NEW FOR 2009:

– New 2-Mode Hybrid model
– Green Line model renamed Hybrid
– Standard brake assist, enhanced driver information centre
– OnStar 7.2 with Directions & Connections downloadable navigation plan
– Available XM Real-Time Traffic Display, headrest-integrated DVD entertainment system
– Exterior door handles are charcoal-colour on XE, chrome on XR, hybrid and Red Line
– Flex net cargo system added to XR
– V6 Chrome Package adds front and rear chrome skid plates and chrome side fender vents
– Exterior colours: Quicksilver, Gold Mist Metallic, Aquamarine and Chili Pepper Red added

For 2009, the big news with the Saturn Vue is the addition of a new 2-Mode Hybrid, which is scheduled for production in the first quarter of 2009. Unlike the Vue Green Line, which is now renamed the Hybrid, it is capable of running entirely on electric power.

Other changes include the addition of brake assist, which helps improve stopping distances in panic braking, along with available downloadable navigation directions, a DVD entertainment system, and a new Chrome Package on V6 models.

Completely redesigned in 2008, the 2009 Vue is available in nine models. The XE FWD and XR-4 use a 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine with four-speed automatic; the XE AWD uses a 3.5-litre V6 with six-speed automatic; the XR-6 FWD and XR AWD use a 3.6-litre V6 with six-speed automatic; the Hybrid uses a 2.4-litre four-cylinder with BAS hybrid system and four-speed automatic; the Red Line FWD and AWD use the 3.6-litre V6 with six-speed automatic; and the 2-Mode Hybrid uses the 3.6-litre V6 with hybrid system and two-mode hybrid transmission with four fixed mechanical gear ratios.

Features on the XE models include 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, power mirrors, privacy glass, cargo net, cruise control, floor mats, driver information centre, compass, exterior temperature display, power locks with keyless entry, wheel-mounted audio controls, rear washer/wiper, cloth seats, fold-flat front passenger seat, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary input, automatic headlamps, anti-theft system and OnStar. The XE AWD also includes XM satellite radio.

The XR models add 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps, roof rails, Flex Net cargo system, tire pressure monitoring system, auto-dimming rearview mirror, premium cloth seats, passenger seat lower storage tray, and Bluetooth hands-free connectivity.

The Red Line models add 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic climate control, large lower fascia intake, deluxe fog lamps, black mesh grille, heated mirrors, rear deck lid spoiler, stainless steel sill plates, unique instrument cluster, leather-wrapped wheel, illuminated vanity mirrors, eight-way power heated leather seats with suede fabric inserts, sport suspension, and manual shift mode. It does not have roof rails.

The Hybrid builds on the XE and adds 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic climate control, rear deck lid spoiler, Flex Net cargo system, and tire pressure monitoring system.

With so many models, it should be easy for midsize SUV fans to find the one that meets their needs. The front-wheel models are fine for most commuting, while the all-wheel versions are proactive, capable of sending power to the wheels with the most traction to get out of sticky situations.

The Vue Hybrid gets its fuel economy from a system that shuts off the engine at idle, cuts off fuel on deceleration, assists the gasoline engine when needed, and recharges its battery through regenerative braking, but many buyers don’t like the fact that it can’t run on electric power alone. The upcoming 2-Mode Hybrid takes care of that, with an estimated fuel economy saving of 50 per cent over the conventional V6 XR model.

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