Used 2001 Pontiac Aztek Review

Edmunds expert review

Although functional as a minivan/sport-utility crossover, the Aztek's repulsive styling and weak engine still relegate it to second-class status.

What's new for 2001

Pontiac brings forth a new so-called Sport Recreation Vehicle, blending attributes of a station wagon, minivan, SUV and Pumbaa the talking pig (from the "Lion King") into an interesting, if not different, offering.

Vehicle overview

Pontiac claims the Aztek was the product of out-of-the-box brainstorming in an effort to create a truly unique vehicle. The result of this creative thinking is a whole new SRV, or sport recreational vehicle, which takes the wide stance and sporty ride of the Grand Prix, the versatility of the Montana minivan and traditional character traits of sport utility vehicles, and blends them into a unique and polarizing alternative to SUVs and minivans.

The Aztek cuts a broad swath through the look-alike, humdrum SUVs on the road with a boldly aggressive exterior that could have only come from Pontiac. With its signature wide track stance, cat-eye headlamps, oversized fog lamps and protective side cladding, the Aztek looks like something out of the movie Road Warrior. Mel Gibson not included in base price.

Both base SE and upgrade GT models are powered by GM's tried and true 3400, 3.4-liter OHV V6 producing 185 horsepower and are backed by an electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission. The Aztek is rated for pulling 3,500 pounds with the optional trailer-towing option that includes heavy-duty engine cooling, a high-output alternator and an auto-leveling rear suspension.

With the optional Versatrak all-wheel-drive system, the Aztek will automatically direct power to the wheels with the best grip when it's needed. Unfortunately, the driver has no control over the system and a low range isn't available, which limits off-road capability.

Two seating configurations are offered - front bucket seats with a choice of three-passenger flip/fold 50/50-split seats or dual captain chairs in the second row. The rear 50/50-split bench is of a lightweight modular design that can be folded, flipped forward or removed to create extra room on demand.

A portable cooler is standard on the GT model, and latches to the center console. The fully insulated container houses up to twelve 12-ounce cans of your favorite non-alcoholic beverage. The Aztek GT also features removable utility packs nestled in the front door bins for handy portable storage of cellular phones, sunglasses or sunscreen.

The Aztek has a wide, low and flat cargo floor with 93.5 cubic feet of storage when the rear seats are removed. Drop the tailgate and the Aztek accommodates four full sheets of 3/4" plywood. A dozen cargo anchors, rear convenience net and storage areas built into the side trim and tailgate help keep track of loose ends.

While many SUVs look like they're cast from the same cookie cutter, Pontiac cooked up the boldest - and the most controversial - design to hit the streets so far. Sure, the styling is different and you can't do any serious off-roading, but if you need the versatility of a minivan, and don't want to be labeled as another soccer mom driving a Caravan, the Aztek may be right up your alley.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.