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MORE BUICKS ON THE WAY

Right now there are only four vehicles carrying the venerable Buick name (Century, Regal, LeSabre, and Park Avenue), but in the next couple of years there'll be a couple more.The first new Buick we'll see will be a version of the hybrid or crossover vehicle that General Motors has been promising us for a couple of years. It may be called the Rendezvous but it will certainly contain key features from a sport-utility vehicle, a minivan and a sedan, with a car-like ride.

In general terms, the new Buick will compete with the Lexus RX300, though it will undoubtedly be less expensive than that model.

Development of this vehicle has been under control of one of the best brand managers in the GM stable, Tony Derhake, who is a former chief engineer of Buick, and Liz Wetzel, one of the corporation's most respected young designers, and these two could be ready to show it off at the Detroit auto show in January.

Certainly the Pontiac Aztek hybrid/crossover will be ready for Detroit, since we saw a marginally disguised version of that vehicle at the previous show in the Motor City. Aztek will be intended to appeal to a younger crowd and come with sportier styling and funkier amenities.