Midsize car; Built in USA
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $8,500 – $13,500*


2008 Saturn Aura


2008 Saturn Aura


2008 Saturn Aura


2008 Saturn Aura

Pros:
  • Acceleration (V6)
  • Seat comfort
  • Steering/handling
Cons:
  • Cargo room (Hybrid)
  • Engine noise (Hybrid)
  • Road noise
  • Wind noise
  • Brake-pedal feel

This impressive midsize sedan is a Recommended pick. Aura shines for its sporty road manners, comfortably controlled ride, and mechanical polish. It’s also roomy and comfortable, feels solid, and offers a lot for the money, including essential standard safety features. The available Green Line model is a budget-friendly alternative to the most costly Toyota Camry Hybrid. One final bonus: Saturn’s strong reputation for customer satisfaction. Used-Aura prices are likely to be close to average.

Overview

Aura bowed for 2007 as the first midsize car at General Motors’ Saturn division since the demise of the slow-selling 2000-2004 L-Series. This V6 sedan shared a wheelbase and front-wheel-drive architecture with the Chevrolet Malibu Maxx hatchback and Pontiac G6 models, but differed in styling and price. Aura came in XE and uplevel XR models. The XE had a 224-horsepower V6 engine and a four-speed automatic transmission. Saturn’s XR got a 252-hp V6 with a six-speed automatic, with steering-wheel paddles for manual shifting.

Both models included antilock braking and traction control. An antiskid system was standard on XR, but unavailable for the XE sedan. Front side airbags and curtain side airbags were standard. So were automatic climate control and OnStar assistance. Options included leather upholstery, power-adjustable pedals, a sunroof, and a “panoramic” sunroof with a tilt-up front section and three rear-sliding panels. With the Aura, Saturn competed against major midsize sedans, including the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, and Toyota Camry.

During the 2007 model year, Saturn introduced a Green Line sedan with a hybrid (gasoline/electric) powertrain, consisting of a four-cylinder engine and battery-powered electric motor.

Yearly Updates

2008 Aura
A new 169-horsepower four-cylinder XE-4 model joined the carryover XE-6 with its V6 engine, now rated at 219 horsepower. GM’s StabiliTrak antiskid system became standard on all models except the XE-4, which used essentially the same gasoline engine as the Green Line Hybrid. Chevrolet introduced a redesigned Malibu sedan for 2008, with architecture similar to the Aura.
2009 Aura
An XR 4-cylinder model was added to the lineup with the same 169-hp 2.4-liter engine as the XE. The XE V6 was dropped, leaving the XR V6 as the sole V6 model. The Green Line hybrid was now called, simply, “Hybrid.” Newly available for 2009 was a wireless cell-phone link.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Two powertrains have been offered. The Aura XE (renamed XE-6 in 2008) has a 3.5-liter V6 and four-speed automatic transmission. A more powerful 3.6-liter V6 with a six-speed automatic goes into the XR sedan. Saturn added a four-cylinder XE-4 model for 2008. The Green Line sedan uses a hybrid (gasoline/electric) powertrain, with a slightly different four-cylinder gas engine.

dohc I4/electric1
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.4/146
Engine HP 164
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 159
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

28/35

26.9

dohc I41
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.4/145
Engine HP 169
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 159-160
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

22/30

ohv V61
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.5/214
Engine HP 219-224
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 219-220
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

20/29

dohc V61
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.6/217
Engine HP 252
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 251
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed automatic

20/28

21.8

1. EPA Note: Figures shown are for 2008 models. The Environmental Protection Agency changed its procedure for 2008 to yield more realistic estimates. Therefore, estimated mileage is lower than for prior years.

Road Test

An XE-6 delivers reasonably brisk takeoffs and decent highway passing punch. XR models are livelier in all situations. A test XR accelerated to 60 mph in a swift 6.5 seconds. Both automatic transmissions are quite smooth and responsive. The XR’s manual-shift buttons can be useful, but a console lever with shift gate would add to that convenience. An Aura Green Line is significantly slower than any V6, but copes reasonably well with traffic. Operation of the hybrid system is almost imperceptible.

Fuel economy is passable. Test XRs have averaged 20.4 to 21.8 mpg in city/highway driving, 26.3 mpg in mostly highway driving, and 17.3 mpg in tests that included gas-eating performance runs. A Green Line model averaged 22.1 to 26.9 mpg. All engines use regular-grade gasoline.

Little difference in suspension tuning is noticeable between the XE, XR, and Green Line. All models provide a firm but agreeable ride. Body control is generally good, though some jiggle and body drumming may be noticed on rippled surfaces. Virtually no comfort deficit is evident between the XE with its 17-inch tires and the XR with 18s. Riding on the smallest wheels, the Green Line sedan has the most comfortable ride of the trio.

Delivering near sports-sedan agility, an Aura XE and XR always feels balanced and well-planted. Expect modest cornering lean and good grip, regardless of tires. Steering produces quick response, but not all testers have been pleased with its weighting and road feel. The XR’s standard antiskid system is a plus; XEs should have offered it, too. Strong, stable braking is marred by oddly dull, heavy pedal action.

Auras aren’t totally quiet. Their main demerit is marked coarse-surface tire thrum. Also, moderate wind rush occurs at highway speeds. Both V6 engines sound pleasant enough, and don’t intrude except near maximum rpm. Still, neither is as smooth as class leaders. The Green Line’s four-cylinder has to work hard to keep up with traffic, and is generally more intrusive.

Gauges are large and legible. Controls are mostly handy and intuitive, though some testers have found steering-wheel controls a bit small for easy use. Aura cabins please with soft-touch surfaces and quality materials, but test models have shown a few disappointing panel gaps and unsightly seams, along with rough edges and some downscale plastics.

Front seats offer good six-footer headroom, though the available sunroof cuts a bit into space. Long seat tracks cater to the lankiest riders. Optional power-adjustable pedals would be a plus for shorter drivers. The standard manual tilt/telescoping steering wheel should help any driver. Seats are firm and well padded, though some testers would prefer more support in aggressive cornering. Visibility is just adequate dead astern and to the right rear, but no problem otherwise.

Legroom is ample in the back, even with front seats well back. Three grown-ups should not complain on shorter trips. Headroom is good for medium-height adults–but only without the available sunroof; clearance is slim beneath the housing for a regular sunroof, and very tight with the multi-panel version. Six-footers must duck to clear the sloping roofline during entry or exit, somewhat negating the wide door openings.

Aura trunks rank class-average for volume and aperture size, but have a usefully cubic shape and non-intrusive trunklid hinges. The Green Line’s battery takes up some trunk space. The standard split-folding rear seat enhances versatility, but seatback releases are not lockable. Cabin storage is unexceptional.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2008 Aura XR

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 7
70%
Fuel Economy - 5
50%
Ride Quality - 6
60%
Steering/Handling - 7
70%
Quietness - 6
60%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Front - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Rear - 6
60%
Cargo Room - 3
30%

Other

Value - 8
80%

Total: 61

Specifications

4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
112.3 190.0 70.3 57.6
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
15.7 16.3 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.4 37.4 42.2 37.6
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: N/A

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Front Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Air conditioner
Description: The air conditioner quits working because the cooling fan quits working because its fuse blows requiring rewiring the fan circuit and replacing the 30 amp fuse with a 40 amp fuse. (2007-10)
Audio system
Description: When using a portable music player (e.g. iPod) there may be noise in the car’s speakers whenever the vehicle’s power adapter is used and a ground loop isolator (from Radio Shack) is required between the device and the power outlet to prevent the noise. (2007-08)
Steering noise
Description: Growling, whining noise in power steering requires bleeding with a special tool. (2007-09)
Suspension noise
Description: Popping and squawking noises from front suspension caused by strut boot interference. (2007)
Vehicle noise
Description: Squealing from under the hood may be due to drive belt noise caused by a defective idler pulley on hybrid vehicles. (2007-09)
Water leak
Description: The trunk and spare tire well may have water in them and the radio may quit because the amplifier gets wet due to a leak in a body seam. 2007-09)
Battery
Description: A voluntary recall was issued to replace the engine control module and batteries on hybrid models due to failure of the hybrid function. (2008-10)
Electrical problem
Description: The power locks, cruise control, shift interlock and other accessories may not work; the engine may not go over 4,000 rpm and the check engine light may come on in cool temps (32-50 degrees F) after cold soak due to a problem with the transmission control module. (2007)
Check-engine light
Description: The check engine light comes on, accompanied by numerous trouble codes, due to timing chains stretching on the 3.6L V6 engine. (2007)
Fueling problems
Description: Fuel may spit back when refueling due to spider webs on the canister vent solenoid which must be cleaned and covered with a screen. (2007-09)

Recall History

2009
Description: The transmission shift cable adjustment clip may not be fully engaged, so shift lever might not coincide with actual position of transmission gear.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.