2006 VUE New Car Test Drive
The Saturn Vue stands out among the compact SUVs with its unique styling and innovative plastic body panels, which resist dents and eliminate corrosion. Inside, it's roomy and practical.
Similar in size to the Honda CR-V, the Vue seats five. Back-seat riders are made more comfortable with seatbacks that recline slightly for comfort. The seats, including the front passenger seat, fold flat, providing enough space to haul an eight-foot ladder. In back, a cargo organizer keeps things from rolling around.
The Vue is one of the quickest SUVs in its class when ordered with the 3.5-liter V6. Built by Honda, the V6 generates 250 horsepower and the Vue enjoyable to drive. Acceleration performance is decidedly tepid with the standard four-cylinder engine, however. The Vue comes standard with front-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive is available for improved traction and stability in winter weather.
The interior trim has been improved for 2006, and the front and rear styling has been revised for a more pleasing appearance.
The Saturn Vue ($17,390) comes standard with a 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive. The four-cylinder is available with a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission ($18,745). For 2006, power windows, locks, and mirrors, air conditioning and cruise control are 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 Vue V6 ($21,390) packs more standard equipment, including 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 comes with a five-speed automatic transmission.
The V6 is also available with all-wheel drive ($23,050).
Options include leather upholstery ($695), XM Satellite Radio ($325), and a rear-seat DVD system ($1,140). A Comfort Package ($595) includes a six-way power driver's seat and heated front seats. A moonroof is available for four-cylinder models ($725). A Sun and Sound Package ($995) is available for V6 models that combines CD, MP3, and a power moonroof.
The Red Line package ($2,495) is available on V6 models that features a lowered and stiffened suspension and aggressive 18-inch aluminum wheels with P245/50R18 Bridgestone Turanza all-season touring tires. The electric power steering is recalibrated for a sportier feel. Red Line models are distinguished by unique front and rear fascias, with black air intakes and a chrome exhaust tip.
Safety features include optional curtain airbags ($395) designed to provide head protection in a side impact or rollover. Anti-lock brakes and traction control ($600) are optional on the base model, standard on the V6. Front seatbelts are equipped with pretensioners, and the dual-stage front airbags are designed to inflate less forcefully in a less-severe crash to reduce the chance of airbag-related injuries. The Vue comes with a rear-center shoulder belt, a feature not found on many compact SUVs. Child-seat tether anchors are provided for all three rear seating positions. For 2006, OnStar comes standard on all models, with Enhanced Automatic Crash Notification that will send emergency assistence in the event of airbag deployment. The Vue earned five-star scores in government frontal and side-impact crash testing.