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Full Test: 2008 Saturn Vue

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http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/Drive...rticleId=120836

Road Tests

Full Test: 2008 Saturn Vue XR

Taking in the Vue

By Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

Date posted: 05-17-2007

Saturn sent the 2008 Vue to European finishing school and it came back unrecognizably well-groomed. Derived from the Opel Antara, the 2008 Vue looks nothing like its former boxy self, plus it has a serious new personality to match.

No Longer a Wallflower

The 2008 Saturn Vue has the same 106.6-inch wheelbase as before, but it's a little wider and a little taller. More important, the curvaceous new bodywork has a clean, polished Euro-style look, especially in the Polar White of our test vehicle. Black side vents and dual stainless-steel exhaust tips add to its daring new persona.

The only design miscue regards the Dumbo-size side mirrors that hang off the car at a weird angle and create wind noise besides. Next time around, don't forget the ear tuck.

The generic plastic of the former Vue's interior has also given way to a posh new appearance, with far nicer materials. The exterior theme of full, round shapes is carried over inside, and an overall sense of restrained good taste is reflected in the modest chrome trim that brightens up the dials, meters and vents.

Chrome also spiffs up the interior door pulls, speakers and center stack control knobs, while toned-down brushed aluminum adorns the steering wheel, door panels, parking brake and shift knob.

Passenger Comfort

Our Vue's optional equipment package included leather trim for the shift lever and leather upholstery for the seats, plus three-position seat heaters (which could warm up a bit more). The eight-way, power-adjustable driver seat is great, but the passenger has to make do with manual seat controls. Although the seat bolsters look substantial, the seat design isn't terribly supportive around the hips and back and the seat cushion is too short. The seats are not uncomfortable, but you feel like you are sitting on them rather than in them.

Front legroom measures 40.7 inches, actually less than the previous Vue by about a half inch. And that's a full inch less than most of the competition, including the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Mitsubishi Outlander and Toyota RAV4. Overall, the 2008 Vue affords 97.7 cubic feet of interior passenger volume.

In the Vue's favor, the second-row seatbacks recline for comfort. Rear legroom has increased somewhat to 36.9 inches. Other compact SUVs in this class vary, but most notably the Outlander, RAV4 and CR-V have at least 2 inches more space. There is no third-row option available.

Built for European Roads

There's a MacPherson strut suspension up front and a multilink independent rear suspension. Real sheet metal is hung on the outside and this is a unibody built to European crashworthiness standards, so it's no surprise that the Vue V6 weighs in at 3,988 pounds, some 520 pounds more than before.

An unexpectedly robust and responsive powertrain also transforms the 2008 Saturn Vue. GM's 3.6-liter DOHC is rated at 257 horsepower at 6,500 rpm with 248 pound-feet of torque at 2,100 rpm, and it works well with its smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission.

The new Vue accelerates to 60 mph in at 7.3 seconds and we reached the quarter-mile in 15.7 seconds at 90.3 mph. Although the 269-hp Toyota RAV4 V6 has an edge in power over the Saturn, the Toyota's performance is almost identical, with acceleration to 60 mph in 7.0 seconds and to the quarter-mile in 15.3 seconds at 91.6 mph.

Riding and Driving Around Town

Driving the Saturn Vue around town is effortless and relaxing, as the quick-shifting automatic helps deliver good city manners. On the freeway, the Vue keeps pace as long as the road is flat. On the most gradual of inclines, the transmission seems to get confused and doesn't know whether it should downshift or stay put. When it does downshift, it immediately feels guilty and limits your progress again. Once we popped the shift lever into manual mode, the transmission came to its senses once again.

Utes in this size class are asked to deliver great maneuverability as you dart in and out of parking lots while running errands, and the Vue's nicely weighted steering effort and accurate steering action (no more electric assist) don't ask you to put up with any drama. This is rarer in this class than you'd expect, as both the Mitsubishi Outlander and Toyota RAV4 display noticeably unpleasant symptoms of torque steer.

The Vue's braking performance is about average for the class, as the four-wheel vented disc brakes help bring the Vue to a stop from 60 mph in 131 feet. The pedal feels a little on the soft side, but the vented rotors should forestall brake fade even with a heavy load.

There's not much particularly remarkable about its handling performance, either. The Vue weaves through our slalom test at just over 61 mph, and it then circles the skid pad at 0.71g. As you'd expect, stability control is standard equipment for the Vue.

This ute is tuned for a soft ride, but the moderate body roll in the corners doesn't keep it from holding its line in the corners. A sportier Vue Red Line with a more athletic suspension package will be available in the summer.

Modern-Day Concerns

The Saturn Vue XR's fuel economy is rated at 16 mpg city/24 mpg highway using the new 2008 formula. Our observed fuel economy came in at just under 20 mpg, with a best tank of 24 mpg and a worst one of 16 mpg. Since our driving style is far from moderate, we're confident that anyone driving in the real world should be able to do as well.

GM will continue to introduce its hybrid powertrains in the Saturn Vue, and affordable stop-start technology will once again be available in the Vue Green Line mild hybrid, which will arrive in the fall. It's expected to produce a 20 percent improvement in city fuel economy. In addition, GM's latest two-mode hybrid technology will be available in a Vue model during the 2008 calendar year, and it's expected to deliver a 45 percent improvement in fuel economy in city driving.

Safety is also part of Saturn's brand identity, so there's plenty of it in the new Vue, thanks mostly to the vehicle's European origins. There's stability control, active head restraints, and the mandatory tire-pressure monitoring system, as well as a full complement of airbags (including curtain-type head-protection bags), plus pedals that break away in an impact to prevent foot injuries. And of course there's a one-year subscription to OnStar.

Cool Feature

Behind the second row of seats you'll find 29.2 cubic feet of cargo space. An adjustable cargo net rides in upper and lower rails, and we used this feature in at least five different configurations during our time behind the wheel.

Once you fold down the rear seat, there's 56 cubic feet of cargo capacity, pretty much enough for anyone. Our only complaint is that the liftgate is pretty heavy to pull closed.

Point of Vue

If you look hard at the 2008 Saturn Vue, there's not much to set apart its specifications from the rest of its carlike sport-ute competitors like the Mitsubishi Outlander and Toyota RAV4. Just like the previous Vue, it's an unassuming vehicle in a category from which not much is expected.

Yet the Vue's cosmetic makeover has made a big difference in the way we think of it. It looks great in the parking lot, the interior materials send a worthwhile message of quality and durability and the V6 proves up to the task. Now that all the vehicles in this class have achieved a certain standard of competence, style and quality are more important than ever, and the 2008 Saturn Vue now makes a real impression.

With its fashionable makeover, this normally shy Saturn will have to get used to a lot of attention.

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

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That white is definitely nice looking. It's taken awhile, but I'm warming up to the roundness of this next-gen Vue. Also, after riding in a brand new current gen Vue, I'm hoping the new one will have a more comfortable backseat. The old one wasn't inspiring me to buy it.

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You think these mirrors are bad? Look at a Lexus IS. But good writeup.

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"Derived from the Opel Antara"? It's the same thing with different engines and a different radio!

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Finally, a GM steering wheel that doesn't make me want to barf all over the airbag or make me think they stole it out of a Celica.

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The interior loosk great and so does the exterior...even in white (surprisingly). It's one of the few vehicles that doesn't scream "rental" in white. Good writeup.

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Finally, a GM steering wheel that doesn't make me want to barf all over the airbag or make me think they stole it out of a Celica.

I really like the steering wheel, as well.

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Just thought of something, will the silver trim on the steering wheel be too hot to touch on those scorching summer days?

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Just thought of something, will the silver trim on the steering wheel be too hot to touch on those scorching summer days?

I'm sure that it's just painted plastic and not real metal. GM isn't spending that much money on a steering wheel!

My wife really liked the new VUE when we saw it at the NYIAS last month, even more than the OUTLOOK/Acadia (she still likes the Enclave the best though). She said we need to decide if we want extra passenger space (OUTLOOK/Acadia/Enclave) or better gas mileage (VUE). I think we'll go with the extra passenger space to replace the Envoy in summer of '08 (still working her on the Sierra crew cab! :P ) and replace the AURA in fall '09 with the VUE. The VUE does look nice in white in those pictures... now let's see it in person.

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Looks GORGEOUS in the white their tester came in.

I wouldn't exactly call it gorgeous, but it does look rather nice in white. I'm still not much of a fan of its styling. It should do well, though.

Finally, a GM steering wheel that doesn't make me want to barf all over the airbag or make me think they stole it out of a Celica.

Hey... Those "Celica-like" steering wheels were the only decent ones GM had until a few of the new 2008 models. I liked them, too. :P
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I'm warming up the new VUE, too. I think the light blue color that we have all seen was throwing me off a bit. I'm still not fond of the headlights. THe interior is great and so is the white.

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Hey... Those "Celica-like" steering wheels were the only decent ones GM had until a few of the new 2008 models. I liked them, too. :P

I hated them simply for looking like they came out of a Celica or Mazda. To me it screamed "sell out" or "if you can't beat'em join'em"

The wheel of my CTS isn't bad... it isn't great either, but not bad. It looks better than the STS wheel simply because it has a texture to it. And it has the best feature of all.... the volume wheel. I know the next CTS doesn't have it... but GM really had something there.

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"Derived from the Opel Antara"? It's the same thing with different engines and a different radio!

And different tail lights and different bumpers

\end of wise-ass comment :smilewide:

Basically the same car, with different details inside and out.

Edited by ZL-1
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after seeing this at the auto show all i can say is this is maybe the first gm in a long time that the INTERIOR will sell the vehicle. This interior is so much nicer than the crv.

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Nice. What's interesting is that it has the same EPA figures as the '08 Enclave.

where have we seen the EPA figures the Enclave? Are you sure it's for the '08. 16/24 is what the Acadia and Outlook were rated at, it doesn't make sense that the new testing methods would not decrease the mileage at all. But who knows. The Vue is certainly a great car, and I love the last two paragraphs revealing the competency of the marketplace. All cars are reaching a nexus point of general goodness. Thank God GM has caught on and is revealing products that are dramatic improvements over before, and have a truly appealing character and design. This Saturn inside and out can best be described as fashionable. Chicks and moms will dig this big time.
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where have we seen the EPA figures the Enclave? Are you sure it's for the '08. 16/24 is what the Acadia and Outlook were rated at, it doesn't make sense that the new testing methods would not decrease the mileage at all. But who knows.

GMC Acadia (FWD)

Old - 18/26

New - 16/24

Buick Enclave (FWD)

Posted Image

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where have we seen the EPA figures the Enclave? Are you sure it's for the '08. 16/24 is what the Acadia and Outlook were rated at, it doesn't make sense that the new testing methods would not decrease the mileage at all. But who knows. The Vue is certainly a great car, and I love the last two paragraphs revealing the competency of the marketplace. All cars are reaching a nexus point of general goodness. Thank God GM has caught on and is revealing products that are dramatic improvements over before, and have a truly appealing character and design. This Saturn inside and out can best be described as fashionable. Chicks and moms will dig this big time.

ah, yes, you understand it 100%

women control the checkbooks in this country and women are why the RAV4 and CRV sell like hotcakes. the vue can compete with these two entries.

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bahhh i just hate saturn the cars are just opels with other names and some diferences but the american changes make them coollerr like the orange lights in the front and the side markers lights, the red turning lights that is cool here that isnt legal =( and that is a opel antara lool

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ahhh and thats a chevrolet captiva aas well but the captiva doenst exist in the US and tha captiva is more beautiful..

post-4511-1179679079_thumb.jpg

post-4511-1179679154_thumb.jpg

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