2008 Aura New Car Test Drive
The Saturn Aura is an excellent choice among midsize sedans. It's modern and fresh, with European character and aesthetic flair. Taut and responsive, it drives like a European family sedan, perhaps because it rides on a German Opel platform. The cabin is tastefully done and laid out and all the controls work very well. A wide range of engines and drivetrains is available for improved fuel economy or performance.
For 2008, Aura comes standard with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that earns an EPA-rated 22/30 mpg. Two V6s are available, including a 252-horsepower 3.6-liter V6, and both are smooth, sophisticated engines that make the Aura a very enjoyable car to drive. Introduced partway through the 2007 model year, the Saturn Aura Green Line features a gas-electric hybrid that uses a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and a 4 kW electric motor rated at 24/32 mpg.
Underway, we found the Saturn Aura is quiet and handles well. Brakes, suspension and powertrain all work together to respond to the driver's wishes. Compared with the cars in its own price class, such as the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Ford Fusion, the Aura is well equipped with safety and comfort features.
Launched as an all-new model for 2007, the Aura was immediately voted North American Car of the Year by a panel of 48 independent automotive journalists.
For 2008, StabiliTrak electronic stability control comes standard on V6 models, and XM Satellite Radio is standard on all Aura models. The four-panel glass panoramic roof offered previously is no longer available.
The 2008 Saturn Aura comes in four models, XE, XR, and Green Line. All are front-wheel drive.
Aura XE ($19,745) comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and four-speed automatic transmission. Standard equipment includes cloth upholstery; air conditioning; cruise control; traction control; a six-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary input jack; XM Satellite Radio; OnStar; tilt/telescope steering wheel; six-way power driver's seat; 60/40 split folding rear seat; power windows, mirrors and locks with keyless entry; automatic headlights; and 225/50 tires on 17-inch steel wheels with wheel covers. An optional 3.5-liter V6 ($1,580) includes StabiliTrak.
Aura Green Line hybrid ($22,140) uses a four-cylinder engine assisted by an electric motor. The Green Line is equipped like the XE and adds automatic climate control and StabiliTrak. Tires are 215/60R16s on 16-inch alloy wheels. Options for the Hybrid are limited to the sunroof and the Preferred Package.
Aura XR ($25,375) comes with a 3.6-liter V6 and a six-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift control paddles on the steering wheel. The XR also features automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat, front seat heaters, heated outside mirrors with auto-dimming on the driver's side, a remote engine starter, an eight-speaker stereo with an in-dash six-disc CD changer and controls on the steering wheel, rear audio controls, a universal garage door opener, fog lamps, and 225/50 tires on 18-inch alloy wheels.
Options for the XE: The Preferred Package ($440) adds eight-way power driver's seat and steering wheel radio controls. The Convenience Package ($840) adds heated front seats and exterior mirrors, remote starter, auto-dimming inside rearview and outside driver's mirror, and universal garage door opener. The Advanced Audio Package ($725) adds the eight-speaker stereo with in-dash six-CD changer and rear audio controls. Chromed ($200) and alloy ($400) wheels are also available.
Options for XE and XR models include an Enhanced Convenience Package ($425) comprising a six-way power passenger seat and power adjustable pedals; a Premium Trim Package ($990) that includes a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, leather upholstery and heated front seats; a power sunroof with sunshade ($800); premium floor and trunk mats ($100); and an engine-block heater ($75). XR is available with Morocco Brown leather ($150). The Carbon Flash Limited Edition ($2,025) is available on V6-powered XEs with metallic gray paint and gray interior, the sunroof, the Premium Trim Package, and chromed wheels.
Safety features that come standard on all models include anti-lock four-wheel disc brakes and traction control. V6 models and the hybrid come standard with electronic stability control, which is not available on the base four-cylinder. Passive safety features that come standard on all models include front seat belts with pretensioners and load-limiters, dual front air bags, front seat-mounted side-impact air bags (for torso protection in a side impact), and front- and rear-seat curtain air bags (for head protection in a rollover or side impact). Be sure to wear those seat belts because they are your first line of defense in a crash.