With Chrysler’s announcement that it will seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection just days after GM officially pulled the plug at Pontiac, we’ve been asking ourselves, which of these two notorious stinkers was worse for the companies they helped destroy?
In one corner, we have the ineffably ugly Pontiac Aztek. It’s face launched a thousand scathing reviews, and went down in history as a marketing flop the likes of which have not been seen since the first Pinto turned into a BBQ. To be fair, the Aztek was utilitarian and useful, a qualification that doesn’t apply to our other contender, the atrocious Chrysler Sebring. Apparently intended to defeat the “rental car” image that Chrysler’s slow-selling midsized cars previously had, the Sebring became the poster child for a car so bad, only Thrifty and Budget were interested.
SALES: Let’s look at some numbers. The Aztek, in its best year, sold less than 30,000 units. In March of 2008, the Chrysler Sebring had sold just over 30,000 units in the previous 12 months. Now, the projection for the Aztek was only 75,000 units or so. And by any measure a mid-size sedan should sell many more units. For example, in 2008, Honda sold 372,789 Accords. BIGGEST LOSER: Sebring.
STYLING: No contest. Looking like Darth Vader’s electric shaver, the Sebring is no Maserati. But compared to the giant Fisher-Price nightmare of the Aztek, it looks positively gorgeous. BIGGEST LOSER: Aztek.
INNOVATION: The Aztek brought such features as a tailgate tent, the ability to carry full sheets of plywood, and the ancillary benefit of keeping it’s drivers blissfully celibate. The Sebring brought none of these, except the latter. To be fair, it was available with AWD. Not enough to save it in this comparison, however. BIGGEST LOSER: Sebring.
FUTURE: The Aztek is dead as a doornail, thankfully. The Sebring is still in production, and might be for the near future. However, when it finally shuffles off this mortal coil, it may have an afterlife: the previous generation of Sebring was sold to Russian automaker GAZ to become one of its Volga-branded cars, the Siber. Possibly the newer Sebring will have such a zombie existence in a foreign land. BIGGEST LOSER: Aztek.
Well, this not-so-scientific experiment has ended in a draw. Both vehicles had so many strikes against them that its hard to say which was worse. What do you think?