I like the 17" 5 spokes. They don't look small except next to a modern 20" wheel. Even my BMW has the optional extra large 18s, which now look small next to 20s. In 2001-02 when the Aztek came out, only cars like 911s and the big BMW and Mercs had 19s, so 17s were kind of normal. You were but a wee baby then, though...
Most were AWD, actually.
They weren't that wallowy, at least not the AWD one I drove back in '02. And the Pilot then sucked and had less room. And was just as plasticky. It and the Highlander were just small, traditional SUVs not true crossovers with as much space or clever touches as the Aztek. The Aztek and Pacifica really ushered in the era of the true crossover.
No....no it wasn't.
I've driven so many U body vans and the Aztek and Rendezvous (my parents own a Rendezvous). Although it's not as bad of a car as Journalists make it out to be, the Pilot and Highlander are so much better of a vehicle, it's not funny. The Aztek's suspension is wallowy - most cars were FWD and got the same unsophisticated solid rear axle as the Venture vans. AWD models got a different rear setup, that was also shared with the AWD variants (Olds Silhouette in particular), and it was wallowy as well. It drove like the Venture van it was based upon.
The 3.4L has torque, but it's nowhere near refined as the Honda J35 (even if that automatic transmission will basically disintegrate, but no one really knew that yet in 2003)
Also, stop saying that because i'm used to newer cars, the Aztek's 17's looked small because of the year.
It's because of the design. Once again, the Aztek was Minivan based, with very little budget on this project. GM engineers and designers couldn't be too extravagant with the proportions because at the end of the day - it had to use as many Venture Van parts as possible. The car looks narrow, (like a minivan - in fact that was one of the original complaints of the Venture van versus the Caravan or even the Odyssey), and is slab sided, with the greenhouse miles in the air. The plastic cladding was ugly, but without the cladding, it made the wheels look dinky under the big box of horribly-styled metal.
The Highlander has wheels that are the same size, but it manages to not look underwheeled -
The Pilot has slightly wider tires, but still - it looks OK.
They look small, and even worse in person.
The only benefit I can see to the Aztek/Rendezvous, is because it was minivan based, the 3rd row (Rendezvous) was actually usable - the Pilot's was good, but the Highlander's was a joke.
And the Aztek was every bit of a "Crossover" as the Highlander was. They were in the same segment, going for the same buyers. GM just did not spend anywhere near as much money as they should have in making a competent product.
Evidently, they ended up learning and by 2006 they had a pretty strong large crossover - the GMC Acadia. (And other LAMBDA cars)