Pontiac aztek

Pontiac Aztek

The Pontiac Aztek, introduced late in the 2001 model year (launch alongside competitors the Hyundai Santa Fe and Toyota Highlander) and produced through the 2005 model year, was a mid-size crossover SUV produced by the General Motors marque Pontiac. The vehicle is most noteworthy for its polarizing exterior styling which is a source of extensive ridicule from both the public and the press.


Given the fact that the vast majority of SUVs were rarely taken off-pavement by their owners, much less driven under serious off-road conditions, a new type of car-based «crossover» SUV was marketed that was hoped would provide all the elements that customers actually wanted from their SUVs such as cargo carrying capacity, elevated seating height and the suggestion of an active outdoor lifestyle with less of the negative attributes typically associated with traditional SUVs such as poor gas mileage, uncomfortable ride, high step-in height, propensity to roll over, etc. The formula of a car-based «soft-road» SUV had proved marketable by the highly successful Lexus RX300 and Toyota Highlander and was thought to be a promising new market niche within the highly profitable and increasingly popular SUV category.

Original concept

First shown to the public in 1999, the Pontiac Aztek concept car was fairly well received. It featured «Xtreme» futuristic styling and promised maximum versatility in support of a young and active lifestyle for its intended Generation ‘X’ buyer demographic.

The production edition of the Aztek was launched with the tagline: «Quite possibly the most versatile vehicle on the planet.» in conjunction with CBS’s hit game show, Survivor in 2001.

2003 Pontiac Aztek

Quite fittingly, Richard Hatch of Survivor won this car as a prize during the season finale of the show in 2000.

Technology and Notable features

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 4X4 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 this 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 proverbial 4’X 8′ 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, seatback mounted backpacks, and a number of speciality racks for bicycles, canoes, snowboards and the like.

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.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from Wikipedia.

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