Saturn Vue Hybrid test drive.

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The new Saturn Vue looks much more upscale than the previous version. And it also looks more upscale than many other small SUV/Crossover cars on the road too.
It is basically the US version of the Opel Antara. Which itself is the German version of a Daewoo model.
Unlike the Opel, our version is produced in Mexico.

The interior is very nice. There is really nothing wrong. Everything seems well put together. All materials used are of good quality. It feels solid. Some nice metallic “looking” bits even ad a bit of a modern/designy look to the whole thing.
It is also pretty roomy.
The only thing I really didn’t like was the grey cloth in my test car. It does cheapen the whole thing. And gives it rental car feel.
Not really what I want in a small SUV starting at almost $26 000.


The ride is very nice, just a little bit on the side of firm. But it always feels like a car.
Really nothing special here, but nothing wrong either.

The first thing I noticed was how big the steering wheel is. Kind of like in an old Mercedes. And it doesn’t feel great.
It also doesn’t really “turn back” when coming out of a curve.
It lacks any feeling at all. “Numb at all speed” would be a good way to describe it.
That makes for a total lack of fun whenever I drove it. It was just not a car I was looking forward to driving every morning.
Just something that “gets you there”.

Similar to the one used in the Malibu and Aura. But not as super quiet as in these other 2 cars.
Still very smooth and refined.

The problem is the power. It feels pretty peppy around town. So it would feel quite nice in a quick test drive.
But on the freeway, trying to pass etc….It is just too slow.
And I was the only one in the car. I cannot imagine 5 people and luggage trying to get over the grapevine in this.
Although it might be quite an adventure. With lots of cursing involved….

Another problem. It has only 4 gears. In a car whose only reason to exist is gas mileage!
Same problem with the Malibu Hybrid in its 1st year.
The 2.4 Liter 6 speed auto gets about the same mileage.

And, again, just like in the Malibu Hybrid, the transmission refuses to downshift. Unless you literally floor it.
A cheap gimmick to squeeze an extra 1 or 2 MPG. Not worth it.

the worse part of the Vue Hybrid was the every day mileage. In my weekly travels, which include about 35% highway, I could only average a bit over 23MPG.
Which is less than the Malibu with a “regular” 2.4 Liter.
I would think that if the regular Vue was fitted with the 6 speed auto, it would also get similar mileage.
The problem is that you pay an extra $4000 for the Hybrid system on the Vue.
What you’re getting for that cash is pretty much a couple of Hybrid logos. And that’s it.

The electric battery is just there to assist the gas engine. It never runs on the electric motor alone.
GM is planning a 2 mode Hybrid for next year on the Vue. But so far, it will be only on the V6.

They’ll claim that you’ll be able to get V6 performance with 4 Cylinder gas mileage.
But that’s not really what people want. We just want the best mileage, period.

I really think small SUVS with big V6 engines are on their way out. They need to put the 2 mode on the 2.4 Liter version.

So I cannot recommend the Vue hybrid to anyone.

I do think the Vue is a nice compact SUV. Even better if they ever offer the 6 speed auto in the small engine.
And I wonder if the steering is better in the non-hybrid models…

Conversation 5 comments

  1. I agree that this vehicle as is, is a total waste of time and money. This thing should have the 6 spd with the 4cyl and a dual mode hybrid. Then you’ll have the power of a 6 cyl with the economy of a 4 cyl. If you put a 6cyl in it then, should’nt you have the power of a 6 cyl. In this case you would have the power of an 8 cyl with the economy of a crappy 4 cyl or a good 6 cyl. I guess we can’t make it too good huh? And by the way GM….make it lighter. It’s waaay too heavy.

  2. 23 mpg with a hybrid?
    I am driving a Mercury Grand Marquis and I get between 24 and 25 mpg and it is NOT a hybrid, thank God.- So what is the industry bragging about?

  3. 23 mpg? why even bother producing it? Complete waste of time! Buy an Escape hybrid instead. Again, GM fall short and wastes money on another make work project.

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