Consumer Reports lists the Vue’s climate controls, door and lock hardware, stereo systems as well as complaints of interior squeaks and rattles as the Vue’s main trouble spots.
2008 Saturn Vue XE AWD. Click image to enlarge
A few Vue owners posting at SaturnFans.com complain of noisy front suspensions, with bad stabilizer bar endlinks being a common culprit.
A few owners posting here complain of having to replace their Vue’s battery prematurely. Mentioned in that thread is a service campaign instructing dealers to reprogram the body control module (BCM), the computer that looks after systems like the car’s power locks and keyless entry.
According to this thread, the most common climate control problem is that in cars with automatic HVAC, the temperature will either go very cold or very hot, but nowhere in between. Here’s a thread detailing one owner’s experience in getting the problem fixed.
Top three photos: 2008 Saturn Vue XE AWD; bottom photo: Vue XR AWD, by Greg Wilson. Click image to enlarge
Overall, CR gives the Vue a below-average used vehicle rating.
The second-generation Vue earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) “good” rating in frontal offset crash testing. Early models, built before January, 2008, earned the organization’s “acceptable” rating in side impact testing because of a head curtain airbags that didn’t deploy properly. Saturn redesigned the airbags, however, and the result was another “good” rating in side impact tests for cars built in January 2008 or later.
From the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Vue earned a full five-star rating for driver and front passenger protection in frontal impact tests, and for front and rear-seat occupant protection in side impacts. This only applies to what the NHTSA calls “later release” models, while “early release” Vues earned four stars for driver protection in frontal impacts, but doesn’t specify the reason for the lesser rating.
In Canada, the Vue came standard with a full slate of safety features: front seat side impact airbags, front and rear head curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, traction control and stability control.
According to Canadian Black Book, used Vue values range from $15,850 for a 2008 XE four-cylinder FWD model, to $25,925 for a 2009 in Red Line AWD trim. A 2009 XE V6 AWD model, with its decent list of standard features, carries a value of $17,675.
By contrast, a 2008 Toyota RAV4 in Base V6 trim is worth $24,575, while a 2008 Honda CR-V LX FWD (roughly the equivalent to a Vue XE FWD) comes with a value of $22,400. The Vue’s values also lag slightly behind those of the similar Chevrolet Equinox, and the popular Ford Escape.
Right now is as good a time as any to buy a Vue, given the uneasiness many shoppers feel about buying a vehicle built by a now-defunct brand, which drives down resale values (although, in Saturn’s case, parent company GM’s continued existence means Saturn warranties will continue to be honoured). Through the second-generation model’s first two years on the market, serious reliability concerns have been few, though it’s unclear how this car’s major mechanical bits will fare in the long term. While I think CR’s below average evaluation is a bit harsh, the Vue’s status as a reliability unknown means my usual caveats are particularly important: in the Vue’s case, make sure the automatic climate control (if so equipped) works, and ask for maintenance records to see if the battery has been replaced, as evidence of the body control module problem, and if that system has been reprogrammed to solve the issue. And, as always, don’t buy unless the car passes an inspection by a trusted mechanic.
Black Book Pricing (avg. retail) March 2010:
2008:On certain vehicles, the nut securing the power steering line to the power steering pump may loosen which could create a power steering fluid leak. If fluid leaks onto hot exhaust components, it could result in an engine compartment fire. Correction: Dealers will inspect and tighten the nut securing the power steering line, and check the fluid level.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2009193; Units affected: 3,026
2008: On certain vehicles, the outside door handles may stick or bind. If this were to occur, the door may not latch when closed. Driving with an unlatched door could result in an unbelted occupant falling out of the vehicle. Correction: Dealers will replace the outside door handles.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2008425; Units affected: 31
2009: Certain vehicles may have been assembled with an incorrect right and/or left front steering knuckle. As a result, the tie rod ball stud could pull out of, or fracture the tie rod housing. This could allow the tie rod to separate from the knuckle, possibly resulting in a vehicle crash causing property damage, personal injury or death. Correction: Dealers will inspect and, if necessary, replace the steering knuckle(s) and tie rod(s).
Crash test results
Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.
For information on vehicle service bulletins issued by the manufacturer, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.
For information on consumer complaints about specific models, see www.lemonaidcars.com.