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Saturn Vue, 2008: The Weekly Driver Car Review

Saturn Vue, 2008: The Weekly Driver Car Review 1As the oldest and best-selling vehicle in the Saturn stable, the Vue has found a solid, well-deserved niche in the compact Sport Utility Market. But Saturn couldn’t leave well enough alone. 

Instead, Saturn wanted more success in the compact SUV segment and redesigned the Vue. The 2008 edition, nearly identical to its global counterpart, the Opel Antara, further establishes the Vue’s reputation. It offers a smooth, steady ride and superior handling and steering.

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The new Vue also has a new Euro-style look with sleek exterior curves and improved cabin quality.

But in its early versions, the Vue was a lot cooler. It had a retro look with white background on instrumentation dials, for instance, and unique netting on map and accessory side door bins.

Nonetheless, with the 2008 edition, the Vue is likely to turn a few more heads and it’s a more comfortable vehicle than its predecessor.

Saturn Vue, 2008: The Weekly Driver Car Review 2

My weekly test drive was XR edition with all-wheel drive. It included a 3.6-liter, 257- horsepower V6 engine and a six-speed automatic transmission.

While its wheelbase is the same as previous editions, the new Vue is one inch shorter overall. It looks appreciably small, though, particularly with its angular rear end slope.

And that presents perhaps the Vue’s only downfall. Its interior cargo volume is only 54.3 cubic feet, the smallest in its class. The Toyota RAV4 leads the compact category with 73 cubic feet of overall cargo volume. Surprisingly, the Vue has the longest wheelbase in its class, 106.6 inches.

Regardless, the Vue’s improvements are commendable. Plastic body panels, for example, have been replaced by steel. A five-passenger SUV, the Vue is available in three trim levels: base XE, midgrade XR (my test vehicle)]]> and sporting Red Line. All are available in  front-or all-wheel drive. The XE features 16-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, keyless entry, full power accessories, OnStar telematics, steering-wheel audio controls, cruise control, a tilt steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat and a CD/MP3 stereo with satellite radio and an auxiliary jack.

The  XR adds 17-inch alloy wheels, luggage rack rails, automatic climate control, a power driver seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated mirrors and lighted vanity mirrors. The Red Line features a lowered, sport-tuned suspension, rear spoiler, chrome exhaust outlets, 18-inch alloy wheels, heated front sport seats, leather and suede upholstery and unique instrumentation.

Saturn Vue, 2008: The Weekly Driver Car Review 3

Most of the XR’s additional features are available as options on the XE, and leather seating and heated seats are also available on those models. Other available features include a premium audio system and CD changer, a navigation system, rain-sensing wipers and a remote vehicle starter.

For RV enthusiasts, the Vue, like all Saturns, is designed to be flat-towed at normal vehicle speeds up to 65 mph.

There’s no doubt Saturn has improved the Vue, and it should fare well in a tough market segment that includes the previously mentioned Toyota RAV4 and Subaru Forester. But it’s just that some of its original uniqueness is no longer around.

Safety Features — Dual front, side and head curtain airbags.

Fuel Mileage (Estimates) — 16 mpg (city), 22 mpg (Highway)

Warranty — Bumper-to-Bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Corrosion, 6 years/100,000 miles; Roadside Assistance, 5 years/60,000 miles.

Base Price — $26,270.00.

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