Saturn Vue hybrid offers reasonable power
THE RIDE: Four-door, five-passenger 2008 Saturn Vue Green Line hybrid compact SUV. DOWN THE ROAD: Based on the Opel Antara sold in Europe, the Vue has been redesigned for 2008. The ride in the front-wheel-drive Vue Green Line is quiet and easy on the back, especially at sharp turns and corners. TECH & PERFORMANCE: A 2.4-liter inline-4 cylinder engine develops 172 horsepower at 6500 rpm and 167 pounds-feet of torque at 4500 rpm. It is mated to an electric motor/generator, which provides electric power assist to save fuel. The regenerative braking captures energy as the vehicle slows or stops. The energy is sent to the battery and used later for acceleration assist. An electric power-assisted, rack-and-pinion steering system guides the SUV, equipped with a four-speed automatic transmission. The front gets an independent strut-type suspension with coil springs and stabilizer bar while the rear has a multilink independent suspension made of a trailing arm with three lateral locating links, coil springs and stabilizer bar. Stopping abilities are left up to the capable 11.7-inch front and 11.9-inch rear vented discs. The Vue boasts a turning curb-to-curb circle of 40 feet, quite impressive for an SUV. LOOK & FEEL: That this is the Green Line is apparent with the hybrid symbol next to the charcoal-colored fender accent moldings and the rear deck lid. Nonetheless, the Vue is a handsome-looking vehicle that sports large jeweled headlights and chrome-accented grille. Chrome also surrounds the air vents, center stack controls and instrument cluster in the cabin. The eco light illumination below the fuel gauge indicates that the Vue is saving fuel. So does the auto stop light, which comes on when the engine is turned off. A charge/assist gauge needle signifies that the SUV is recharging the battery or the electric motor is aiding the engine. If you are looking to load cargo into the 3,800-pound vehicle, the 60/40 rear seats and the front-passenger seats fold flat. There is storage space not just in the under-floor cargo area but also in the front center console, rear flip-down armrest, overhead and in door pockets.SAFETY FIRST: Standard features are dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag for both rows, four-wheel antilock brakes, stability and traction control, dual front seatbelt pretensioners, active head restraints, remote keyless entry, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights. OUT THE DOOR: $24,170, plus tax, tag, delivery and destination charges. BY THE NUMBERS: Tires, P225/60R17; wheelbase, 106.6 inches; length, 180.1 inches; weight, 3,789 pounds; fuel capacity, 19.2 gallons; highway, 32 mpg; city, 25 mpg. WHY DIG IT: The European-inspired and redesigned Vue sports bold looks that are coupled with reasonable power and a functional interior. The Green Line hybrid, in particular, should appeal to an array of buyers because of its fuel-saving capabilities.
Nitish S. Rele is an advertising staff writer for The Tampa Tribune.