2001 Pontiac Aztek

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2001 Pontiac Aztek

Key specs

Base trim shown


Body style


Seating capacity

Front-wheel drive



2 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

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2001 Pontiac Aztek review: Our expert's take


This “ugly” thing has taken on a life of its own.

The new-for-2001 Pontiac Aztek has been labeled “ugly” by any number of auto reviewers, and now that label is stuck on the crossover vehicle like a Super Glue-soaked pigeon.

Funny how these things happen. A lot of the reviewers jumping on the “ugly” bandwagon are the same ones who toasted Pontiac for introducing such a daring, clever concept vehicle at the 2000 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

But if you say something enough times … well, you know the drill.

Keep saying Elvis is alive, and next thing you know, 8,000 people are lined up at Caesar’s Palace in Vegas waiting for his comeback show. I’m absolutely convinced that in a word-association drill, most Americans would respond to “Aztek” with the word, “ugly.”

Keeping in mind that beauty is in the eye of beholder, I don’t think the Aztek is ugly at all. Pontiac’s “sport-recreation” vehicle is what I would call functional. You can stretch a purpose-built weatherproof tent over the back half of the vehicle, for crying out loud. Try doing that with your Corvette.

And the front end of the Aztek GT I tested looked positively stylish to me, although the bright-yellow paint job was a little over the top. Beyond that, there was plenty to like.

The 3.4-liter V-6 (185 horsepower) was enthusiastic, and the broad-shouldered vehicle handled nicely with the GT’s all-wheel drive feature.

Gas mileage was an entirely pleasing 18 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway — exactly in line with Environmental Protection Agency fuel-economy figures and comparatively high numbers that you won’t find on a lot of sport-utility vehicles.

How does it measure up in the cargo category? You name it, the Aztek can haul it.

Aztek features include a roof rack, a configure-it-any-way-you-want-it cargo area (with sliding tray or nearly two dozen netting options) that can be reached with via liftgate or tailgate, a flat floor that can accommodate extra-bulky packages, a removable rear seat, a 3,500-pound towing capacity (with trailering package installed) and removable utility packs in the front doors.

Aztek can be equipped with four different sound systems (including a premium Pioneer system with 10 speakers). The center console can double as a carry-it-with-you cooler capable of carrying a dozen 12-ounce cans. The vehicle can be specially decked out for biking (with interior or exterior racks), hiking or camping.

What’s not to love here?

Well, for one thing, the price. The Aztek GT with all-wheel drive starts at a fairly hefty $26,765. Dress it up with the option package of the tested Aztek — including AM/FM stereo-cassette-CD player, power driver’s seat, head-up data display, sliding rear cargo tray, security alarm, OnStar communications system and leather seating surfaces — and the price balloons to $29,580, including a $550 destinatio n charge.

Granted, a base front-wheel drive version of the Aztek starts at $21,445, but why would one want to give up all the fun things that make Aztek appeal to on-the-go outdoors types?

General Motors officials have said that they priced Aztek too high in this initial model year. And there’s some confusion over whether the Aztek was meant to be marketed to young professionals who spend their weekends outdoors or midlife career people looking for an unconventional vehicle.

I can tell you this much: I would have crawled on broken glass for a vehicle like the Aztek when I was 25 years old, but I wouldn’t — or more accurately, couldn’t — have paid $30,000 for it. And if I want unconventional, I might be inclined to think economical first.

Perhaps this explains why GM insiders are saying the 2002 Aztek will have “some price modifications.”

Likewise, GM promises some styling changes in the fall. Did the automaker really have any choice here? They have to do something now that the whole world is convinced that the Aztek is an ugly duckling.

Len Brewster, a Detroit-based auto analyst, said the Aztek could have a completely new look for the 2003 model year.

“It’s somewhat comparable to what happened with the Ford Taurus, although the Taurus was a top-seller when it went through a radical design change a few years ago,” Brewster said. “People liked it (a more-aerodynamic Taurus) at first, and then they decided they didn’t like it.

“Ford had to go back to the drawing board and came up with today’s more-conservative Taurus. Everybody’s happy again. The Aztek is probably going to go through the same process. … Expect the next generation to look a little more like a traditional SUV, but it will still have some of the original Aztek’s unique features.”

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.5
  • Interior 4.6
  • Performance 4.1
  • Value 4.3
  • Exterior 4.0
  • Reliability 3.8

Most recent consumer reviews


Great vehicle

I've owned two of these cars over the years. My first one my family bought new back in 2000. It lasted until January of 2023 when the head gasket blew at 273k miles. Our second one I purchased two years ago with 98k miles. These cars are incredibly comfortable to ride in. They are versatile, are good at moving people and things, and get pretty decent MPG for a 2001 V6. Since it is 2023, finding good ones is getting harder and harder to do, so keep in mind a few things when purchasing one. These vehicles are notorious for head gasket failures. Mine when up at 150k and 273k miles on my one Aztek. They also like to rust on the back half of the rocker panels near the wheel wells. Besides those issues these vehicles are pretty bullet proof with the proper maintenance and if you don't beat on them.


very bad

this vehicle is very ugly and has so much problems i can't even name all of them and mine was used so i was trash it would be a percent better if it was no but would still be trash. don't recomend buy anyone car if possible


Ugly yes, but a good vehicle overall!

Solid, was a great vehicle. No major issues, never let me down as my daily driver. Got rid of it a few years ago and was a huge mistake. But i would not hesitate on purchasing one again.

See all 21 consumer reviews


New car program benefits
36 months/36,000 miles
72 months/100,000 miles
36 months/36,000 miles
Roadside assistance
36 months/36,000 miles
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