Skip to main content

2003 Pontiac Aztek

Change year or car

$20,870

starting MSRP

Get notified when this car becomes available. Notify me.

Key specs

Base trim shown

SUV

Body style

5

Seating capacity

182.1” x 66.7”

Dimensions

Front-wheel drive

Drivetrain

Overview

1 trim

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2003 Pontiac Aztek trim comparison will help you decide.

See also: Find the best SUVs for 2024

2003 Pontiac Aztek review: Our expert's take

By Cars.com Editors

It’s funny how far the Pontiac Aztek has come in such a short period of time.

Three years ago when it first rolled into our driveway, the Aztek had replaced the Yugo as the vehicle everyone loved to hate.

What was it? Who would want to drive it? How could anyone buy it?

Three years later, it has fan clubs.

From Fort Wayne to Fort Worth, Pontiac Aztek fanatics gather to compare their hardware. The vehicle has a cult following. It has personality. Mostly, it has life where once everyone predicted death.

Pontiac, which couldn’t sell many Azteks that first year, now markets it as a “yawn buster” that only needs to be “unleashed.”

That’s a far cry from the “kitchen sink” label new GM design executive Bob Lutz gave it when he stepped aboard two years ago.

One of the industry’s first SRVs, or sport recreational vehicles, the Aztek is no longer the oddball on the block. Pontiac went back to the drawing board and made the Aztek softer around the edges, more balanced on the rubber and a little more attractive inside and out.

The result? Sales (and fan club) success.

Our verdict? It’s still odd. It’s just no longer offensive.

The Aztek still has an overly soft suspension, a heavy and cumbersome tailgate, poor visibility and controversial styling. But it’s also incredibly versatile, highly comfortable on highway drives and very economical.

If you didn’t consider it the first time, you might want to reconsider. Honestly.

Available in one body style and two basic configurations – front- or all-wheel-drive – the Aztek comes dressed in three major option packages. Each level increases the standard equipment and dresses things up an extra notch with everything from dual-zone air conditioning and power windows and locks in the base model to a tire inflation monitoring system and a six-way power driver’s seat in the top end.

And, for 2003, the Aztek arrives with high-tech options like a DVD-based entertainment system, a tire-pressure monitoring system, a “luxury appointment group” and XM Satellite Radio.

But during our one-week test, the question still lingered: So what is it, exactly?

Functional as a minivan or sport utility crossover, the Aztek once set the standard for the suddenly crazy crossover segment, combining the wide stance of the Grand Prix sedan, the versatility of the Montana minivan and the character of an SUV.

We’ll give it two out of three. At its best, the Aztek is still the Swiss Army knife of the industry. Hauling luggage, kids, toys, lawn chairs and a La-Z-Boy? See the Aztek. With the class-exclusive front fold-down seat and more than 93 cubic feet of cargo capacity, the Aztek can be flipped, folded, adjusted or taken apart to create extra room. Drop the tailgate and it can swallow four full sheets of 3/4-inch plywood. There are a dozen cargo anchors, a rear convenience net and storage bins built into the side trim and tailgate to keep track of odd objects.

At its worst, the Aztek is a load to drive. While its exterior conveys a sense of performance, the hardware doesn’t quite fit the bill. The suspension feels like you are riding on the high sea. It absorbs the bruises but floats on the smooth stuff. Body roll is excessive, and the steering provides little feedback.

And then there’s the issue of power. Pontiac might claim that the 3.4-liter V-6 outruns the Chrysler PT Cruiser, but we’ll take the PT for sheer enjoyment and that elusive fun factor. The Aztek’s V-6 is solid from a standing start but dies out quickly.

On safety, all Azteks come with four-wheel anti-lock brakes and front and side air bags, but in its latest tests the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Aztek a “marginal” rating in offset frontal impact tests, the second-lowest out of the four ratings it uses.

At the very least, it gets four stars for being unique. Loaded up with 17-inch wheels, the Aztek carries that wide-and-high stance, giving you a commanding position on the road. And it does offer an interior that is downright different. Dials and gauges are set in a futuristic tone that would make “Terminator 3” types happy. The driver instrumentation is set deep into large wells and passengers have the option of a handlebar on the dash in case things get really adventurous.

There is still the removable cooler in the center console, radio controls that can be accessed from the tailgate area, a sliding rear tray to hold little things and cutouts in the tailgate that would make for – what else? – a perfect Saturday tailgate party.

In the Rally Edition it even looks – gasp! – pretty good.

Throw in a $20,870 base price and gasoline mileage that’s about 26 mpg on the highway, and it even starts to look appealing for the entire family.

We might not be ready to sign up for the fan club just yet, but the draw toward the Aztek is getting better.

It still suffers where other vehicles excel. But it also excels where other vehicles are afraid to wander.

And it still has life.

2003 Pontiac Aztek

Rating: 2.5

High gear: Versatile, roomy, fuel efficient and downright different, the Aztek has softened the edges and rounded out the bumps. Beefier tires give it balance, and Swiss Army-like features separate it from the crowd of crossovers.

Low gear: The suspension is still overly soft, and handling still suffers. The tailgate is difficult to lift, and blind spots are abundant.

Vehicle type: Front- or all-wheel-drive, front-engine, four-door, five-passenger midsize sport-utility vehicle.

Key competition: Hyundai Santa Fe, Jeep Liberty, Mazda Tribute

Base engine: 185 horsepower, 3.4-liter V-6

Torque: 210 lbs-ft. @ 5,200 rpm

Safety equipment: Four-wheel anti-lock brakes; front- and side-impact air bags; daytime running lights with automatic lamp control; battery rundown protection.

Wheelbase: 108.3 inches

Length: 182.1 inches

MPG rating: 19 city/26 highway

Manufactured: Ramos Arizpe, Mexico

Warranty: Basic warranty is three years/36,000 miles; drivetrain is three years/36,000 miles; roadside assistance is three years/36,000 miles; and rust is six years/100,000 miles.

Base price: $20,870

Price as tested (including options, destination and delivery): $28,095

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.4
  • Interior 4.4
  • Performance 3.7
  • Value 4.0
  • Exterior 3.8
  • Reliability 3.8
Write a review

Most recent consumer reviews

4.0

Best Car I Ever Had For 18 Years+

I LOVE my Aztek. I bought it new with only 8 miles on it. In 2023 it now has around 88,00 miles on it. I've had some issues with it, such as the dashboard separating after 14 years (poorly designed), the radio seemingly draining the battery repeatedly after 15 years (so the techs said), the hood being tricky to open (again, poor design) and the pistons of the window portion of the tailgate drying out making it difficult to open and stay up. But, I still love my car. No engine issues, powerful (I floor it off the green light, a Mini Cooper is the only vehicle that flies faster than me), spacious, controls are easy to see and reach, foldable armrests attached to the seat (great for shorter people), the removeable cooler is convenient, the low back window makes it easy to see and back up to within a few inches of my garage door. The back seats fold down, then over against the back of the front seats, and can be completely removed for extra room. I've loaded 4' x 8' sheets of plywood and paneling in the back, laying them flat with no problem. The tailgate has two cup holder in it. I don't care what people say about its appearance -- I LOVE the futuristic look of the Aztek. I wish they were still made (with the flaws corrected). I will be heartbroken when I have to part with my Aztek.

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 5.0
  • Interior 5.0
  • Performance 5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Exterior 5.0
  • Reliability 5.0
  • Purchased a New car
  • Used for Commuting
  • Does recommend this car
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful. Did you?
Yes No
4.0

Thinking about getting one

I test drove it liked most everything about it but when I went to test out the AWD it didn't act rite just kept spinning the front tires then would finely take aholt and than off any one know the secret to making it go in AWD

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.0
  • Interior 5.0
  • Performance 3.0
  • Value 4.0
  • Exterior 4.0
  • Reliability
  • Purchased a Used car
  • Does recommend this car
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful. Did you?
Yes No
5.0

I just love my Aztec... It's so comfortable

It meets all my needs.. Plenty of room..i can put the back seats down and my dog has lots of space to run around and have fun

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 5.0
  • Interior 5.0
  • Performance 5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Exterior 5.0
  • Reliability 5.0
  • Purchased a Used car
  • Used for Commuting
  • Does recommend this car
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful. Did you?
Yes No
See all 23 consumer reviews

Safety

Based on the 2003 Pontiac Aztek base trim.
Nhtsa rollover rating
3
Side driver
5
Side rear passenger
3

Warranty

New car program benefits
Bumper-to-bumper
36 months/36,000 miles
Corrosion
72 months/100,000 miles
Powertrain
36 months/36,000 miles
Roadside assistance
36 months/36,000 miles