After a lukewarm reception last season, the Pontiac Aztek is back with a revised look and a new model lineup. Even with its latest, better-integrated, monochromatic styling treatment, however, Aztek is still one radical looking beast, and folks who don't instantly love it tend to passionately hate it.
But if you fit in the former category, you just might find the Aztek offers some interesting virtues. It's fully accessorized for active lifestyles. Conceptually, it's a minivan dressed up in North Face gear and flaunting a snowboarder's attitude. Or think of it as a buzz-cut sport-utility with near-minivan utility. (All-wheel-drive is available). It's how Laura Croft would collect the kids from soccer practice. It's how . . . well, either you get it, or you don't.
Two variations are available: the basic Aztek in front-wheel-drive ($20,295) and all-wheel-drive ($23,295). Last year's GT model is gone.
Standard equipment has been bolstered for 2002 and now includes a CD player, P215/65 tires on 16-inch aluminum wheels, and a removable console cooler that holds up to a dozen twelve-ounce cans. Air conditioning, power windows, power door locks, power mirrors, fog lights, a cargo-area cover and a tilt steering column are standard. Azteks come standard with side-impact airbags and ABS.
A 3.4-liter V6 pumps 185 horsepower to the front wheels through an electronically controlled four-speed automatic transaxle. All-wheel-drive models use the Versatrak system developed by Austrian AWD mavens Steyr-Daimler-Puch. It is exceptionally compact, and allows Aztek to keep its low, flat cargo floor even in four-wheeler mode.
New for 2002 is a Base-Plus package ($985) that adds remote keyless entry, cruise control, deep-tinted glass in rear doors, a roof rack, and a cargo net system. A Comfort & Security package ($3,150 with front-wheel drive, $3,080 with all-wheel drive) provides an upgraded interior, plus traction control, one year of OnStar service, a Passkey III theft-deterrent system, a leather wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, a six-way power driver's seat, and a sliding rear cargo tray. The Deluxe package ($5,125, with front drive, $5,055 with all-wheel drive) adds a head-up display, leather seats, heated front seats and a six-way power passenger seat.
Almost half of Aztek's stand-alone options are sound systems. The remaining options include a power glass sunroof, power driver's seat, puncture-sealant tires, 17-inch aluminum wheels, and a trailer-tow package.