KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors
Launched in model year 1991, the Saturn brand was conceived by GM to lure away lucrative import shoppers. Nineteen years later, there finally is an entire lineup capable of doing just that. The 2009 Saturn Vue, and its high-mileage offspring the Vue Hybrid, is the fourth of five recently added vehicles that have totally reformed Saturn's showroom floor in a relatively short time span. 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.
You'll Like This Car If...
In a good way, the 2009 Saturn Vue feels like a larger SUV than it is. It's 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 non-hybrid 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 remote-sensing unlock and start.
What's New for 2009
A V6 hybrid model using GM's 2-Mode Hybrid drive will arrive in 2009, becoming the second hybrid model in the Vue lineup. Saturn has dropped the Green Line name and now simply calls its hybrid the Vue Hybrid. New features on all Vue trims include standard Panic Brake Assist, available Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and OnStar 7.2 with Directions and Connections download direct to navigation screen.
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 2009 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.
A 3.6-liter V6 and six-speed automatic transmission combine to deliver effortless power and smooth shifts.
The 2009 Saturn Vue boasts the most premium-like interior in the segment.
Especially when outfitted with leather, the 2009 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.
With its big and bold front end, trendy side vents and sloping roofline, the 2009 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 2009 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, 16-inch wheels and auto on/off headlights. Every Vue also has stability control and six airbags.
Notable Optional Equipment
In addition to upgraded powertrains, the 2009 Saturn Vue offers at extra cost a DVD-based navigation system, automatic climate control, rear DVD entertainment system (dealer installed option), leather seating, heated front seats, six-disc CD changer, all-wheel drive, premium audio system and remote vehicle start. OnStar's Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity is optional on XE and standard on XR and Red Line trims.
Under the Hood
Every 2009 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 3.5-liter V6, while front-wheel-drive XE models get a four-cylinder/four-speed automatic transmission combo. GM has promised to introduce in 2009 an updated Vue Hybrid featuring its 2-Mode hybrid drive teamed to the 3.6-liter V6 engine.
2.4-liter in-line 4
169 horsepower @ 6200 rpm
172 horsepower @ 6500 rpm (Hybrid)
161 lb.-ft. of torque @ 5100 rpm
167 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm (Hybrid)
EPA estimated fuel economy: 19/26 (FWD), 25/32 (Hybrid)
222 horsepower @ 5900 rpm
219 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3200 rpm
EPA estimated fuel economy: 16/23 (AWD)
257 horsepower @ 6500 rpm
248 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2100 rpm
EPA estimated fuel economy: 17/24 (FWD), 17/24 (Red Line, FWD), 16/23 (AWD)
The 2009 Saturn Vue XE starts at a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of just under $24,000 and will stretch into the low-to-mid $30,000 range for a loaded XR. Hybrid models start around $29,000, while the sporty Red Line can run as high as $35,000 fully loaded. In line with Saturn's no-haggle pricing policy, our Fair Purchase Prices have reflected real-world transaction prices right around sticker price. The 2009 Honda CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe and Toyota RAV4 all start close to the price of the base Saturn Vue. Although not quite equal to the Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4 in regards to resale value, we expect the 2009 Saturn Vue to perform well, especially the hybrid trims.