SATURN NEW CAR MODEL GUIDE
The Saturn brand from General Motors offers a variety of dynamic vehicles, which vary from a raucous roadster sports car called Sky to a large crossover utility vehicle (CUV) named Outlook. Between these extremes are fuel efficient vehicles like Astra, Saturn's sporty three-door and five-door compact hatchbacks, Aura the mid-size luxury sedan, and Vue, a mid-size CUV. Hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) from Saturn include Aura Hybrid and the Vue with two different hybrid choices.
A premium sports sedan from Saturn, constructed on GM's mid-size Epsilon architecture which also underpins the Opel Vectra in Europe, appears in several trims, each with a different engine and a carload of safety equipment including curtain-style side air bags. Powertrain for Aura XE and XR is a 2.4-liter four-pack knocking down 169 hp with a six-speed electronic automatic shifter. Aura XR V6 upgrades to a 3.6-liter V6 with VVT (variable valve timing) for 252 hp using a Hydra-Matic six-speed automatic. Aura's tastefully trimmed passenger compartment provides seats for five and lots of amenities.
The HEV treatment for Saturn's Aura mid-size sedan employs a 2.4-liter in-line-four engine worth 164 hp plus the GM Hybrid rig with an electric motor/generator. The simple system shuts off the gas-drinking engine when the vehicle stops, and it can convert vehicle kinetic energy to electrical energy through regenerative braking to charge the hybrid battery pack. Aura Hybrid earns fuel saving scores up to 26 mpg for city driving and 34 mpg for highway driving.
Saturn's compact-class hatchbacks appear in two configurations — a five-door version which functions like a sedan and a sporty three-door that's cool like a coupe. Astra's powertrain is GM's economical 1.8-liter Ecotec dual-cam four-in-line engine which makes 138 hp in concert with a standard five-speed manual or optional electronically controlled four-speed automatic transaxle. Highway fuel economy climbs to 32 mpg for the manual stick. There are two trim designations for the five-door Astra (XE and XR) and one trim (XR) for the three-door Astra. Six air bags including curtain-style side air bags go into every issue.
Saturn's two-seat roadster convertible is gorgeous, with rippled skin stretched like flexed muscles over a long and broad structure which features a prominent prow, mid-ship cockpit and roly-poly rump. A convertible top tucks into the rear compartment and leaves only smooth lines on the deck. Sky's 2.4-liter Ecotec in-line-four engine delivers 173 hp. Mechanical assets include a rear-wheel-drive (RWD) chassis and independent suspension designs front and rear using lightweight aluminum for upper and lower control arms. GM's StabiliTrak skid controls and a limited-slip differential apply as standard equipment, plus XM satellite radio service.
A performance version of the Sky roadster is called Red Line. It carries a punched-up powerplant, performance-tuned suspension and special aerodynamic accents applied to the body. Engine for the Red Line is a twin-cam 2.0-liter Ecotec four-in-line with direct-injection turbo-charging and air-to-air inter-cooling. It soars to 260 hp. The Red Line also stocks electronic stability control (ESC), a dual exhaust system with polished aluminum outlets, 18-inch polished aluminum alloy wheels and brake cooling vents cut into front fascia.
The eight-passenger CUV from Saturn drives like a car but functions like a large SUV. In the cabin there are three rows of seats plus cargo room at the rear. Access to the back row is easier due to a Smart Slide second-row seat. Powertrain is a new twin-cam 3.6-liter VVT V6 rated at 281 hp for the base Outlook XE or 288 hp for uplevel XR model with dual exhausts. A fuel-saving Hydra-Matic 6T75 six-speed automatic transmission works, and Outlook offers front-wheel-drive (FWD) or all-wheel-drive (AWD) traction. StabiliTrak skid controls appear on every Outlook for 2009.
Saturn's mid-size CUV for 2009 seems to have multiple personalities due to the proliferation of fuel-efficient powertrains. Base engine for the Vue XE FWD is the GM Ecotec 2.4-liter four with VVT, rated for 169 hp. Vue XE AWD totes a 3.5-liter VVT V6 worth 222 hp. Vue XR and a performance-oriented Vue Red Line use GM's 3.6-liter VVT V6 for 257 hp. A traction control system (TCS) and StabiliTrak go into all Vue trims.
This HEV version of Vue is a simple arrangement consisting of the 2.4-liter Ecotec in-line-four engine running on gasoline and the GM Hybrid system with an electric motor/generator, as found in Aura Hybrid. The net horsepower rating for Vue Hybrid is 172 hp and fuel economy scores climb to 25 mpg city and 32 mpg highway.
Vue 2-Mode Hybrid
A second HEV for Vue employs a 3.6-liter VVT V6 and two electric traction motors. The electric motors are packaged with three planetary gearsets and four hydraulic wet clutches as components of an electrically variable transmission (EVT). GM describes the high-tech apparatus as a two-mode hybrid propulsion system. At low speed Vue can move forward or backward using an electric motor or the gas-fired V6 or a combination of the V6 and electric motor. At highway speed Vue's second mode works with the V6 providing all of the torque to turn the wheels.
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