Kelley Blue Book ® - 2009 Saturn Aura Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2009 Saturn Aura Overview

Overview:

EDITORS' NOTES
The 2009 Saturn Aura sedan is the most powerful salvo launched in Saturn's rejuvenation program. Riding alongside the hot SKY roadster and newly-launched Astra sedan and coupe, the Aura redefines the automaker's role as both import fighter and technology leader. Like the SKY roadster, the Aura is more stylish and confident than anything Saturn produced in its first 15 years of existence. Although the Aura shares a platform with the Chevrolet Malibu, Saturn's version feels more refined inside, outside and on the road. The latest model in Aura lineup is a gas-electric Aura hybrid formerly known as the Aura Green Line. Even as Saturn begins unleashing its most appealing cars ever, the automaker has committed to maintaining its popular "no haggle" pricing policy.

YOU'LL LIKE THIS CAR IF...
The 2009 Saturn Aura's confident styling is backed up by eager handling combined with a comfortable and surprisingly quiet highway ride. An attractive, well-appointed interior and overall sense of refinement solidify the sedan's appeal.

YOU MAY NOT LIKE THIS CAR IF...
If you're looking for a proven track record of reliability and resale, you'll find the Aura faces the unenviable task of competing with the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, vehicles that have earned and deserve their status as the two best selling family sedans in the country.

WHAT'S SIGNIFICANT ABOUT THIS CAR
Major changes to the Aura line include the discontinuation of the Green Line name, 3.5-liter V6 XE model and four-speed automatic transmission. The upscale XR trim can now be ordered with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder, while Saturn's six-speed automatic transmission with tap shift becomes standard on all models except the Hybrid. StabiliTrak stability control is also made standard, as are redundant audio controls (XE, XR). On the Aura Hybrid, 17-inch alloy wheels with low rolling resistance tires replace 16-inch alloys.

Driving It:

DRIVING IMPRESSIONS
Despite the athletic styling and eager stance, we weren't sure exactly what to expect from the Aura once we got behind the wheel. Having seen the spec sheet we did anticipate a healthy dose of get-up-and-go from the XR model, but we didn't expect such smooth shifts from the six-speed automatic transmission. The XE's four-cylinder engine is surprisingly smooth, delivering performance that is more than adequate and downright competitive. The passenger cabin remained notably quiet on the highway, and the Aura handled twisty two-lane roads better than most midsize sedans this comfortable.

OUR FAVORITE FEATURES
Hybrid Model
If you want a more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly form of transportation, you won't find a comparable hybrid model from Hyundai, Honda, Ford or Dodge..

Rear-seat Wireless Headphones
Although the Aura doesn't offer a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, it does offer two sets of wireless headphones to accommodate differing music tastes.

Vehicle Details:

INTERIOR
The Aura's interior is defined by the attractive styling, quality materials and overall sense of refinement that have begun permeating the passenger cabins of more and more domestic entries. There are still details to be polished, but to compare the Aura's interior with that of earlier Saturns is to contrast two different automotive eras. The mere availability of the unique Morocco Brown leather package furthers the Aura's contemporary image. Ambient cabin illumination enhances the upscale feel at night.

EXTERIOR
In addition to the chrome-bar grille serving as the new face of Saturn, the Aura is distinguished by big, expressive headlamps, a sleek profile with sharply-defined fender flares and distinctive LED taillamps. Build quality is quite good, with tight gaps between body panels and doors, flush fitting glass and a number deep, lustrous paint color choices. Blind spots are relatively few, thanks the large expanse of side glass. Aura XR models have 18-inch alloy wheels (in place of standard-issue 17-inch steel wheels), chrome door handles and front foglamps.

NOTABLE STANDARD EQUIPMENT
Included as standard equipment on a base Aura XE are a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, six-speed automatic transmission, six-speaker CD/CD-MP3 sound system with auxiliary audio input, XM Satellite Radio, OnStar, power windows/locks/mirrors, remote keyless entry, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, automatic headlamps, cruise control, split-folding rear seatbacks and 17-inch steel wheels. Standard safety equipment includes electronic traction control, StabiliTrak stability control plus front, front-side and side-curtain airbags. XR trims add heated front seats, leather interior, power driver's seat and 17-inch alloy wheels.

NOTABLE OPTIONS
Optional equipment includes a 3.6-liter V6 and 18-inch alloy wheels (XR), power glass sunroof, six-disc premium audio system with rear-seat wireless headphones, remote vehicle start, power-adjustable pedals, leather seats, heated front seats, and Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity.

UNDER THE HOOD
Thanks in part to variable valve timing and the advantage of a six-speed automatic transmission, the Aura XR's more powerful and sophisticated 3.6-liter engine returns outstanding performance with combined fuel economy acceptable to most family sedan shoppers. The frugal 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine provides adequate power and the best fuel economy in its segment. While far better than many domestic four-cylinders, the Aura's 2.4-liter engine is still not as smooth or refined as the four-cylinder engines of the Honda Accord or Toyota Camry. A bonus of the new standard six-speed is steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.

2.4-liter in-line 4
169 horsepower @ 6400 rpm
160 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/33

2.4-liter in-line 4 Hybrid
164 horsepower @ 6400 rpm
159 lb.-ft. of torque @ 5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/34

3.6-liter V6
252 horsepower @ 6300 rpm
251 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/26

Pricing Notes:

PRICING NOTES
The 2009 Saturn Aura XE four-cylinder's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts around $23,000, with the XR four-cylinder starting closer to $25,000. The V6 powered XR pushes the starting price past the $27,500 mark, while the Hybrid starts just a bit over $26,500. The Honda Accord and Toyota Camry with automatic transmissions start at $22,000 and $21,000, respectively, and will climb to the low-to-mid $30,000 range when fully equipped. The Hyundai Sonata and Ford Fusion both start closer to $20,500 and top out around $30,000. We expect the Aura to maintain resale value better than the Sonata and stay on par with the Fusion, but not to perform as well as industry-standards Accord and Camry.

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