Exclusive! The 2008 Saturn Vue Greenline (Hybrid) And Redline (Not So Much) Live And In The Sheet Metal

Illustration for article titled Exclusive! The 2008 Saturn Vue Greenline (Hybrid) And Redline (Not So Much) Live And In The Sheet Metal

We're not afraid to admit at least one of us (that would be me) really digs the new styling of the Saturn Vue. True, it's vaguely jellybean-esque, but it's still so much more appealing to the eyes than the boxy Rubbermaid exterior of the last one, it's hard not to be rooting for the little CUV. We dunno how either the Greenline Hybrid or Redline "performance version" actually perform, but man, we like how they look. Further not helpful lack-of-information-and-deets can be found in the press release below.


Specialized Models Provide Bold Looks, Performance Tuning, Fuel Savings and Value

CHICAGO - Saturn announced two new variants of the completely redesigned 2008 Vue crossover utility at the Chicago Auto Show: the performance-tuned Red Line and the affordable, fuel-saving Green Line hybrid.

The Red Line builds on the new Vue's bold styling with an aggressive front-end design, including a large, lower air opening and projector beam fog lamps. The rear of the vehicle features a special fascia, spoiler and chrome exhaust tips. A lowered suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels and Red Line badges complete the performance-inspired appearance.

From a performance perspective, the Red Line comes with standard tap up/tap down transmission control and sport-tuned ride and handling. It is powered by a dual overhead cam 3.6L V-6 VVT engine that delivers 250 horsepower (186 kW) at 6,500 rpm and 243 lb.-ft. (329 Nm) of torque at 4,400 rpm. The engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The Vue Red Line will be available in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.

Interior modifications include a Red Line-only Ebony interior, including black leather sport seats with suede fabric inserts. The vehicle also features Red Line-logo instrument cluster graphics and embroidered floor mats.

Green Line hybrid

The 2008 Vue Green Line hybrid will continue to provide consumers with an affordable hybrid that also provides uncompromised utility.

The hybrid system on the Vue Green Line combines sophisticated controls with an electric motor/generator mated to a 2.4L four-cylinder engine and a modified four-speed automatic transmission. The system saves fuel by p roviding an electric power assist during acceleration; shutting off the engine at idle; early fuel cut-off during deceleration and capturing electrical energy through regenerative braking. Fuel economy figures for the 2008 Vue will be announced later.

The 2008 Vue was first shown last November at the Greater Los Angeles International Auto Show, as an uplevel XR model. At the show, Saturn also announced it will offer a version of the Vue Green Line with GM's new two-mode hybrid system, in the third quarter of 2008 . This system will provide a 45-percent improvement in fuel economy compared to its non-hybrid counterpart.

Additionally, General Motors committed to producing a plug-in version of the Vue Green Line that will double the fuel economy performance of any SUV currently on the market. No date has been set for the introduction of the plug-in hybrid, but it is a top priority for the company.

The Vue XR (and base-level XE) will arrive at Saturn retailers this spring. The Vue Red Line will arrive in the third quarter of 2007 and the Vue Green Line hybrid will arrive in the fourth quarter of 2007.

All-new Vue

All 2008 Vue models feature the Saturn's new design cues and European-inspired performance characteristics. Standard equipment highlights include:

* MacPherson strut independent front suspension with stabilizer bar

* Independent multi-link rear suspension with stabilizer bar

* Double-isolated engine cradle

* Four-wheel disc brakes with ABS

* GM StabiliTrak electronic stability control

* Traction control

* Hydraulically assisted power steering on V-6 models

* Dual-stage frontal air bags, front-seat side thorax air bags and head curtain air bags covering front and rear rows

* Front-row safety belt pretensioners

* Collapsible pedals

* Active head restraints

* OnStar with one year Safe & Sound service

The 2008 Vue Saturn joins the Sky roadster, Aura sedan and the Outlook crossover utility in the revitalized Saturn portfolio. Saturn also introduced the 2008 Astra small car at the Chicago show.



Spy Photos: Saturn Vue Red Line; LA Auto Show: 2008 Saturn Vue [internal]

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my favorite car is a motorcycle

iamjames, with the exception of the 6th generation Corvette, i can't think of Big 2.5 production vehicle that truly prioritized weight savings. I wish they did.

I suspect that the only reason the Vue achieved a mediocre 3600# weight is because the entire interior of the thing looks like cheap styrene. GM can do better. As for the X3, I have lost all respect for BMW, which seems to be on a corporate mission of stuffing more electronic crap on their cars than even Mercedes does. This is the real reason behind horsepower wars — it makes people forget how bloated the vehicles have become.

That said, I applaud GM for finally putting some styling attention and variety in Saturns. The Green Line is probably the perfect vehicle for retirees and young couples, or anyone who drives in the city. Alas, the Red Line seems to be another example of GM trying to convince people that horspower and plastic cladding are the main ingredients of performance. WRONG.

Here are the real problems with the Vue and practically every other North American people hauler:

1) You have the choice of an antiquated 4-speed automatic transmission or a clunky 6-speed automatic that is painful to shift manually. Pathetic! If you can't install a proper 6-speed manual transmission, then just license VW's double clutch tranny and stop insulting drivers who like to have control over gear selection.

2) One again, design by committee results in a pile of useless crap "features" that no one wants or needs. Although it looks like the Vue ditches the air-drag-o-matic roof rack, other fluff gets thrown on: "Line-logo instrument cluster graphics and embroidered floor mats", "special fascia, spoiler and chrome exhaust tips", "OnStar with one year Safe & Sound service", "GM StabiliTrak electronic stability control", etc. Remember when the performance version of a vehicle DELETED the crap that hindered performance? This junk belongs on the "Poseur XF" option package. XF for eXtra Fat.

3) Chassis and suspension tuning is the most important fundamentals. Without this foundation, i don't care what the vehicle looks like, it's crap. I obviously haven't driven the 2008 Vue, but i can almost guarantee that it's another understeering dog on the road, like all other Big 2.5 sedans and utility vehicles. If Detroit spent just a little more time tuning the suspension geometry rather than putting their suspension engineers to the mindless task of designing yet another chrome wheel option, then the Vue might outhandle a BMW X3. But the Vue RedLine doesn't, even with relatively more HP and less mass. This vehicle is aimed at former RAV and CR-V customers whose wives love the cute styling.

4. Finally, let's talk about drivetrain for a moment. Transverse front engine, front wheel drive is a recipe for cheap traction and bad chassis balance. AWD on the same basic chassis and powertrain is only useful if significant weight and torque is transferred to the aft tires, and that those rear wheels are powered continuously (Subaru AWD, Audi's Torsen Quattro). If you're just hauling around a computer-controlled clutch and a rear driveshaft 99.9% of the time, neither able to apply rear wheel torque due to a light rear end nor choosing to apply rear wheel torque because the computer-controlled transfer case is programmed only to engage AFTER significant front wheel slippage, then what you have is an expensive and inefficient way to avoid installing winter tires on your buggy. Traction and control comes from proper weight balance and tires. You need weight on your driving tires, and you need high traction tires. This system addresses neither of those goals efficiently. Not that the average 4wd buyer knows how watered-down this kind of system is.

In summary: The Vue is great for some people, and it'd clearly going to win the hearts of people who think that a boxy utility vehicle is more useful or capable than a proper AWD wagon. Drivers who know and understand traction and performance, apply elsewhere.