who have a stake (personal/financial/emotional/otherwise) in defending an unreliable brand.

</div></div>

Thanks for the entirely predictable reply. I might just as easily claim that those who insist that CR is the best source of information for used car reliability are the people trying to bolster the resale value of the cars they bought emotionally, or who have a stake personal/financial/emotional/otherwise) in defending an unreliable brand.

I'm amazed at how quickly some brush aside any criticism of Consumer Reports and denigrate any other survey -- especially those with results contrary to CR.

NCBRIJEN, sorry if I've steered your post off track. My point was simply that it is wise to consult several sources of data rather than base a purchase decision solely on the CR survey.

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the best survey data analysis I've seen was an effort to correlate various polls of "quality" with the customer's desire to purchase the same make. None of the short-term checks like the JDPowers initial quality survey correlated. The survey taken after 3 years of ownership correlated very well. Makes sense, doesn't it?

And Buick faithful, the Rendezvous is a Pontiac (Aztek with some of the ugly scraped off by Buick)

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> If you think the Rendezvous took a hit this year, check out the Canyon/Colorado pickup trucks! They went from "above average" reliability in 2005 (near the top) to "well below average" in 2006 (the bottom category) </div></div>

The fact that the ratings plummeted, when in all probability there was very little, if any, change in the way the vehicle was produced, makes the whole CR ratings report method suspect. That is only common sense.

Here's a link to an article by Dr. David Zatz (a working professional statistician) which questions the accuracy of Consumer Reports reliability ratings for cars, trucks, and minivans.

[color:\\"red\\"] <span style="font-weight: bold">Consumer Reports reliability ratings for cars, trucks, and minivans: are they reliable?</span>

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Buy what you like, like what you drive. If you buy new and it's a "terrible experience" the first year, the car will have considerable trade-in value, so just trade it in. Or get the bugs fixed (under warranty) and sell it. If you really like the styling and driving experience, you could even buy another one like it. Odds are you won't have the same problems. Every make and model has a few cruddy "built-on-a-Friday" specimens out there. If there is really a critical design or manufacturing flaw in the model, just get something else you like.

I bought at least one new car that was probably an "avoid-at-all-costs-buy-at-your-peril" vehicle (I never checked the guides) and it was the best car I ever owned. I bought it because I really liked it. It was also WAY more fuel efficient than the sticker said it would be.

Another new car I bought because I liked it needed a new transmission in 20K miles. Replaced under warranty. It was the ONLY major problem I had with the car. Getting the new trans put in took about as long in the shop as a tuneup. Was this so terrible?

Buying used and out-of-warrantee takes a bit more care, but many service agreements cover major repairs and the price of the plan can often be negotiated when buying from a dealer.

There's a LOT of emotion involved in poring over CU and other buying guides before you get a car. Many people seem to base their emotional well-being on looking smarter than the average buyer. Unfortunately, they may still make a less than satisfactory choice, but at least they're able to justify their decision by pointing at the statistics--and their friends who also put a lot of stock in buyers guides will presumably not laugh at them. "You bought a Toyhonssan, so at least you did the right thing according to the prevailing wisdom. Feel good, sleep well." But are you actually driving a car you like? Or just one that you SHOULD like?

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Ox, thanks for that link! Highly informative!

When we subscribed to CU in the middle to late 1960s, I took special note of the car tests and compared them to those in other car magazines of the time. The tests were generally less involved and indicated slower acceleration times. On their "handling course", they had one "test bump" that was a test to see if the suspension bottomed out or the underbody hit something. Quite simplistic, but no reference to the "specs" of the "test bump". Still, as it was all consistent, some general conclusions might be reached. In many cases, their reports did not always conicide with the "other" media road tests.

They always went out and bought their cars from dealerships, unlike other press operatives that got theirs from the corporate press fleets. In the later 1960s, they started reporting on "defects" as delivered. They took a pretty finely-drawn definition of "defect" . . . as anything that was "not right". No mention of design defects or if they could be addressed with a minor repositioning adjustment -- two quite different things, yet they were "defects" as far as CU was concerned. A mis-aimed headlight was a "defect" for example, just as windnoise would be (to them).

I also noted that, for example, in a 6 cylinder version of a particular vehicle, the reliability chart was full of high marks, but the similar V-8 engine model was worse or much worse than average. Same car, same plant, same workers, same designers/engineers, different equipment mix. Perhaps the dealers loaded up the V-8s with lots of options (which would increase the failure rate and lower the customer satisfaction of the vehicle) whereas the 6 cylinder models were all pretty basic in equipment (less things to go wrong). By observation, when a customer notices one little thing going wrong, many others just seem to follow, but if they find nothing, they stop looking. Therefore, to take the CU reliability ratings "as presented" without looking for side issues (which most people would not do) can result in incorrect conclusions being reached.

If you use the CU reliability reports for general trend analysis, you can see how a later year model of a particular vehicle (after the platform model change) can have better ratings than that first year of production. ALSO, in this orientation, by the time that first-model year of vehicle would be on the used car lot, all of the noted problems should have been fixed under warranty--usually with the same parts that got the higher ratings for the later versions of that vehicle.

CU's main selling point of their surveys is their "no advertising" orientation, which is commendable, but it doesn't mean they will (or can afford) employ the same calibre of automotive testers that a major level car magazine would. As noted, even these impartial company employees will have their own individual biases that can find their way into the test results as they report on the various tactile touch/feel orientations of each vehicle. OR that they will have access to, say, the Chrysler Proving Grounds as some of the MI area car magazine people do, for their testing venues. Or that they'll have the same calibre of test equipment either.

What I DO look at in the CU tests are their general comments and test numbers. As "scientific" as they try to make these tests, they will not always duplicate the real-world environment/driving style that a (consumer/subscriber) motorist in another part of the country/world might experience.

Another observation of CU enthusiasts, with all due respect, is that they can use the CU "findings" only when they are to their advantage. For example, one guy at work uses the CU comments on the Chevy Cobalt to prove that GM is really in deep trouble . . . but has failed to mention that the current Chevy Malibu and Chevy Impala are "recommended buy" items.

One test rating variation I like is where the cars are all rated with scores in each area of the vehicle under consideration. That way, I can see numbers on where the particular testing group liked or disliked a particular vehicle. I can also cross-ref them to my own orientations and concerns. For example, a vehicle they rated #3 might score higher in the area I was more concerned with than a vehicle that scored worse in my main criteria area and enough better in another area to give it a #2 or better ranking in the group. I'd rather have a vehicle that scored well in chassis dynamics and powertrain than have one that scored higher in style (this year) and lower in powertrain and fuel economy, for example. Perhaps one vehicle scored lower in chassis dynamics due to a sub-optimal tire choice or lack of the upgrade suspension (which another vehicle might have had)??

We all have our own perceptual filters through which we process information. CU is in that same boat too. I feel they do very well on appliances and such, but their automotive testing does not seem to reach that same degree of consistency.

Of course, I would be remiss to not mention the various vehicular "tests" that CU has performed that have resulted in additional scrutiny and litigation. One was the "unstable" Chrysler K-cars, but when their test procedure was finally revealed (which they firmly defended as being acceptable), it was obvious that their test was flawed (in a real-world sort of orientation).

And then there were the SUV "tipover" issues that began with the Suzuki Samari. How that really transpired finally came out in the court hearings. Not good for CU! Similar for another vehicle of that nature, too, as I recall.

To their credit, CU does provide a decent service for the average consumer--one that might not be "an informed consumer" per se, with all due respect. But for a more involved description of vehicular tests, it's necessary to read "the biased" tests of the major car magazines. One magazine I can think of tends to look at things through "Honda-colored" glasses, for example.

The real issue seems to be when CU's automotive items are reported "as gospel". Their tests and surveys might have merit, just not quite as much as many would like to believe. As previously mentioned, many have used CU's tests/recommendations to reinforce that they (reportedly) made a good purchase decision . . . in the absence of any other valid information.

In general, a good survey will not lead the respondent into a negative response, nor a positive response either, by the way the question is worded. Defining the various rating levels is needed too, but seldom offered, just as what constitutes a "major failure" or "normal maintenance" (as the Nissan vs. Chrysler item in the link notes).

Seems like Popular Science (or Popular Mechanics) magazine used to have the best vehicle articles from their surveys and consumer comments--they made a lot of sense as to why people bought that particular vehicle and how they had been pleased/displeased with it, plus fuel economy in various driving modes and problem areas. From my perspective, those were results you could "take to the bank".

As always, a better consumer is one that looks at all (or a lot of) the available information on their potential purchase before plunking down their money for a product. The more input, the better, as the more input you have, the more that personal biases for/against a product will be averaged out. Trend analysis works better too.

Just some thoughts and observations,

NTX5467

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"If you use the CU reliability reports for general trend analysis, you can see how a later year model of a particular vehicle (after the platform model change) can have better ratings than that first year of production. ALSO, in this orientation, by the time that first-model year of vehicle would be on the used car lot, all of the noted problems should have been fixed under warranty--usually with the same parts that got the higher ratings for the later versions of that vehicle."

NTX5467:

Your comment above really relaxed my concerns about the 2002 model year. Since the last two years were recommended buys and the 2002 did not rank initially high I was hesitant. However as I thought about it more and more I have never ever looked at Consumer Reports before my purchase of a Buick ever before and have always enjoyed each model to the fullest extent. I have never hesitated before on Buick and I don?t plan to second guess my decision to keep purchasing a Premium American Motorcar even if they are now built in Mexico.

Thanks for everyone?s input.

post-31441-143137889506_thumb.jpg

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NC, have you requested a CarFax report for the particular vehicle you're considering. This is not a service I've utilized, but I believe that the report will detail any major repairs made to this particular car. Is anyone else more knowledgeable regarding the CarFax service?

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Guest my3buicks

I loved my 2002 Rendezvous, BUT, it did have ALL the normal problems associated with the 2002's - I wouldn't advise on buying a 2002, but would go with a 2003 or above.

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Carfax works. It's worth the money if you're considering any recent model used car as it will also note if the car has been flagged due to lemon repairs, possible flood damage, salvage title, etc.

If the car came from a state with emissions testing, it should also show the mileage at each test. You can buy the service for one month for and then check out as many cars as you want. That's probably a better idea that paying once per report.

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I worked at a Pontiac dealership during the Aztec period. Since these were sister cars - I never saw any major issues among all of the Azteks, not that we sold a lot blush.gif !!

I saw an occasional transmission go out but no major electrical issues orsuch. Can you get a 2003 Rendevous? That would be best.

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Consumer Reports is often not an accurate reporting tool on cars because their survey samples are not from a legitimate sample of the car-buying public.

In order to participate in a CR survey, you must be a subscriber. This taints the survey audience because it limits who can participate. This would be like taking a sample of car owners only from California or New York. The results would be accurate (if all other reliable survey methodology is followed) only for CA and NY, but would not be accurate for the experiences of people in the other 48 states.

Furthermore, when survey response is voluntary rather than arbitrary, the results have often been proven to be skewed because of the high likelyhood of only those with a strong opinion responding. For example, if voluntary participants could respond to a survey about McDonalds, most responders would be those who had a horrible (often one-time only) experience at McD's or those who were extremely pleased by what happened. Those who had an average experience usually don't feel it's worth the time spent answering the questions.

An example of these factors causing a flawed result is like asking subscribers to a chocolate-lovers publication whether they like chocolate, and which is their favorite brand. If you say "93% of Americans like chocolate" or "88% of all Americans like Hershey's" your data is wrong because that group doesn't represent all Americans, just that specific group. Only if you arbitrarily survey a true random group of Americans would make that statement accurate.

A better methodology is to compare several sources of info.

Some discount the value of J.D. Power and Associates because their surveys are often paid for, but the fact is, a survey contractor has to have someone to pay his bills, but that doesn't mean he intentionally skews his results.

You can also use sources (for comparison) like Car Point, epinions.com, and various car information Web sites that allow users to voice their opinions.

If four out of five sites says a particular car is great, but one says the same model is awful, I would consider it to be a good car. If four out of five sources say it is a lemon, you can't just use the one site that says a car is good just because you really are intent on buying that particular model.

As for where a car is made, yes, the Rendezvous has always been made in Mexico. So much for the old Buick slogan of "Premium American Motorcars." FYI, any car made since 1981 with a VIN that starts with "3" was made in Mexico.

There is also a strong case for CR being skewed in favor of foreign brands, but that is another discussion (argument) for another day......

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In the interests of full disclosure, I want to let it be known that I am a subscriber to Consumer Reports and have been for many years. I would have liked to know how many of those who posted to this thread are also subscribers. I believe we can count out Skyking. I no longer pour through the magazine these days as I used to because, being retired, I am no longer the consumer that I once was. I truly am in the demographic that no one cares about. In addition, I don't think they have a buying guide on '41 Buicks.

As a subscriber, every year I receive a survey. From what follows, you might be able to understand what drives the response to the survey by a subscriber, or just this one. First of all I don't respond to all surveys. A response is determined by whether I have the time at the moment because if I put it aside for later input, I will find it about two months later which is beyond the response time. Another determining factor is whether responses are being requested on products that interest me and that I might own and have experience with. I love responding to the survey about my 22 year old RCA 24" TV that keeps chugging along without a hiccup. I wonder how many who posted to this thread have responded to CR surveys?

This year I responded to the survey and provided my experience with my two vehicles, a 1999 Chev. Suburban and a 1998 Ford, 2WD, Ranger. My input for these two vehicles was right on point with the results shown by CR. The '98 2WD Ranger is a recommended used vehicle under $6,000. The '99 Suburban is a used vehicle to avoid, maybe.

Now for the statistical abnormalities. At the time of the survey I had owned the Ranger for a little over a year. In that year I have had zero problems and I genuinely like the vehicle. I found it with everything I wanted, 2.5 4 cyl. w/5 spd, air, extended cab, and most importantly for the pain in my leg, cruise control. Therefore, I start with a positive attitude because I found a used vehicle with everything I wanted and it was an improvement on the previous, last of the rice burner Mazda trucks, a 1993 B2200.

On to the Suburban. I bought it new in 1999, trading in a '91, 6.2L, 21 mpg hyway Sub. I wish that I had a copy of the CR survey, but I believe that it asks what the experience has been with the vehicle and does not put a time limit on the experience. The first year and a half with the Sub. was a real trial. Electric selector for the 4WD transfer case went out, something went wrong with the fuel delivery that caused mileage to drop to 9 mpg, fit and finish was abismal, on first hunting trip to MT, I believe I brought back inside the Sub. to MN half the dirt on the MT dirt roads. One time I rode as a front seat passenger on a trip north in sub zero temps and I thought I would freeze to death but the driver was turning the heat down. Took it in, dealer disassembled the dash, could not find a problem, dealer checked w/GM and was told, "That is just the way it is". I could go on but I won't. I believe this blows out of the water a previous statement in this thread that later years of a model will be much better because the bugs will be worked out. The '99 was the last year of an eight year run. WHEN I FILLED IN THE SURVEY ON THE SUB., I REPORTED MY EXPERIENCE WITH THE VEHICLE SINCE I OWNED IT!

BUT, since that initial trial period and accepting things which I cannot control (the heater), I have had zero problems and have spent zero dollars other than normal maintenance. But the survey doesn't ask this.

Having said this, because of this thread, I actually opened the latest car issue of CR and went to the used car section. Without looking at vehicle names, I took note in a glancing way of the colors in the charts, a sprinkling of reds in a large field of white and black until I got a few pages in when the charts turned almost totaly red. At that point I took note of the vehicle names and I am sure that those of you who have read the magazine, know what vehicle names the charts applied.

At this point I would solict comments in what was referred in the previous post as "......CR being skewed in favor of foreign brands, ...". What is it about owners of Hondas, Toyotas, Lexus' that would skew the results leading to the impression that they are happier than pigs in s--t over their vehicles. Is there a herd mentality that causes them to return the survey on their vehicles as opposed to those who own domestic brands? Are they driven by peer pressure to respond positively in spite of actual experience because they don't want to admit that they really have a bad vehicle? Have they never owned anything but a foreign brand?

I agree that CR methodology is not the best, but please explain why, statistically, all that red should not be there. Until then, I believe we must accept the blast of red for the foreign(Japanese) brands and work on changing the colors on the domestic brands from black and white to red.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> What is it about owners of Hondas, Toyotas, Lexus' that would skew the results leading to the impression that they are happier than pigs in s--t over their vehicles. Is there a herd mentality that causes them to return the survey on their vehicles as opposed to those who own domestic brands? Are they driven by peer pressure to respond positively in spite of actual experience because they don't want to admit that they really have a bad vehicle? Have they never owned anything but a foreign brand?

</div></div>

It's an invention of people who've made up their minds already without benefit of (current) fact. It's like pretending the world's university professors are a vast conspiracy to avoid having to deal with the reality of global warming.

The surest sign that someone has a pre-conceived bias is that they accuse those who disagree with them of having one, and cite their opponents findings as the evidence.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">

It's an invention of people who've made up their minds already without benefit of (current) fact. It's like pretending the world's university professors are a vast conspiracy to avoid having to deal with the reality of global warming.

The surest sign that someone has a pre-conceived bias is that they accuse those who disagree with them of having one, and cite their opponents findings as the evidence. </div></div>

Gezz, I wonder who Mr. Moon could be refering to? wink.gif

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I have the 2003 Rendezvous and love it. It is very versatile. The problems I have had with this 84,000 mile car are as follows: 1. Had to replace both front wheel hub bearings (at different times). 2. Had to replace the intake manifold gasket - this is an engine problem and not Rendezvous only problem - the Dex-tex coolant eats away at the gasket until it starts to leak coolant. 3. It had an air conditioner condensate drain problem where the drain leaked onto electrical connector causing a computer problem and it also got the passenger side carpeting wet. There was a factory recall to fix this problem - installed a longer condensate drain. That is about it, the rest of my money in the car goes to oil changes, inspections, brakes and tires, which any car will have, especially with the kind of mileage I am putting on it. It still runs well, I pull a small trailer with it, and it gets decent gas mileage.

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Regarding the original inquiry:

It is true that Consumer Reports uses actual data. However their ongoing bias against domestic vehicles, and GM in particular, is quite obvious. Some of this is deserved and some is not.

Here is another view, also based on "actual data":

1.According to Edmunds, Rendezvous owners are very happy with their cars.

2.Repeat ownership is among the highest of GM models.

3.I'm not at liberty to state the actual numbers, but I can tell you that the Rendezvous has the single highest percentage of GM employee sales of all GM vehicles regardless of price. If they were troublesome, don't you think employees would be the first to know and would shun them?

Response to comment by 48Roadmaster68Skylark:

That statement that DEXCOOL eats into the gaskets is a myth. It is perpetuated by the aftermarket and service industry that has lost a fortune in $$ with the elimination of 2-year coolant change intervals. Over 30 million GM cars on the road with DEXCOOL since 1995 and only a select few have problems of this type. The gasket design on this particular engine has been improved. The improved parts can be used on earlier cars, resulting in a very long-lasting engine. A repair of this type should not be necessary and I'm not making excuses for the design. But I would rather deal with changing an intake gasket than a fundamental problem with block/crank/heads, for example. Aside from the gasket issue, this is a proven long-lasting engine.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> Here is another view, also based on "actual data":

1.According to Edmunds, Rendezvous owners are very happy with their cars.

2.Repeat ownership is among the highest of GM models.

3.I'm not at liberty to state the actual numbers, but I can tell you that the Rendezvous has the single highest percentage of GM employee sales of all GM vehicles regardless of price. If they were troublesome, don't you think employees would be the first to know and would shun them? </div></div>

So the oft-predicted imminent collapse of GM due to a free fall in car sales over 30 years (which isn't slowing) is due to the stupidity of everyone who doesn't buy GM cars, and the dwindling loyalists are the earth's remaining scholars. crazy.gif

Yes, GM brand loyalty is tremendous (as represented here by the overwhelmingly elderly and near-elderly sampling here). That happens when you realistically only sell in numbers to 60+ year-olds. People the age of typical GM buyers rarely change toothpaste brands either. <span style="font-weight: bold">It <span style="font-style: italic">isn't</span> a good thing.</span>

If nothing is wrong, then nothing is wrong. Ignoring symptoms is rarely good for the treatment of a disease.

=====

By the way, in it's horrid bias against GM <span style="font-style: italic">Consumer Reports</span> has been recommending buying GM products more often then not for a decade now. This year's precipitous drop is a new phenomenon. <span style="font-style: italic">All</span> of the traditional Buick sedans of late (Regal, Century, LeSabre, etc.) were recommended or highly recommended, moving Buick into the top ten brands in reliablility (until this year) over a number of "Japanese" brands. It must be terrible for them to have to recommend cars that they so obviously despise and disparage! smirk.gif

(B.T.W., the 2006 Rendezvous is listed as recommended by <span style="font-style: italic">CR</span> (so is the LaCrosse, which--like in last year's Colorado pickup results--had very good first-year reliablility). In their survey the current Rendezvous model is listed as average in reliablility and in owner satisfaction {which is phrased essentially <span style="font-style: italic">"Would you buy the car again?"</span> on the survey.}. It is listed as having typically bad GM resale value, however.)

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<span style="font-weight: bold"><span style="font-style: italic">Gezz, I wonder who Mr. Moon could be refering to? </span> </span>

Yours truly.

As for the problems with CR methodology and sampling, doing a Google search using terms like "Consumer Reports bias" will provide ample evidence of their problems skewing their reporing including:

1. Self-selected samples ( I mentioned this earlier; only using 'members')

2. Small sample returns (survey accuracy is increased when the survey response goes up; their response is low)

3. Definition of terminology (CR doesn't clearly define terms like 'serious')

4. Lawsuits they have lost after courts examine their 'evidence'.

Here's the sites describing CR bias in automotive reporting:

Is Consumer Reports Biased? by Mike Davis

http://www.thecarconnection.com/index.asp?article=4733

Statistical problems of Consumer Reports auto ratings

http://www.allpar.com/cr.html

Here's a site that dings them for bias in other types of reporting:

Consumer Reports Charged with Bias over Coverage of Birth Control Pills

http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/jan/05010508.html

Here are some articles where CR has to continually claim they have no bias:

http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060301/NEWS11/60301011

http://autos.msn.com/advice/article.aspx?contentid=2893

Here's an article about how closely CR is tied to trial lawyers, and how one bad report from CR can suddenly create class-action lawsuits against products with NO PROVEN DEFECTS:

Guardian of the Lawyers' Honey Pot

http://www.junkscience.com/consumer/oct99/consumer_wsj0919.htm

http://www.junkscience.com/consumer/consumer_about.htm

Sooo......let this be a lesson to you, class. NEVER tramp on the name of the all-knowing holy Consumer Reports, unless you like being called names......

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GM employees buy GM vehicles because they get a big discount and because they work there. It tells you virtually nothing about the competitiveness of the vehicle in an open market. (Statistically it's a biased sample and autocorrelation) One learns a lot more by asking people who bought other vehicles why they did not buy a GM vehicle. Pontiac had a campaign a couple years ago where if you drove a Pontiac and bought another car within a short time, they paid you $250 and you filled out a survey on why. It seems to me that this had the virtue of polling only people actually making a purchase decision. And it got them to try a Pontaic at the right time (purchase imminent). Has anyone heard what was done with the data, or what it said?

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GM employee purchases are a relatively small percentage of overall GM sales.

With about 125,000 hourly employees and maybe fewer than 40,000 salaried employees, they would be less than a single-digit bump in GM's annual sales of about 4.6 million cars, even if every employee bought a new vehicle every year.

As for those surveys, they are usually verrrrry tightly controlled. You are right, though, in that the data would be considered very accurate, relevant and crucial to future planning because it is provided by serious buyers.

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Reattaman,

I should clarify that by "employee sales", I am referring to vehicle sales using the GM discount program. Eligible people include parents, siblings, and children of both current and retired GM employees. This considerably expands the influence of this group from merely the current employees. For this reason, the "employee" sales of many GM models are well, well, into the double digit numbers for % penetration.

Davemoon,

You're missing my point.

Suppose I report that the Whopper is Burger King's best selling sandwich. That doesn't mean I'm implying that the Whopper is the best meal anywhere. It only means that if you want to eat at BK, and are asking advice on what to eat when you're at BK, the whopper is probably a good bet, based on its popularity.

Obviously the employees of General Motors (and their families) buy GM cars...almost exclusively. And of course, this fact alone proves nothing about how good or bad GM cars are.

But amongst these employees and their families, the most popular single model GM vehicle is the Buick Rendezvous. I think this is very significant, as this "insider" population generally knows a lot more about the merits and shortcomings of the various GM products. Certainly their purchase decision is due to a variety of factors like utility, price, fuel economy, and reliability, and resale. In other words, overall value as compared to other GM cars (and, IMHO, it stacks up pretty well against a lot of the competition, too).

It is important to recall that the original question by NCBRIJAN that started this post was not whether or not he should buy a GM car. It was whether the Rendezvous could be expected to perform as well as other Buicks he had owned. I think the answer is YES!

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> I think the answer is YES! </div></div>

Me too, except for the 2002 model year to which he specifically addressed the question. Keith's experiences appear to have been typical. Clearly there was a ramping up to quality production that took place.

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Regarding the poor floor distribution of "heater" air flow, it sounds unusual. I do know that the final deflector on the bottom of the hvac case is different on Suburban/Tahoes than it is on normal pickups. It tends to put more air to the back than to the sides. Yet they both bolt to the same case. Perhaps that might fix that issue?

The 4x4 actuator and switch mechanism did have some reliability issues, but there were many part number changes for "delayed engagement" issues (addressed in TSBs by GM). What they ended up using was a completely different actuator and wiring harness. It was not a really complicated system to understand, but there were some problems. Technicians that knew about the system, generally knew what to look for to fix, by observation.

Sometimes, as with the '91 and prior Suburbans and other vehicles at or toward the end of that platform's "life cycle", there can be tooling issues with body fit . . . even some assembly issues too. As we sold lots of them, our trim guys saw lots of them and knew those idiosyncracies front and back . . . plus how to address fixing them. They were mechanically bulletproof, but the body assembly did have some issues, with some being better than others. The same might have been true of your '99 Suburban.

Our family did subscribe to CU back in the middle 1960s. We didn't have a vehicle that fit the criteria for their vehicle surveys at that time, but from the knowledge I'd gained (at that time) about what cars had what problems (from hanging around filling stations and such), plus our own experiences, I wondered --even then--why their surveys generally scored much worse than what I'd actually seen happen. After we stopped subscribing to CU and a "buying service" (that had a book of "dealer prices" for some of the same products that CU tested), I still looked at CU for their take on certain vehicles. It seems that in the middle 1990s, they tended to start taking notice that American brands were becoming more competitive with "import" brands. It also seemed that they were taking a more realistic approach to how the vehicles were really being used, rather than some arbitrary ideas of some editor somewhere. But, by this time, they'd already been snakebit by several lawsuits about their comments and determinations of several vehicles, so taking a more balance approach was necessary (in their vehicle testing and articles).

I still will look to see what they have in the various issues on the newsstand, just for informational purposes, but I seldom purchase them anymore. I think their current road tests are pretty representative of how a "normal buyer" might use the vehicle. Their handling assesments are pretty close to what my real world experiences have been too. Similar with fuel economy. Only problem might be that as "plain vanilla" as their auto testing seems to have become, its value is generally diminished by the way the convey their findings.

In a recent issue, they indicate how a smaller child might not be able to see out of a particular vehicle's rear seat due to the kick-up of the lower window line of the rear doors. A valid point, but didn't really affect their overall rating of the vehicle. Still, something that many might also overlook. Once you start looking, there are many current vehicles styled like that!

I recall one rating category of the CU auto surveys. It was called "Body Integrity". "Integrity" usually means "strength", so how was this to be interpreted? I rather doubt that many CU respondents went out and crashed their vehicles to determine how much "integrity" their vehicle had, but something they could rate is "squeeks and rattles"--all of which do generally have some warranty coverage on a new vehicle. OR a motivated owner can fix many of those with a good set of sockets and/or wrenches and maybe some appropriate lubricant. And, in the case of '60s-'80s era Chrysler UniBody cars, if they had factory undercoat (in a general option package), they had less rattles than similar vehicles without that option. Again, how the dealer spec'd the vehicle could make an ultimate difference in how well their product might do in a CU survey--by observation.

Two items CU hasn't . . . or didn't back then . . . rate (as Popular Science and Popular Mechanix did) was "Would you buy a ______ again?" and "How Was Your Dealer's Service?"

Generally, as strong as CU tried to keep their survey results above reproach, in a purely statistical manner, that could well have been their downfall on that issue. Statistics will also indicate just how small of a random sample is needed to predict a "total population" projection--which is much smaller than you might suspect. I also recall some which had "Insufficient Data" in particular model year columns on some vehicles.

In more recent times . . . just where that random sample was located and if a particular area (and related citizen demographic) were targeted for the survey, then those survey results WOULD be somewhat skewed and while "random" in that general population, would NOT be completely representative of a different targeted "random" sample "general population". As CU has readers everywhere, in possibly different concentrations in different areas, it might be said that their "random sample" of subscribers might not reflect accurate projections for a random sample of the entire USA. There can be accurate comments about CU's "target random sample" being representative of a "general USA random sample" or not being representative of a "general USA random sample". Perhaps CU can shed some light on that issue with stats on their subscribers (age, location, occupation, etc.) which can then be compared to the total USA general population? Might also include educational background, political orientations (liberal, conservative, centrist, etc.), and ethnicity too?

I don't know that I'd use their stats as "gospel" for any reason, but just as a general guide on things, still looking for other input. I know that some will put more faith in their surveys than I might, though, and appreciate that fact. I am also aware of the many issues, of recent times, that have resulted in CU being in litigation over their testing results and related comments--which can somewhat taint their testing procedures to me. Yet to be an "informed consumer", you need to find as much information as you can and CU can be ONE of those information sources.

To me, the real issue with CU's automotive service surveys is not the size of the (random) sample, but the way they present the survey's sections per se. Perhaps their titles can be fine tuned to better reflect what they are looking for in responses (i.e., "squeeks and rattles" rather than "body integrity"). When you ask for a person's interpretation of "quality feel", for example, it can be highly variable due to the particular "point of reference" of the respondent, just as many of the categories in the CU automotive surveys can be "point of reference" judgments rather than the "cold, hard, facts" that CU generally purports their survey results to be.

Just some thoughts and observations . . .

NTX5467

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As to NCBRIJEN's original question, yes, I would buy a used Rendezvous if it fit my needs, but only as a used car.

They haven't held their value very well as a new car, and I think much of that is due to them being overpriced to begin with. Nearly $30K for a well-loaded minivan made by people making $1.50 per hour is way overpriced. But, after a year or so, they are a good value when priced in the mid-teens.

Joe

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Last year, I finally paid some attention to the Rendezvous and other GM minivans (even the newer versions in 2005). Whereas the Chevrolet was pretty basic (as is the Chevrolet "value brand" heritage), the Rendezvous CXL I checked out was equal in interior appointments to a prior Park Avenue. Considering that the former Park Avenue was priced as it was, the equally-as-nice Rendezvous CXL might be a little overpriced, but in the "niceness" perspective and that it comes with the uplevel 3.6L DOHC V-6, the price can be considered reasonable.

To me, the Rendezvous would be more comfortable on a road trip than the other similar vehicles. Mainly because the 2nd row seats were more comfortable and the interior was nicer (and probably quieter too). I didn't notice those 2nd row seats being as narrow as they were on the Buick, but they were very apparent on the Chevrolet.

In short, Buick luxury and appointments in a smaller package with greater utility than a regular sedan. I'd much rather have a Rendezvous CXL than any similar Lexus.

Regarding depreciation, many factors can affect that and residual value (for leases). Public demand is one . . . from a somewhat fickle public that might not investigate to see if their preconceived notions (or what others have told them) about a particular vehicle is correct. Yet, like other luxury vehicles that might depreciate sooner than others, this makes the used Rendezvous a much better value on the used car market. Which will also mean it can get into the driveways of 2nd owners that can now drive a used Buick for the same price as a new (similar market segment) Chevrolet, while the much-revered Lexus is priced out of their used vehicle budget. Kind of a double-edged sword!

Just some thoughts,

NTX5467

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