Getting firsthand information from an actual car owner is one sure way to get an idea of car performance once it leaves the lot. Autobytel features real consumer reviews that give the unbiased experience of a car.
Pros: Fuel economy, Versatility, XM
Cons: acceleration, availability
Advice: Understand the hybrid technology.Our Mercury Mariner was about to run out of warranty, and the gas mileage slipped to 14 in town, and 18 highway, with the dealer no help. (See my review for when it was new). Got interested in the Saturn Vue Hybrid because it is an American car. I called various SAturn dealers, and nobody in the midwest had one-seems most are being shipped to the coastal big cities, the market is better. Finally, I was on a call list and I got the call, traded in my Mercury, and drove home the new Vue hybrid. We negotiated a bit on the trade, but I was happy. This car has heated front seats, all leather, XM, everything but GPS mapping. Dark blue, no sun roof, good looking, and the color we wanted. Performance- When I drive, I get 25mpg in town, 32mpg highway. Wife drives in town, 21mpg, 30mpg hiway. Book is 26/32. The ECO light tells you when you are most efficient, and wife can't drive and look for green light. It's a woman thing. Acceleration is weak, with the super efficient four cylinder. Once you get used to it, it's not bad. This is a single stage hybrid. Car shuts off when stopped. Put it in park and the car starts. Take your foot off the brake, the car starts. READ THE MANUAL AS TO HOW ALL THE HYBRID COMPONENTS INTERACT AND OPERATE. Otherwise you won't understand what the car is doing. There is a 36 volt battery under the read seat, (8 yr warrantee for all hybrid components) that powers everything when the car is off and while driving, minimizing the pull on the engine. There is a standard 12 volt under the hood for starting. A/C is great, as is heat. Set the thermostate at 73 and forget it. Cruise control is great. Stereo is very nice, with XM built-in. Rear hatch window does not open. Missed that at first since we had one on the Mariner. Don't miss it now. Took a 1000 mile trip, and I thought I might be uncomfortable because the seats looked a little small. I'm 6'4', and found myself to be very comfortable the entire journey. (Got 34mpg that trip). Not as efficient as a two stage hybrid. BUT, the cheapest $25,000 hybrid smaller SUV you'll find. Made in America, too. The Ford Escape hybrid was quoted to me at $33,700, when I inquired at a Ford dealer. Ugh. We have 6700 miles on the car right now. No mechanical issues, except the passenger visor wouldn't stay up awhile back. Dealer replaced it no problem. Good gas mileage, very good ride, reasonably priced. But, hard to find.
Pros: Auto-stop engine at Stop lights or signs & the instant fuel economy has caused me to be more vigilant with the speed limit.
Cons: It wiould be great if battery power alone could be used up to 35-45 miles per hour - think about that for future development.
Advice: Test drive a variety of hybrid vehicles to get a good feel for the vehicle and the features you want, which is what I did.I purchased this vehicle three weeks ago. I like the small SUV, I'd had larger ones before, the fact it's a hybrid, and the gas mileage I'm getting. I've already driven it nearly 2800 miles due to a vacation, and we've reliably had consistent gas mileage of 27.5 to 30 miles per gal. I have noticed that the average fuel economy is sometimes not accurate with the actual calculation, but this is not problematic. We recently drove around a busy city with 5 adults, suitcases, a walker and a wheelchair. We were able to maintain comfort and fit it all in.
Cons: mileage, turning radius
Advice: The dealer knows there are problems, but not helpful. Be prepared to fight for everything.When I went shopping for a new car, I was immediately drawn to the Saturn Vue Hybrid because of the posted EPA mileage rating on the sticker (for an SUV, and as opposed to the standard VUE) and the environmental aspects. On the test drive I was thrilled at how comfortably it fit me (I'm 5'1'), and how easily it drove. I thought I had found the perfect car for me. I was wrong. The day after I drove it off the lot, I was into the fourth hour of a road trip when the check engine and air bag lights went on. OnStar told me I should not drive it as the air bags were inoperative. My Vue experience has been downhill from there. No matter how carefully (ECO light on much of the time), I drive, coast, accelerate, etc., my mileage averages 23 City/25 Hwy. Service said it was an oxygen sensor, and they replaced it, but it hasn't made a bit of difference: there has been no improvement in the mileage. I had problems with the cruise control. The shop says they fixed it. I hope so. And there are continuing 'issues' with acceleration. The throttle intermittently sticks, and the car won't upshift. The ignition switch is very sticky. The key sometimes gets completely stuck; other times it just doesn't turn well. I was told that's just the way they make the Vue and to get used to it. Not an easy thing to do when one has joint problems in her hands. My husband went to the shop today and showed them the metal filings on the plastic around the key switch from grinding the key in the switch, and they finally (and very reluctantly) agreed to replace the key switch. And the parking brake does not always unlock the doors. I was told to 'slam' the shifter into the 'park' position. That's the way to 'fix' the problem? Again, not something easy when dealing with sore joints. And certainly not expected in a brand new car. At least, not any new car I have ever owned. Of course, I've never previously owned a Saturn. I've never had such a feeling of doom about any new car I've purchased, as I have about this car. I've only owned it for two months. If it has these problems now, I can't help but wonder what's waiting down the road.... It's really a shame, because I was very excited to own this hybrid SUV. Now, however, I couldn't, in good conscience, recommend it to anyone.
Pros: Very good gas efficiency
Cons: Only 5 passanger capacity
Advice: Check it out for yourselfThe test drive was the deciding factor in choice of this car. I was supprised by its acceleration and handeling characteristics.