Saturn’s Green Line opens new horizons
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I was a bit worried a few years ago when Saturn announced it’d no longer be using plastic bodypanels. Saturns were originally conceived to stem the flow of American car buyers to small, import vehicles.
Plastic panels and no-haggle pricing were the headline-grabbers, but there were a few other novel things about Saturn in the early days that made people think seriously about considering an American car again.
Then Saturn lost its way.
It’s taken about eight years to regain its focus, but 2008 is shaping up as a banner year for Saturn with a completely new model range: the Outlook, Aura, Sky, Astra and this, the Vue, are all new for ’08.
We’ve chosen to highlight the Vue Green Line hybrid model because it’s a great-looking compact, five-door crossover that was designed in one of GM’s European design studios and mated to a “green” powertrain.
Inside, the Vue has taken a few steps forward over its predecessor. Standard — among other things — are a CD player with MP3 capability, flat-folding 60/40 split rear seatback, storage bin under the passenger seat, and a rear cargo management system.
Specific options haven’t been announced, but features like automatic climate control, leather seating, navigation system, rain-sensing wipers, remote start, and a heated windshield washer system are available on other Vue models — and should be available on the Green Line.
Driving-wise, the Vue has a stiff, steel body-frame structure — meaning on rough roads and difficult terrain the vehicle won’t shake itself to bits. Spring rates and wheel travel have been tuned for each model to provide a compliant yet smooth ride. Standard are four-wheel disc brakes, traction control, and stability control.
A towing package with hitch and wiring is also available. Vue has electronic Trailer Sway Control, a standard feature that detects snaking that can occur when pulling a trailer and automatically applies brake pressure and reduces engine torque until the snaking stops.
Safety-wise, dual-stage front seat air bags, front seat side thorax air bags and rollover capable head curtain air bags covering front and rear rows are standard on all models.
Seventeen-inch alloy wheels come standard. The Vue Green Line is equipped with the 169 horsepower, 2.4-litre Ecotec 4-cylinder gasoline engine, mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission. Dual-stage hybrid technology adds additional electric power — horsepower numbers for the electric motor haven’t been announced — to the drivetrain, for an added boost during acceleration.
The hybrid system also shuts off the engine at stops, cuts off fuel during deceleration, and captures electrical energy through regenerative braking.
But the question remains: more than 20 years after Saturn was conceived, does it still have a chance at swaying buyers away from imports? The Vue Green Line, as well as Saturn’s other 2008 models, might just represent their best effort yet.
‘08 Saturn Vue Green Line