Aztek versus Montero

As you might know by now, I broke down and traded in my Aztek in March on a Montero Sport. Let me say right up front this was purely a financial decision. Or at least that was kind of the final straw. I had taken the Aztek in for service last December because it was coming up on needing brakes and the service engine light had come on. I took it to the dealer because, as Aztek owners know, finding someone work an an Aztek is harder than finding someone to work on a Jag. When I replaced the tires awhile back, the shop could not even align it because they had no data on it. After about a month (it was in the shop for over 2 weeks on the 2nd trip), 3 trips to the dealer and many odd failures of components, it seemed fixed well enough to drive. Then it started to warm up and I tried the AC which of course no longer blew cold air. I looked under the hood and it was not even coming on. I assumed it was just another bad connection behind the dash and I pulled the panels. Nothing seemed loose but I found a loose screw (as in laying on the floor), missing screws, screws that did not match the other screws and even one stripped out screw. On the way to work the next morning I heard an Mitsubishi ad saying they would give you 0 down, 0 interest for 5 years and no payments for 10 months. Then the topper. This dealer would pay you what you owe on your car! I found that not only a sign but almost a challenge seeing as how my Aztek was worth $9K less on trade in than I owed on it according to Kelly Blue Book. I checked the retail value when I got to work and it was $3K less than when I had checked it back around the first of the year. So that night off to the dealer I went. Well I did not get the 0/0/0 financing but I did get them to pay off my car and sell me the new one for about MSRP. So I feel like I made about $9K that I'll have to pay back $150 month in higher payments.

Away people ask me about what I think of my new car (SUV) and while financially I'm happy, on an emotional level I'm torn. So here are the pros and cons of the Aztek versus the Montero as I see it.

Things I like better about the Aztek:

Better radio / controls:

The radio controls on the steering wheel were really handy. Especially the button to jump to the next preset station and volume. The Montero does not have the preset jump button and also does not have the automatic volume control. I thought the auto volume on the Aztek was a bit lacking at times but I sure miss it now. Many of the controls for that matter seem to be in odd places, but that might just take getting used to as long as they are not missing altogether As in many of the functions of the Aztek Driver Info Center. The Montero has a compass and temp but not current mileage, avg. mpg, miles left on tank, fuel used, avg. speed plus things like radio stations are keyed to which key the car is started with. The air flow dial on the Montero has more positions than just floor, dash or both. But Aztek did let you set temp for each side so that's probably a draw. OK, nothing major but again when you are used to having something you miss it more than if you had never had it. Accessory power: All accessory power turns off when you turn off the engine on the Montero while in the Aztek the radio would stay on for up to 10 minutes or until you opened the door. And the jack my cell was plugged into would always have power allowing my cell to fully charge over night.

Headlights:

The Aztek lights would light up a straight away for like a mile. The best high beans I've ever had. The Montero lights on high loose the area where the low beams lit up. They shine right in front of the car and into the trees but the mid area is dim. Also on the Aztek the headlights automatically come on. After them being automatic for 2 1/2 years it's taking some getting used to to remember I have to turn them on.

Steering:

The Aztek corners better. Not a lot, maybe 5 mph faster in a tight turn for the same amount of roll. The turning radius is a foot or so larger than the Aztek. That does not sound like much but I've had to back up to get in every parking place I tried to get into for the first couple of weeks. While on the road the Aztek seemed to ride smoother and seemed to drive straight with less input from me. I think you had to move the wheel further in the Aztek or something. Seems like you breath on the Montero wheel and it's turning.

Hauling inside:

The rear seats don't come out so you have less room and the over all interior is smaller. The interior

Mileage:

The rated gas mileage is less. Usually I find the ratings to be high but on the Aztek they were low. So far the mileage does seem less. I used to get about 300 or so miles on 3/4 of a tank with the Aztek. I seem to be getting about 250 now. And I think the tank is a little bigger in the Montero. I still need to get it out on the highway for a day trip to really see. Plus I'm babying the engine till it's broke in. It will be interesting to see if mileage goes up or now when I go back to my "normal" driving habits. UPDATE:Montero seems to be getting about 17 mpg on my commute. Aztek was in the 19 to 20 range.

No sun roof:

I really only used it to vent the car when parked but it made a BIG difference. They would have put one in the Montero for 800 more (up front) but I did not see how it would work right since they would need to rip out the over head console and after all the problems I've had with dealers I did not want to bring it back for that. Not to mention the money.

Acceleration:

The acceleration seems about the same though it does not feel as fast in the Montero. (The Outlander was faster and you did not feel it at all. I pulled on the access road and was ready to open it up when I noticed I was already doing 60.) I'm being good till I get at least 3K on it though. Well have to see how the Montero handles once it's broke in.

Brakes:

Though the parking brake on the Aztek was hard to get used to with it`s push on push action now that I'm used to it I find myself forgetting the parking brake on the Montero. Usually that means I forget to set it. But once I left it on. I had backed out of the parking space before I realized it. On the Aztek this would not happen because once the parking brake was on you were not going any where. So I'm getting used to not only putting on the parking brake but making sure it's fully on. The regular brakes on the Aztek took some getting used to too. They tended to to be rather touchy. Though the ABS would usually kick in if you pushed too hard. On the Montero the brakes seem OK but do not stop me as has as I have come to expect. Which makes me a bit dubious about how they will handle with a load.

Things I like better about the Montero:

The visors:

On the Aztek it almost takes 2 hands to flip down the visor because of the odd flap piece they have to allow them to fit the curve if the roof. It would catch on the side of the window when flipping forward so that you would have to pull back on the flap while pushing forward on the visor to keep it from being stuck in the full down position. The ones on the Montero don't catch but the don't fully cover the windshield either. The best visors I've ever seen were on a S10. It had 2 sets. One under the other. They allowed you have the visors on the side and the front at the same time. A much better solution to curving roads than flipping the visor back and forth from side to front.

Rear view mirror:

The Montero has one of those automatic rear view mirrors like some GMs have with the temp and compass built in. I was never sure why the Aztek did not with everything else it had.

Easier to work on:

There are tons of Monteros out there so I probably won't have to work on it if I don't want to and will only need to take it to a dealer for warranty work. The Problem with the Aztek mentioned above supposedly stemmed from a connector coming loose when I changed out the air cleaner. Not an easy job on the Aztek. If you know what you are doing it still takes for ever and is hard because there is just not enough room under the hood. I have not needed to work on the Montero yet but there at least seems to be a reasonable amount of room under the hood. Plus there should be plenty of after market stuff for the Montero. Like those deflectors that go over the windows. With those I could leave the windows open a bit to vent since I have no sun roof.

Towing:

The rated towing capacity is almost 50% higher. 5000 versus 3500.

Less overrides:

Not sure but I think there is less computer control on the Montero. On the Aztek the gas, among other things, were regulated via the computer. Pressing the gas was only a request. When it over heated I put it in neutral and gave it gas to try and cool it down put the computer would not allow it

Traction:

The Montero is AWD. Full time rear wheel with the front ones kicking in as needed. Aztek has traction control on the front which worked pretty good but in truly slick conditions you want to be able to break the back in loose to bring it around. The Aztek would not always behave as I expected. I think the Montero will feel more natural to me.


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