NEW FOR 2008:

– Completely redesigned model

For 2008, Saturn has completely redesigned its Vue compact SUV. Engineered by GM-DAT in Korea, and with assembly moved from Tennessee to Mexico, the Vue rides on an all-new platform with four-wheel independent suspension; it offers a choice of three powertrains, uses metal body panels instead of the previous plastic, and will also be available as a Green Line hybrid and in sporty Red Line configuration. While it rides on the same wheelbase length as its predecessor, its overall length is slightly shorter; it’s also slightly wider and taller.

Available in XE or XR trim, and in front- or all-wheel drive, the Saturn uses a 2.4-litre Ecotec engine in the XE FWD, a 3.5-litre V6 in the XE AWD, and a 3.6-litre V6 in both the XR FWD and AWD models. The Hybrid will use the 2.4-litre (a 3.6-litre hybrid is also planned), while the Red Line will use the 3.6-litre. The four-cylinder uses a four-speed automatic, while V6 models (all of which can be flat-towed) use a six-speed automatic. AWD models use a proactive system that operates in front-wheel under normal conditions, but can transfer up to 80 per cent of torque to the rear wheels before slippage occurs.

Features on the XE FWD include 16-inch aluminum wheels, air conditioning, power mirrors, overhead console, cruise control, floor mats, auto-dimming rearview mirror, power windows, power locks with keyless entry, rear washer/wiper, cloth seats, 60/40 split folding rear seat, CD/MP3 stereo, four-wheel disc brakes, electric variable assist steering, OnStar, and tire pressure monitoring system.

The XE AWD models add hydraulic power steering and XM Satellite Radio.

XR models add 17-inch alloy wheels, chrome door handles, roof rails, premium cloth seats and fog lamps.

Handsomely styled, the new Vue is an impressive improvement over the old model, with sharp handling, smooth ride, extremely quiet cabin, and good legroom. The four-cylinder is more budget-minded, but drivers will probably be happier with one of the two V6 choices. Prices rise considerably over the old-generation 2007 models, however, and buyers should shop it against less-expensive models from Hyundai and Kia, as well as competitors such as the similarly-priced Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.

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