Midsize SUV; Built in Mexico
  • 4-door wagon
  • transverse front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $2,200 – $5,800*


2001 Pontiac Aztek


2001 Pontiac Aztek


2001 Pontiac Aztek interior


2002 Pontiac Aztek


2002 Pontiac Aztek

Pros:
  • Cargo room
  • Interior storage space
  • Passenger and cargo room
Cons:
  • Interior materials
  • Brake-pedal feel (2WD)

Aztek is as comfortable as any SUV, and packed with features designed for active folks, but cannot venture far off road. Assembly quality and budget-grade cabin materials won’t please the discerning, however. Unorthodox styling has tended to keep new-car prices discounted and resale prices down a bit.

Overview

Aiming at young sport-minded buyers, Pontiac’s new car/SUV crossover went on sale in summer 2000 in base and better-equipped GT form, with front-wheel drive. Aztek was loosely based on Pontiac’s Montana minivan, with the same 3.4 liter V6 and mandatory automatic transmission, but with four conventional side doors and hatchback styling with a drop-down tailgate.

Front side airbags and antilock brakes were standard. An all-wheel-drive version became available during the 2001 season, able to distribute power to the four wheels based upon available traction. Four-wheel disc brakes replaced the usual disc/drum setup on all-wheel-drive models, which were not intended for offroad use and did not include low-range gearing.

Aztek’s maximum towing capacity was 3500 pounds, the same as the Montana’s. Ground clearance was 6.7 inches.

Azteks were larger than the popular Lexus RX 300, another car-based crossover. Wheelbase was 5.5 inches longer and it measured 2 inches longer overall. An Aztek was slightly taller and wider, too, with 1.5 inches more rear leg room and 93.5 cubic feet of storage space when the rear seats were removed.

Standard equipment included air conditioning, a tilt steering wheel, and power windows/locks/mirrors. The GT added traction control, 16-inch tires in place of 15s, and a removable console bin that served as combination cooler and CD case. Options included a power sunroof and a slide-out cargo-floor section with storage bins and rollaway wheels. Exclusive GT options included heated leather front seats, two rear captain’s chairs to replace the standard three-person bench, a head-up instrument display, and GM’s OnStar assistance system. Recreational accessories available through dealers included washable seat covers and a camping package with clip-on tent and fitted air mattress.

Charges of bizarre styling soon began to surface, which had a negative impact on Aztek sales. Competitors included the Chrysler PT Cruiser, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Mazda Tribute, and Subaru Forester, but none of these models looked anything like the Aztek.

Yearly Updates

2002 Aztek
Alterations to its controversial styling and more standard features highlighted the 2002 Aztek. The former GT trim level was dropped, leaving two base models, one with front-wheel drive and the other with GM’s Versatrak all-wheel drive.
The most notable appearance change was a revised paint scheme that substituted body-color trim for most of the previous gray lower-body cladding. Wheel designs also changed, including three-spoke alloy wheels for the 2WD model. An insulated front console cooler and CD player were now standard instead of optional. Traction control was optional with two-wheel drive. Other options included heated leather front seats, a slide-out cargo-floor with storage bins and rollaway wheels, and GM’s OnStar system.
Buick now offered a crossover vehicle similar to the Aztek, called the Rendezvous. Styling was less jarring and a Rendezvous could seat seven, versus the Aztek’s five.
2003 Aztek
Antilock braking and front side airbags were now optional, not standard, on front-drive models. A DVD-based video entertainment system joined the option list. Wheels were restyled, and an XM Satellite radio became available.
2004 Aztek
New for 2004 is a Rally Edition appearance package. It includes unique interior and exterior trim, a lowered ride-height suspension, and 17-inch alloy wheels. Another new available option for ’04 is a MP3 package upgrade, which includes steering wheel audio controls.
2005 Aztek
Aztek received no changes in 2005.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive

All Azteks had the same powertrain: a 3.4-liter V6 engine that developed 185 horsepower, driving a four-speed automatic transmission. Both front-drive and all-wheel drive versions have been available.

ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.4/207
Engine HP 185
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 210
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

19/26

With all-wheel drive, the EPA rating is 18/24 mpg.

Road Test

If you aren’t put off by Aztek’s appearance, you can get a solid utility vehicle for a fair price. Like its minivan parent, the front-drive Aztek offers smooth acceleration and good midrange response–though no surplus of either. The AWD version weighs about 264 pounds more and feels somewhat slower than the 2WD model, in most conditions. Fuel economy is so-so. A test 2WD model averaged 18.7 mpg, while a 4WD Aztek that covered more highway miles averaged 19.4 mpg. Azteks use regular fuel.

An Aztek’s suspension is generally absorbent and well-controlled, with its minivan roots yielding better bump absorption than most midsize SUVs manage. Heavier AWD models do not ride quite as smoothly. Some side-to-side body motions on uneven pavement have been evident in both.

Steering/handling also is minivanlike. Unstressed in routine driving, the Aztek delivers good cornering grip. Fast turns generate pronounced body lean, though, and strong crosswinds compromise the front-drive version’s stability. Stopping power with ABS seems more than adequate, despite a mushy-feeling brake pedal on 2WD test models.

Relatively low noise levels are evident from the engine, wind, and road. Few true SUVs are this quiet.

Gauges and controls are functional, despite the dashboard’s eccentric appearance, with unnecessary bulges and coves. Thick side roof pillars interfere with visibility over the shoulder, and the driver cannot easily see front body corners. A rear wiper has not been available, and the sloped hatchback glass is quickly coated in a wintertime film of salt and slush. Cabin materials are mostly budget-grade plastics.

Front seating is comfortable, though taller drivers may wish for more rearward travel. Step-in height is minivan-low, easing entry/exit.

Knee, leg and foot space in the rear should suit six-footers. The rear bench seat is more springy foam than supportive padding. Passengers must twist their feet to get in or out, and large doors are cumbersome in tight spaces.

Cargo space is cavernous and versatile. The console doubles as a cooler, and doors have map pockets with twin bottle holders. The rear bench easily removes in two sections, and the available sliding rear storage tray is clever and useful. An Aztek can carry 4×8-foot plywood sheets with the tailgate lowered, but the large glass liftgate is heavy and that tailgate does not open flat.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2002 Pontiac Aztek 2WD

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 5
50%
Fuel Economy - 5
50%
Ride Quality - 5
50%
Steering/Handling - 4
40%
Quietness - 5
50%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Front - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Rear - 7
70%
Cargo Room - 8
80%

Other

Value - 3
30%

Total: 53

Specifications

4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
108.3 182.1 73.7 66.7
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
93.5 18.0 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.7 39.1 40.5 38.0
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2001 Aztek 4-door wagon

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 3
60%
Front Passenger Injury - 4
80%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Fuel gauge
Description: Water leaking onto the electrical connector below the driver’s seat causes corrosion resulting in starting failures, stalling and/or malfunctioning fuel gauge. (2001-02)
Poor transmission shift
Description: If beverages spill into the console, the shift-indicator slide gets damaged making it difficult or impossible to shift out of park. There is an improved replacement part to fix this. (2001-02)
Water leak
Description: The air conditioner evaporator case may not drain properly causing water to leak into the passenger-side foot well. (2001)
Wipers
Description: The wiper blades strike one another near the bottom of the windshield. The right (passenger) side blade should be replaced with a shorter one. (2001)
Electrical problem
Description: There was a recall (nonsafety related) to repair the global positioning system for the On-Star system. (2001)

Recall History

2001
Description: Seat-latch anchor-wire diameter may be greater than 6.1 mm standard. Dealers will inspect and repair the latch anchor wires.
2001-02
Description: Owner’s manual does not explain the meaning of the location symbols for the lower universal-anchorage system. Owners will be provided with a supplement for their owner’s manual.
2001-04
Description: Exposure to high ambient temperatures may lead to the fracture of the fuel tank inlet check valve. A fracture may allow fuel vapors to pass through and leak. Dealers will replace the fuel tank.
2003
Description: Steering column-intermediate shaft could be too small, allowing the intermediate shaft to spin inside the steering column coupling, resulting in loss of steering control of the vehicle. Dealers will inspect, and replace if necessary, the steering-column intermediate shaft.
2004
Description: Certain vehicles may have a faulty fuel-tank and will notice an odor of gasoline. This might result in fuel leakage. Dealer will inspect the serial number on the fuel tank to see if its on the list of affected tanks.
2004
Description: Contamination on ignition relay contacts can cause high resistance, which could result in intermittent stalling; vehicle cannot then be restarted immediately.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.