2009 Saturn Aura 2.4 Liter test drive

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As I said before, this is a newly available combo for 2009.
The small engine on the top of the line model. With the new 6 speed auto.
First, I think the Aura is a very good looking sedan. In its 3rd model year, I think it still looks better than the Camry or Accord.
Especially in metallic black like my test car.

I also loved the interior. I was really suspicious of the fake wood trim when I first saw it a couple of years ago at the auto show.
But I think they did change the color and it seems now less orangy and a bit darker.
I am still not crazy about any wood trim anyway. And it might still look strange with another color.
But the brown and black interior trim looks also great. The leather seats have a very nice texture to them.
Although I could sometimes feel the stitching on the center portions of the seats.
If you like driving naked, be aware…

Most plastics are soft to the touch almost everywhere. The sound system sounded great.
The only thing I really didn’t like was how the door sounded when shut. They didn’t have that solid sound that more and more cars have now.
They sounded pretty tiny. It’s just too bad for a car that has an otherwise upscale feel to it.

The back seat is roomy, but not more than the competition,it seems. Plus, just like in the Malibu, there is no rear armrest.

The engine is really very quiet all the time.
It is so smooth that I really do not see the need for a V6 in this car. But it’s not that fast when you push it.
And really, this is a family car. I really think the 2.4 Liter will do the job 99% of the time for most people.
The steering feel is one of the best part of the car. It is as good as it gets as far as I am concerned.
Precise and very fluid. But it still has a very good feel. It might even feel a bit hard for people looking for a luxury ride.
I remember feeling the same way about the Malibu when I drove it last year. Also preferring the 2.4 Liter steering to the one used in the V6 which felt a bit more artificial.
I just wish GM could at least design a different steering wheel for each brand.
It’s not ugly by any means, but they use it on most of their cars. And the center piece does look a bit cheap.

The suspension is also a very good compromise. Itis just a bit firm yet still very smooth. The only thing I noticed was a very slight shutter throught the steering wheel on some low speed bumps. And I remember also noticing that in the Pontiac G6. Which shares the same platform.
But I also experience that in a Lexus RX… So who knows…

I mentioned before that I was having some trouble with the onboard computer of the car. Trying to figure out the average fuel mileage.
It seems to have pretty much fixed itself after a few days. With my average weekly drives which includes about 30% freeway,I got 25mpg.
Which is pretty good. I remember getting 24 MOG with the smaller Astra.
The best I could get was about 37mpg on the freeway. Cruising quietly at 65mph.

My test car was around $25000, without a sunroof. (They don’t offer the cool panoramic roof option anymore. Just a regular sunroof.)
It looks like between rebates and emplyee price discounts you might be able to get on for about $3000 less.
Not bad for a “no haggle price” Saturn.
-The Accord EX L 2.4 Liter is $26 125. Carsdirect has it for $25 000
-The Camry LXE 2.4 Liter is $26 300. Carsdirect has it for $23 900.

So the Aura might actually be cheaper than both. But the Honda and Toyota resale values and reliability are still unmatched by Saturn.

On the other hand, you get a more attractive car, inside and out. Which is much more pleasant and fun to drive.
That would get my vote.

To me, the Aura’s biggest problem is the Malibu. I think the Chevrolet is still a bit better.
I will be driving the same 2.4 Liter 6 speed combo in the Malibu next week.

So I’ll be reporting on that one soon…
I still like the Chevrolet better.

Conversation 19 comments

  1. The Malibu will probably also be a problem for the LaCrosse when it comes out.

    Btw, if this is the Top of the Line Model….where are the fog lights?

  2. You can really see the European influence in the Aura’s design everywhere – from the neat proportions and subtle detailing, to the good quality, matt finish interior plastics and leather used on the seats.

    There’s still a hint of Opel/Vauxhall Vectra about the shape, but it’s considerably better resolved and less blunt/blocky looking than its former European cousin.

  3. Like a majority of GM vehicles, it won’t hold it’s value and quality will be suspect over time. It’s still not up to Honda or Toyota standards. It’s just not…no matter how bad we all want it to be.

  4. It does look nice but I don’t like the color combo for the interior. They tried to copy the Audi color palette but didn’t mix the color well. The brownish against the blueish tint plastic look downscale.

  5. I’m not sure how long you sat in the car while you were driving, but those center seams on the seats can get *really* uncomfortable.

  6. I had wished for more from Saturn, but they have a lousy parent company. This car already looks dated, old, and stale. All of these Euro models should have been on store shelves years ago.

  7. Even after 3 years the Saturn Aura looks better than the newer competition (though the interior could use a refresh or redo), especially the already dated-looking Accord. About the only car in it’s class that’s better-looking is the new Mazda 6.

  8. That fake wood around the ignition will surely get scuffed and look awful very quickly.

    The Aura offers a lot to like, though the Malibu looks more modern and fresh. I live in a large city and can only think of seeing one or two Auras since they’ve been out (and maybe half dozen Malibus). New Accords and Camrys are everywhere.

  9. With employee pricing, I’m pretty sure you can get the 2009 Aura for much cheaper than $25K Vince, maybe closer to $22K.

  10. The old GM would have had a problem with having TWO great sedans for consumers to choose from. The new GM realizes that this is the best possible scenario. Both the Malibu and the Aura are way better looking than the dopey looking Accord and Camry… by a pretty wide margin. In spite of what people think here, GM quality consistently ranks well above average. The styling never reinforced that reality. Now it is. ‘Bout freakin time!

  11. GM sedans drive much better than imports, throw in 100,000 miles warranty, plus superior mpg and things like onstar, and why would I buy an import?

  12. maybe some of you should go to your saturn dealer to find out how much they intend to charge for leasing. they want $390/month for a lease on an AURA!! and that’s with the best credit rating! hahahah!! hilarious! almost 400 for a saturn? yes GM should lay off the drugs! too funny, have fun going out of business!

  13. The only things that bother me about this car are no fog lights, no rear center armrest, and no overhead passenger grab handles. I don’t care for the faux wood trim and brown leather but I know there are available alternatives to this color combo (I know the fog lights are an available option, but they should be standard on the top XR trim level regardless of engine choice). Other than this, I like the Aura. It is much better looking than the 2 midsize sedan segment leaders (Camry and Accord).

    To answer the complaint that this car is an aged design that GM delayed getting to the North American auto market, this is totally false. The Aura has Opel derived design cues, but its overall design is unique to Saturn and North America. The Aura has a longer wheelbase and is a completely different design from the Euro Opel Vectra. In fact, the Vectra sedan actually looked like the hideous last gen Chevy Malibu. The 5-door and wagon versions of the Vectra were not very visually appealing either. Opel now has the upper hand with the gorgeous new Insignia, but we will never see that car at a Saturn dealership because it doesn’t meet the expectations of Saturn’s clientele. The Insignia is built on the SWB Epsilon II platform and has a “4-door coupe” profile that favors style over function. Saturn shoppers are looking for a midsize sedan that offers the maximum space for a minimum price. Style and driving dynamics are further down the priority list for Saturn shoppers. This is why the Insignia should be rebadged as a Pontiac Grand Prix to replace the aging G6. I think the basic characteristics of the Insignia (and most of Opel’s lineup) better fit the brand parameters of what Pontiac should be in the North American auto market: edgy, sporty, aspirational, and fun to drive. If GM wasn’t too busy stuffing rebadged Chevy clones into Pontiac’s lineup, maybe it would notice that Pontiac’s edgy image would be a better match for Opel than the quirky and affordable Saturn brand.

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