2008 760 New Car Test Drive
Saturn is known for its friendly dealerships and the Vue is its sport utility. The Vue is a practical vehicle. Saturn built the Vue on a long wheelbase, resulting in a roomy interior with back seats that recline slightly for comfort. The seats, including the front passenger seat, fold flat for hauling an eight-foot ladder or other cargo, and a cargo organizer aids organization.
The 2005 Saturn Vue gets upgraded trim inside and out, and it benefits from recent improvements that have brought more refinement and made it more enjoyable to drive. All-wheel drive is available for improved traction and stability in winter weather.
The Vue is best equipped with the powerful 3.5-liter V6 and smooth five-speed automatic transmission both built by Honda. Performance with the 250-horsepower V6 places Vue is among the quickest in its class. Standard is a four-cylinder engine with a manual transmission. For 2005, this engine is available with a traditional four-speed automatic transmission. Either way, forward progress with the four-cylinder is lethargic.
The Vue is a compact SUV about the size of a Honda CR-V, smaller than midsize utilities like the Ford Explorer but slightly larger than the Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4 or Jeep Liberty. Saturn stands out from this crowd with its unique styling and innovative plastic body panels, which resist dents and eliminate corrosion.
In terms of safety, Vue rates five-star scores, the highest given by NHTSA, for driver and passengers in the goverment's frontal and side-impact crash tests. Curtain airbags are available for head protection in an accident. Toyota's all-out attempt to capture America's Generation Y buyers of hot-looking, hot-performing small cars started last year with the simultaneous introductions of the Scion xA 5-door hatchback runabout and the xB microvan, but they are calling the new tC hatchback coupe the first true Scion. The tC is built on the same chassis as the Toyota Avensis, which is sold only in Europe, and uses the 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine used throughout the American Toyota lineup, but that doesn't mean this is just another Toyota. This little rocket was developed in only 13 months with a single purpose in mind.
The Scion tC means to make mincemeat of the Honda Civic that is so popular with Gen Y drivers by offering a single, very well equipped model at a nearly unbeatable low price and a menu of options that will allow owners to built cars unique to their tastes.
The engine is quiet, smooth, and plenty powerful. The steering, ride quality and handling are commendable. Braking is powerful, with ABS and electronic brake force distribution standard. This car is surprisingly quiet, the interior materials are first-rate, and attention to detail is evident. The bucket seats are comfortable and there's enough room to suit tall drivers. A 160-watt stereo is standard, and a full array of airbags is available.
This is perhaps the best small Japanese coupe we have ever driven, at a price that is ridiculously low. Built like a Toyota (because it is one), the Scion xA offers solid construction, quiet operation, comfortable accommodations and low maintenance costs.
Unlike the Scion xB and tC, the xA doesn't set the world on fire with its styling, but it comes well-equipped with convenience and safety features. It's comfortable in the front seats, though the rear is a bit cramped, and it offers decent cargo space.
The ride is firm and it handles reasonably well. It doesn't have a lot of power, but nets an EPA rating of 32/38 mpg City/Highway.
A new limited-edition model in bright red is available for 2005 that comes with special seat fabric, a sunroof, and active safety features.
The 2005 Saturn Vue is available with a choice of four-cylinder or V6 engines and with front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD). A limited-edition Red Line option package adds a sporting attitude to the V6.
The base Vue ($17,055) comes with a 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine, a five-speed manual transmission and front-wheel drive. Windows, locks, and mirrors are manually operated. Air conditioning is standard. Also standard: an adjustable steering column, a four-speaker AM/FM stereo, rear privacy glass, an engine-immobilizing anti-theft system, visor vanity mirrors and a cargo area organizer.
The base model is also available with an automatic ($20,615) and an AWD automatic ($21,720). Anti-lock brakes and traction control ($600) are optional on the FWD model. ABS is optional on AWD models, also ($600). A Power Package ($1,385) for the four-cylinder model adds many of the amenities that are standard on the V6, including cruise control and power windows, locks, and mirrors.
V6 models ($22,655) come standard with a five-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. The Vue V6 packs more standard equipment, including anti-lock brakes (ABS), cruise control, power locks with remote keyless entry, power windows and mirrors, a six-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo, automatic headlamps, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass, aluminum wheels, and an enhanced security system. A leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel, leather shift knob, bright interior trim plates, and upgraded seat fabric brighten the interior. The V6 is also available with all-wheel drive ($24,315).
Safety features include optional curtain airbags ($395) designed to provide head protection in a side impact or rollover. Front seat-belt pre-tensioners arrived last year, along with dual-stage airbags that inflate less forcefully in a less-severe crash, reducing the chance that the airbag itself will cause an injury. The Vue also comes with a rear-center shoulder belt, not found on many compact SUVs; and with child-seat tether anchors for all three rear seating positions. OnStar will send emergency crews to the scene should your airbag go off.
Other options include leather upholstery ($695-$755), XM Satellite Radio ($325), a rear-seat DVD system ($1145-$1435), and a power sunroof ($725). The latest Gen6 OnStar telecommunications system is available on four-cylinder models as part of a Safe and Sound Package ($1,145) that also includes ABS, side-curtain airbags, and MP3 capability. On V6 Vues (which come with ABS as standard equipment), a Safe and Sound II Package ($1,140) combines OnStar, curtain airbags, MP3, a six-way power driver's seat and heated front seats.
The Red Line package ($1995) is available on V6 Vues with FWD or AWD. It features a lowered (by one inch) and stiffened suspension, with aggressive 18-inch aluminum wheels with P245/50R18 Bridgestone Turanza all-season touring tires. The Vue's electric power steering is recalibrated for a sporty feel. Unique front and rear fascias, with black air intakes and a chrome exhaust tip distinguish Red Line Vues from other models. The Scion tC hatchback coupe ($15,950) comes only one way, with no model name attached. (They apparently couldn't call it xC because Volvo already uses XC90 for its sport utility). It comes with all the major comfort and convenience items built in, including air conditioning, power steering, brakes, locks and mirrors, a tilt wheel, a 160-watt Pioneer 6-CD changer AM/FM setup, sport bucket seats with cloth seating and position memory, two-tiered console, reclining front and rear seats, keyless entry, engine immobilizer, cargo cover, and a dozen other items.
There are only two factory-installed options, the automatic transmission at $845 and the side and roof air bag system for $650. To make the car more palatable to more people, Scion has chosen a menu of 40 different freestanding options, more than any other car in its class, ranging from a $4500 supercharger kit good for 200 horsepower to a selection of different chrome and leather shift knobs. Special Toyota Racing Development (TRD) high-performance items for the Scion tC include 18- and 19-inch wheels, a lowering kit, struts and shock absorbers, rear anti-roll bar, a high-performance clutch, a quick shifter, a stainless steel muffler, and a shift-point indicator light kit. Toyota's high-performance arm is already working on a 300-horsepower package of parts for the lunatic fringe. Scion xA ($12,480) is powered by a 1.5-liter 16-valve four-cylinder and comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission. A four-speed automatic is optional ($800).
The list of standard features is surprisingly long for a car in this price class: antilock brakes (ABS) with Electronic Brake Distribution (which boosts braking pressure in emergency situations); air conditioning; power windows, door locks and mirrors; remote keyless entry; tilt steering wheel; tachometer and trip meter; 60/40 split folding rear seat; cargo area cover; and a six-speaker AM/FM/CD Pioneer sound system that reads MP3 files and is satellite radio-ready.
The only factory-installed option Toyota offers on the xA besides the automatic transmission is a safety package comprising front seat-mounted side airbags and front and rear seat side curtain airbags ($650).
A limited-edition model called the xA Release Series 1.0 is available for 2005. Positioned as a package ($1,395), the Release Series 1.0 comes with special Absolutely Red paint and is further distinguished by its sports grille and color-keyed rear spoiler. A power tilt and slide moonroof come standard along with vehicle stability control (VSC) with traction control (TRAC). Inside, the limited-edition model is distinguished with black seat fabric with red highlights, along with red lighting in the center storage compartment. Only 1,550 units will be produced and will have individually numbered series badges applied to the interior.
Some 40 accessories are available, installed at the factory or dealership. Many are appearance oriented and include appliques for B-pillars, the fuel door, instrument panel, door sills and rear bumper; license plate frames; mudguards; tail lamp garnish; rear spoiler; removable roof rack; red, blue or clear covers for the remote keyless entry; and sport pedals in choice of red, blue or silver. Functional accessories include a cargo liner, net and tote; carpeted floor mats; auto-dimming rear view mirror; satellite tuner and auxiliary antenna; subwoofer; security system; wheel locks; and alloy wheels. On the performance list are a cold-air induction system; front strut tower brace; and an assortment of bits from Toyota Racing Development, including 18-inch wheels with Pirelli P Zero tires, lowering springs, strut/shock set; and a sport muffler.