Hmm…isn’t a V-6-powered Vue 2 Mode hybrid coming soon?
Maybe its coincidence, but on the same day that I was slated to write about the 2008 Saturn VUE Green Line I happened to drive by my favorite discount gas station. The price for a gallon of regular was $3.46. Ouch.
And that’s exactly why this vehicle exists. Shoppers continue to demand the space and utility of SUVs and crossovers, but with average fuel economy in the teens fill-ups become routine and costly. General Motors, among others, has attempted to satisfy the buying public’s wants by coupling the Vue’s crossover styling with hybrid engine technology that returns an EPA-estimated 25 mpg city and 32 mpg highway. With a base of about $26,000, it would seem to be an irresistible package. But there are some drawbacks.
Ranking at the top of the Vue Green Line’s detractions is the overall driving experience. The engine, which was recording only about 21 mpg during my drive, is extremely sluggish off the line and fails to feel even the slightest bit lively until the tachometer needle is nearly maxed out. There’s enough power to get you around town with ease – just don’t plan on darting through traffic to fill in those open slots. The automatic transmission’s manual mode, activated with a poorly-placed button on the shift knob, fails to add any sport; the vague steering requires constant correction on the highway and lacks road feel. Also getting a negative mark in my book is the hard rear seat that’s confining when larger people are up front.
What’s left to like is the Vue’s styling, a huge improvement over the previous model and especially pleasing in Green Line trim with chrome wheels and sans roof racks. Points also go out for the comfortable driving position and simple layout of primary controls. But in the end those isolated highlights pale in comparison to all that’s not quite right with the Vue Green Line, especially when you consider the V-6-powered 2009 Saturn VUE Green Line 2 Mode hybrid that’ll be available early next year.
By Thom Blackett
MyRide.com Senior Road Test Editor