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The Aztek was revised for the 2002 model (in photo) to remove the heavy grey plastic cladding that previously covered the side panels.

2001 Pontiac Aztek GT FWD Road Test
Nifty features abound

By Bill Roebuck

A view of a 2001 Pontiac Aztek passing by usually raises comment from pedestrians and drivers alike, most often, it seems, along the line of "Is that not the ugliest thing you've ever seen?" However, proponents of the design argue that, in the least, it has a distinctive and unusual appearance in a sea of box-like sport-utes, wagons and minivans.

It's true that GM's "SRV" (for Sport Recreation Vehicle) looks like nothing else on the road today. Its design also makes it a cross-dresser of sorts. You could call it a family sedan, an SUV, a tall wagon or maybe even a minivan. On the outside, it looks like a sport-utility that's ready to tackle rough off-road terrain, although it really isn't designed for that kind of performance.

Aztek is available in SE (base) and GT configurations. Front-wheel drive and Versatrak part-time all-wheel drive versions are offered. All-speed traction control is standard. It's a worthy feature.

The ride and handling of the Aztek is competent. Grunt is provided by a 3.4-litre, 185-hp V6 engine. The Aztek's acceleration rate can best be described as leisurely (0-100 km/h takes 10.4 sec.) -- just as well too, as its ABS-equipped brakes have about the longest stopping distance of any new family sedan (100-0 km/h in 48.9 m).

Inside, the Aztek appears cavernous. The view out the rear is obstructed by a support strut that runs across the middle of the hatch windows. Because of the way the lower half of the rear hatch door folds down, it is difficult to reach in to retrieve items in the cargo area with the gate open. That makes the optional roll-out cargo tray a necessity.

The Aztek boasts a plethora of nifty features  -- a handy removable console cooler in the GT version, optional rear hatch tent and air mattress, lots and lots of cargo space, and good towing capacity (1,588 kg or 3500 lb) with the optional trailer package. The front buckets are supportive and comfortable, and the rear seats provide plenty of hip, head and leg room. The seating position provides a high, van-like view of the road. The rear seats are a 50/50 split design that flip and fold out of the way, and they are individually removable.

The bright red 2WD GT model we tested was priced at $32,895. The lineup ranges from $29,255 to $36,185. If you don't mind its appearance, the Aztek provides a great view of the road ahead and has plenty of room inside for both people and cargo.

© Copyright Bill Roebuck, 2002.

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