The 2009 Saturn Aura XR is a spacious sedan with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, a six-speed automatic transmission and a substantial list of standard equipment that makes it an attractive alternative to the industry best-sellers. And although I had a prejudice against Saturn as cheap, the Aura grew on me as a respectable family vehicle during my week’s test drive.
I was impressed when I read the car’s fuel economy estimates. I thought American cars had given up on competing with foreign counterparts of the same class long ago. Not so.
The car felt big, it drove quietly and I imagined a family of four riding in comfort for the 500-plus-mile range the manufacturer claims the Aura gets in highway driving.
I read reviews that complained about the car’s impressive handling, but I didn’t notice anything remarkable. Several times friends commented on the exterior appearance with one asking, “Is that a Mercedes?”
The back seat was more than accommodating to my eight-month-old child’s car seat and two in-laws. The trunk handled my golf clubs and a mini-SUV-sized baby stroller with room to spare.
The Aura has front-wheel-drive and a drive train similar to the the Chevy Malibu and Pontiac G6. The fuel economy is at the top of the midsize sedan segment.
The 2009 Saturn Aura XR has 17-inch alloy wheels, remote vehicle start, fog lamps, leather seating, a power driver seat, heated front seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls. Stability control and Bluetooth connectivity are also standard
The console is attractive and gauges were more than adequately legible without my reading glasses. However, the interior quality has an unimpressive, plastic feel. The XR trim level has leather seats and faux wood accents. The trunk is spacious.
I’m not sold on the Saturn Aura when comparing it to a foreign car in the same segment. But Saturn seems to have — at least after my week’s test drive.
Warranty — Bumper to Bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Powertrain, 5 years/100,000 mikes; Corrosion, 6 years/100,000 miles; Roadside assistance, 5 years/100,000 miles.
Safety Features — Front, side and side curtain airbags; Traction and stability control.
Gas Mileage Estimates — 22 mpg (city), 33 mpg (hwy);
Range — 358.6 miles (city), 537.9 (hwy)
Price as driven — $25,915.
Article Last Updated: October 21, 2008.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.