THE RIDE: Four-door, five-passenger 2008 Saturn Vue XR crossover SUV.
DOWN THE ROAD: The Saturn revitalization began with the Sky roadster, followed by the Aura sedan and the Outlook SUV. Welcome the completely redesigned Vue to the lineup. Built on a steel-body frame and offered in two trims, the SE and XR, this front-wheel-drive SUV conveys a feeling of surefootedness on even the roughest of road surfaces.
TECH & PERFORMANCE: The 3.6-liter V-6 engine delivers 257 horsepower at 6500 rpm and 238 pounds-feet of torque at 2100 rpm. It's mated to a slick 6-speed automatic transmission and a hydraulic rack-and-pinion power steering. An independent front made up of a strut and stabilizer bar and a rear multilink suspension take on the task, quite capably, of ensuring a seamless ride and reasonable handling. Sitting on 17-inch wheels, the 4,000-plus pound vehicle is equipped with 11.7-inch front and 11.9-inch rear vented discs with power assist and antilock brakes. If you're planning to tow a trailer up to 3,500 pounds, you are in luck. The StabiliTrak system in the Vue comes with the electric trailer sway control, which automatically applies the brakes to bring the SUV under control in an orderly fashion.
LOOK & FEEL: That the Vue's look is sporty and bold is evident in the Saturn badge centered in the chrome bar atop the grille, large jeweled headlights, fox lamps and most noticeably a charcoal-colored and vertical fender-accent molding on the front-door sides. Step inside, and the cabin, with a sprinkle of wood trim on the door panels and dashboard, will catch your attention. Chrome around the air vents, instrument cluster rings, center stack controls and speakers is a nice touch. The second-row seat splits 60/40 while the front-passenger seat folds down to accommodate 8-foot plywood. Storage space is plentiful not only under the first- and second-row center console armrests and in the cargo area but also in a sliding box under the front-passenger seat. Other standard amenities include an eight-way power driver's seat, single-zone automatic climate control, power windows and remote keyless entry.
SAFETY FIRST: Dual front and thorax airbags, side-curtain airbags for both rows, stability and traction control, four-wheel antilock brakes, active head restraints, tire pressure monitoring system, rollover sensing system and front-row dual seatbelt pretensions are a few of the numerous security features.
OUT THE DOOR: $24,895, plus tax, tag, delivery and destination charges. The $1,075 premium trim package will get you leather-appointed seats, leather-wrapped shifter knob and heated front seats.
BY THE NUMBERS: Tires, P235/60R17; wheelbase, 106.6 inches; length, 180.1 inches; weight, 4,076 pounds; fuel capacity, 19.2 gallons; highway, 24 mpg; city, 16 mpg.
WHY DIG IT: The Vue is one more piece of evidence that the Saturn resurgence is on a roll. With its powerful performance, spacious cargo capability and an affordable price, it should give the rest of the competition a run for the money.