Aztek: May It Rest In Peace

When General Motors showed the Aztek as a concept vehicle, there were nods of approval from the discerning crowd at the 1999 Detroit auto show. But they turned to frowns of dismay when the production version bowed in mid 2000 with its radical styling. Most criticism centered on the heavy use of cladding and an unconventional back end sporting a hatch some felt verged on hideous. The result: the Aztek

When General Motors showed the Aztek as a concept vehicle, there were nods of approval from the discerning crowd at the 1999 Detroit auto show.

But they turned to frowns of dismay when the production version bowed in mid 2000 with its radical styling. Most criticism centered on the heavy use of cladding and an unconventional back end sporting a hatch some felt verged on hideous.

The result: the Aztek became the butt of automotive jokes, a modern 5-letter replacement for Edsel.

While it attracted a small, cult-like following, sales fell way short of projections. GM wanted to sell 50,000-70,000 Azteks annually and needed at least 30,000 units to make money. Deliveries totaled 27,322 in 2001 and 27,793 in 2002, according to Ward's data.

The auto maker lowered the price from $24,995 to $21,445 in 2001, to make it more appealing to young buyers it was designed for in the first place. It also underwent cosmetic surgery. Some cladding came off. Corners were rounded to soften the controversial back end. But that didn't change the basic shape that drew so much ridicule.

It appears the Aztek will be put out of its misery.

Ward's learns the cross/utility vehicle will go out of production in December 2004, apparently pulling forward plans to pull the plug by about a year.

May it rest in peace.

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