Chevy Citation or Pontiac Aztek: Which GM Five-Door Do You Love To Hate Less?

Sbsd 5 16

Greetings, future Autopians. I’m writing this from the past, last Friday, to be exact. So whatever the news was that you’re all talking about this morning hasn’t happened to me yet. I hope it’s something good.

Let’s first have a peek at last week’s Shitbox of the Week results:

The XT6 wins, and let’s all be honest about why: this manual shifter:

What’s certainly good is that I’ve got some USDA-certified Grade A crap to show you, courtesy of the netizens of Opposite-Lock, that marvelous not-quite-always-off-topic car forum that rose like a magnificent phoenix from the ashes of the old Kinja blogs, and more recently served heroically as Carpathia to DriveTribe’s Titanic. I told Opponauts that I wasn’t going to have much time to shop for cars and asked them for help, and boy howdy did they come through! Thanks to one and all for the suggestions. I was spoiled for choice.

So let’s see what our crack team of advisors has found for us today:

1980 Chevrolet Citation – $1,000

00606 Gg28cpepgw2z 0ci0t2 1200x900

Engine/drivetrain: 2.8 liter V6, 3 speed automatic, FWD

Location: Spokane, WA

Odometer reading: unknown

Runs/drives? Runs, but electric cooling fan is out, so won’t drive far

According to the seller, this car started out as an Avis rental car, and was used in print and television ads for Avis in 1979/80. I did a little digging to see if I could find the ad, but came up empty-handed. (Maybe I should “Try Harder.”). It’s common knowledge to never buy a used rental car, because you know how you drive rental cars and you assume everyone else does the same, but for a car that was last turned back in when Reagan was President, I don’t think that warning matters much anymore.

01515 Aig0xss2v1kz 0ci0t2 1200x900

But for anyone who has ever been disappointed to be handed the keys to a Nissan Versa at the rental counter, just imagine being stuck with one of these beauties. The Citation was Chevy’s latest and greatest in 1980, and although it sold like hotcakes (more than 800,000 sold that first year) and met with critical acclaim (Motor Trend’s 1980 Car of the Year), it didn’t take long for the bloom to come off the rose, and for all those owners to realize the Citation was a gigantic piece of junk. Not only was the build quality and reliability subpar (which is really  saying something for 1980 Detroit), but the front-wheel-drive chassis engineering was half-baked, and the car suffered from horrible torque-steer and rear wheel lockup under hard braking. Recall notices flew thick and fast into owners’ mailboxes, and sales tanked.

00r0r 7hbhnvnjsahz 0ci0t2 1200x900

00n0n K3zf8emoje7z 0ci0t2 1200x900

Really, this car has no business looking this good in this day and age. Most Citations looked tired and haggard by the late 1980s, and by 1995 or so, they had all but disappeared. This one must have been stashed away in a garage and forgotten for a couple of decades. I hate to think of anyone considering a Citation as a “classic,” but I guess there’s an ass for every seat, and if someone really wanted the nicest Citation left, this might well be in the running.

00p0p 6th9oqg3rm0z 0ci0t2 1200x900

The odometer in this car probably still works, but it has a yellow flag over the first three numbers that says “CATALYST.” What little information I was able to find says that these flags popped up at a certain mileage to tell the owner that the catalytic converter should be replaced. I tried to find out at what mileage that might happen (50,000? Less?), but couldn’t get a straight answer. I did find instructions on how to reset it, but it involves disassembly of the dash, presumbaly to prevent owners from resetting it themselves and ignoring the converter maintenance. Also note the Federally-mandated 85 mph speedometer, with 55 clearly indicated. When we say “malaise era,” kids, this is what we mean.

[Editor’s Note: This 2.8-liter V6 was considered an absolute pile when under the hood of a Jeep Cherokee XJ, though Chevy folks seem to think it’s fine. I always find it interesting when one motor is great in one application but just doesn’t hold up in another. -DT]

2004 Pontiac Aztek – $1,500

00c0c Le04mhqzxylz 0ww0t2 1200x900

Engine/drivetrain: 3.4 liter V6, 4 speed automatic, FWD

Location: Rochester, MN

Odometer reading: 162,000 miles

Runs/drives? Yes, but transmission is going out

Twenty-four years is a long time. Kids whose parents hadn’t even met yet when the Citation rolled off the assembly line could have been old enough to receive this Pontiac Aztek as a college graduation gift. GM spent those two and a half decades learning how to make a proper front-wheel-drive family car. And also the Aztek.

00l0l 3nbi2zrnwqwz 0ci0gi 1200x900

What’s remarkable is how much of the old Citation’s basic architecture made it this far. The 3.4 liter V6 in this Aztek is the same engine family as the Citation’s 2.8 liter V6, stroked and bored, fuel-injected, and refined. The suspension is still McPherson struts in the front and a beam axle in the rear (at least on 2WD models like this one). The Aztek, and basically every other front-wheel-drive GM vehicle for decades, was an evolution of the old X-body Citation.

The Aztek’s styling is, of course, controversial. Personally, I have always liked it, particularly the earlier versions than this one with the gray plastic lower body cladding. But I also know I am nearly alone in that opinion. Again, there’s an ass for every seat.

00l0l Kpc9wbmsxhrz 0lm0t2 1200x900

Speaking of seats, this Aztek “has seen a lot of use” and “has stains on the floor and seats.” Best not dwell too much on the precise meaning there. It does still have all the “active lifestyle” goodies such as the detachable cooler:

00909 Xucfmgs4z0z 0lm0t2 1200x900

and waterproof storage bins:

00o0o 2batceqhfqoz 0lm0t2 1200x900

But I do wish the seller had cleaned them out a bit better before taking photos. I do not want to know what is in that black garbage bag. [Editor’s note: It’s dog shit]. 

The slipping transmission is of course a problem, though these have been known to limp along for a long while after they should have dropped dead. And it may be a whole lot rustier than it looks; remember that the bottom third of the bodywork is plastic, and we have no way of knowing what horrors lurk beneath.

This really is a choice of the lesser of two evils, I realize: a still-somehow-nice example of an absolute disaster from day one, or something decent but hideous and nearly used-up. But just imagine standing in front of these two cars with your worst enemy. You get first pick of the keys. Which set do you grab?

 

Quiz Maker

All Images: Sellers
Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit

112 Responses

  1. Hey, don’t knock the Citation.

    Back in 90 or so, fresh out of university and broke, I bought a 1980 Pontiac Phoenix which was the Pontiac equivalent. I believe I drove that car for about 2 years until it literally broke in half. (Well, I was jacking it up to change the oil and the floor and sill were so weak, it more like folded in the middle.

    Needing a “new” shit box, I found a guy selling a Chevy Citation for 500 Canadian. He told me that there was something wrong with the engine, but that the car was all there. He was right, it was a very plain jane blue citation with the 2.8 litre v-6 in it. But the body was in a hell of a lot better shape than my old phoenix. Turned out, it just needed an ignition rotor and it ran like a top. The car had an AM radio, the V6 and a rear window defroster. That was about it. I was commuting from Hamilton to Toronto each day, so that put a lot of miles on the car real fast.

    But it was DEAD SIMPLE to fix. Factory rotors were like 28 bucks each I recall. I changed brakes, a steering rack, fuel pumps (it ate those), alternators, a fuel tank, a radiator, a transmission and two, countem two engines on it. I did all the work myself in my parent’s garage. I probably put 300,000 kilometres on it and sold it in 1997 for 500 bucks.

    Anyway, I didn’t give a shit about the car as the blue paint had faded to silver and it was getting a bit rusty around the edges. I parked it wherever, I drove on the highway every day, the car endured every insult that came its way and never so much as a door ding. (It’s always the cars you don’t car about that never get so much as a scratch.) No theft insurance, no collision, just liability. It was also a great way of determining if a young woman was the real deal or not. If she sort of stopped in her tracks upon approach to my car and screwed up her face when she saw “blue thunder” and said, “THAT, you expect me to ride in THAT” I knew right away that this was a sign from God. On the other hand, if she happily jumped in, I knew she was the kind of woman to hitch up a wagon with.

  2. Oof, these are both not great choices, but the Aztek with the lousy transmission takes the vote from me without any thought at all. Citations were piles of crap forty years ago, and have NOT aged like fine wine. At least with the Aztek it’s a little weird, and a weekend with a junkyard transmission could turn it into a semi-reliable daily driver assuming that the intake gaskets are still in one piece.

  3. The Aztek is the one for me as long as it has no major rust or brown ooze along the bottom edge of the plastics. I’d have the neighborhood car detailer kids do a full disinfectant strike and clean up on it.
    The weak automatic that’s a pain, but somehow fixable. I find the exterior styling on these so bad that they are somehow good in their ugliness. A committee designed, classic before its time for a future that never came.
    I would drive this, people would point and I’d laugh at them, life would be good!

  4. This is a real “Sophie’s Choice” of shitboxes today. See, that was a movie based on a book from the late 70’s. Around the same time the Citation hit the new car lots…. I’ve never read the book or watched the movie but I know about it, just like I know about the Citation.

    For that reason, I’m picking the Aztek. I’m sure I was going somewhere with my point but I lost interest since both of these are not what you would call “desirable”.

  5. I opened this page expecting to vote for the Citation, but I found myself clicking the Aztek for the same reasons others did (it’s newer, parts are easier to get, so-ugly-it’s-beautiful, actually useful). I’d probably turn the Aztek into a Trans-Am Y88 tribute just for the h*ck of it. No shame to the Citation voters; you’d be the instant star of RADwood.

  6. I went with the Citation because the people I knew that had them were able to just run them into the ground.

    They were not pretty, fast, or even comfortable. For an A to B car it will work.

    I wonder if an X11s are out there still.

    There is also the irony of naming the car “Citation” maybe not for speed. Littering as rust flows behind you, sure.

  7. Chevy. It’s a pile of junk that somehow made it this far. It should be kept around and polished to show what a turd it was. Maybe drive, well, trailer it to business schools to show what happens when cost is prioritized above all else.

  8. I voted, but I’m not proud of it and I refuse to divulge my choice.

    As an aside, look at the radio placement on that Chevy dash! Imagine trying to find your station while driving down the road. I was 4 when that car was new and our neighbor had one. It was always in our garage for Dad to fix. There was also a Fiat X1/9 that one of his friends owned, and a family member had an AMC Eagle. I learned so many curse words from those 3 cars!

    1. I threw a CD player under dash in mine and had to do some cutting and wiring to add speakers. I tried also wiring into the AM radio speakers and blew them out immediately. That vertical AM radio was garbage for more reasons than placement, but it was really frustrating because of that placement.

  9. The Aztek is ugly, sure, but probably a whole world of better than a Citation. I was there when the Citation came out. Faced with competition from imports, GM came up with this Pile Of Sadness. Chrome plastic everywhere, the crappy kind that wears out quickly. It was like 70’s American cars were cheap model cars made full size. By the 80’s they said “let’s just keep doing that!” And with the half baked fuel injection carburetor setups good luck. I’d buy the Aztek if it was near me. By then the biggest problem with GM was the melting interiors.

  10. The Citation is cool and comes in a cool color and even has a front bench seat and those slats on the back window!!!

    But I had to choose the Aztek because of the cooler, and it’s newer and easier to get parts for

  11. Aztec for sheer usefulness and eventual “this was before it’s time” cool.

    The Citation is a total pro/con thing for me. And I don’t mean the obvious ones.

    As in, pro: the seat upholstery is just wonderful…why can’t we have more plaid? Con – if there was a way to design a dash that sucks every last bit of potential fun that a car might be, this was it.

    1. Here’s an inexplicable bugaboo of mine: When people say the Aztek was before its time.

      Because it wasn’t.

      It was near the beginning of the CUV trend but the product category was taking off. If it wasn’t quite so objectionable it would have been a huge hit – hell Buick sold as many Rendezvous as they could make and it was the same thing but slightly better looking (and the core buyer had slightly worse eyesight). People are always making excuses for it but if it launched exactly at the right time, they just screwed it up.

      And I’d still pick the Aztek over the Citation.

      1. That’s a great point about the timing of the Aztec. It’s as if GM actually managed to strike out in teeball, which now that I think about it perfectly describes a lot of GM’s business decisions through the 90’s…

      2. This exactly. The Aztec could have been successful and started a niche, but it wasn’t and it didn’t. The Rav4/CR-V/Element/Escape came along and took off.

        The Element fizzled out, but it was a far better product than the Aztec, and it’s unashamed ugliness didn’t hold it back. Instead of dumping them with huge sums of cash on the hood, or directing the dealer to move the vehicle to a loaner position so it can be marked as “sold”, Honda sold to everyone from their 20s to their 80s. I had one, a 2005 EX AWD 5MT.

  12. This one is tough for me, but not because I hate both. In fact, I hate neither of these.

    I had a friend who wanted an Aztek in the worst way when they were new and had me half convinced they cool. I have no firsthand experience with one exactly, but I’m sure it was fine in a boring people mover way, I have driven the first Gen equinox which is the same thing.

    Then there is the Citation. My parents owned no fewer than five of these things. I learned to drive in them, took my driver’s test in my mom’s 85 X-11. I remember these things as amazing little cars. Those hatchbacks could carry way more stuff than you would think they could. They suck in that specific way that all 80s cars sucked. The headliner in my grandpa’s had to be thumbtacked up. The 3 speed transmission is lacking in today’s day and age. My parents 85s had considerably more modern instrument panel and dash than these early models.

    Squeezing me for an answer, I’d probably take the Aztek. It’s a lot newer and likely to be the better overall car. But if that Citation happened to be an 85 X-11, I’d be dangerously close to check my bank account and start trip planning.

    1. You earn my admiration for mentioning the X-11. The wheels alone were amazing, and (yeah people can make fun of me all they want here) the door decals.

      To my malaise-era young self, these things seemed moderately cool. Right up there with the Chevy Cavalier Type 10!

        1. Isn’t it great? Totally a product of that period here in ‘Murica…we still had the lingering memories of the supercar (now called musclecar) era, but everyone was getting excited about the possibilities of FWD and “Euro” design.

          So you got cars like this that kinda delivered on neither, but damn they did try!

      1. Yes to both counts! The X-11 wheels looked kind of like the wheels on an AMC Eagle, but not exactly.
        The X-11 decals changed in different years. I don’t know if it was each year, but my parents X-11s were both ’85s, their decals looked like X-11 with two drop shadow copies behind it. I thought they were very cool. These cars are very hard to even find good pictures of on Google images anymore.

      2. I had the Hot Wheels X-11 as a kid, white with red interior (Mattel kind of committed themselves to that with the interior and taillights molded as a single piece of plastic) and red side stripes.

        Are we talking about the 1980 model year X-11 decals or the ’81-85 style? The HW toy always had the early ones.

        1. I didn’t even know there were multiple versions! This thread just keeps getting better.

          The one I remember is the pretty damn big X-11 graphic on the lower front of the doors.

          I always figured GM’s idea was “hey, if you squint, the whole thing like looks like an Audi Quattro, right? RIGHT?”

    2. My mum had a base 5 door like this one and I always wished it was the x-11 so I considered the car cool by association. For nostalgia I went with the citation even if they were always hot piles of garbage.

    3. An Equinox is not the same thing, although it does have the boat anchor 3400. This is built on a shortened U body minivan platform. The Equinox is on the much newer Theta platform.

    4. I’ll have to confess my ignorance of american cars in general, I had to look up the X-11. That thing is awesome! I voted Aztek but it was a hard choice between the two (the Citation looks awesome and has a bench seat – always a plus in my book). If this was an X-11 I’m not so sure I would’ve voted for the Aztek.

  13. Give me that Chevy. Louvers make it great, and the fact that you’ll never see another that good makes it worthwhile. It’s the Radwood era, cars like this are starting to become cool! There’s lots of Azteks out there, and you’ll still be able to find some good ones for a while.

  14. All I can think of is the day I was gassing up an Aztek Pontiac loaned me. A young couple nearby stared at it. The woman said “What is it?” and the man said “That’s the new Pontiac Anthrax.”

    Only drove a Citation once and was hugely underwhelmed. So I have to go with “nuh-uh” on both.

    1. I’m gonna have to disagree with you there.

      The Citation was a steaming pile when it was built. Congratulations to this one for surviving this long, but I wouldn’t have trusted one 30 years ago when I was selling cars and they were relatively common. Carbage from day one and haven’t improved.

      The Aztek, even with a slipping transmission, is far more desirable. Sure, they’re ugly, or at least funky looking. But they were at least mediocre from a “decent transportation” angle.

      1. Funny, my experience with the Aztec, Rendezvous, and the related minivans led me to the Citation.

        This is like choosing between electrocution and drowning. Getting hit by a Hummer or a box truck. How is one better? It really isn’t. The authors enjoy watching us squirm, kudos to them for picking a couple good ones. Lol

  15. Yeah this one today is like walking into a public restroom, and finding 2 toilets. Each filled with some turds from some ass wipe who is too good to flush. Since we are not allowed a “neither” vote, cause “rules”, screw it. Flush both these turds. Twice.

    1. This one really did hurt. I don’t automatically hate the Aztek because of its looks. It’s weird and, okay, kinda ugly, but it always struck me as something that probably made sense, like, decisions were not made in a vacuum but rather for a reason, even if that reason wasn’t clear to me. But there’s truly nothing to like about this one. Transmission issues, the color, the condition, the cleanliness… it’s really just a turd. But it’s certainly better than the Citation. That thing is even turdlier. Why would anyone like that color? My 2nd car was a ’77 Accord hatchback in a bronze similar to that, but at least it was otherwise a great car. That Citation’s dash somehow makes an awful car far awfuler. I don’t understand any of you Radwood guys even when you’re talking about arguably attractive heaps, but I feel like this Chevy is so well preserved because someone parked it in a remote corner of a corporate parking structure in 1982 and walked away forever, preferring to believe that they’d never bought such a thing. The Aztek is far superior, and yet still feels like a tragic loss.

      I think I’ll just take the bus from now on.

  16. This is one of the few times an Aztek is preferable. They were unmitigated shite in 1980 and did not improve with age. The Aztek was flawed bot original and apart from dire grey switchgear is an appliance grade car with some cachet as either a Radwood era memory, or a famous TV car. The Citation was lame ad campaigns and engines falling out when the subframe mounts rusted

  17. I may have solved the catalyst replacement interval mystery. I found a maintenance schedule that indicates the catalyst should be changed every 90,000 miles:

    https://ds.texasfamilyautoservice.com/service-schedule/detailview/chevrolet-citation-1980-6596-17069-46901&mileage=90000

    I also found several PDF files of the owner’s manual that state that “EMISSIONS” should appear on the “speedometer face” when the catalyst needs to be replaced, or O2 sensors should be replaced on California Emissions cars. It would not surprise me in the least if GM got both the message and its location wrong in their own manual.

    The owner’s manual also states that the first catalyst replacement should be done by the Chevrolet dealer free of charge.

  18. Having owned a Citation, I’ll vote for old time sake. Agree with darn near everything about it. The suspension was good though for blasting down back country gravel roads since it was near impossible to bottom it out. Everything else sucked. Brakes were “prayerful”, bc you had to have God’s help to stop quickly. The 2.5L Iron Duck, I mean Duke engine sucked. Oil, coolant, you name it leaked. It ate belts every 5K. The AC was probably the best feature as it never needed service and was ice cold at idle. Kept the car till it cracked a piston at 99K.

  19. No contest. My parents had a bright yellow 81 Citation. They sold it around 1987 and got a call from the poor guy about 2 weeks later. It had burned up on the side of the road.

    I was shocked this winter when visiting Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, to see a gold (well, about 30% gold and 70% surface rust color) Citation, parked and running, in the Houghton Wal-mart parking lot. Houghton gets about 201 inches of snow a year on average, and yet this thing was still running and, while crazy rusty, still driving around in the snowbelt.

    Take the Aztec… they are fairly reliable and you can at least sell that cooler to get some of your investment back.

    1. We don’t really use salt much that far north. It’s too cold for salt to effectively work so they just sprinkle ground up mine tailings on everything to give traction up there in the Keweenaw. That’s the reddish hue dirt that blankets everything after the snow melts and provides for the existence of “snirt” (snowy dirt) before it all melts off. No salt means that cars live a lot longer than you would expect and Yoopers can drive literally ANYTHING in snow.

      1. That makes sense of something I noticed. I have seen some incredibly clean cars for sale up that way. I mean 1970s stuff that look like they could’ve spent their lives in The Place Where Cars Don’t Deteriorate, often abbreviated “PNW”.

        I remembered thinking, there’s no way a 1979 Mercury Zephyr lived in Michigan it’s whole life and has no rust. In Everett, WA? Yeah. Because my ’78 Z-7 had none. I love time warp cars man. Just drive them sometimes so they don’t get too stale mechanically.

        I’m lucky my current relic (’74 Chevy pickup) is as rust-free as it is for being unrestored.

      2. That is true about the salt. I was up right after Winter Carnival and we got about 2 feet of drifting snow. I got around just fine in my truck, but that would have shut down Metro Detroit for a while. I wish they would find an alternative to the salt around here. The sand/dirt mix in the UP is much more effective than salt.

        It was still impressive to see a Citation driving around in the winter though. I hadn’t seen one in years.

  20. My favorite Citation story: my friend’s dad took Chevrolet to small claims court over the repairs on his new-ish Citation. He prepared a whole presentation, but at the start of the proceeding the judge just looked at the Chevy rep and said, “This is an X-car, right? I have one of those. You’re going to want to settle with this man.”

  21. You set this up just so the Aztek might win something for once. Right?

    I was a passenger in a Citation when the throttle stuck and the brakes locked up simultaneously on the freeway. Good thing it spun so we hit the barrier ass first. That stupid motor was still revving furiously from the stuck throttle as we crawled out of the wreck. The ensuing fireball gave us some vindication.

  22. Speaking as the former owner of an ’81 Buick Skylark (the Citation’s sibling), and someone who drove several Azteks as rentals the choice is clear. Even with all its hideous flaws the Aztek is at least a somewhat useful transportation device, while the X-car is an irredeemably awful piece of junk (although I will unreservedly acknowledge the visual appeal of the X-11).

  23. Question on something I’d missed before:

    What’s the color of the Aztek? Chocolate Milkshake?

    In my mind’s eye, Azteks are always either bright red or Tonka yellow, which at least wins them a couple of points. But this is just awful.

  24. I remember my parents having a citation back in ’83. I think it was an ’81 model but I was little so not sure if I’m correct on the years. I remember we had a Chevy Chevette that was traded in for the Citation but it ended up getting totaled in Indianapolis when someone ran a red light and hit on the passenger side door where I was sitting. We must’ve gotten a lot of money from the insurance payout because my dad went all out and bought a brand new, don’t get jealous here, a brand new ’84 Renault Alliance! Believe it or not, that Renault made it to 320,000 miles before it died. I’m voting Citation all the way! It may be just a piece of crap Citation but at least it’s not an Aztek.

  25. I’d have to go with the Aztek. First, its shortened U-Platform is a precursor to first-generation Vue/Torrent/Equinox. The Thetas were pretty good cars, though my Saturn benefitted from Honda’s L66.

    I don’t mind the Aztek’s looks that much, and the people who owned them generally liked them. On the practical side, there should be plenty of spare parts in the local junkyard, including a transmission. Anyone with some decent mechanical skills and a willingness to put in the work is much more likely to have a decent car than if they chose the Citation.

  26. The X- car also used the diagonally split braking system, one port of the master cylinder fed the left front brake and the right rear brake. Between the Citation and the Aztek, I think I’d prefer to ride my bike.

    1. Tom McCarthy wrote and directed Spotlight, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture, got him a a Best Original Screenplay Oscar and a Best Director nomination.

      This does not mean I have to like The Cobbler, which he also directed and was, in fact, one of the worst movies I have ever seen.

      Just because someone has done something good does not mean they are incapable of doing something bad.

  27. Seeing the brown 1980 Citation gave me disturbing flashbacks. I was a Mormon missionary on the central California coast in 1980. In some of our areas we were provided (for a monthly fee!) a church-owned car instead of the usual ubiquitous bike because of the size of a particular area. I was assigned to Santa Maria for a few months and that area came with a brown 1980 Citation 2-door coupé (not the hatchback but the one with a trunk). It had the Iron Duke 4 cylinder engine, a 3 speed automatic, no A/C and no radio but it did, strangely enough, have power steering. The other cars in different parts of the mission were either Ford Fairmonts or Chevy Malibus. Compared to those the Citation was like a sports car and actually seemed fun to drive. I’m sure it self destructed soon after I left Santa Maria in much the same way I self destructed from the Mormon religion soon after I returned home from my 2 year sentence.

  28. I’m from Yurp, so these are both über-exotic unicorns to me. I love them both. I’ll begrudgingly go with the Aztek because it just seems like the least impractical choice, but there’s so much I love about the Citation as well. That colour is wonderful, and it’s kinda hard for me to not pick the option with the bench seat. But alas, I voted for the Heisenbergmobile.

  29. I wouldn’t touch the slipping transmission Aztec. The citation gets the vote by default. Worst case scenario is wiring up a junkyard fan to a toggle switch to fix that problem. Beats the hell out of a transmission R&R on that hideous U body pile of fuck.

    Being newer does not mean more reliable. The electronics in those things will make you pull every hair you have out. Working on the 3400 in that engine bay will have you committed to an institution before you’re done.

    As bad as the citation is, it’s probably easier to keep going at this point. No security lock. It really is the lesser evil here.

    1. Agreed, that looming transmission repair puts the already-$500-more Aztek into the ballpark of much better cars. If the Citation’s 3-speed THMwhatever dies it’s manual-swap time on the road to building the 5-door X-11 Chevy never made but should’ve.

      1. I thought about mentioning how much easier it is to modify the Citation. Even being FWD, it’s pretty rudimentary in its systems and you have the bounty that is GM’s 80s parts bin.

        I’ve always imagined a 3800 s/c in something like a Pontiac 6000. I bet you could do it in this. I drove a 3800 (naturally aspirated) A body (80s Century T-Type), it was fucking quick.

    2. *”No security lock.” Was intended for the 2nd paragraph and I should have elaborated on it. I’ve seen these lock down due to electronic glitches, go into security mode, do all kinds of crazy things. Its not uncommon to see the dash looking a Christmas tree. They scare the hell outta me. I worked at a GM dealer in the early 2000s and I remember these. They might have eventually worked out the bugs, but I doubt it. The same problems plagued both generations of the 2000s FWD minivans. Bizarre shit.

  30. Anyone choosing the Citation will be forced to drive one. For the next 10 years. And nothing else.

    Yes, you can run it into the ground. The ground is about 50,000 miles if you’re lucky. It’s so clean because it can’t go more than 5,000 miles without multiple major failures. They eat more tires than a 911 GT3 demonstrating donut mode. The transmission offers two modes: slipping and parking. And that was on the ‘improved’ later ones, the ‘Citation II.’ This is a first year Citation.

    The name is what you’ll be getting a lot of, mostly for littering as major components fall off the car. Like the door.

  31. Wasn’t the Aztek the car that Bob Lutz was referring to when he said that GM design was like “a family of angry kitchen appliances”?

    I voted Aztek because I’ve ridden in both and preferred it over a Citation.

  32. The citation is has plaid upholstery, rear hatch louvers, and is a lovely brown. I might even be able to convince myself it’s a scirocco if I squint.

    The Aztec likely smells worse than the interior looks. But I need a cooler.

    The Aztec.

  33. I may not like the Aztek, I may think it’s a bad minivan with a worse body plopped on top, I may get perpetually annoyed by its defenders, that one may look like it smells like a million farts, it may light up like the world’s worst rave if you’d shine a light on it, the bag might be full of dogshit or meth or any other unspeakably gross things…

    …but it’ll probably arrive at your destination, and you can never be sure of that with a Citation.

  34. Neither. GM’s lowest ebb before they sank lower still. And my Dad was a Chevy man and for that I still root and cheer for GM. I voted AZTEC since ‘neither’ was an option due to its quirky features and legendary campy styling and as a package deserves a more moderate level of disgust. This is the GM that while Ford electrifies the F150 right out of the ballpark resurrects the toxic name ‘HUMMER’ as the newest Land Yacht at 9000+ lbs curb weight…

  35. Let’s see…
    An incredibly poorly designed and built malaise era car that might run, or potentially the ugliest thing GM ever built that might shift between it’s few gears, or might not.
    I’ll go with the Aztec because I have a chance of reaching my destination. I’m sure the cladding is hiding a lot of MN rust, but it could be cleaned up and driven until the trans totally craps out.

  36. I have to go with Montezuma’s revenge here. The Citation is a pile of junk that should have been completely recalled, as in GM buying them back and crushing them all for the good of humanity. If you can get even 6 months out of the Aztek before the transmission fails you’ll come out on top in the current used market.

Leave a Reply