Saturn VUE 2 Mode Hybrid – Click above for high-res image gallery We attended the New York-area "GM Collection" event this week, which is basically an opportunity for journalists to drive a variety of 2009 models up at Bear Mountain, an hour or so outside Manhattan. What we didn't know going in was that GM would bring along three production-spec examples of the '09 Saturn Vue 2 Mode Hybrid, and that this would be the first opportunity to take the new gas-electric 'ute for a spin. Bear in mind that this impression is based on about 25 minutes of shared time with the car (we buddied up with Jalopnik's Wes Siler). The official full-dog-and-pony-show media launch event is set to take place in December, and we'll be on hand for that as well. For now though, follow the jump to see some initial impressions of the new Saturn hybrid. %Gallery-35301% All Photos Copyright © 2008 Alex Núñez / Weblogs, Inc. The Vue 2 Mode Hybrid is pretty self-explanatory: it's a Saturn Vue, and it's the first non-GMT900 ride to get the 2 Mode hybrid setup. It'll slot above the existing Saturn Vue "light" hybrid (née Green Line) in the lineup, targeting drivers who desire fuel economy on par with the four-cylinder hybrid, but want more power and/or towing capacity. The 2 Mode Vue's gas engine is a direct-injected version of the widely-used 3.6L "high feature" powerplant. In this case, it makes 262 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque and only front-wheel-drive is available. (The AWD Vue Red Line we reviewed last year, by comparison, made 257 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque with the non-DI version of this engine. Its EPA rating was 16 city/22 hwy.) It works in concert with the hybrid sysyem, which incorporates a pair of 55 kW electric motors, a 300V battery, regenerative braking and the 2 Mode transmission, which sports two electronically variable modes and four fixed mechanical gear ratios to optimize efficiency at both lower, around-town speeds and highway velocity. Unlike the light hybrid system in the other Vue Hybrid, the 2 Mode can run in EV-only mode at low speeds, in addition to doing all the other stuff you expect, such as killing the engine when stopped. The result is a projected fuel economy rating of 28 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. This, with a 3,500-pound tow capacity and a projected sticker price of around $33,000. Appearance-wise, it looks just like a Vue XR. Only the Vue XR doesn't have three hybrid badges (one on each fender and one on the tailgate) and four hybrid decals (one on the windshield, one on the rear window, and the gigunda things that span the lower door panels). Short of getting a full "HYBRID" bus wrap on the thing, you can't really announce your greenie status any more unless you head to the Toyota store. If you've driven a conventionally-powered 3.6L Vue, you're not really in for anything earth-shatteringly different. When you twist the …
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