By KBB.com Editors
Launched in model year 1991, the Saturn brand was conceived by GM to appeal to import shoppers. Eighteen years later, there finally will be an entire lineup capable of doing just that. The 2008 Saturn Vue compact crossover SUV is the fourth of five new vehicles that will have totally reformed Saturn's showroom floor in a span of just 18 months. The Vue's bold styling and rich interior might represent key victories in the battle for the hearts and minds of the buyers that have made the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 best sellers in one of the hottest segments in the market. Before the end of 2007, the Vue lineup will include a sporty Red Line model and a hybrid-powered Green Line model.You'll Like This Car If...
In a good way, the 2008 Saturn Vue feels like a larger SUV than it is. Its eager powertrain and plush cabin combine in an SUV that feels more substantial than others in the category.You May Not Like This Car If...
Compared to category stalwarts like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, the Vue's fuel economy figures leave something to be desired. Also, it doesn't offer some of the technology that's becoming more widely available in the category, like Bluetooth hands-free cell phone connectivity and remote-sensing unlock and start.What's Significant About This Car?
The all-new Saturn Vue features sportier sheetmetal, a higher-quality interior, improved powertrain and refined driving dynamics.Driving It Driving Impressions
To this point, all of our drives in the second-generation Vue have been in models equipped with the 3.6-liter V6. So equipped, the Vue is plenty powerful, if not as downright fast as the Toyota RAV4. We suspect the 3.5-liter V6 will provide adequate power, while the four-cylinder's appeal most certainly lies in its fuel economy advantage. The 2008 Saturn Vue is as eager and agile as most of its competitors and as comfortable on the highway. Steering, throttle and brake response were all in line with our expectations for the category. The return action of the optional tap-up/tap-down shift lever was frustratingly slow, but that's of little or no concern for most considering a Vue.Favorite Features
A 3.6-liter V6 and six-speed automatic transmission combine to deliver effortless power and smooth shifts.
The 2008 Saturn Vue boasts the most premium-like interior in the segment.
Especially when outfitted with leather, the 2008 Saturn Vue offers the richest passenger cabin in the category. A generous helping of high-quality materials and contemporary styling combine in a comfortable and attractive interior. We would have liked more lateral support while cornering, but the seats are otherwise comfortable and a definite improvement compared with the previous model's. Backseat passengers are treated to good legroom and, for carrying cargo instead of people, the rear seat will fold flat on a 60/40 split. One tiny complaint: the transmission selector didn't operate as smoothly as we'd have expected.Exterior
With its big and bold front end, trendy side vents and sloping roofline, the 2008 Saturn Vue is among the sportiest-looking SUVs in the segment. Moving up the ladder from XE to XR to Red Line, exterior differentiators include body-color fascias, fog lights, a roof spoiler, larger wheels and dual exhaust outlets.Notable Standard Equipment
In base trim, the 2008 Saturn Vue features air conditioning, a CD/MP3 sound system with auxiliary input jack, XM Satellite Radio, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, power windows/locks/mirrors, remote keyless entry and auto on/off headlights. Every Vue also has stability control and six air bags.Notable Optional Equipment
In addition to upgraded powertrains, the 2008 Saturn Vue offers at extra cost a DVD-based navigation system, automatic climate control, leather seating, heated front seats, six-disc CD changer, premium audio system and remote vehicle start.Under the Hood
Every 2008 Saturn Vue XR and Red Line features a 257-horsepower V6 matched to a refined six-speed automatic transmission, with optional manu-matic shifting. All-wheel-drive XE models get a less powerful, less sophisticated V6, while front-wheel-drive XE models get a four-cylinder/four-speed automatic transmission combo. GM has promised to introduce towards the end of 2007 an updated Vue Green Line with a new "two-mode" hybrid powertrain that promises even greater fuel savings.
2.4-liter in-line 4
169 horsepower @ 6200 rpm
161 lb.-ft. of torque @ 5100 rpm
EPA estimated fuel economy: 19/26 (FWD)
222 horsepower @ 5900 rpm
219 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3200 rpm
EPA estimated fuel economy: 15/22 (AWD)
257 horsepower @ 6500 rpm
248 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4800 rpm
EPA estimated fuel economy: 16/23 (FWD), 16/24 (Red Line FWD), 16/22 (AWD)
The 2008 Saturn Vue XE starts at a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of just over $21,000 and will stretch into the low-to-mid $30,000 range for a loaded XR. In line with Saturn's no-haggle pricing policy, our Fair Purchase Prices have reflected real-world transaction prices right around sticker price. The 2007 Honda CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe and Toyota RAV4 all start within a few hundred dollars of the new Saturn Vue. Offering varying levels of equipment, the Honda tops out shy of $29,000, while the Hyundai and Toyota will both extend beyond $30,000. We expect the 2008 Saturn Vue to perform well in regards to resale value, if not quite as well as the CR-V and RAV4.