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Pontiac AztekPontiac Aztek

Okay, so, what we have here is a guest opinion, maybe one of many, by me, Owen. My subject today is the Pontiac Aztek. This is a, ummm, vehicle which has garnered a certain amount of controversy regarding its design, particularly its styling. I cannot claim to be a fan of the styling, but I have to admit that it took a lot of guts for GM to have actually put something like this into mass production. Which is to say, something this ugly.

The real question to me is, "What is the Aztek?"

To label this thing a 'crossover vehicle' would be, I think, a disservice to the field of crossover vehicle marketing. Such interesting and innovative concepts as the PT Cruiser have shown that thinking outside of traditional sedan and sport utility design can create an interesting, useful, attractive, and popular vehicle. While the Aztek shares several features with the Cruiser, including large cargo space, front wheel drive, and, ummm, unique styling, the Aztek is quite a different beast altogether.

Based on a minivan platform, the Aztek is big and boxy, clad in a uniquely unappealing body covered in cheap looking plastic body cladding, with lines that look like someone randomly stuck together features from a dozen different designs based on the opinions of two dozen focus groups. Of course, who am I to say that this wasn't what actually happened. I would be much more likely to believe that this vehicle was the brainchild of a bunch of focus groups than of one visionary designer, it just seems to make sense that way.

Now, having said all those bad things about the Aztek, here's something good. It is essentially a minivan in (ugly) sport ute's clothing, which means that it has some of the benefits of a minivan. There's plenty of space, high ride height, the promise of all wheel drive later on in production, and the really neat tent option that reminds me of an old VW bus/camper. Also, it allows a person to drive a minivan without all that minivan stigma, although it may cause Aztek stigma.

Let me just relate a story about my first experience with the Aztek. I was driving my favorite wench to the eye doctor's, when I pulled up at a light next to an Aztek. I pointed it out to her, and we both just about killed ourselves laughing at the person who would be seen driving something so ridiculous. As this was happening, the driver (a middle-aged balding man with a ponytail) looked over, and initially thought that we were smiling our approval of his choice of "groovy" crossover vehicle, which just made us laugh harder. When he realized that he was being made fun of, he turned bright red and just stared straight forward into the intersection and edged forward so we couldn't see him. When the light changed, he tried to regain some of his ego by accelerating as hard as that thing would go. It just got worse for him when I effortlessly passed his "mean machine" with my subcompact import.

In all, ugly vehicle, but not as pointless as a truck based luxury sport utility, for example. I'll give the thing two pints, but it will be two pints of american beer, which is much more fitting. What saves this vehicle from a no pints rating is that at least it is interesting to look at in a train wreck sort of way, which is more than you can say of most of GM's uniquely bland lineup.

Score: Two Pints

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