Tara Baukus Mello (TBM): Letâ€™s start with the exterior. I have to say; Iâ€™ve heard a lot of not-so-kind comments from folks about the styling. Don Butler (BM): (Laughter) Well, itâ€™s not a shape that people have seen before. We donâ€™t expect everyone to love its looks; instead we wanted to push the envelope. In order to create a true identity you have to carve out a place for yourself.
TBM: And the interior? What were the designers going for? DB: We were really going after functionality. We wanted you to be able to see and operate everything easily and without looking. The styling was modeled after outdoor activities. For example, the instrument panel was designed to look like the bezel of a diving watch.
TBM: The Aztek is so unusual both in styling and features. Who are you saying are its competitors? DB: We donâ€™t have any direct competitors. Weâ€™ve found Aztek buyers have considered the (Chrysler) PT Cruiser, (Jeep) Grand Cherokee, (Ford) Explorer, (Toyota) Sienna and even the (Toyota) RAV-4 and the (Honda) CRV---although the Aztek is much larger than those.
TBM: The Aztek was the official vehicle for the summer television hit Survivor, which gave it a lot of publicity. I also understand Rosie Oâ€™Donnell owns one and has talked about it on her show. DB: Yeah, her kids (Oâ€™Donnellâ€™s) like to camp out in it in the drivewayâ€¦ TBM: Do you think that the â€ścelebrityâ€ť aspect helped get the Aztek noticed by people who might not have noticed it? DB: People will respond to something that suits their needs. Consumers have been asking for this (these types of features) and the Aztek offers themâ€¦Of course, Survivor and Rosie probably havenâ€™t hurt things.
TBM: When the Aztek was introduced in Los Angeles (in January 2000), you said the research indicated the vehicle would appeal to a younger buyer in his or her early 30s. Now that youâ€™ve had a few months of sales, what are they showing? DB: With just two months of sales, weâ€™re seeing that our typically buyer is a bit older---the current median age is 44. What weâ€™re finding is a common mindset among folks versus a certain age bracket. These are people who want versatility and functionality. Learn More about the Aztek: Vehicle Information Report: Pontiac Aztek
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