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2007 Saturn Aura XE and XR - with Pics


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C&G Drives: The 2007 Saturn AURA

By Brian Dreggors

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"Love me, love me, say that you love me."

"I already sold two other XEs." -Saturn salesman

That coincides with my findings, too. On the evening of the 15th, I spotted a car carrier taking about three Auras to Saturn of Clearwater. Curious, I tailed it and saw that trio of XEs join four other Auras - including an XR - delivered the night before. By this afternoon, five remained. Meanwhile, the Jeep Compass I tested a few weeks ago still sat lonely across the street. An early indication? Perhaps. We'll see whether Aura not this new midsize Saturn will really move. Let's go!

The Basics

My tester today was a 2007 Techno Gray Saturn Aura XR with standard 18" alloy wheels and the 252hp 3.6l V6 turning a six-speed automatic with TAPshift. A midlevel XR, this one came with heated cloth seats (power driver's), rear audio controls, electronic climate control, your basic power pack, and an MSRP of $24,894. And with 178 miles already on the clock, this was one popular girl...in the good, wholesome way.

First Impressions

The key differentiator between the XE and XR trims are the XR's dual exhaust tips and halogen foglamps and while the XE trim holds its own, the extra touch of those two fetures make the higher-level Aura stand out. Stretched Epsilon influences are noticable from the rear, but are dilluted by the Aura's own standout styling.

Beautiful halogen headlamps reside below the amber turnsignal in a combination that's more elegant than clumsy. Though the entire housing looks a bit bulbous, sheetmetal creases flow unbroken through the cluster. The lower air intake is neither too large nor too small, but just right, leaving the odd foglamp housing 'filler' plastic as the single worst aspect of the Aura's front end. Though its expected these will be opened up on a future Red Line variant, one thinks Saturn designers could've done something a little cleaner, at least on the XR.

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Somewhere, a Sebring coupe is up on blocks...

Aura's profile is the second prettiest angle on the car and rightfully so. Clean yet muscular with fender flares just right for a midsize sedan; no overcompensating bulges here - take notes, Chrysler. Chrome-flashed door side molding is a welcome break from the unadorned look many imports seem to favor nowadays that do nothing but leave a car looking too tall and too flat. Aura's door trim and rocker moldings breaks up the slab-sidedness suffered by its stretched Epsilon sister, the Pontiac G6, and the overall effect is simply a nicer car. Chrome trimming is applied in liberal but tasteful amounts, narrowing the greenhouse for a sleeker look. The only odd piece is the Euro-style turn signal repeater on the front fender, which amazingly looks more out of place than the GM "Mark of Crookedness," incidently applied perfectly on-center on the Saturn.

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What do the Aura and Roselyn Sanchez share? Great rears.

Feast your eyes on those taillamps - the single best design aspect of the Aura. Jeweled and beset in chrome-trimmed bezels, they're nothing short of classy. The lower decklid chrome stip is another welcome change from the done-to-death chrome strip floating above the license plate housing. Speaking of which, the twin bumperettes flanking the rear plate carry the decklid lines down and break up an already light rear bumper. Dual exhaust tips only make the rear look better. This is definitely the best angle of the car, with smooth curves and angled detailing working in concert, not conflict.

Welcome Aboard

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Low-gloss textures and semi-metallic trim shine up the sporty but slightly drab cockpit.

My first experience with remote start was this day. Lock the doors, hit the cycle button, and the ignition turns over while you're 20 feet away. This is not just a cold-weather feature, either. On a hot Florida day, getting that a/c cranking is a top priority.

Opening the door, I was greeted by a very well-appointed interior with enough soft-touch coverings to satisfy dash fondlers and a little more rugged plastic where contact is more often made. Trimmed in black, the overall look is pleasent but a bit drab, caused more by the nature of the color as opposed to the car's interior design. Metallic trim, however, does admirable work of bringing contrast to the darkness and looks quite sharp, especially on the door panels where the inlaid chrome stripping is very apparent. The tan/beige contrast of the XEs also sampled at the dealership looked more upscale than the sportier black, but Morocco Brown is sure to be a winner based on press pictures alone.

GM seems to pride itself on delivering intuitive and ergonomic controls in every car and the Aura carries forth this traditional with simple audio and HVAC controls. Gauges readouts are clear and presented buried in three chrome-bezeled housings. Steering wheel controls are symmetrical and easy to use and the gearshift is well-shaped and substantial enough to grip.

There is a surprising amount of storage space in this car and GM's new focus on quality is evident here. Instead of having a cubby box simply drop down, a gentle tap releases the compartment, which glides open and smoothly closes with a light push. Kudos abound for this. Cupholders and miscellaneous objects holders are located under a accordion'd cover that isn't the easiest thing to close. A deep console with top 'shelf' is well-done.

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Decorative needles point to clear numbers in clean yet upscale gauges. The textured outlay is a bit weird, though.

Front seat comfort is fine with plenty of headroom, though this car would definitely benefit from an extra 2-inches of width. The bolsters make the seats a little tight for a stockier person like myself, though all other aspects of seating are rather comfortable. Power controls are responsive and easy to adjust while the tilt/telescope handle - thankfully relocated to the left side of the column - is improved but still not the best operation. Power T&T would be a great step above for this segement.

I also sampled the rear seats and found they have a great amount of legroom for a car this size. The rear caveout design of the front seats gave my knees plenty of room and headroom was similarly unrestricted. Cupholders fold out from the rear of the center console and seperate audio controls and a/v jacks are a great added bonus.

The Drive

If one word were to be used to quantify the Aura's acceleration, it would be 'smooast', as in 'smooth' and 'fast.' Like a good American car, the 3.6l with VVT resonated a gentle yet audible growl from under the hood as the sedan hurtled from a rolling start to nearly 60mph in a very rapid rate. With plenty of power up front and on reserve, passing wasn't even a consideration - it was a given. And unlike other electronic throttle setups, there was no hesitation when the pedal met the metal. As exepected, GM has tamed the oversteer beast with an iron lash and the Aura's front 18-inchers tracked straight and true, even under high-power, high-torque acceleration.

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A stable of two-hundred and fifty-two horses available 24/7 at all RPMs.

True to its hydramatic roots, the 6-speed automatic did not shift as much as it gently wafted you from gear to gear, never hunting in between. Notch it back into 'M' and let your fingers to the shifting. Strangly, when you do this, the normal odometer readout on the small Driver's Information Center disappears. My last experience with TAPshift technology was in a 2004 Grand Prix GTP where the exeperience was muted by realistically having only two - maybe three - gears to play around with in normal driving. Here, however, TAPshift comes into its own. With one up high, one down low, and four in between, there's plenty of room for selectable fun. The paddles were easy to use, though they are a bit too small and their contouring isn't as favorable to downshifting. The setup in the Grand Prix was more tactile in this regard.

The suspension was rather smooth and soaked up most bumps with ease. Running over lane reflectors showed good feedback and no harshness and steering was tight and well-controlled. The Aura rode neither too rough nor too soft and seemed very much just right. Fuel economy is rated at 20/28mpg, reasonable for a car this much fun.

Pricing

Though $28,000 and change may seem pricey for a Saturn, keep in mind you're getting one hell of a car. Also, the old L-Series climaxed at around $26,000. In comparison, there is none. The base MSRP for an XE is $20,595 and for that tag, you get a respectable car with unexpected bonuses, like LED tails, T&T wheel, 17" rims, 4-wheel ABS, traction control, cruise, and an array of airbags.

Move up to the XR and keep piling on the goodness with Stabilitrak, 8-speaker stereo, heated seats, electrochromic rearview, the beautiful 252hp/6-spd combo and remote start for $24,595. From there on, $800 gets you leather, $400 gets you a 6-way passenger seat and power pedals, $100 gets you the lovely Morocco Brown. A good deal for under $27k.

One asanine pricing faux pas is that leather seats on the XR trim comes with a mandatory sunroof, either a conventional single-pane glass or the fancy panoramic job. This adds - in addition to the $800 for leather - another $800 or $1500, respectively. This makes leather actually cost $1600 or $2300 depending on your roof choice. For me, I like opening up the top, so I'd get one anyway, but the lack of a free-flow leather choice that exists on the XE is sure to be a buzz-kill for potential XR buyers that would rather spend their extra dough on the power pedals and XM radio or simply don't want a roof. I hope this nonsensical retardation is rectified soon.

Whatever Else I Forgot

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In real life, the trunk seems shallow with a high liftover, however volume is plentiful for its size and folding rear seats expand it.

The trunk, while a respectable 15 cu.ft., has a rather high, tight, and longitudinally narrow opening that seems to make loading boxed items like a smaller television set more awkward than necessary. Also, its rather shallow.

While the air conditioning system works wonders (what GM unit doesn't?), the center air vents need more vertical travel as sometimes you just want to cool your face.

While the XE has three 17" wheel options (two of them lookers), the XR is stuck with one 18" alloy wheel set. A wider variety of more visually attractive wheels should be optional on the XR, including at least one chromed set and one five- to seven-spoke set.

A gas hood strut is appreciated on a $20.5k car as some manufacturers can't seem to trouble themselves to include it on $25k (300), $30k (Montego), and $35k (G35) cars.

The Final Word(s)

General Motors, and especially Saturn, have always produced cars that are good values. The difference with the Aura is that they have finally built a car that offers outstanding value in a beautiful package with great looks and fantastic performance. I feel I rave accurately, especially for the XR. When Saturn eliminates the sunroof requirement with the leather upgrade, you will not be able to find a better car for $25,895. I truly believe this is Saturn's coming of age car; if I'm right, what an age it'll be.

Dealer Note

Thanks to Saturn of Clearwater for allowing me to test drive their latest offering! Now housed in the former location of Lokey Oldsmobile, Saturn of Clearwater's (also owned by the Lokey Group) showroom is casual yet warm and inviting. The sales staff holds up to the Saturn standard of a low-pressure, low-key experience. As an interesting note, Saturn of Clearwater sold the very first Saturn in the country, a blue SL sedan.

Links

Official Saturn AURA Website

2007 AURA Greenline Info

Saturn of Clearwater

Pictures!

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Aura XR in Techno Gray

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First and foremost...Thanks for the pictures and all the work you wnet thru to take them and provide them to the readers of C&G. Also great write up about the Aura.

I would like to point out though that I believe you may have the Golden Cashmere and Bronze Pewter listed under the wrong pictures...Bronzed Pewter according to the Saturn website is the darker of the two.

Now I wonder if I could get the Metallic trim with the Bronze Pewter exterior...

Edited by CreativeVision
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Thank you, Flybry. Great job and great photos....and great Florida backdrops!!!

Like the front end and like the rear end. The side is a bit bulbous for my taste. That could have been diminished by lowering the greenhouse beltline, IMO.

The interior looks functional and comfortable. LOVE the in-dash ignition....just had a GP rental last weekend, and that is a feature I thoroughly believe in. When viewed with open rear doors, the seats look somewhat Malibu-esque. At least they look nicely finished and bolstered. The articulation of the dash outside of the simple bezels is a little weird, I agree.

I'd like to see how the 3.5 propels this car. I believe it pumps out 224 ponies in this rendition. Question: is this EPS - electric power steering or hydraulic belt-driven?

I don't know if I could go for one. There's an austerity to it that doesn't suit me but I respect the achievement and wish it fetches many unit sales for our beloved GM.

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I didn't think dual zone climate control was available on the Aura? I only see single-zone auto climate control in the pictures.

Nice rightup otherwise :) Great to have pictures! I might check out the XR when I look at cars.

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those are some nice pictures there flybri... the one on the front page i can see the lines of the profile and the wayhe door handles line up, not to mention the swirling reflection of the other car on the lot. gorgeous. and it shows up as purposelful and eyecatching design to me. in a good way.

i have no doubt this will be a competant car. one that will go tet a tet with anything and everything else in its class.

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Fly, just one mistake that I noticed:

My first experience with remote start was this day. Lock the doors, hit the cycle button, and the ignition turns over while you're 20 feet away. This is not just a cold-weather feature, either. On a hot Florida day, getting that a/c cranking is a top priority.

With the Remote Start option, you receive the extended range feature which allows you 200 feet. Trust me, I have this feature on my '04 Malibu and I have a much greater range than the standard RKE system. Otherwise, great article! Thanks for the pictures too!
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More Pictures!

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Aura XE in Berry Red

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Aura XE in Golden Cashmere

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Aura XE in Ocean Mist

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Aura XE in Bronzed Pewter

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As a Saturn sales guy I would like to send you a very gracious THANK YOU for the kind review. We know we are in for something great...kind of the Cadillac revolution of sorts! One thing, that is I do not believe,as indicated in the review, that the Aura has dual climate system. I think it is single.

THANKS!!!! :yes:

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Thanks Fly.

Nice car. I like it much better than when I originally saw the GM press photos.

I still think the interior leaves a lot to be desired....with the "ribbed" (for your pleaure) pattern inside the gauge cluster and the mis-aligned (or appearing to be so) center stack controls. The metallic trim, however, goes a long way to improving this aspect and is much more tasteful than the wood trim.

One thing on the leather/sunroof thing......I think it makes absolutely PERFECT sense.

You have to remember that auto manufacturers have a constant challenge to reduce build combinations....which reduces mfgr'g cost, complexity, and actually helps to improve build quality.

Anywhere GM can reduce a build combination is big. In this case, the vast majority of the people would want a sunroof IF they had leather. While there may be people that want a sunroof with cloth, if you look at the competition, just about everyone hard-packages a sunroof if the car has leather in it....be it a model (Accord EX Leather) or an option package.

In this case, I think GM made a smart product-planning decision.

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Thanks Fly.

Nice car.  I like it much better than when I originally saw the GM press photos.

I still think the interior leaves a lot to be desired....with the "ribbed" (for your pleaure) pattern inside the gauge cluster and the mis-aligned (or appearing to be so) center stack controls.  The metallic trim, however, goes a long way to improving this aspect and is much more tasteful than the wood trim.

One thing on the leather/sunroof thing......I think it makes absolutely PERFECT sense.

You have to remember that auto manufacturers have a constant challenge to reduce build combinations....which reduces mfgr'g cost, complexity, and actually helps to improve build quality.

Anywhere GM can reduce a build combination is big.  In this case, the vast majority of the people would want a sunroof IF they had leather.  While there may be people that want a sunroof with cloth, if you look at the competition, just about everyone hard-packages a sunroof if the car has leather in it....be it a model (Accord EX Leather) or an option package.

In this case, I think GM made a smart product-planning decision.

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they need to offer sunroof with cloth in the XR, if just the standard one.

the interior is nicer than the 06 altima i got a ride in today, much nicer. i was borderline pitching a tent with how precisely the material transition seams are handled on the door and dash panels in the Aura. There are lots of material changes and cutlines coming together in pinpoint spots on the nicely sculpted and textured doors and GM pretty much nails it. Its insane how good they got these transitions. I do agree that the ribbed plastic on the gauges is a bit cheaply done. the gauges to me could be bigger.

fly, your test didn't go much into handling feel, precision or steering quickness. can you feel the variable assist tighten up at speed? Does it flop in turns? brake dive? bump harshness? progressive bump absorption? did you slalom it? Also, on the tapshift, is there the annoying delay between flipping the shift button and when it actually shifts or is it RIGHT NOW? Are the tapshifts jerky? Understeer or oversteer?

this thing have a handbrake or a footbrake?

Edited by regfootball
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I came back from Florida yesterday, and I miss it already :(

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Voce ficou em Florida? Que sorte! Em cual cidade? Eu gosto de Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach e tambem as praias do Panhandle. Mais nao conheco Disney World porque temos Disneyland perto de onde eu crescou em Los Angeles.

Ficou a li (Florida) para trabalhar o pelas vacacoes? Atelogo!

Pardon my poor spelling...I'm trying, ZL-1.

Edited by trinacriabob
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took at look at this car on saturday... nice, i like its outside looks, love the six speed, and appreciate the 3.6, but the interior is great for a GM car, just not great overall.

i also looked at a passat. their prices are compariable and the interior of the passat is so much nicer.

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I really like the Aura but the more I see of it in pictures the less impressed with the interior I get.

I guess because GM seem to be using this same centerstack in everyone of their new vehicles that the interior has lost some unigueness.

I still say that the benchmarks of interior are still the sales leaders Camry and Accords.

Edited by drew770
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I'm really liking the Bronzed Pewter the best so far. The Red is nice but I have a dark red car now and need a change.

I'm concerned over the trunk opening. With a young child, I need to be able to load in a stroller and other stuff easily. I fear I'll have the top of the bumper all marked up and/or not even get the items into the opening.

I also still don't like the guages and guage surround very much. As someone said, I find them to be too small and the ribbed pattern does look cheap and boring.

Also it does not appear the Saturn website is correct or complete yet. When I try to build an Aura, no matter what exterior color I choose, there is no option for Tan or Gray interior. Yet of all the pictures we've seen and the ones I saw in person here, that is all that is shown.

With the Bronze Pewter exterior, the only interior I would want is the tan or the 2-tone shown in the pictures. However I want the metallic trim. I can't seem to find any info though on if the metallic trim is privy to only certain interior colrs, certain trim level, or up to the buyer?

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Drove an Aura XR today and it was quite nice. I won't go into a lengthy review since they are covered where so well in the review above, but I was surprised by few details.

The door arm rests have simulated stitching molded into the soft plastic. I couldn't believe that GM brought this back from the 1980's. It's a small detail and hard to notice, but I could not get over it and how out of place it was in the car.

The gauge cluster is really cool to watch when you start the car up. The dials do a full swing before settling down (seen that before) and then gradually, the numbers light up. It's a very, very cool effect worth checking out.

Cars without leather, like the XR I drive, come with a plastic steering wheels and shifters. This seems out of place even though the plastic was nice to the touch.

The trim alingment from the door to the dash on the driver side was quite off. It looked perfect on the passenger side. That was disappointing to see. Everything else quality wish was good.

Mark

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Voce ficou em Florida?  Que sorte! Em cual cidade?  Eu gosto de Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach e tambem as praias do Panhandle.  Mais nao conheco Disney World porque temos Disneyland perto de onde eu crescou em Los Angeles.

Ficou a li (Florida) para trabalhar o pelas vacacoes? Atelogo!

Pardon my poor spelling...I'm trying, ZL-1.

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Good effort! :thumbsup: There are a few Spanish words in there and just a couple of minor mistakes.

I don't know what you do for a living, but you should invest in learning Portuguese: good for business in Brazil.

I have family living in NW Broward County, and I went for my holidays.

I love downtown Miami and Fort Lauderdale. On the Gulf coast I've visited Naples, Sarasota and the Tampa Bay area. Naples is great!

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took at look at this car on saturday... nice, i like its outside looks, love the six speed, and appreciate the 3.6, but the interior is great for a GM car, just not great overall.

i also looked at a passat. their prices are compariable and the interior of the passat is so much nicer.

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a 2.0 T FOUR CYLINDER passat will be mid to high twenties and there's no guarantee on leather or not. v6 passats with everything are mid thirties. the Aura is priced way under the Passat. The Passat has a good interior but not top notch. The new interior design is offputting to some.

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The one that I test drove was about 28K, had leatherette, and a sunroof.

it did not have the engine or transmission capabilities of the aura, but the interior and refinement was much nicer.

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I *still* don't get what is so great about a Passat's interior.... and I have to live with one every day.

And a Passat 4 against an Aura 3.6? Sorry the Passat's 4 is refined... for a 4cylinder, but an Aura 3.6 will pwn it in refinement.

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I *still* don't get what is so great about a Passat's interior.... and I have to live with one every day.

And a Passat 4 against an Aura 3.6?  Sorry the Passat's 4 is refined... for a 4cylinder, but an Aura 3.6 will pwn it in refinement.

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VW interiors show extremely well in the showrooms to the crate and barrel and pottery barn crowd.

the passat 3.6 will be several thousand more than the Aura XR.

the pushrod equipped XE will match up well power wise vs. the 4 popper Passat.

Edited by regfootball
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I'm really liking the Bronzed Pewter the best so far.  The Red is nice but I have a dark red car now and need a change. 

I'm concerned over the trunk opening.  With a young child, I need to be able to load in a stroller and other stuff easily.  I fear I'll have the top of the bumper all marked up and/or not even get the items into the opening. 

I also still don't like the guages and guage surround very much.  As someone said, I find them to be too small and the ribbed pattern does look cheap and boring. 

Also it does not appear the Saturn website is correct or complete yet.  When I try to build an Aura, no matter what exterior color I choose, there is no option for Tan or Gray interior.  Yet of all the pictures we've seen and the ones I saw in person here, that is all that is shown. 

With the Bronze Pewter exterior, the only interior I would want is the tan or the 2-tone shown in the pictures.  However I want the metallic trim.  I can't seem to find any info though on if the metallic trim is privy to only certain interior colrs, certain trim level, or up to the buyer?

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http://eogld.ecomm.gm.com/NASApp/domestic/...&vehicleID=3358

Check Color and Trim and click on Print Book for a table of all the option combinations for the Aura.

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What is that ? Is that an Audi ?.......................no wait...............is that the car segment B U I C K should have gotten a chance to design and produce ?

I gotta say, now owning an Epilson, finding humor in everyones praise of the "aura" like its really something special............praising the Epilson becasue its "new", not "antiquated"................if anyone thinks Epilson can hold a candle to W body for comfort, ride and handling.....................they have another thing comming, cant vouch for the backseat issue, I doubt either is worth talking about.

So this is why Buick is not getting any 3.6 engines ?

Im so sick of this little annoyance, "one of these days Alice, one of these days".

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chris, are you a pharmacist or just found of drug names?

now, nameing the aura wagon XR would have made much more sense.

XR = eXtended release

SR = sustained release

CR = controlled release

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hahahaha, I'm actually considering that (and related fields) on the assumption that the death of my current field is already on the horizon. but I just happened to remember those two when I saw that.

(yeah, knew XR is extended release, just couldn't come up with a joke about it. although if the aura is anything like some XR formulations out there, you'll notice that your car will momentarily stop working a few hours after you start driving, and start back up a few minutes later.)

((see? that isn't funny.))

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http://eogld.ecomm.gm.com/NASApp/domestic/...&vehicleID=3358

Check Color and Trim and click on Print Book for a table of all the option combinations for the Aura.

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'thegriffon': thanks for the link. Looks like Bronze Pewter will not allow metallic trim with the tan interior. I'm torn on the black...I've never had a black interior and worry about heat discoloration, burning myself from the sun, and closing in the interior on me... Wonder if I can bribe the dealership into a swap :scratchchin:

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Ahh, it IS a looker...

Motor Trend states that the Aura's interior is a match for the Japanese competition, "which itself has all but caught up to the VW norm".

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.....would beat a cloth Aura with a pushrod 3.5L any day......

VW's new 2.0T engine is a true gem......

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Yeah, I was sitting in a Passat value-edition wagon for a half-hour this morning, waiting for Pacific VW to do an emissions recall (or "TSB", if you want) for our '02 1.8T. Even with black leatherette and a basic stereo, I really, really liked the wagon. Everything was well-made, the interior was very comfortable, and the features (power tailgate, ESP) were impressive for a base-model car.

Car and Driver got 7.2 seconds 0-60 for a Passat 2.0T automatic wagon.

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