Sporty/performance car; Built in USA
  • 2-door convertible
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $12,000 – $19,500*


2008 Saturn Sky


2008 Saturn Sky


2008 Saturn Sky


2008 Saturn Sky

Pros:
  • Acceleration (especially Red Line)
  • Steering/handling
Cons:
  • Cargo room
  • Control layout
  • Instruments/controls

Like its Solstice sibling, Sky offers affordable sports-car fun, but feels almost unfinished. The base model rivals Mazda’s MX-5 for performance, handling, and style, but not for practicality and overall polish. The potent Red Line compares more with Honda’s S2000 in both new-car price and performance, but has the same drawbacks. For now, Saturn (Pontiac, too) earns an A for effort, but only a C for execution.

Overview

Saturn introduced its brand-new two-seat sport convertible as an early 2007 model. Sky shared its basic design with the Pontiac Solstice, but differed in styling, features, and price. Like Solstice, Sky had rear-wheel drive, a naturally aspirated or turbocharged four-cylinder engine, and a manual-folding soft top with heated-glass rear window which folded into the trunk.

The base Sky held a 177-horsepower engine. During the 2007 model year, Saturn added a high-performance Red Line model. Shared with the Solstice GXP, the Red Line’s four-cylinder turbocharged engine produced 260 horsepower. Both came with a five-speed manual transmission or an optional five-speed automatic. Red Line included specific suspension tuning.

Antilock braking was standard, but only Red Line models offered traction/antiskid control, which was standard. No side airbags were available. Both models had standard air conditioning, cruise control, and power windows/locks. Leather upholstery was optional. Sky’s performance and accommodations mirrored those of comparably equipped Solstices. The limited list of two-passenger rivals included the Honda S2000 and Mazda MX-5.

Yearly Updates

2008 Sky
Newly standard for 2008 were a power driver’s seat height adjuster and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
2009 Sky
Newly available on the 2009 Sky was the Ruby Red model, which had leather upholstery and specific interior and exterior trim.

Engines

longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive

Base Sky convertibles used a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, rated at 177 horsepower. A turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, generating 260 hp, went into Red Line models. Both could have a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission.

dohc I41
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.4/145
Engine HP 177
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 166
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
5-speed automatic
19/25
19/24
20.8

Turbocharged dohc I41
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/122
Engine HP 260
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 260
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
5-speed automatic
19/28
16/26

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

Saturn’s base engine is slow to rev and provides little power reserve for quick highway passing. Still, its performance supports GM’s claim of 0-60 mph acceleration in about 7.2 seconds, with either transmission. Turbocharged Red Lines are punchy at any speed, though with notable turbo lag. GM said the Red Line accelerated to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds or less, which seems credible. The automatic transmission has no real penalty versus the manual, which some testers said had notchy shift action.

Fuel economy is tolerable for this league. Test base Skys and Solstices with manual transmission averaged 20.8 mpg in mixed driving, and 23.0 to 25.2 mpg in mostly highway driving. A test manual-shift Red Line averaged 20.1 mpg in mostly city driving. GM recommends premium-grade gasoline for both engines.

Sky’s suspension is slightly softer than the Solstice’s, but differences are hard to detect. For a sports car, the ride is supple enough, but Sky turns jiggly and thumpy on wrinkled pavement at highway speeds. The Red Line/GXP sport suspension is tauter, so impact harshness is more noticeable.

Handling is where this Sky shines. Predictably agile and balanced, with good smooth-surface grip and little cornering lean, Sky offers great steering feel and response. Fine straightline stability and crosswind resistance add to the pleasure. Red Line/GXP models can hop and skip over large bumps, but quickly regain composure.

Engines are buzzy or boomy, depending on rpm–loud enough to mask most tire noise. Several test Skys and Solstices had ill-fitting tops that allowed annoying wind rush even at moderate speeds. Top-down wind buffeting is tolerable up to 75 mph with the windows raised.

Gauges sit in deep tunnels and can be hard to read, even by day. Most controls are simple and well marked, but can be hard to reach in the tight confines of the cabin–particularly the ill-placed cupholders. Sky’s brightwork and piano-black finishes look upscale versus the Solstice’s cockpit. Like the Solstice, however, the Sky cabin is awash in cheap-looking hard plastics. Several test models suffered from numerous interior squeaks and rattles.

Cockpit space is tighter for six-footers than in a Mazda MX-5, but leg space is acceptable and top-up headroom is good. Low seats won’t suit some shorter drivers–and impede entry and exit for all. Seats have good lateral and lower-back support, but padding feels skimpy. The double-hump rear deck hinders vision astern for shorter drivers, but top-up rear visibility is better than in most convertibles. Someone must stand outside the car to manipulate the top’s folding mechanism, rear-roof pegs, and trunklid–hardly convenient. No rear seat is installed.

The fabric top folds into the trunk after lifting the rear-hinged lid, leaving an oddly-shaped space for only smaller items, such as briefcases. Top-up space is sufficient for one large golf bag or two small ones. Cockpit storage is meager, even for a sports car.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2008 Sky Base w/manual

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 - 6
60%
Fuel Economy - 6
60%
Ride Quality - 5
50%
Steering/Handling - 9
90%
Quietness - 2
20%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 3
30%
Room/Comfort Front - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Rear - N/A
N/A0%
Cargo Room - 1
10%

Other

Value - 5
50%

Total: 42

Specifications

2-door convertible
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
95.1 161.1 71.4 50.2
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
3.8 13.0 2
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.5 42.7
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2008 Sky 2-door convertible

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
80%
Front Passenger Injury - 4
80%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
80%
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: There may be a growling or buzzing noise when the A/C is on caused by either loose A/C compressor bolts, the evaporator tube rubbing on the dash or a buzzing thermal expansion valve (early production). (2006-08)
Air conditioner
Description: The air conditioning may vary with vehicle speed, getting warmer the faster you go, requiring a more efficient A/C condenser. (2007)
Air conditioner
Description: The air conditioning may vary with vehicle speed, getting warmer the faster you go, requiring a more efficient A/C condenser. (2007)
Engine stalling
Description: Intermittently, the engine may not start, may start and die or may have long crank times due to twisted terminals in the fuse block connector under the hood. (2007-08)
Oil leak
Description: Oil may leak from the rear axle vent on top of the differential requiring the vent be replaced and distanced with a rubber hose. (2007-08)
Steering problems
Description: Power steering may growl or whine and power steering fluid must be replaced with improved, multi-viscosity fluid. (2007-09)
Convertible top
Description: The convertible top latch may not work if the top is stowed without first opening the latch fully, which causes it to get bent. (2007-08)
Convertible top
Description: A rattle comes from the trunk when the convertible top is stowed due to the channels where the guide pins rest being bent or its felt missing. (2007-08)
Convertible top
Description: The convertible top may not go all the way up or may not stow properly because the drive link socket comes loose. (2007)
Electrical problem
Description: A pop sound may come from the speakers occasionally when getting out of the car due to a poor ground connection for the power seat. (2007-08)
Electrical problem
Description: The engine may overheat because the fuse for the electric cooling fan is blown, and this is usually caused by improperly jump-starting the vehicle. (2007-08)
Electrical problem
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. (2006-07)
None
Description: Lack of power and possible hissing under the hood on Redline models can be caused by a leak in the charge air plumbing between the turbo and throttle valve.
None
Description: Intermittently, the engine may not start, may start and die or may have long crank times due to twisted terminals in the fuse block connector under the hood. (2007-08)
None
Description: Fluid may leak from the rear differential requiring the original vent cap be replaced with a vent hose. (2007)

Recall History

2007 Sky
Description: Rear axle pinion seal on some vehicles may leak, possibly resulting in loss of motive power or loss of control.
2008 Sky
Description: One to four inboard seat stud fasteners for seatbelt anchorage may not meet strength specifications, and seatbelt may not restrain occupant as intended.
2008
Description: Seatbelt stud fasteners may break in the event of a crash and may not restrain the occupant as intended, increasing risk of injury to the occupant. Dealers will inspect the studs and, if necessary, remove the stud and install a bolt.

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.