Compact SUV; Built in USA
  • 4-door wagon
  • transverse front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $2,200 – $11,200*


2002 Saturn Vue


2002 Saturn Vue


2002 Saturn Vue interior


2004 Saturn Vue Red Line


2004 Saturn Vue Red Line interior

Pros:
  • Acceleration
  • Cargo room
  • Passenger room
  • Ride
Cons:
  • Engine noise
  • Steering/handling

What Vue lacks in handling prowess and overall refinement, it makes up for in versatility, ride quality, and accommodations–plus outstanding performance from the latest V6 engine. Added attractions include dent-resistant body panels. Priced competitively when new, the Vue has subpar resale value, especially in two-wheel-drive form. That could mean comparative bargains for secondhand Vues.

Overview

Introduced midway through the 2002 model year, Saturn’s first SUV was positioned against compact sport-utility vehicles such as the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, and Mazda Tribute. But Saturn’s version was slightly larger, with the longest wheelbase in its class.

Seating five, Vues came with front-drive or all-wheel drive. They also had Saturn’s traditional dent-resistant plastic body panels.

Engines came from Saturn’s midsize L-Series cars. The four-cylinder came with front-drive only, offered with a five-speed manual transmission or optional continuously variable automatic. Like other CVTs, Saturn’s furnished variable drive ratios instead of conventional gear changes.

All V6 Vues had all-wheel drive and a five-speed automatic transmission. The AWD system lacked low-range gearing.

Options included antilock braking, curtain side airbags, and General Motors’ OnStar assistance system. Vue stored its spare tire under the rear load floor, and had a liftgate that lacked separate-opening glass. The split rear seat worked with a fold-down front passenger seatback, to accommodate long objects.

Yearly Updates

2003 Vue
In its first full season, Saturn’s SUV added a previously unavailable powertrain combination, along with optional leather upholstery. Both the four-cylinder and V6 models could have either front-drive or all-wheel drive; in 2002, the V6 had come only with AWD. Four-cylinder AWD models came only with the CVT unit.
A new option package included leather upholstery, heated front seats with lumbar adjustment, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.
2004 Vue
A completely different V6 engine, supplied by Honda, replaced the original GM V6 this year. Borrowed from Honda’s Pilot and Odyssey, the new 3.5-liter V6 developed 250 horsepower. It mated with a new Honda-supplied five-speed automatic transmission.
Also for 2004, 17-inch alloy wheels replaced the 16s on AWD models and were available for 2WD V6 Vues. Revised steering calibrations were intended to improve steering feel. Interior trim changes included chrome-ringed, white-faced instruments. Satellite radio was a new option.
Midseason brought a newly optional DVD rear entertainment system, as well as a performance-oriented Red Line edition. Equipped with the 250-hp V6 engine, the Red Line Vue has a stiffer suspension and 18-inch wheels.
2005 Vue
No changes of note were made to the Vue in 2005.
2006 Vue
Midyear addition of a gas-electric hybrid makes 2006 news for this compact five-seat SUV from General Motors’ Saturn division. Launched as a 2007 model, the Vue Green Line teams a 4-cyl gas engine with a battery-powered electric motor for 170 hp. The system self-charges the batteries; there’s no plug-in charging. Unlike most hybrids, the Green Line cannot run on the electric motor alone. It comes only with front-wheel drive and automatic transmission. Also, styling is freshened inside and out for 2006 and OnStar assistance and steering-wheel audio controls become standard.
2007 Vue
Vue carries over unchanged.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive

Two engines and three transmissions have been available for the Vue. The 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine produces 143 horsepower, mating with a five-speed manual or continuously variable automatic transmission. Saturn’s original 3.0-liter V6 develops 181 horsepower, offered only with a conventional five-speed automatic transmission. Vues may have either front-drive or all-wheel drive. For 2004, a Honda-supplied 3.5-liter V6 engine replaced the original 3.0-liter V6, with a new five-speed automatic transmission. New in mid-2006 for model-year ’07 is the hybrid Vue Green Line, which teams a 4-cyl gas engine with a battery-powered electric motor for 170 hp.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.2/134
Engine HP 143
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 152
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
CVT automatic
22/28
21/26
dohc I4/electric
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.4
Engine HP 170
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 162
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

27

32

dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/181
Engine HP 181
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 195
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed automatic

19/25

dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.5/212
Engine HP 250
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 242
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed automatic

20/28

Road Test

Four-cylinder acceleration is on the mild side. Saturn said the four-cylinder Vue did 0-60 mph in 10.2 seconds with the CVT, and 11.1 with a manual transmission. Both are comparable to four-cylinder rivals. CVT models accelerate smoothly from a standstill, and deliver almost instantaneous passing power.

Saturn quoted a 8.4-second 0-60 time for the early V6, which placed it among the quickest compact SUVs. Its five-speed automatic might slur upshifts and downshifts, but doesn’t hunt between gears. The new 2004 V6 is smoother and more responsive, said to accelerate to 60 mph in less than 7 seconds.

Fuel economy sets no records. An early test AWD V6 Vue averaged 18.3 mpg, Saturn recommends regular-grade fuel for each engine.

Ride quality is satisfying. Tires and suspension do a good job of absorbing the worst bumps and expansion joints. Soft springing leads to mild side-to-side rocking, however.

In its initial form, Vue’s electric power steering is vague on-center, does not impart much road feel, and seems to supply varying degrees of assist at parking speeds. The 2004 version is better, but still short on road feel and linearity.

Because its suspension is tuned for ride comfort, a Vue leans more in corners than an Escape or CR-V, and tends to noseplow where most compact SUVs feel nimble. When fitted with 17-inch tires, the V6 model produces good grip. Stopping power feels adequate.

Vue continues the Saturn tradition of intrusive engine noise under rapid acceleration. In 2002-03 models, the four-cylinder is often quieter than the V6. The 2004 V6 engine yields a rich sound, however. Road rumble is rather pronounced, but freeway wind noise is low.

Clearly marked gauges fit into a logical dashboard layout, though climate controls are a bit small, and power-window switches are inconveniently arrayed on the center console. Some thin plastic materials impart a cost-cutting feel.

Even with the optional sunroof, you can expect good front leg and head room. Mounting the gearshift at the dashboard base provides valuable floor space for purses and the like. The chairlike buckets are very soft, and somewhat short on lateral bolstering. Some drivers might deem lumbar support to be insufficient.

Rear head space is ample, and leg room adequate, but seats are less supportive and less comfortable than in many rivals. The clever Vue design allows two child seats to remain in place, while one seatback section folds flat. No ceiling-mounted grab handles are included to ease entry/exit, but step-in height is very low.

Cargo space is a bonus because Vues have a longer load floor than most rivals. However, the liftgate lacks separate-opening glass and the rear seatbacks do not fold completely flat. Fold-flat front seat and standard pop-up cargo organizer are nice touches, though the organizer’s plastic walls are unsubstantial. Otherwise, interior storage is nothing special.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2004 Vue 2WD w/CVT

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 - 3
30%
Fuel Economy - 6
60%
Ride Quality - 5
50%
Steering/Handling - 3
30%
Quietness - 3
30%

Accommodations

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

Other

Value - 3
30%

Total: 50

Specifications

4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
106.6 181.3 75.5 66.5
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
63.5 15.5 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.4 39.9 41.2 36.8
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

Exhaust system
Description: Exhaust manifold bolts work loose causing noise that may be misdiagnosed as lifter tap. (2002-04)
Fuel gauge
Description: The gas gauge may read falsely low or empty due to corrosion of the sensors caused by some types of gasoline. (2002-03)
Poor drivability
Description: Engine lubrication problems may result if the proper oil filter is not used and there was a running change of 2.2-liter and 2.0-liter (turbo) engines. (2002-04)
Vehicle noise
Description: Rattle from the front end on rough road at slow speed due to worn bushing for caliper guide pin(s). (2002-06)
Windshield
Description: The defroster won’t clear the windshield properly unless the vent grill is replaced with a redesigned one. (2002-03)

Recall History

2002 Vue
Description: Rear outboard seatbelts may fail in a crash. Dealers will inspect and replace defective seatbelts.
2004 Vue
Description: Wheel size may not match information printed on certification label. Owners will be provided with correct label.
2004 Vue
Description: A label on 3.5L engine vehicles specifies the need for 16-inch wheels, when 17s are required. Dealers will distribute new tire labels and replace damaged, incorrect wheels.

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.