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Bye bye Aztek...

July 19, 2005
Pontiac Aztek Goes The Way of the DoDo
In the summer of 2000, I attended a global conference in Italy put on by General Motors and its just named CEO Rick Wagoner. One of the topics of conversation was the accelerating market for crossover SUVs, sport utility vehicles built on car platforms that ride softer and are lower to the ground than conventional truck based SUVs like the Chevy Trailblazer and Ford Explorer. As I sat with Ron Zarella, then GM's head of North American operations, talking about the Pontiac Aztek taking advantage of the crossover trend, he said..."Well, not so much the Aztek. We have other vehicles coming."

Huh? I thought. You are late to the party with crossovers, spend hundreds of millions of dollars developing a vehicle and you are already apologizing for it before it hits showrooms?

The Aztek has been the poster-car for GM's canny ability over the last decade to survey the marketplace, poll consumers, anticipate style trends and come up with something so wrong-headed as to make Sony's commitment to Beta look like marketing genius.

My sister-in-law once called me on the phone, having just picked up an Aztek from Avis, asking, "What the hell am I driving here? It looks like a giant grasshopper wrapped up in caution tape (it was a bad shade of yellow.) GM product boss Bob Lutz has quipped, "We'd fire the guy who greenlighted the Aztek if we could find anyone willing to admit it."

For five years, I have listened to kind-hearted GM folks make excuses for and defend the Aztek. My favorite defense is that it has the highest loyalty rate of any Pontiac. I think that was based on surveys about how favorably owners felt toward the car after getting it home, not intent to repurchase. Of course, if you adopt the runt in a litter of puppies, the one with three legs and one eye, you are going to tell people you took the one with the biggest heart and you wouldn't want any other. IN truth, the Aztek has been a great value for buyers. It's been so unpopular from a design standpoint that GM and dealers have had to discount the heck out of it. I even know an auto industry journalist or two who couldn't resist the bargain for a vehicle with all-wheel-drive and space for a family with lots of luggage.

So, word comes down that GM is going to kill off the much maligned Aztek after this model year, just as it brings out the Pontiac Solstice, Lutz's affordable sleek two-seater convertible that marks the debut of the Lutz era--the first car in the showrooms designed and built from clean sheet of paper to showroom since the gray-haired septuagenarian came to GM in 2001. No one is apologizing for the Solstice, which makes for a good start to a new era.
http://www.businessweek.com/the_thread/brandnewday/archives/2005/07/_in_the_summer.html
 

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Wonder if Mr. Kiley will write his next column about what he is getting for Christmas this week.
 

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Ugliest vehicle I have seen in years. Ranks up there with the pacer and the matador!
 

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AztekRPurty will be totally depressed! Concept is good, look at the Pacifica, Forrester, etc. even the Ford 500. But some prettier clothing would have been more welcome. If GM can jointly build the Vibe, which is also available in 4wd, with Toyota then why can't GM also work with the big T on GM badged RAV4, Landcruiser, etc.
 

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Sliver said:
The Honda Element has to be the ugliest vehicle out there. But I'd say the Aztek is a very close second. I've always thought it looked like a Rhinoceros.
Exactly, I don't understand how the Element can be so popular but the Aztek so hated. I'm not a fan of either, but uggg, the element just doesn't do anyhitng for me.
 

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When I bought my last Pontiac the dealer told me if I referred a new buyer they'd pay me $50.00. I told him I had a friend who was interested in an Aztek, he said if my friend bought one they'd pay me $200.00!!!
 

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Exactly, I don't understand how the Element can be so popular but the Aztek so hated.
I think it is partly (maybe largely?) due to media response. Here you have a vehicle (Element) that looks like a UPS truck that shrunk, but the media rersponded very positively to it, as they usually do with Japanese cars, and it is a success. Take the same vehicle and have it released originally by GM and I think you would have had a totally different result. Something we should keep in mind, too, is that the Aztek drew rave reviews when it was a concept vehicle. That may be a contributing factor to GM's reluctance to produce cars that match too closely their concept design.
 

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achieftain said:
AztekRPurty will be totally depressed! Concept is good, look at the Pacifica, Forrester, etc. even the Ford 500. But some prettier clothing would have been more welcome. If GM can jointly build the Vibe, which is also available in 4wd, with Toyota then why can't GM also work with the big T on GM badged RAV4, Landcruiser, etc.
Nahhh. I knew it was coming. Like the article says, if you love value, it's a good one. I got every option except 4-wheel drive, and it was thousands less than a Kia Sorento.

I think the 1st 2 years with the 2-toned lower body panels were the worst. The last few years don't look near as bad. err.. o.k., they look bad, the early ones just look extra bad. :lol:

Besides, you look at the inside of your car a whole lot more than you do the outside, and the Aztek's interior is just a blast.

Anyway, it was the right car for us, and it's fun driving a conversation piece. Now I just want to drive a conversation piece that people love, and I think you know what that will be. ;)
 

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AztekzRpurty said:
Now I just want to drive a conversation piece that people love, and I think you know what that will be. ;)
A Honda Element? :lol:
 

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The Aztek may be gone, but fans of the... um... quirky styling may find solace in the Subaru B9 Tribeca. It's not as squared, and doesn't have acres of cladding, but it's airplane like overgrown alpha snout does the ztek's front end proud.
 

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Fformula88 said:
The Aztek may be gone, but fans of the... um... quirky styling may find solace in the Subaru B9 Tribeca. It's not as squared, and doesn't have acres of cladding, but it's airplane like overgrown alpha snout does the ztek's front end proud.
And don't forget the Honda Ridgeline. It's just plain odd looking. :lol:
 

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I twice rented an Aztek. If you could close your eyes or look at something else as you tried to get in it you were fine. I thought it handled great and was very fun to drive. I took it through the mountains and up some pretty steep grades. Always enough power and handling. Personally, I thought it looked like an armadillo. IMO it would have looked better with larger wheels and some changes to the back.
 
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