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by Steve Siler

Saturn VUE
2003 Saturn VUE

Saturn finally got its SUV this past year in form of the boxy new VUE. Now, there is a lot that makes Saturn a cool company to buy a car from, in terms of its no-haggle pricing structure, friendly dealer service and decent products. We love that a major car company has done so much to make the experience of buying a car so amenable and unintimidating.

And like the company, the VUE is also amenable and unintimidating. It features a low step-in height, like the Subaru Forester and the Mitusbishi Outlander, and the ergonomics are nice and straightforward (save the center console-mounted window switches). The Vue also adds a bit of design flair to the interior in the vein of Saturn's crisp design language, although nearly everything is rendered in materials that are somewhat on the cheap side. The standard equipment level is low-to-moderate, with the base model coming with a/c, tilt steering and privacy glass, but no cassette or CD player. The base VUE is powered by a 143-hp four-cylinder engine mated to either a five-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission (that operates like an automatic, but yields better gas mileage than a conventional automatic). Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is optional with the CVT.

The V-6 VUE produces 181 horsepower and comes only with a five-speed automatic transmission. The V-6 also brings other fixins like cruise control, power accessories, fog lights, a CD player, and standard all-wheel drive. Noteworthy is that OnStar is available on the Vue.