Bob Lutz Explains How The Pontiac Aztek Got Made

Bad planning, bad management, bad culture; these are all things that came to a tipping point at General Motors in the late 1990s when the Pontiac Aztek was developed.

It all makes for entertaining reading when Bob Lutz tells it.

In his October column for Road & Track, the former GM executive claims to have possibly have been hired by then-GM CEO Rick Wagoner because of the Aztek, after ragging on Wagoner and the car while accepting an award.

When I apologized later, he said, “Ah, I was expecting it. We’re disappointed in the Aztek. I’d enjoy hearing what you think we’re doing wrong.” After three conversations, he offered me a job.

Lutz went on to say the Aztek’s product planner essentially went about with blinders on, trying to suppress criticism and negative responses to the vehicle during the whole development process. It failed market research clinics, but no one seemed worried.

The sad thing in all of this was that the Aztek was a real try by GM to do something totally against the grain. Its interior was loaded with smart ideas like a built-in air compressor, center console that doubled as a removable cooler and a sliding load floor. GM could have been ahead of this whole crossover game, if they hadn’t cheaped out on big things like the styling, the engine, the quality, etc.

At least the Aztek was immortalized on the show Breaking Bad. As the vehicle of a teacher-turned-meth-making-criminal.

Read Lutz’s whole column on R&T.

By Zac Estrada

Photo Gallery

  • dwight mannsburden

    There was a much less ugly Aztek concept shown at NAIAS prior to the production version. Don’t know why they decided it needed to look ungainly and weird

Lamborghini Unveils Urus ST-X Concept For Racing Series That Combines On And Off-Road Driving

The race-spec Urus has 641 hp and a 25 percent weight reduction compared to the standard model.

Garage Italia Customs Breathes New Life Into Ex-Gianni Agnelli Fiat Panda 4×4

The small hatchback was owned by Lapo Elkann’s grandfather, who kept it in St. Moritz and drove it in the snowy roads.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio Sprints To 170 Mph Very, Very Fast

With a 503 HP from the Ferrari-tuned V6 and all-wheel drive, it can humble many sports cars.

Jeep Wrangler Takes Out Cherokee In Snow Storm And Runs Away

The driver of the Cherokee didn’t see the Wrangler’s rear plate – and, what’s worse, it wasn’t wearing a front one…

Spending $45k On A First-Gen, Used F-150 Raptor Makes Perfect Sense

The original Raptor isn’t just an incredibly fun truck, it’s also a great financial decision.

2020 Range Rover Evoque II: Looks, Engines And Everything Else We Know

Here’s a sneak peek at the second generation Range Rover Evoque before its Nov 22 debut.

Le Mans-Winning McLaren F1 GTR Driven By Mika Hakkinen At Laguna Seca

The Flying Finn drove the F1 that claimed the victory at La Sarthe in its first-ever attempt.

After The U.S., Smart Is Ditching Gasoline Engines In Europe Next Year

Customers in Germany have until March 31, 2019 to order a gasoline-powered Smart as the company will go full-electric from 2020.

Next Citroen C4 Cactus Expected In 2020 With Battery-Electric Option

The C4 Cactus will be significantly upgraded in two years’ time, moving to the new CMP platform and adopting a zero-emission powertrain.

Germany’s Diesel Ban Is Starting To Expand To Autobahn Network

A German court ruled in favor of banning older diesel cars on sections of the heavily-used A40 highway.