Used 2002 Pontiac Aztek Review

Edmunds expert review

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

What's new for 2002

After a chilling reception from consumers in its first year, Pontiac is attempting to salvage the Aztek with a slight makeover that includes a monotone exterior and a new rear spoiler. Inside, numerous amenities that were optional on last year's model are now standard equipment.

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. After the vehicle's less-than-welcoming reception from buyers last year, Pontiac went back to the drawing board and cleaned up some of the Aztek's more offensive lines. The exterior is now all one color and standard 16-inch wheels help to give the vehicle a more balanced look.

The model lineup now consists of either the standard front-wheel-drive model or the upgraded all-wheel-drive version. Both are powered by GM's tried-and-true 3.4-liter V6 producing 185 horsepower and are backed by an electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission. The Aztek is rated to pull 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.

All-wheel-drive Azteks use GM's Versatrak system, which automatically directs power to the wheels with the best grip. Unfortunately, with no low range or center differential lockup feature, the Aztek has limited 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's 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. The often-touted cooler/center console is now standard equipment along with an AM/FM CD stereo. Order leather seating and you'll get heated buckets up front, while upgrading to the six-disc CD changer or dual-play radio will net you a leather-wrapped steering wheel with satellite audio controls.

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-inch 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. With its latest makeover, it's softened it up a bit, but it still turns heads. 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.