in 2009 Affordable Midsize Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $8,730 - $10,378
Original MSRP: $22,655 - $27,250
MPG: 22 City / 33 Hwy
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2009 Saturn Aura Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

The 2009 Saturn Aura is often praised for taut handling and its enticing array of powertrain options. Its base four-cylinder engine is more than powerful enough to move the car without using much gas. Its top-of-the-line V6 makes it quicker than an Accord or Camry. Reviewers have little to say about the Aura's brakes, which is usually a good sign.

  • "Underway, we found the Saturn Aura is quiet and handles well. Brakes, suspension and powertrain all work together to respond to the driver's wishes." -- New Car Test Drive
  • With the V6 engine, "the Aura XR comes across more as a sports sedan than a family car. It is stiffly sprung, with a feel akin to that of the more expensive Nissan Maxima or Acura TL." -- Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
  • "It feels most like the lightweight Accord; it's much more stiffly suspended than a Camry and thus more fun to drive. The Aura is firm over bumpy roads, but not excessively so. It'll disappoint only those who prefer the softest of Buicks." -- Motor Trend
  • "Aura's confident styling is backed up by eager handling combined with a comfortable and surprisingly quiet highway ride." -- Kelley Blue Book

Acceleration and Power

The 2009 Saturn Aura is available with a V6 engine or a smaller four-cylinder powerplant. The four-cylinder model puts out 169 horsepower, and manages an EPA rating of 22/33 mpg. The 3.6-liter V6 puts out 252 horsepower and earns a 17/26 mpg rating. A smaller V6 offered last year has been discontinued.

Reviewers say the largest of the engines is one of the fastest in this segment of the market, but the four-cylinder is respected. Only one transmission is offered -- a six-speed automatic. On V6 models, it includes steering wheel-mounted shift paddles to allow drivers take over the shifting when they want.

  • "For the 2009 Aura, Saturn is emphasizing fuel economy. ... The four-cylinder has even been made an option this year for the upmarket XR. Saturn has also upgraded the four-cylinder's transmission, from a four-speed automatic to an advanced six-speed auto. Efficiency has risen as a result, and the four-cylinder Aura's fuel economy is now at the top of the midsize sedan segment." -- Edmunds
  • With the four-cylinder engine, "Acceleration affords confident, competent high-speed lane changes." -- Washington Post
  • "The four-cylinder Aura XE is less expensive but isn't quite as sweet as the best Japanese powerplants." -- Car and Driver
  • "The 6-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted sequential paddle shifters doesn't waste a single one of the 252 horsepower produced by the 3.6-liter dohc V-6 equipped with variable valve timing -- turn the traction control off, and it will spin its front tires in wild burnouts on command." -- Road and Track

Handling and Braking

The Aura is based on the Opel Vectra, a recently-discontinued European car. Test drivers often praise the Aura's handling as resembling the tight control found on European sedans, while still offering a comfortable ride for passengers. However, the two engines come with two different steering systems -- and some find the hydraulic steering of V6-powered Auras tiresome and heavy. Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes are standard.

  • "The car dances nicely in the curves, never hinting at losing control in the front or rear." -- Washington Post
  • "The four-cylinder and six-cylinder engines come with different steering setups, but neither offers much feeling from the wheel. The four-cylinder's electric steering is at least easier on the arms, as the V6's hydraulic system is overly heavy, making for a laborious effort at parking speeds." -- Edmunds
  • "The Aura's road manners are a pleasant surprise." -- Cars.com
  • "Cornering is firm and balanced, while the suspension absorbs road irregularities and rough pavement with easy grace. The steering is nicely weighted with the slightly heavier feel of a European car, which in my experience enhances the sense of precision and control. Drivers accustomed to the lighter touch of most domestic and Asian sedans might find it too heavy." -- Arizona Republic
  • "All Aura models feature four-wheel disc brakes with ABS. We found they felt good and worked well in normal driving." -- New Car Test Drive

Next Steps: 2009 Saturn Aura

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