All Grown Up

The Saturn Vue cross/utility vehicle undergoes an impressive metamorphosis as it emerges from its chrysalis as an all-new for '08 model.

Barbara McClellan

July 1, 2007

4 Min Read
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The Saturn Vue cross/utility vehicle undergoes an impressive metamorphosis as it emerges from its chrysalis as an all-new for '08 model.

The result is worth the wait: a CUV that delights the senses, from its striking good looks to its fun-to-drive quotient.

Built on General Motors Corp.'s Global Compact Crossover Architecture, the new 5-door Vue was co-developed in North America and South Korea, with engineering input from GM's Australian and European subsidiaries, and is being built at GM's Ramos Arizpe plant in Mexico.

The CUV reflects its global DNA admirably, including a softer, more-cleanly sculpted profile than the previous-generation's boxy utilitarian look and boasting a stiffer suspension with handling characteristics worthy of Europe's autobahns.

Especially noteworthy is the tight wheel-to-body relationship, providing the Vue with a compact, muscular stance. Also outstanding is the attention to detail paid the large headlights and taillamps, which stand out like jewelry.

The well-appointed cabin includes rich materials, chrome accents and bolstered seating. Fit and finish is precise, and wind noise is pretty much non-existent. Optional equipment includes 8-way power driver's seat, navigation and voice recognition.

The navigation system is particularly kind to the eyes with its colorful, detailed and easy-to-follow map. The instrument cluster is cleanly laid out, albeit lacking a temperature gauge, and climate-control knobs are large and simple for the driver to adjust. The small radio dial is the only control lacking user friendliness.

An oversized glove box easily accommodates large objects, such as a purse, as does a sliding storage bin under the front passenger seat.

Safety improvements include standard front-seat side thorax airbags, head curtain airbags front and rear and GM's rollover sensing system, which applies brake force to the outside front and rear wheels to prevent loss of control. It also activates roof rail airbags when sensors determine an impending rollover.

Saturn officials say the new Vue has a National Highway Traffic Safety Admin. 5-star rating for side and front impact and a 4-star rating for rollover, among the best in the segment.

Among other standard safety features are front-row dual seatbelt pretensioners, disengaging collapsible pedals, active head restraints, a tire pressuring monitoring system and automatic power door locks.

The result is an impressive package sure to position the Saturn brand as a serious player among a slew of new and refreshed contenders in the segment that include the Ford Edge, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe and Toyota Highlander and RAV4.

The Vue offers a wide range of powertrains that includes a more powerful 4-cyl. engine and two V-6 choices.

Our AWD V-6 model's handling is especially crisp on the winding 2-lane blacktop through the Detroit suburb of Northville. On this terrain, the Vue's attention to engineering shines. The stiff, steel unibody structure allows for surefootedness without subtracting from riding comfort. The suspension is compliant without being mushy, firm without being harsh, while the steering provides a sports car feel, with plenty of road feedback to inspire confidence.

Front and rear stabilizer bars, MacPherson strut independent front suspension and double-isolated engine all add to a specifically tuned ride.

Four-wheel antilock disc brakes make sudden stopping an act of precision, aided by the vehicle's traction control and GM's StabiliTrak electronic stability control.

The Vue can pull up to 1,500 lbs. (680 kg) with 4-cyl. models and 3,500 lbs. (1,587 kg) with V-6 versions.

A nifty feature is the Vue's new electronic trailer-sway control, a feature integrated into the standard StabiliTrak system that detects when a trailer is unstable due to improper weight balance or vehicle speed. StabiliTrak begins to apply the brakes, independent of the driver, to assist in stabilizing the CUV.

Fuel economy, based on the Environmental Protection Agency's new rating system, falls between 19/26 mpg city/highway (12/9 L/100 km) for FWD 4-cyl. models and 16/22 mpg (15/11 L/100 km) for AWD V-6 models.

Pricing starts at $21,395 and peaks at $29,395. All prices include a $625 destination charge.

Saturn officials predict a 60% take rate for the AWD on the XR trim model. They initially expected to see the same take rate on AWD models throughout the new lineup. Instead, FWD accounts for 60%-65% of the brand's overall mix.

Production of the '08 Vue in Mexico has been ramped up to full speed, and models are arriving in showrooms.

The '08 Redline performance and Greenline hybrid models will follow in the fourth quarter.

A 2-mode Greenline hybrid is on tap for next year, with a future plug-in hybrid version squarely on the drawing boards.

'08 Saturn Vue XR AWD

Vehicle type: Front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger compact cross/utility vehicle

Engine: 3.6L (3,564 cc) 60-degree V-6 VVT cast aluminum block/aluminum heads

Power (SAE net): 257 hp @ 6,500 rpm

Torque: 248 lb.-ft. (336 Nm) @ 2,100 rpm

Compression ratio: 10.4: 1

Bore and stroke: 3.7 × 3.37 (ins.) 94 × 85.6 (mm)

Transmission: Hydra-Matic 6T70 6-speed electronically controlled automatic

Wheelbase: 106.6 ins. (270 cm)

Overall length: 180.1 ins. (457 cm)

Overall width: 72.8 ins. (185 cm)

Overall height: 67 ins. (170 cm)

Curb weight: 4,325 lbs. (1,962 kg)

EPA Fuel economy, city/highway mpg: 16/22 (15/11 L/100 km)

Market competition: Ford Edge; Honda CR-V; Hyundai Santa Fe; Toyota Highlander and RAV4.

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