Cosmetic updates enhance a real sport utility vehicle
The name of this popular vehicle class suggests vehicles that are fun to drive while providing more space and capability for carrying passengers, toting cargo, and hauling stuff. Unfortunately, most SUVs manage to excel only on the utility part of the equation, and those that do perform well on pavement usually carry a luxury badge on the grille, putting them out of reach of most Americans. But Saturn wants to change that with the Saturn Vue Red Line. Red Line is Saturnese for performance, and this hot-rodded Vue SUV first debuted a couple of years ago. For 2006, however, it gets a subtle update, and was first shown to the public at this week’s California International Auto Show in Anaheim. The 2006 Saturn Vue Red Line gets new front styling with a chrome-garnished grille designed to better tie this compact SUV to the company’s upcoming Aura sedan and Sky roadster. In back, a protective step pad comes standard for 2006 to protect the finish on the bumper. The interior also gets a refresh with new center controls, revised door panels, and more useful center storage console. New standard equipment includes OnStar with Advanced Automatic Crash Notification and an auxiliary jack in the dashboard for MP3 players, while a DVD entertainment system is optional for the rear seat. Plus, the Vue Red Line gets leather and suede seats, special gauges, metallic foot pedals, and special ambient footwell lighting that can be customized to glow Cool Blue or Warm Amber. Carrying over from last year, the Vue Red Line’s Honda-sourced 3.5-liter V6 engine makes 250 horsepower and accelerates this SUV to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds while getting 20 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. The Red Line rides on a lowered and stiffened suspension equipped with 18-inch wheels wearing 245/50 Bridgestone Turanza performance tires. Buyers can choose front- or all-wheel-drive. Cost to the customer is not likely to rise given GM’s new focus on value pricing, though this new Vue Red Line isn’t going to be as appealing a deal as the outgoing 2005 version. And since the changes are mainly cosmetic, you might want to get on down to the local Saturn store and call “Dibs!” on one of the last ’05 models.
Photos courtesy of General Motors