Pontiac calls the Aztek a sport recreation vehicle, and it blends attributes of a sport utility vehicle with a minivan to create versatile, all-purpose transportation aimed at younger buyers. Pontiac designed Aztek to be the Swiss Army knife of vehicles.
Though you cant tell by looking, the Aztek is based on the platform for the Pontiac Montana and General Motors other front-drive minivans. Aztek went on sale in late summer as GMs first SUV/minivan crossover vehicle. Buick will take a similar approach with the 2002 Rendezvous, which is built on the same platform but is styled to look like a conventional SUV.
Aztek wears polarizing styling that may pass for a paramilitary vehicle disguised as a running shoe, and most people seem to either love it or hate it. At the front is Pontiacs trademark twin-port grille, and the bumpers and lower body sides are clad in gray plastic. A large glass rear window that flips up gives the back end a steep slope. A tailgate below the rear glass folds down and has built-in seats and cupholders.
A wheelbase of 108 inches and an overall length of 182 inches make the Aztek about the same size as the four-door GMC Jimmy SUV and 4 inches shorter than the standard-size Montana minivan.
A conventional SUV seating configuration of two front buckets and a three-place rear bench is only the starting point with the Aztek interior. Two captains chairs are optional in place of the rear bench, and both fold for additional cargo space or can be removed. With the rear seats out, cargo volume is 93 cubic feet, and Pontiac says Aztek can carry 4-by-8-foot sheets of building material.
Two cargo storage systems are available: a pull-out cargo tray that holds up to 400 pounds or a system of cargo nets that hold up to 200 pounds and can be configured 22 ways using floor-mounted anchors. The cargo tray rolls on built-in wheels and has a grab handle for removal.
A removable, insulated cooler/console that latches between the front seats and holds a dozen 12-ounce cans is optional. Also optional is a head-up display that projects vehicle speed, turn signals, a low-fuel warning, radio station frequency and other information in the drivers line of vision.
Under the Hood
Azteks 185-horsepower 3.4-liter V-6 engine and four-speed automatic transmission are borrowed from the Montana. Aztek is available with a choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive that engages automatically in low-traction conditions. All-speed traction control is standard on the GT model and optional on the others.