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#5

in 2009 Affordable Compact SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $9,898 - $13,385
Original MSRP: $23,280 - $30,935
MPG: 19 City / 26 Hwy
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2009 Saturn VUE Performance

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

The 2009 Saturn VUE performs very well for an SUV. In fact, it's praised for its smooth, car-like ride and maneuverability. Where it falls short, however, is in off-the-line acceleration (especially from the four-cylinder engine) and its erratic automatic transmissions.

  • "Sporty ride and handling are the hallmarks of the newest Vue, but the best package comes with the Red Line." -- Fort Worth Star-Telegram
  • "On the road, the Vue behaved much like a normal four-cylinder car. It had no trouble maintaining highway speeds, and pulled out with ease for passing." -- Boston Globe
  • "The Vue responds instantly and directly to steering inputs and offers up road feel in gluttonous quantities for this type of vehicle. The ride, meanwhile, is smooth and isolates occupants from highway bumps, returning only the smallest of jostles." -- Car and Driver
  • "This ute is tuned for a soft ride, but the moderate body roll in the corners doesn't keep it from holding its line in the corners." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The VUE is a solid performer, but off-the-line acceleration can be sluggish. The FWD base model comes standard with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that it shares with the VUE Hybrid. The AWD base model upgrades to a 3.5-liter V6, while XR and Red Line models get a 3.6-liter V6. Four- and six-speed automatic transmissions are offered -- and some reviewers complain that there's no available manual. According to the EPA, the FWD base model achieves 19/26 mpg city/highway, while AWD models achieve 16/23.

  • "Vues with the 3.6-liter V6 are strong and refined. Saturn says they'll do 0-60 mph in 6.7 seconds, which feels a bit optimistic to us. The transmission upshifts smoothly but tends to delay downshifts. It also has a tendency to hunt between gears when going up even slight inclines." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The XR model, with the 3.6-liter 250-horsepower engine, provides plenty of power. It doesn't feel like a race car, but it holds its own on the highway, with good acceleration for a 4,000-pound vehicle." -- Detroit News
  • "The Vue's off-the-line performance and fuel economy suffer because of this same trait: its weight. At about 4000 pounds, the Vue is pulling measurably margin more mass than most of its competitors." -- Car and Driver
  • "On the freeway, the Vue keeps pace as long as the road is flat. On the most gradual of inclines, the transmission seems to get confused and doesn't know whether it should downshift or stay put." -- Edmunds
  • "The Saturn Vue provides a tow package that allows us to tow up to 3,500 pounds. This is plenty of capacity to tow a couple of personal water craft or motocross bikes." -- Washington Times

Handling and Braking

MacPherson front suspension and an independent four-link rear suspension give the 2009 VUE a smooth ride, while responsive steering gives it sedan-like maneuverability.

  • "Non Red Line Vue models are among the best compact SUVs in this regard. Seemingly minor road imperfections are felt in the cabin, but they're neither severe enough nor happen often enough to be annoying. Red Lines have a sport suspension, larger wheels, and slightly lower-profile tires, which make the ride more firm but never uncomfortable." -- Consumer Guide
  • "It's an easy vehicle to maneuver in a parking lot or on the autobahn. And it certainly feels much more car like than the previous generation." -- Detroit News
  • "Utes in this size class are asked to deliver great maneuverability as you dart in and out of parking lots while running errands, and the Vue's nicely weighted steering effort and accurate steering action (no more electric assist) don't ask you to put up with any drama." -- Edmunds
  • "The loaded XR AWD Vue sampled here represents a quantum leap in refinement, but tips the scales at over 4300 pounds. That makes it feel sluggish off the line (blame tall economy-minded gearing) and less than nimble at the helm, though body control and overall performance are admirable." -- Motor Trend

Next Steps: 2009 Saturn VUE

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