2005 VUE 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.
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.