Compact SUV; Built in Mexico
  • 4-door wagon
  • transverse front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $11,000 – $18,000*


2009 Saturn Vue Front


2009 Saturn Vue Rear


2008 Saturn Vue Interior


2008 Saturn Vue Profile

Pros:
  • Acceleration (XR, Red Line)
  • Cargo room
  • Fuel economy (Hybrid)
  • Interior materials
  • Ride
Cons:
  • Fuel economy (except Hybrid)
  • Rear-seat room and comfort

Saturn loyalists may decry the loss of plastic body panels, but the redesigned Vue is a better vehicle by every other measure. V6 models offer ample power, while apparent attention to detail brings classy interior accommodations and a refined driving experience. Buyers looking for something a little larger and more powerful than a Honda CR-V or equivalent, but who aren’t quite willing to commit to a midsize SUV, would do well to test-drive a Vue. Hybrid Vues sold new for considerably more than their regular-powertrain counterparts, but that price gap may narrow for used models.

Overview

The Saturn Vue compact sport-utility vehicle was redesigned for 2008 based on the Opel Antara from one of General Motors’ European subsidiaries. The 2008 Vue could seat five and was offered in XE, top-line XR, hybrid Green Line, and sporty Red Line versions. Vue was available with front-wheel or all-wheel drive and a range of four-cylinder, V6, and hybrid powertrains. Four-cylinder models had 169 horsepower. The Green Line hybrid combined that engine with an electric motor for 172 horsepower. AWD XE models used a 222-horsepower 3.5-liter V6, while the XR and Red Line held a 257-horsepower 3.6-liter V6.

All Vues had an automatic transmission: a four-speed with the four-cylinder engine a six-speed with V6 power. The “mild” hybrid Green Line did not require plug-in charging, but unlike some hybrids, it would not run on electric power alone. Standard safety features included antilock brakes, traction control, an antiskid system, curtain side airbags, and front side airbags. A navigation system was newly available for 2008. Also available were heated seats, remote engine start, and a rear cargo management system that adjusted for different cargo-carrying needs. Note that the 2008 Vue has conventional steel body panels, not the dent-resistant plastic panels that were once a Saturn hallmark. Saturn’s SUV competed against the Ford Escape, Hyundai Tucson, Suzuki Grand Vitara, Toyota RAV4, and Volkswagen Tiguan.

Yearly Updates

2009 Vue
A wireless cell-phone link was newly optional, but otherwise, changes were few for the Vue. Saturn intended to add a second gasoline/electric hybrid model for 2009 with a V6 engine, but that model failed to materialize.

Engines

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

Four engines and two powertrains have been available in the latest-generation Saturn Vue. A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with a four-speed automatic transmission goes into the 2WD XE mode. Standard in the AWD XE (and available for the 2WD XE) is a 3.5-liter V6 rated at 222 horsepower mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. XR and Red Line models get a 3.6-liter V6 that makes 257 horsepower mated to a six-speed automatic. In the Saturn Vue Green Line hybrid, a 2.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine works with the electric motor and a four-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive has been offered on all models except the hybrid.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.4/145
Engine HP 169
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 161
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

19/26

dohc I4/electric1
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.4/145
Engine HP 172
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 167
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
CVT automatic

25/32

31.6

ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.5/213
Engine HP 222
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 219
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed automatic

16/23

dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.6/217
Engine HP 257
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 248
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed automatic

16/23

16.7

1. Hybrid.

Road Test

Saturn’s strong, refined 3.6-liter V6 in the XR and Red Line feels similar to the Honda-built engine from the previous-generation Vue. Saturn claimed an XR would accelerate to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds, which seems a bit optimistic. The transmission upshifts smoothly, but downshifts are delayed when passing or merging on the highway. Transmissions also have a tendency to “hunt” between gears when going up even slight inclines. The four-cylinder Hybrid has adequate around-town power, but can be short on reserves when merging or passing. The single-mode Hybrid system is notably smooth and generally unobtrusive.

Fuel economy, apart from Hybrids, could be better. AWD models have averaged 15.8 to 16.7 mpg in city/highway driving and 18.4 mpg with mostly highway use. A 2WD Red Line Vue averaged 20.9 mpg in mostly highway driving, while AWD versions averaged 14.7 mpg with primarily city operation. A four-cylinder Hybrid averaged an impressive 31.6 mpg. All Vues use regular-grade gasoline.

Vue is among the best-riding compact SUVs-with the possible exception of the Red Line edition. In regular models, Saturn’s well-damped suspension makes for a quiet, smooth ride on all but the worst roads. Seemingly minor road imperfections are felt in the cabin, but they’re neither severe enough nor happen often enough to be annoying. Red Line models have a sport suspension, larger wheels, and slightly lower-profile tires, which make the ride more firm but never uncomfortable.

Steering requires little effort around-town, but has a rewarding heft as speeds climb. Any model is responsive on the road and well planted on the pavement, with commendably little body lean in corners. Overall, this generation is a vast improvement over the poorly balanced 2003-2007 Vue. Despite its sporty leaning, the Red Line feels little different from Saturn’s XR model.

Wind noise is low even in crosswinds, and the 3.6-liter V6 engine makes a highly refined growl. Red Lines exhibit more coarse-surface tire thrum than other models.

On Vue dashboards, everything is well laid out and easy to see. Gauges are large and clear. There is no engine temperature gauge or digital readout, which seems like a curious omission. The available navigation system absorbs audio functions but does not complicate their use. Detail work is also upgraded over that of the previous-generation Vue. Materials quality and assembly of models tested have been among the best in the compact-SUV class. On one Red Line, however, the lumbar adjustment knob came off.

Front occupants get good headroom and legroom, but taller drivers may find the short seat bottoms lack long-distance thigh support. Visibility is good to all directions.

Rear-seat riders enjoy excellent headroom. The reclining seatback is a nice feature, though a small range of motion limits its usefulness. Comfort is compromised by limited legroom, short seat bottoms, and excessively firm cushioning. The fold-down center armrest is too high for comfortable use. Center console-mounted foldout cupholders are at floor level and not very convenient.

Good cargo space behind the second row becomes plentiful with the rear seatbacks folded. Those seatbacks fold flat, too. Relatively low liftover is a plus. Underfloor storage compartments, located around the spare tire, are handy for keeping small items out of sight. In-cabin storage is meager, though, and the center console is on the small side.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2009 Saturn Vue XR w/AWD

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 - 4
40%
Ride Quality - 6
60%
Steering/Handling - 5
50%
Quietness - 7
70%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Front - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Rear - 5
50%
Cargo Room - 8
80%

Other

Value - 7
70%

Total: 63

Specifications

4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
106.6 180.1 72.8 67.0
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
56.4 16.7 5.0
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.2 39.3 40.7 36.9
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2009 Saturn Vue 4-door wagon

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Front Passenger Injury - 5
100%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Rear Passenger Injury - 5
100%

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 conditioning may not get cool enough due to the pressure relief valve venting refrigerant for which the computer must be reprogrammed and the A/C refrigerant level readjusted. (2008-09)
Power seat
Description: The driver’s power seat may quit working because the wire harness rubs the seat frame, shorts and blows the fuse. (2008-09)
Windshield washer
Description: Windshield washer may not work properly due to fluid hose chafing and leaking. Also, washer fluid may leak when the jug is filled or overfilled due to a poor seal in the filler pipe O-rings. (2008)
Hood/trunk
Description: The hood release may be hard to pull in cold weather due to water collecting and freezing at a low point in the cable requiring the cable to rerouted. (2008-09)
None
Description: There may be a shudder at around the 1-2 shift point when accelerating on vehicles with the 3.6L V6 engine due to the angle of the universal joint and shorter front springs correct the condition.
Transmission problems
Description: The transmission may not work or may slip in reverse requiring replacement of some clutches. (2008-09)

Recall History

2008 w/6T70 six-speed automatic transmission
Description: In some vehicles, transmission case side bore may have casting porosity, which could lead to failure, eliminating ability to secure transmission in “Park” position.
2008 w/body-color outside door handles
Description: The outside door handles may stick or bind. If this happens, the door may not latch when closed. Driving with an unlatched door could result in an unbelted occupant falling out of the vehicle. Dealers will replace the outside door handles with chrome door handles free of charge.
2008-09
Description: Some of these vehicles have a condition in which the nut securing the power steering line to the power steering pump may loosen. If this happens, there may be a power steering fluid leak. Dealers will inspect the area. If there are no signs of a fluid leak, dealers will tighten the nut. If a leak is present, dealers will tighten the nut and check the fluid level.
2009
Description: Some vehicles have incorrect right and/or left steering knuckle, allowing tie rod ball stud to pull out of, or fracture the tie rod housing; tie rod could separate from knuckle.

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.