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Over the weekend, we told you about GM's plan to offer comparison test drives of both the Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord to Aura shoppers at Saturn dealers nationwide beginning today. Saturn is doing a media push in coordination with the program, which is dubbedthe "Side-by-Side-by-Side Test Drive." We asked them to show us what they were doing, and they sent over the goods. The TV spot pasted after the jump features a Camry and an Accord being rolled off a transporter onto a Saturn lot, and after they're parked, a red Aura XE gets the closing money shot.

The program has been the subject of much debate in the comments over the last day, but we maintain that this is a ballsy move by Saturn. Like Ford, which touted the Fusion as compared to the same import pair, GM is showing a huge amount of confidence in the Aura by offering full test drives of the the Honda and Toyota at dealers. How well it all pans out is still to be determined, obviously, but we admire the domestics' spunk in taking it directly to their rivals. This is a rough business, and the Aura and the Fusion are trying to do battle in a murderous, unforgivingly competitive segment. The same old strategies (combined with uninspiring old products) haven't worked out, which is why the Toyota and the Honda are midsize leaders on the sales charts. Time for something new -- like this.

If you're a reader and you take part in this program, let us know. You can leave a comment on this post, telling us about the cars the dealer had on hand for the comparo and what your thoughts were after the test drive(s).

Follow the jump to see the new TV commercial.

[Source: Saturn]



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 73 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      Normally I would think "oh, GM must have reason to feel confident if they're doing this." But I've been to those AutoShow in Motion events, where you can drive GM cars and the competition back to back. And this was a few years ago, when some of the matchups were really, really bad for GM.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Try this: look deeper. Pop the hood, and compare how GM engines and electricals compare to Toyota and Honda...whether the harnesses are wrapped and organized like the competition's, and how accessories bolt on to the block. GM usually lacks the logic in their planning that Toyota and Honda pride themselves on. And nothing they're doing now is departing from their past. Interior plastics are still cheap, cars are thrown together, and welds/edges in the metals are not protected with PVC like Toyota and Honda. While I applaud GM for making some styling changes, the underlying quality hasn't really improved. The car will probably last the same 95000 miles versus Toyota and Honda, which typically last 250,000 miles.

      Every car, when manufactured, takes a toll on the environment. So, the longer the life-cycle of a vehicle, and the less often it has to be REPLACED, the less environmental impact the vehicle has. Toyotas and Hondas are PROVEN to last much longer and have less trouble doing so.

      The best new cars make the best used cars...
      • 7 Years Ago
      MY PREVIOUS LETTER POSTED IN AUTOBLOG FROM A TOYOTA DEALERSHIP OWNER, TO SATURN DEALERSHIPS:

      Owner_Toyota_dealership @ Jun 10th 2007 6:04PM

      From the bottom of our heart the guys at Toyota, want to thank you: GM for having all this troubles just for making us look better right in front of YOU.

      Its one of the most condescending acts in the Automotive history, in fact, some of us, Toyota-dealeship owners think that you should get a free leasing.

      One Last Wish: Please Put the 2007 Honda Accord, NOT THE '08.

      Thanks, you are great, without you, WE COULN'T BE #1!

      ANYWAY, MY SECOND POST:

      Seems like all the Domestics die-hard fans were called, (speaking of domestics: that's just a bad term, How's a Ford built in Mexico more Domestic than a Toyota built the US)
      As i can quote from Jon @ Jun 10th 2007 8:08PM
      "Thank god GM is dropping the ball on the Cobalt SS what a piece of shit that is. To Matt i rented a G6 and i wasn't impressed with it at all,cheap crappy made interior plastics and overall crappy made GM product."

      You wanna hear a secret from the Number One Car Company in the world, it's all about the product, not were is it built or buy who, not even the price, it's product.
      How can you design the Aura's new interior, with such plastic, cheap materials, it's like a slap in the face for Saturn's fans (wherever those 10 guys are oops).

      Anyway i 've always like to speak in numbers:

      SO WHAT I PROPOSE IS THIS: Let's all come back and write in this blog 30 days after this Saturn maketing campaign has started, and i bet you are going to see a Camry sales bump, and i'm not talking about the 430 that they got for the dealers.

      I remember back in 70's when Coca Cola change it's formula, cause they thought people were tired of it, Long story short Pepsi sales skyrocketed to a never seen before number.

      Last but not least: Another quote from one Saturn Loyalist:
      "It is easy to say (Only as an example) that a G6 is better than say, an Accord when both come brand new from the showroom. But 30, 50, 70 000 miles down the road, which one is gonna be the best. That is the kind of comparison where the NA brands have suffered the most, and this, for too many years now."

      To commemorate, i'm giving all my employees the day off, (Tuesday 12, June) so tonight go out party, celebrate, and drink cause this is sure gonna be remembered as one of the worse decisions ever made, and i'm not talking about the car business, i'm talking about business in general.

      Sincerely, Greg T. Burgos.
      Toyota Tri-State Dealers.

      • 7 Years Ago
      What an unfair comparison! The Accord and Camry isn't "similarly equipped" to the Aura XE as they still have their I4s, 16-inch wheels, and so on. If GM/Saturn really had some cajones, they would've equipped the Accord and Camry similarly they could show how much (more) of a greater value the similarly-equipped Aura XE would be.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I don't think so, they did it right. Equip the cars so that they are equal in price, that way customers can see how much more they get with the Aura.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I left a comma out after "similarly" in my last sentence. Too bad we can't edit our comments here.

        smartmlp, you may be totally on the ball there. I just don't agree with that logic though. :shrug: Maybe it's because I'm left-handed!
        • 7 Years Ago
        If they did that, they'd have to put thousands of dollars in cash in the backseat of the Saturn for the test drives, in order to make them the same price.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Hmm Smartmlp,
      Your wrong you need to do some reseach
      Saturn Aura starts at $20,345
      And Toyota Camry starts at $18,470
      Also Honda Accord starts at $18,625

      Also an Aura can never outsell a Accord or Camry

        • 7 Years Ago
        i believe his prices were for V6s, as a V6 is standard with the aura
      • 7 Years Ago
      Apparently when the Sonata is a better Camry than the Camry, I'd be surprised by its omission...except that the Camry is the king of midsize cars.

      As to resale value or reliability, Saturn is hoping that the immediate first impressions and preliminary driving impressions of the Saturn will impress potential buyers. Not to mention the QUALITY of Saturn dealers far outstrips those of any other non-luxury dealer.

      For years Saturn had "A" dealers and a "D" product. Now that it's up to about a "B+/A-" product, it should be more competetive that it was in the past. The product alone won't bring jaded buyers back - Saturn needs to get itself out there and spread the word that they're no longer just about plastic panels and wheezy engines.
      • 7 Years Ago
      So do the Japs have 4-bangers or sixes?
        • 7 Years Ago
        Why do people feel its OK to be racist towards Asians? If the Camry were built by an African company would you feel it was appropriate to ask if the "niggers" had V-6s?
        • 7 Years Ago
        Well, judging by the video clip above, the Accord shown was definitely a 4 cylinder because of its wheels, so I am assuming they are buying 4 cylinder Accords and Camrys, the standard motor, to compare against their standard motor, the 3.5 V6.
        • 7 Years Ago
        It is racist because the term "Jap" is a derogatory term used to demonize the Japanese. Your denial of this racism is simply ignorance of racial politics. You're attempting to hide behind the idea that you're referencing cars, but the term has a history of hate and brutality predicated merely on race and this cannot be denied. Again, I ask, if there were a car built in Africa and sold in the U.S., do you think it would be appropriate to use the term "nigger" to refer to those cars? Not likely, unless you're hoping to be killed. Just face it: YOU'RE A RACIST.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Well can you get an Accord V6 or Camry V6 for the same price as an Aura V6?
        Cheapest Accord (bare bones) with V6: 23K
        Cheapest Camry (bare bones) with V6: 23K
        Aura (bare bones): 20K

        If they did a 1:1 comparison of entry models, they would have to compare against Accord/Camry I4 models.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Guy: I was not being racist, that was just a way of referring to the Camry and Accord; HOWEVER: please do remember: THEY'RE JUST CARS! THEY DON'T HAVE FEELINGS!
        • 7 Years Ago
        I'm going to try and swing by a dealer in the next few days to see.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Shane: Just because everyone else chooses to turn a blind eye to racism is no reason that I should. If he had used the term "nigger" would you be advising me to let it go?

        Jon: You presume your comments are innocent, but you need to face up to the fact that when one uses the term "Jap," "Gook," "Chink," "Nigger," "Spic," or any other such term one is engaging a history of discrimination. It doesn't matter if you are referring to people or to inanimate objects. Those terms are rooted in racism.

        I'm not saying that you yourself are demonizing the Japanese, just that you are ignorant. You probably have never been affected by racism and so I say, again, that you are ignorant. It is problematic when one cannot recognize one's own racism. Tell an Asian American how much you love your "jap" car and let's see what kind of reaction you get.

        And regarding being a fan of Honda, that's like saying "My best friend is black" to excuse your use of the word "nigger." It's the oldest excuse in the book, and it never was acceptable.
        • 7 Years Ago

        Guy:

        I agree with Jon. You are being ridiculous. Take a look at thecomments; everyone else took it as any other comment and made nothingof it. You are overreacting to a very simple comment.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Demonize?

        You have got to be kidding. I wasn't using the term as an insult to to anyone; I wasn't even referencing anyone. I was talking about CARS, remember, this is AUTOblog. I am actually a fan of Honda. If you have complaints about racial discrimination in the world and the general public's ignorance of it, go find a counselor or talk to Al Sharpton about it. Until then, stop attacking an innocent comment.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Guy: Al Sharpton called, he wants his show back.
      • 7 Years Ago
      the sonata has more horsepower than an aura camry and accord
      it has 235
        • 7 Years Ago
        235 is the hp on a 6 cyl sonata. the 6 cyl accord has 244 and the 6 cyl camry has 268 hp. The 3.6 in the Aura XR has 252.
      • 7 Years Ago
      To quote the best line in the movie "Signs" 'why can't they get girlfriends?' The Aura is a good looking car. Some of the details are wrong to me but most people don't notice little things. Saturn, and GM really don't have a problem with styling over all. It's customer service and reliable product that has gotten Toyota where it is today. Drive a '99 Camry at 200 thousand miles back to back with a '99 GM anything and you know why they are in the lead. Word of mouth about bad product travels much faster than good product. Once you have shot your self in the foot, its almost impossible to get some of your sales base back. Look at all the people that still remember Fiat and Renault almost 30 years after they left the marktet. It wasn't because their cars were poorly styled, it was because your Renault over heated and blew its head gasket if you looked at it wrong. You could hear your Fiat rusting out in the drive way. How many valves you had dropped was a notch on your belt at the weekend Fiat owners club. Both companies have improved yet almost everyone that owned one here in the USA will always remember them with sour memories. GM , Ford and Chrysler have done that to themselves. Its a long up hill road. Good luck.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Mike:

      I dont know if you are real or not but your description of the Aura is total BS. The Aura looks better, goes faster and handles better than the Sonata. The Sonata's sales have plunged this year in spite of all the heavy fleet sales. The Aura's interior is DEFINITELY on par with the Sonata's and it actually looks current unlike the Sonata's. The base engine in the Aura is a pushrod but its quiet and smooth and thats all that matters. People like you throw around "pushrod" as a derogatory term but have no clue what that term even means. Just because an engine is a pushrod design doesnt mean its low tech or unrefined. The LS7 is a pushrod engine with 505hp and a 7000 rpm redline. How many Hyundai DOHC engines redline that high? Zero last time I checked. You said that you and your staff couldnt believe that GM thinks the Aura competes with the Accord/Camry but the Aura beat the Camry for NACY honors earlier this year, beat the camry in a C&D, and beat the camry in an Autoweek comparo. As for cheap interiors, numerous publications and ownes have noted the Camry's unimpressive plastics. Give me a break.

      This comparo move is smart on GM's part and cannot hurt the Aura at all. This is really a move to boost awareness of the aura to those looking for midsize cars.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I must say I'm a little confused how a Corvette engine came into this. I suppose at this point I can point out the S2000, it has no relation whatsoever to the Hyundai name, but it too uses a DOHC with Variable timing. It manages to run up to a redline of 9000rpm. But this has absolutely nothing to do with Hyundai, so I digress. The other reason I grabbed an Aura for the day was to see where some of our Sonata sales and gone, obviously the Aura is taking some of them. What I saw though really didn't impress me, nor my salesmen. i'm not saying the car was a bad vehicle, just that it isn't at the point where it should be pointing out it's own shortcomings to it's own customers in it's own showrooms.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I hope it works for them, it pays to show people that you trust what you make. The Saturn sure looks the part and after driving a Camry I think they have a true modern car to sell, but it needs a Navigation systom....
        • 7 Years Ago
        I see your point about nav. You'd think it'd be at least available as an option, particularly in the XR. I've tried the OnStar nav service, though, and to be honest, it worked nicely and doesn't require the added premium of the high-end head unit.
      • 7 Years Ago
      This is very cool. Saturn is playing it up like they are the new import and Honda and Toyota are the old domestics... BTW, this is how resale values increase to all of those bloggers who are taking shots at Saturn or GM for taking this kind of risk. How do you think Toyota and Honda got established in the first place. Good job to Saturn and GM for having the balls to do this advertising. Boo-yah to the USandA... I am very excite!
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