The Saturn Vue undergoes numerous changes for 2006. On the outside, these include new front and rear fascias with integrated step pad; redesigned hood, grille and headlamps with jewelled emblem; available projector-beam fog lamps with bright bezels; standard rear bumper protection pad; and two new colours, Cypress Green and Fusion Orange, which replace the outgoing Dragonfly Green and Storm Grey.

On the inside, there is a redesigned interior, including centre stack, door trim, and a new centre console with hidden storage; a new family of upscale radios; wheel-mounted audio controls; new seat fabric on V6 models; a power package (cruise control, power windows, locks and mirrors, keyless entry and security system) is standard on all models; there’s an auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass and outside temperature display; and an optional DVD entertainment system with CD/MP3 and auxiliary jack for iPod.

In the safety department, GM Passenger Sensing System has been added to the frontal airbag, and OnStar Dual-Mode hardware and Advanced Automatic Crash Notification is standard. Also, the Red Line has been extensively reworked with interior and exterior design changes.

The Vue comes in three models: 4-Cylinder, 6-Cylinder and Red Line.

The 4-Cylinder uses a 2.2-litre inline four and is front-wheel-drive only; it comes with a five-speed manual transmission that can be optioned up to a four-speed Hydra-Matic automatic transmission. The 6-Cylinder carries a 3.5-litre V6 provided by Honda, mated exclusively to a five-speed automatic; it is available in front-wheel or all-wheel-drive.

The sporty Red Line is an option package, priced at $3,670. It also uses the 3.5-litre and five-speed automatic, and comes in FWD or AWD; it’s a trim and suspension package, with no engine upgrade. For 2006, its redesigned new grille draws on styling cues from the upcoming 2007 Saturn Sky roadster and the Saturn Aura sedan concept. Its special features include a stiffened, performance-tuned suspension that is 26 mm (one inch) lower than the standard Vue; 18-inch aluminum wheels with Bridgestone Turanza performance touring tires; and sport-calibrated electric power steering. Inside, the Vue includes ebony leather-appointed seats with suede fabric inserts, six-way power driver’s seat, unique cluster faceplate, metallic foot pedals, embroidered floor mats and ambient footwell lighting that can be changed to Cool Blue or Warm Amber.

Standard Vue features include air conditioning, 16-inch wheels, rear washer/wiper, power locks with keyless entry, power windows, power mirrors, cruise control, 70/30 split folding rear seat, fold-flat front passenger seat, height-adjustable driver’s seat, CD player, rear cargo organizer, auto-dimming rearview mirror and floor mats.

Available features include leather interior, leather-wrapped wheel, fog lamps, roof rails, rear overhead DVD system, and curtain airbags.

In both engine sizes, the Vue offers sufficient power and a good ride for the price, and the Honda-sourced V6 is very smooth and able. The design wasn’t chosen for its stunning good looks, but its tall stance means plenty of headroom. The new styling changes are appreciated, especially on the inside, where the Vue tended to look cheap. The outer door panels are still made of Saturn’s famous dent-resistant polymer plastic, so parking lot dings are one less worry.

Connect with