THE RIDE: Four-door, five-passenger 2008 Saturn Vue XR crossover SUV.
DOWN THE ROAD: After launching the Sky, Aura and Outlook, Saturn is focusing on the redesign of its popular crossover SUV. Based on the Opel Antara from Europe, the front-wheel-drive Vue comes in six trims, so buyers have plenty of choices. Regardless of your pick, the Vue offers a smooth and quick ride with inspired handling and first-rate overall cornering balance capabilities.
TECH & PERFORMANCE: A 3.6-liter V-6 engine pumps out 257 horsepower at 6500 rpm and 248 pounds-feet of torque at 2100 rpm. Mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with overdrive, the Vue is equipped with an independent MacPherson strut in the front and a multilink rear setup. The hydraulic power-assisted steering is precise and linear. Not to be underestimated is the towing capacity of the Vue at 3,500 pounds, adequate enough to haul cargo or a sailboat. The StabiliTrak system comes with the electronic trailer sway control, which automatically applies the brakes to bring the SUV under control in an orderly fashion. Grip from the 17-inch alloy wheels is unyielding. So are the 11.7-inch front and 11.9-inch rear disc brakes.
LOOK & FEEL: Large, jeweled headlights and a chrome-bar grille with a centered Saturn insignia sit on a steel-body frame. The European-inspired Vue also shows off a fender-accent charcoal molding with side-repeater turn signals, body-colored mirrors and door handles and dual chrome exhaust tailpipes. Slide into the eight-way power driver's seat and you find yourself in an upscale and tailored cabin. The amber backlit instrument panel and center stack control face plates convey a well-designed appearance, as does wood trim on the dashboard and doors. Loading cargo into the Vue should be effortless, thanks to the space that opens up with the flat-folding front-passenger seat and the 60/40 rear seat. Glance under the front-passenger seat and you will notice a hidden storage compartment. The front and rear center console also offers space for your personal belongings. Other amenities are automatic air-conditioning controls, lighted lockable glovebox, power mirrors, locks and windows and an AM/FM stereo, CD system with six speakers.
SAFETY FIRST: Standard features include dual front and side airbags, side curtain for both rows, four-wheel antilock brakes, StabiliTrak, traction control, tire pressure monitoring system, daytime running lights and dual front seatbelt pretensioners.
OUT THE DOOR: $24,270, plus tax, tag, delivery and destination charges. Opt for the $1,075 trim package if leather seats, a leather shifter knob and heated front seats appeal to you.
BY THE NUMBERS: Tires, 235/60R17; wheelbase, 106.6 inches; length, 180.1 inches; weight, 4,325 pounds; fuel capacity, 16.9 gallons; highway, 23 mpg; city, 16 mpg.
WHY DIG IT: The redesigned Vue proves that the revitalization of Saturn is on course. Any prospective SUV buyer should be enamored by its European-inspired looks, lively performance, well thought-out interior and gobs of storage space.