By now, pretty much everyone in the car world is well aware of the Pontiac Aztek. This is a car that was so drastically ugly it never should’ve been made, the thinking goes — it was a crazy-looking vehicle that’s emblematic of General Motors’ bad decisions in the late 1990s that led it into bankruptcy. That’s what people say. I personally don’t mind the Aztek, and I think it was a bit ahead of its time, but regardless, it’s not remembered so fondly.
But here’s something you may not realize: The Aztek had a more rationally styled upscale version in the Buick Rendezvous. And, frankly, it was a success.
Here’s the basic situation: The Aztek was sold beginning in 2001, and it was instantly deemed so ugly that a 2002 update was required to make it more mainstream. Sales were so slow that it was gone by 2005.
But the Aztek was codeveloped with a Buick, and it wasn’t the same story over there. The Buick Rendezvous actually did well, offering the same platform and engine as the Aztek, along with similar overall dimensions. But the Rendezvous had more traditional styling, and third-row seating — and it was marketed as a bit of an upscale minivan. The result was relatively strong sales, as Buick managed to sell 72,000 units of the Rendezvous in its best year, and over 60,000 units in three other years — only about 30% behind the performance of the Chevrolet Venture, which was a far cheaper “mainstream” minivan.
Unfortunately, the Rendezvous didn’t stick around, as it was replaced by the more reasonable Enclave crossover — but it goes down in history as the more attractive, more successful sibling to the Pontiac Aztek. Find a Buick Rendezvous for sale