The Saturn Vue is a compact crossover SUV produced from 2001 to 2009, sold as 2002 to 2010 model years.
Saturn Background and Vue Design
When Saturn was formed in the mid 1980s and produced vehicles through the 1990s, the GM subsidiaries focus was solely on its S-Series lineup of small sedans, sports coupe, and station wagon vehicles that focused on pragmatic designs. As the brand began to expand its offerings, Saturn unveiled the Saturn Vue compact crossover SUV in 2001, built on the GM Theta platform. The first generation design of the Saturn Vue used relatively sharp body panels mixed with sweeping lines stretching from front to back. The front facia was taller than other Saturn sedan models, yet still retained some of the distinctive nose look that tapered down and out from the top of the front toward the bumper. The rear end of the Vue was nearly vertical, as were the sides.
Engine Options and Performance
The majority of the Saturn Vue models were sold as the base level Vue 4 trim or the higher-end Vue V6. As the name indicates, the Vue 4 utilized a 2.2L L61 Ecotec inline-4 gasoline engine that produced 143 horsepower and 152 lb-ft of torque. Those who wanted to get slightly better performance could opt for the Vue V6 with a 3.0L L81 V6 engine that produced a more respectable 181 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. In 2004, the V6 engine was replaced with the more powerful 3.5L J35A3 V6 engine sourced from Honda, producing a much improved 250 horsepower and 242 lb-ft of torque. The V6 was upgraded again to a 3.6L V6 in 2008, pushing performance up to 257 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque. Available transmissions started out with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) for the inline-4, but was discontinued in 2005 due to reliability issues. Other transmission options included a four-speed or five-speed automatic, along with a five-speed manual transmission. The J35A3 engine from Honda was paired to a Honda H5 five-speed automatic transmission.
Additional Saturn Vue Variants
When the more powerful V6 engine was released in 2004, Saturn also brought in the Vue Red Line high-performance variant. Unlike other Red Line models that used a forced-induction engine, the Vue stuck with the same V6 found in other variants, but included many other performance-focused features. The suspension was lowered an inch and made to handle more spirited driving. Other Red Line features included 18-inch wheels, unique front and rear bumpers, leather and suede heated seats, and an upgraded stereo system. In 2007, the Saturn Vue Green Line variant joined the lineup, offering a mild hybrid system using a belt alternator starter attached to the vehicle's 2.4L inline-4 engine with 170 horsepower. The hybrid system helped achieved fuel savings by incorporating a start-stop-style system when not in motion, plus it provided a small boost during launch and to smooth out acceleration. The Green Line's hybrid unit stored power in a 36 volt nickel metal hydride battery pack, which also used regenerative braking to charge. An interior gauge helps the driver understand when the hybrid system was utilized, and it decreased fuel consumption by about 20% compared to the internal combustion system without the hybrid system.
Second Generation Updates
The second generation Saturn Vue was released in 2007 as the 2008 model year. It switched over to become a rebadged version of the German-engineered and designed Opel Antara, and the North American models were build in GM's Ramos Arizpe, Coahuila, Mexico facility. The complete redesign was more sporty and used more rounded features throughout the exterior, and was offered in multiple trim levels including the base XE, mid-level XR, premium Red Line, and hybrid Green Line. Similar engines were still offed with 2.4L inline-4, 3.5L and 3.6L V6 options. The Saturn Vue was a major success for the GM subsidiary. It sold more than 80,000 units annually for most of its production run, peaking at an impressive nearly 92,000 units in the 2005 calendar year. Unfortunately, the Saturn brand as a whole did not share the success as it ventured into other segments including a larger SUV, minivan, and roadster, on top of its L-Series lineup that came in to replace the brand's popular S-Series models from the 1990s. In 2010, GM discontinued the Saturn brand entirely, and the Saturn Vue production stopped, although the similar Chevrolet Captiva Sport continued production until the 2012 model year.