2005 Relay New Car Test Drive
A brand-new member of the Saturn family has hit the streets. Saturn calls its new Relay a 'family utility vehicle,' and it plays this role well.
The new 2005 Saturn Relay is designed to look like a sport utility vehicle. To this end it uses SUV styling cues such as its long nose, exposed C-pillars, and big roof rails. Indeed, the Relay looks like an SUV. But it drives and operates like a minivan. It has sliding doors, seven seats, and other practical features that are hallmarks of the minivan. The Honda Odyssey, Nissan Quest and Toyota Sienna are listed as its direct competition.
As a minivan, the Relay does a fine job. It gets on down the road with no muss or fuss. The driver gets a commanding view of the road and the interior styling is clean and contemporary, with good fit and finish. The V6 engine is relatively smooth and quiet and the Relay rides smoothly and quietly. The steering is light and easy, the brakes are powerful and easy to modulate for smooth stops. All-wheel drive is available as an option, with the Versatrak system providing excellent traction and stability for wintry driving. Saturn dealers are renowned for their attention to customer service and the Saturn Relay has been priced aggressively.
The Relay family will have one name and two numbers: Relay 2 and Relay 3. Both are powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine mated to a four-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive is available. All have seven-passenger seating, with four bucket seats and a three-across split folding rear bench seat.
Relay 2 ($24,485) comes with manually operated sliding doors on both sides. Standard features include ABS, OnStar with a one-year subscription, air conditioning, tilt wheel, remote keyless entry, cruise control, power driver's seat, power locks, power windows, a roof rail system, a nice-sounding six-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 entertainment unit, rear-seat DVD entertainment unit, rear seat audio controls, heated mirrors, 17-inch wheels and tires. A power sliding door for the passenger side is optional ($450).
Relay 3 ($27,580) has quite a list of additional standard equipment, including a six-way power driver's seat, rear air conditioning, power vent windows, headphones and remote control for the DVD system, more overhead storage, rear storage bins, a universal garage door opener, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, and other features.
Relay 3 AWD ($30,570) is the performance truck of the family, with Versatrak all-wheel drive, its own rear suspension and steering, an inflator kit, 17-inch tires and wheels, and a raft of additional touches like front-row seat-mounted side air bags.
Options include dual power sliding doors with ultrasonic rear park assist ($995); a Safety Package ($545) with seat-mounted side-impact airbags and traction control; StabiliTrak chassis control ($450); XM Satellite Radio ($325) which includes a one-year subscription; remote starter ($175); heated front seats ($295); Touring suspension package ($360); and a trailering package for up to 3500 pounds ($165). Leather seating ($1,350) is available as is a new entertainment system that features a 40 gigabyte hard drive that can store 10,000 songs in MP3, WMA or WAV formats. (Saturn's prices are MSRPs and include destination charges.)
Safety equipment is below average for the class. Dual frontal airbags are standard. Front-seat side-impact air bags are optional. Curtain air bags are not available.