Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book
KBB.com 2009 Saturn SKY Overview
You can spend two, three or 10 times as much on a sports car with a bigger engine and a fancier badge, but the smiles don't get a whole lot wider than the ones the 2009 Saturn SKY roadster is capable of painting upon your face (although it also can have you grimacing at times). Even though its suspension is slightly softer than that of its Pontiac Solstice sibling, the SKY still grips corners like a small, serious roadster should.
Compared with Mazda's topless two-seater, the MX-5, the 2009 Saturn SKY features the more head-turning design. Compared with its Pontiac Solstice sibling, the Saturn offers a touch more sophistication. Compared with whatever else you might be considering, there's a good chance the SKY is more fun.
Potential deal-breakers include the inability to drop the top with anything bigger than a single, soft duffle bag in the trunk, a top that has to be raised and lowered from outside the vehicle and an overall level of refinement that falls short of the MX-5.
Changes for 2009 are minor. Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity is now available, as are two new limited edition trims: Ruby Red and Hydro Blue. A new 18-inch five spoke painted wheel is standard on the base SKY.
While the Mazda MX-5 is more refined, more accommodating and arguably more entertaining to drive than the Saturn SKY (and Pontiac Solstice), GM's rookie ragtops still qualify as a couple of the most fun vehicles on the road. The SKY belies its relative heavyweight status with responsive steering and cornering that's eager, confident and tenacious, thanks in part to some big, fat tires. Compared to the Solstice, we prefer the SKY's slightly softened suspension that delivers a noticeably smoother ride without giving much away in handling. The Saturn's torque advantage versus the Mazda doesn't translate well to the road – you actually have to work harder at keeping the SKY on its toes – but the 2.4-liter delivers enough oomph to fully exploit the SKY's impressive handling.
Although their choice of form over function saddled the SKY with some significant limitations, at least GM's designers knocked the styling right out of the park. It looks great.
Tasteful piano black and metallic trim helps give the SKY's cockpit a more sophisticated feel than Solstice (although the glossy black shows dust easily).
Although we found some finish and design shortcomings to nitpick inside the SKY, the bigger impression was that of a comfortable and attractive cabin largely well-suited for the type of spirited driving it encourages. A smart instrument panel and control layout, piano black and metallic trim plus available leather seats impart a sophisticated, contemporary ambience. Storage space is a weak point, especially in a trunk that diminishes from 5.4 cubic feet to a mere 2.0 cubic feet with the top down, and isn't nearly as usable as the trunk in the Mazda MX-5, which measures 5.3 cubic feet but is much more sensibly shaped. If you're considering taking along a passenger, carrying some luggage or putting down the top, you can have only two. On even a short weekend road trip, the absurdly small trunk can be exasperatingly limiting.
Complementing the SKY's sharp-looking exterior are hood and side vents, projector beam headlamps, metallic-framed taillamps, a reverse lamp placed low in the rear fascia and fender-filling five-spoke 18-inch wheels. A cloth roof that stows completely out of sight is a big part of the SKY's visual appeal but, unfortunately, means that to enjoy the roadster the way the sun gods intended you have to unlatch the top and rear deck lid from inside, step out of the vehicle, lift the rear-hinged deck lid, push the top down into the "trunk" and close the deck lid with a firm drop-push. Whew. Compared with the MX-5, in which you can raise or lower the top in about five seconds without even removing your seatbelt, this puts quite a damper on spontaneity.
A 2009 Saturn SKY comes with air conditioning, power windows/locks/mirrors, six-speaker CD sound system, StabiliTrak stability control, a limited-slip differential, AM/FM stereo with MP3-compatible CD, XM Satellite Radio, leather-wrapped steering wheel, power driver's-seat height adjustment, remote keyless entry and cruise control. Safety highlights include front airbags and anti-lock brakes.
The 2009 Saturn SKY's options list includes leather seats, rear spoiler, six-disc CD/MP3 Monsoon sound system, Bluetooth, color combination override (mix and match as you like) and chrome wheels. Unlike the MX-5, the SKY doesn't offer side airbags or traction control.
The 2009 Saturn SKY gets its motivation from a modern 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with four valves per cylinder and variable valve timing (intake and exhaust). While the engine delivers almost 20 percent more peak torque than the MX-5's 2.0-liter engine, any performance advantage is mitigated by the Saturn's 400-pound weight penalty. The bigger engine, fat tires and weight difference also take their toll on fuel economy. An optional limited-slip differential can help increase traction. The SKY can reach 60 miles per hour in 7.2 seconds when equipped with the manual transmission.
2.4-liter in-line 4
173 horsepower @ 5800 rpm
167 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/25 (manual), 19/24 (automatic)
The 2009 Saturn SKY's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts around $28,000 and tops out just shy of $33,000 when fully loaded. While the Pontiac Solstice starts nearly $4,000 less, GM's two new roadsters are actually priced closer to each other when comparably equipped. The Mazda MX-5 starts around $21,000 minimally equipped and stretches to just over $32,000 when loaded. To make your best deal be sure to check our New Car Blue Book Value Price, which reflects real-world transaction prices in your area. As for resale value, we expect both the SKY and Solstice to trail than the more familiar MX-5.