Avg. Price Paid:$9,536 - $9,536
Original MSRP: $25,645 - $25,645
MPG: - TBD - City / - TBD - Hwy
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2008 Saturn VUE Hybrid Performance

This performance review was written when the 2008 Saturn VUE Hybrid was new.

Reviews say that the 2008 Saturn VUE Green Line has adequate performance. The Washington Post says, "Its ride, handling and acceleration are all pleasant enough for normal drivers, people who want a safe, comfortable, reliable vehicle that is competent at highway speeds," but adds, "folks who get their jollies trying to outrun state troopers won't find much joy here."

CNET says that "performance is not the Vue's strong suit, although it does provide a comfortable ride around town with enough pep for most urban situations. The hybrid system's electric motor does what it can to help out on the freeway, but this is one car that won't spend much time in the left-hand lane." Others are less forgiving of the hybrid's performance. Autobytel says, "Let's hope the 32-mpg claim proves true because buyers won't be lining up for the Green Line's soft ride, vague steering, and lackluster acceleration."

Unlike competitors such as the Ford Escape, the VUE Green Line is not a full hybrid. Instead of running on electric power only, it runs on a gasoline engine aided by an electric motor. The gas engine turns off when the VUE comes to a stop. The Orlando Sentinel explains, "The advantage of a full hybrid is that all this running along on the electric motor alone means even better fuel mileage. The disadvantages are that full hybrids are typically heavier, more complex and considerably more expensive."

Acceleration and Power

The VUE Green Line comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder hybrid engine that makes 172 horsepower and 167 pound-feet of torque. Reviewers have mixed opinions on the hybrid powertrain. Many complaints stem from the fact that the engine simply isn't powerful enough. The Detroit News says, "I just wish the driveline had a little more muscle. Sometimes the Vue feels like it's taking forever to get up to cruising speed when you're entering the freeway." The New York Times says the engine delivers "barely adequate performance" and the Los Angeles Times notes, "The vehicle is comfortable cruising at 70 mph and slightly miserable at 85 mph."

Others are a bit more lenient regarding the hybrid's engine. The Boston Globe says, "It had no trouble maintaining highway speeds, and pulled out with ease for passing. Only if the speed dropped to 55 or so did it take some time to get back up to speed. But you can learn how to drive with that in mind." The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports the test vehicle "had plenty of pep" and The Family Car finds, "Acceleration from a stop was modestly acceptable, and the Vue was able to cruise comfortably at highway speeds. But if a spurt of power was needed -- on a hill or in a passing situation -- the response from the engine compartment was, well, weak and belated."

The Environmental Protection Agency does not yet have gas mileage estimates on the VUE Green Line, but Saturn projects the hybrid will get 25 miles per gallon in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. However, most reviewers feel this isn't impressive enough for a hybrid vehicle. "The hybrid powertrain doesn't save as much fuel over its nonhybrid counterpart compared to hybrids of most competitors, in part because this hybrid cannot creep along in stop-and-go traffic on its electric motor alone," says Newsday. CNET adds, "Our principal concern with the Vue Green Line is its fuel-economy shortcomings," and Edmunds notes the Saturn's estimates are "well below the fuel mileage of the Ford Escape/Mercury Mariner hybrids."

On the other hand, a few test drivers are pleased. The Chicago Tribune reports, "We tested the 2007 Green Line, and it did something most cars don't: Hit the 32 m.p.g. mileage estimate dead on." The Boston Globe also reports, "I got 26.2 miles per gallon, remarkable since its hybrid system is fairly benign."

The engine is paired with a four-speed automatic transmission that is disliked by almost every reviewer who mentions it. Cars.com says that their "sole complaint would be the four-speed transmission, which didn't deliver silky-smooth gear changes at every moment," while adding that "for cars in this price range, that's not a deal-breaker." The Family Car found the transmission "poorly matched to the hybrid powerplant in certain situations," noting that, "When the transmission would finally agree to step down a gear, the difference in ratios was so great that the response was a noisy surge in engine speed with little corresponding change in vehicle speed."

Handling and Braking

Like its engine performance, the VUE Green Line's handling gets lukewarm reviews. The New York Times calls handling "acceptable but not impressive," while the Orlando Sentinel calls it "average." Test drivers like the SUV's carlike ride, but their major gripe is that the suspension is too soft. "It's not a race car, but GM errs too far to the soft side in trying for a carlike ride," says the Boston Globe. Likewise, the Kansas City Star says, "The Vue's suspension is tuned to provide a comfortable ride, and it felt too soft when changing directions or braking quickly."

Reviewers are generally disappointed with the Green Line's electric power steering. The Orlando Sentinel says "you get no sense that the steering wheel is connected to the front tires aside from a basic change of direction." They go on to say the electric assist is "so overboosted that it feels like one of those arcade driving games, where you steer left or right until -- clunk! -- you reach the steering stop, and the wheel almost bounces back the other way," and concludes that the steering is "almost annoying enough to prevent me from buying the vehicle." The Auto Channel, on the other hand, has no complaints, noting the steering "has a reasonable touch, neither too light for control at speed nor too heavy for ease of driving around town."

The VUE Green Line features four-wheel anti-lock brakes. Cars.com describes the brakes as "surprisingly solid considering the rears are drums and they're part of the hybrid system." Test drivers complain about the hybrid system's effect on braking. Autobytel notes an "odd braking sensation when lifting off the throttle as the hybrid's computer cuts engine power for improved efficiency," leading to better fuel efficiency but also "pedal pressure that's hard to modulate."

Review Last Updated: 2/17/09

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