2007 VUE Hybrid New Car Test Drive
When the Saturn Vue was first introduced for 2002, it looked ahead to a time when sport-utilities would be known for people-friendly street transportation, not boulder-bashing off-road adventure. Five years later the world has finally caught up, and car-like compact sport-utilities like the Saturn Vue are everywhere.
In the meantime, the Vue has matured into a capable, practical five-passenger package that is available in a surprising number of different configurations.
New for 2007 is the Saturn Vue Green Line, featuring a hybrid powertrain that includes a 170-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine matched with a battery-powered electric motor. The Green Line offers improved fuel economy (by about 20 percent over the standard 143-hp Vue) and cleaner air emissions, and it delivers this hybrid goodness for a price premium of $3225 over its comparable, gas-powered model.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Saturn Vue Red Line emphasizes pure driving performance on the street. This is an option package that features an aggressive suspension calibration and 18-inch tires, and it can be matched with either a four-cylinder or V6 engine.
In the middle you'll find the front-wheel-drive Vue models powered by either a 143-hp 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine or the 248-hp V6. In addition, the Vue V6 is available with four-wheel drive (4WD) to deliver improved traction and stability on the highway in every kind of weather.
A comprehensive makeover of the Saturn Vue for the 2006 model year delivered a more upscale appearance, notably in the interior. Overall, the Vue is now more refined than competitors like the Jeep Compass and Dodge Nitro, more street oriented than competitors like the Ford Escape and Mazda Tribute, and more affordable than competitors like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.
The entry-level Saturn Vue ($17,995) is powered by a 143-hp 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine matched with a five-speed manual transmission. A step up is the model with a four-speed automatic and a higher level of standard equipment ($19,770). Front-wheel drive is standard for both models. Power windows, air conditioning and cruise control are also standard, as are a four-speaker AM/FM stereo and a vehicle anti-theft system.
The Saturn Vue V-6 ($22,270) is defined by its Honda-built, 248-hp V6 engine, and it's matched with a five-speed automatic transmission. An all-wheel-drive model ($24,230) is also available. All models are distinguished by a comprehensive level of convenience features, including power windows, air conditioning, and cruise control, as well as a six-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo, an upgraded vehicle anti-theft system, and cosmetic improvements like a leather-wrapped sport steering wheel and upgraded seat fabric.
The Vue Green Line ($22,995) is hybrid-powered, with a 170-hp 2.4-liter engine and a battery-operated electric motor plus a four-speed automatic transmission.
Options include leather upholstery ($755), XM satellite radio ($199), and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system ($1140). A package includes a six-way power-adjustable driver seat as well as seat heating for both front seats ($595). A sliding moonroof ($725) is available. Both an AM/FM stereo with CD/MP3 player ($150) and a six-disk CD player with iPod compatibility ($650) are available as options.
The Saturn Vue Red Line option package ($2,495) delivers aggressive performance on the street, and it can be matched with either the 143-hp 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine or the 248-hp 3.5-liter V6. The suspension is calibrated for aggressive cornering and includes 245/50R18 Bridgestone Turanza all-season tires. The Vue's electric power-assisted steering is tuned for a a heavier, sporting feel. The Red Line also features a unique exterior appearance package and unique interior trim.
Safety features include front-seat airbags with seat-belt pre-tensioners, while optional curtain-type airbags ($363) protect both front- and rear-seat passengers from head injuries. The Vue V-6, Vue Green Line and Vue Red Line include standard front-wheel disc brakes with rear drum brakes plus an anti-lock feature and traction control, but the electronics are an extra-cost option ($600) for the Vue four-cylinder models. The center position of the rear seat comes with a three-point shoulder belt, a standard feature rarely seen in this price class. OnStar is standard for all models, and the service includes automatic request for emergency assistance when an airbag deployment is registered. Overall, the Vue has an excellent reputation for safety, and it has earned five-star ratings in both front- and side-impact crash tests.