Skip to main content

They say nothing great lasts forever, and the end of Pontiac is one of the most prominent beacons of proof. The now-defunct automaker produced vehicles that are still on the road today. However, toward the end, the automaker seemed willing to try anything for another taste of success. Out of that desperation came two giant flops, the notorious Pontiac Aztek and the appropriately lesser-known Torrent. While neither vehicle can be entirely blamed for the downfall of Pontiac, they both brought the company closer to its impending doom. 

Pontiac Aztek Was Frankenstein’s Monster

Yellow Pontiac Aztek
Pontiac Aztek | ERRY HOLT/Star Tribune via Getty Images

By the time the process started to create the Aztec car, as it’s often called, the team wanted something bold. The automaker knew they needed a competitor for vehicles like the Toyota RAV4. The problem is that every design team member had a decisive say in how the Pontiac AZ turned out, meaning it became a mismatch of car design. The Pontiac Aztek was a pretty ugly vehicle without enough redeeming qualities. 

Before this, Pontiac cars were reasonably straightforward, and some may have even called them boring at points. For the Aztek, the automaker presented an SUV with a genuinely daring design to the world. While this is commendable, no one wanted an ugly double-hood designed vehicle. In addition, the Aztec car had weird lines all over the place, and it originally had those hideous three-spoke wheels. 

The Breaking Bad Pontiac Aztek signaled the end of Pontiac

Gray Pontiac Aztek
Pontiac Aztek | Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Unfortunately, this daring design led to what has been called the biggest automotive failure in history as well as the end of Pontiac. Before this, the Ford Edsel had the title. By the time Pontiac discontinued the Aztek, the SUV had only sold about 119,000 units, of which about 75,000 were from the first year. However, the Pontiac AZ wasn’t all bad because Edmunds reports that the 2005 Aztek has a 3.5-liter V6 with a maximum output of 185 hp and accelerates from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 8.7 seconds. 

Of course, nowadays, many refer to the vehicle as the Breaking Bad Pontiac Aztek. The popular show Breaking Bad heavily featured a Pontiac Aztek as the main character’s vehicle. Unfortunately, the Breaking Bad Pontiac Aztek meme didn’t inspire fans of the hit series to rush out and buy used models. Nowadays, people can find the SUV for a pretty low price due to a lack of interest. 

The Pontiac Torrent also ushered in the end of Pontiac

2006 Pontiac Torrent
2006 Pontiac Torrent | J. Emilio Flores/Getty Images

The Pontiac AZ was close to the end of Pontiac, but the Torrent was closer regarding history. In fact, this car came the year after the 2005 Pontiac Aztek and only lasted until the 2009 model year. Essentially, the Torrent is Pontiac’s rebadged Chevrolet Equinox. Though imperfect, the Pontiac Torrent wasn’t necessarily a bad vehicle. Still, it helped bring on the end of Pontiac due to low sales. However, the company was probably too far in the proverbial hole by that point to be saved. 

The Pontiac Torrent also differs from the Aztec car because people still buy it. It’s not super popular on the used car market, but people find the SUV reliable. The official end of Pontiac came in 2010, and much of the world blames it on these two SUVs, despite decades of low sales from other vehicles. 

Related Pontiac Grand Prix GXP: GM’s Weirdly Innovative Pre-Recession Moonshot

Pontiac Grand Prix GXP: GM’s Weirdly Innovative Pre-Recession Moonshot