NEW FOR 2009:

– New four-cylinder XR trim line
– XE with 3.5-litre V6 discontinued
– All four-cylinder models (except hybrid) use six-speed automatic with manual shift mode
– Standard StabiliTrak electronic stability control, leather-wrapped wheel with audio controls
– XR V6 model adds standard heated leather seats
– Bluetooth hands-free connectivity standard on XR, available on XE and Hybrid Preferred Package
– Hybrid receives standard 17-inch alloy wheels with low rolling resistance tires; available premium trim package with leather; "Green Line" name and badge discontinued
– Available All Season Package with rubber floor mats and moulded splash guards
– XM Satellite Radio display includes artist and song displayed simultaneously
– Exterior colours: Quicksilver, Polar White and Silver Moss added; Silver Pearl, Cream White and Bronzed Pewter discontinued

For 2009, features on the Saturn Aura undergo some changes. The four-cylinder is now available in the higher XR trim line, while one of the two V6 engines available in 2008 has been discontinued: the 3.5-litre in the XE-V6 is gone, leaving just the 3.6-litre V6. Electronic stability control, previously standard only on the XR and Hybrid, is now across the board on all models. The gasoline-electric version now uses the name Hybrid, instead of the previous Green Line.

Sharing its platform with the Chevrolet Malibu, the Saturn Aura comes with a choice of three powertrains: a 2.4-litre four-cylinder in XE and XR trim; a 3.6-litre V6 in XR trim; and the Hybrid, with 2.4-litre four-cylinder and hybrid electric system. All use a six-speed automatic transmission except for the Hybrid, which uses a four-speed automatic.

The Hybrid is a "mild" version, which boosts the gasoline engine during acceleration, shuts off fuel on deceleration, provides an "auto-stop" which turns off the engine at idle, and recharges its batteries through regenerative braking. It cannot run on its battery alone.

Features on the XE include 17-inch painted wheels, air conditioning, heated mirrors, variable intermittent wipers, cruise control, cargo net, driver information centre, floor mats, power locks with keyless entry, leather-wrapped tilt and telescopic wheel with audio controls, cloth seats, power driver’s height adjustment, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, CD/MP3 stereo, electric power steering, anti-theft alarm, and OnStar with Turn by Turn Navigation.

The XR adds 17-inch alloy wheels, chrome door handles, heated auto-dimming mirrors, premium floor mats, auto-dimming rearview mirror, XM satellite radio, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, garage door opener, heated seats, eight-way driver and six-way passenger power adjustment, and remote starter.

The XR V6 adds 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic climate control, fog lamps, heated leather seats, and hydraulic power steering.

The Hybrid builds on the XE and adds 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic climate control, XM satellite radio, and eight-way power driver’s seat.

Handsomely styled, the Aura has excellent fit and finish, good handling, a solid stance and comfortable interior. The new XR trim line on the four-cylinder gives buyers an opportunity to get creature comforts with a more fuel-efficient engine, and it can be optioned with several features found on the higher trim lines. The Hybrid offers the comfort of a full-size car, but its inability to run solely on electricity means its fuel economy doesn’t match that of competitors’ full hybrids, some of which are priced very competitively.

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