2001 Pontiac Aztek GT AWD
Pontiac Aztek
General Motors
Production 2001-2005
Class Mid-Size Crossover SUV
Body Style Five Door Wagon
Length 182.1 in (4625 mm)
Width 73.7 in (1872 mm)
Height 66.7 in (1694 mm)
Wheelbase 108.3 in (2751 mm)
Weight 3779–4043 lb (1714–1834 kg)
Transmission 4-speed 4T65-E automatic
Engine 3.4 L LA1 V6
Power 185 hp (137.9 kW)
210 lb-ft of (284.7 N-m) torque
Similar Buick Rendezvous
Designer Wayne Cherry

Introduced for the 2001 model year, the Pontiac Aztek was a car-based SUV utilizing many drivetrain components as the General Motors minivans, the Chevrolet Venture, Oldsmobile Silhouette, and Pontiac Montana. The wheelbase was shortened four inches, and an automatic all-wheel-drive system was added. As described in the July 2000 issue of Car and Driver magazine, "a pair of gerotor pumps and multiple clutch packs on the rear axle put either or both rear wheels to work whenever there is slippage at the front axle. The twin gerotor setup acts like a limited-slip rear differential, so it can also handle split-mu traction situations-better adhesion on one side of the vehicle than on the other-and Pontiac claims it can keep the Aztek moving even when only one rear wheel has grip." The Aztek is a mechanical twin of the Buick Rendezvous, although it was marketed to appeal to the "active lifestyle." Slow sales due to its polarizing appearance lead to the cancellation of the Aztek for the 2005 model year. It has been replaced by the Pontiac Torrent car-based SUV.

Recent Changes[edit | edit source]


  • All new model available as base model and GT both in front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, the latter boasting an independent rear suspension.


  • Pricing slashed almost 20%, GT model dropped.
  • Cladding smoothed and changed to body colored, front marker light/turn signals changed from amber to clear, spoiler added to rear glass gate.


  • Aztek "Rally Edition" introduced, which was an option package which featured a lowered front suspension, a larger rear spoiler, body colored grille and 17" chrome wheels.
  • DVD entertainment system, XM satellite radio and a tire pressure monitoring system added to the options list.


  • A CD/MP3 player was added as an available option.


  • In its final model year, the Aztek gained hands-free operation of its OnStar system.

Styles and Major Options[edit | edit source]

The Aztek was available only as a 5-door wagon, with front- or four-wheel-drive and in two trims, Base and GT. All Azteks were equipped with GM's 3.4-liter iron-block V-6 engine, producing 185 hp (137.9 kW) and 210 lb-ft of (284.7 N-m) torque, mated to a four speed automatic transmission. The front suspension is a slightly modified minivan setup, and front-wheel drivers use the same beam axle rear suspension. Four-wheel-drive models use a cast aluminum multilink arrangement that stretches the rear track to 63.8 inches.

The options and accessories list for the Aztek are fitting for this vehicle's "active lifestyle" portrayal. The cargo area is plastic lined, and the hatch opens in a clamshell fashion. The tailgate is molded with cup and seat indents, and audio controls in the rear quarter panel are intended for tailgating. An optional sliding cargo floor adds versatility. The front center console is a removable cooler, large enough for 12 cans.

Optional Packages

  • Biking Package- interior and exterior bicycle mounts, rubber floor mats, washable seat covers
  • Hiking Package- matching backpacks, washable seat covers, rubber floor mats
  • Trailer Towing Package- 3500-lb (1587.5 kg) maximum capacity, automatic load leveling, integrated air compressor
  • Camping Package- cabana tent, air mattress

Pricing[edit | edit source]

MSRP for the 2001 model.


Base 2WD


Base 4WD







Safety[edit | edit source]

Standard Safety Features:

  • Daytime Running Lights
  • 4-wheel Anti-Lock Brakes
  • Front and Side airbags
  • Seatbelt Pretensioners
  • Tire Pressure Monitor

Optional Safety Features:

  • Traction Control

The NHTSA tested the Aztek for frontal and side impact collisions:

Rating (Stars)






Front Seat

Rear Seat









Gas Mileage[edit | edit source]

EPA estimates for the 2001-2005 Aztek are as follows:





Reliability[edit | edit source]

Photos[edit | edit source]

Colors[edit | edit source]






Arctic White, Black, Citrus Green, Pewter, Aztek Yellow, Bright Red, Maple Red, Steel Blue

Dark Gray, Dark Taupe


Arctic White, Black, Champagne Beige, Pewter, Aztek Yellow, Bright Red, Maple Red, Steel Blue

Dark Gray, Dark Taupe


Aztek Yellow, Black, Champagne Beige, Electric Blue, Liquid Gray, Maple Red, Summit White, Victory Red

Dark Gray, Dark Taupe, Dark Gray w/Red Accents


Black, Champagne Beige, Electric Blue, Fusion Orange, Liquid Gray, Maple Red, Summit White, Victory Red

Dark Gray, Dark Taupe


Black, Electric Blue, Fusion Orange, Liquid Silver, Sedona Beige, Sport Red, Summit White, Victory Red

Dark Gray, Dark Taupe

Main Competitors[edit | edit source]

Hybrid Models[edit | edit source]

No Hybrid or Alternative Fuel models of this vehicle were produced.

Technology and notable features[edit | edit source]

  • The Aztek was produced at General Motors' Ramos Arizpe, Mexico assembly plant, where it shared an assembly line with the Buick Rendezvous. In Canada, it filled the gap left since the Sunrunner's discontinuation in 1997, while in the United States and Mexico it was the first Pontiac-badged SUV ever sold.
  • In lieu of four-wheel drive, the Aztek offered Versatrak, a full-time, fully-automatic all-wheel drive system which provided sure-footed traction in the snow or rain and could handle moderately rough off-road surfaces, but was not meant for serious boulder-climbing, Rubicon Trail-type activities.
  • The Aztek was one of the first automobiles to ever be designed entirely using computerized rapid-prototyping/rapid-visualization tools. This is the main reason for its boxy shape; it didn't appear as boxy on a computer screen.
  • The dashboard was designed by NASA contractor Johnson Controls, and featured Pontiac's trademark red lighting scheme along with an optional heads-up display.
  • The Aztek was equipped with a fold-forward front passenger seat which helped maximize cargo-carrying capacity.
  • The Aztek was able to carry within its interior the standard 4 feet by 8 feet sheet of plywood, a common and useful task most of its SUV competitors were unable to perform.
  • In support of the Aztek's intended role as an accoutrement for a youthful, active lifestyle it offered a number of novel options/accessories, such as a center console that doubled as a removable cooler, a tent/inflatable mattress package that along with a built-in air compressor allowed the Aztek to double as an camper. Extending this image was a seatback mounted backpacks, and a number of specialty racks for bicycles, canoes, snowboards and other such objects.
  • An optional 10 speaker Pioneer stereo system provided a set of controls located within the rear quarters of the vehicle for tail-gate parties as well as an unusual 2-piece tailgate with built-in cupholders designed to be used as a seating area during such activities.
  • The Aztek was also available with two rear cargo area options, a pull-out cargo tray that held up to 400 pounds that rolled on built-in wheels when removed from the vehicle, or a versatile cargo net system that held up to 200 pounds and could be configured a claimed 22 different ways.

Resale Values[edit | edit source]

Criticisms and Negative Sales[edit | edit source]

At launch the Aztek was available with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive in base and GT trim.

GM forecast sales of up to 75,000 Azteks per year, and needed to produce 30,000 annually to break even. Just 27,322 were sold in 2001 with more than 50% being sold to captive rental company fleets or used by General Motors executives.

The styling of the Aztek was a source of great derision, to the extent that it was suggested that "Aztek" could become a replacement for "Edsel" as a synonym for failure in the modern lexicon.[1]

Although not the complete flop that many people assume, the Aztek sales performance was certainly a major disappointment, and its failure in the marketplace has been cited as the most glaring example of the failings of GM President John Smale's now discredited "Brand Management" strategy of designing and marketing vehicles which was the guiding force in effect during the Aztek's gestation and initial marketing.

The Aztek was based on a shortened version of GM's second generation U platform minivans, which is partially to blame for the "ugliness" of the model. Relocation of the vehicle's radiator and the windshield positioning was deemed to be too costly, resulting in the disproportionate look up front as they tried to cloak a minivan's structure within a SUV-type shape.

Pricing of the Aztek was also an issue at launch. Styling issues aside, the vehicle was simply too expensive for its intended "Generation X" audience and was priced significantly higher than competing vehicles. After the 2001 model year, the GT model was dropped and pricing was slashed, in addition to extremely generous rebates and cut-rate financing instituted by GM in the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

The 2001 models had extensive unpainted gray plastic body cladding which covered the lower 1/3rd of the vehicle. General Motors performed an unprecedented "emergency" re-styling of the Aztek in an effort to save the model, painting the cladding body color making the Aztek more like the original concept vehicle as well as a number of styling tweaks to address some of the voluminous criticism the vehicle had received in the automotive press. Even outside the automotive world the Aztek was singled out for derision: MAD Magazine called it "the ugliest car in American history".

Somewhat ironically, the Aztek had among the highest CSI (Customer Satisfaction Index) scores in its class, and won the appellation of "Most Appealing Entry Sport Utility Vehicle" in 2001 from J.D. Power and Associates, an independent consumer survey organization who noted: "The Aztek scores highest or second highest in every APEAL component measure except exterior styling."

Much like the 1959 Cadillac represented the zenith and final overextension of the tailfin as a desirable styling device, the Aztek's "overuse" of cladding, marked a breaking point for the automotive press' and public's acceptance of the ribbed cladding that Pontiac had been using as its primary styling differentiator for almost 15 years, a styling element Pontiac introduced on the 1985 Grand Am that quickly spread to all of its models. The restyled 2002 Aztek's body colored cladding eliminated most of the horizontal strakes, and Pontiac began a program at the direction of Bob Lutz to substantially subdue or remove cladding from all of its models.

The Aztek was discontinued after the 2005 model year, and was replaced by the Theta platform Pontiac Torrent. The Aztek's production line in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico was retooled to build the Chevrolet HHR.

Also, it's considered the Edsel of the 21st century. It's the ugly duckling, a pretty good car, but it's looks didn't let people give it a chance.

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