Car of the Week - January 21, 2002

2002 Pontiac Aztek

SEE ALSO: Pontiac Buyer's Guide

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With a bold and controversial approach, the Pontiac Aztek is part sport sedan, part sport utility vehicle, and part minivan. 2002 standard options now include a rear spoiler, removable console/cooler, 16-inch cast aluminum wheels, and AM-FM stereo with CD. It's second year also includes a simplified exterior look using all one color and 16-inch wheels - which gets either yeas or nays from the public - no middle-of-the-road design reactions here.

aztek_overhead

Take out the seats and you get 93.5 cubic feet of storage. Drop the tailgate and you can plop in full sheets of 3/4-inch plywood. Storage areas abound with plenty of anchors and nets to help store your equipment. You can fine tune seating arrangements with a choice of three-passenger flip/fold 50/50-split seats or dual captain's chairs in the second row.

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The Aztek is powered by its reliable 3.4-liter V6 ( 185 horsepower ) and 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. Also included is the Versatrak system, which automatically directs power to the wheels with the best grip. We enjoyed the heads-up display option as well.

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We found the ride quite comfortable, driver and passengers alike. We'd like to see better gas mileage, elimination of the hard to read all-red instrument illumination, and improved rear-view visability. However, we applaud the creative design approach - all recreational vehicles do NOT have to look the same.

- Editor

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