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2007 Saturn Aura XR Review

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2007 Saturn Aura
SPECIFICATIONS - 2007 Saturn Aura XR
Model: 2007 Saturn Aura XR
Engine: 3.6-liter DOHC V6
Horsepower/Torque: 252 hp @ 6400 rpm/251 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic with manual mode
Wheelbase: 112.3 in.
Length/Width/Height: 190.0 x 70.3 x 57.6 in.
Tires: P225/50R18
Cargo volume: 15.7 cu. ft.
Fuel economy: 20 mpg city/28 mpg highway/18.9 mpg test
Sticker: $26,919(includes $650 destination charge)

The Bottom Line: Top-notch sedan with comfort, convenience, decent power and a comfortable ride. Fuel economy was decent, but could have been higher.

Yes, I know Saturn, from the start, had the “L” series of sedans and wagons. The L designation represented Large, as compared to the S series vehicles whish were smaller.

But Saturn has been going through a nomenclature change over the past few years, and the new mid-size Saturn is the Aura, a viable competitor in the mid-size arena. The first time I drove the car, I was limited to about 15 minutes. Thankfully, I finally had an opportunity to drive the Aura in an extended test. It was worth the wait.

Don’t be surprised if the Aura re minds you of a couple of other GM cars. It shares its platform with the Chevrolet Malibu Maxx and Pontiac G6, and feels a lot like a Malibu/Impala clone. None of these statements mean it is a bad car.

Aura is powered by the now-almost-universal 3.6-liter double overhead cam V6. I have driven this engine in a variety of vehicles and think that in the Aura it shows its mettle best. It is a smooth engine with more than enough power. On dry roads, we chirped the tires several times on normal acceleration. I can only imagine what might have happened if I had been trying.

Constant readers will not that I’m also appreciative of a quiet engine, and the 3.6 was quite under normal operation, but fairly noisy under acceleration. This “noise” wasn’t objectionable, but if I didn’t tell you about it, someone would complain.

The engine drives the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission with a manual mode. The manual shifters are paddles located behind the steering wheel. To shift to manual mode (Saturn calls it Tapshift) you pull the shift lever back one more notch from “D”. You upshift by pushing the top button, downshift by hitting the one behind the wheel. Both paddles have a nice tactile feel to them in the proper location for operation.

Handling was sedan-good. It wasn’t the type of car you’d want to enter in a road race, but it comported itself quite well on all road surfaces. It was smooth over most road surfaces, especially Interstates. On winding roads, it held its own. On my hillclimb test, I was having too much fun shifting to worry about handling, but if it wasn’t good I would have had to worry about it, so I guess it passed muster.

One feature that endeared the Aura to me forever (well, almost) was remote start. Once I figured out how to use it – GM uses several different algorithms – it was a godsend in early winter cold weather. All I had to do was point the key fob at the car, push “Lock,” then push the remote start icon for approximately four seconds. The car would turn over and by the time I was ready to get it, it was cozy warm.

The instrument panel consisted of two large and two smaller gauges. Numbers and letters were white-on-black with yellow rings. They even looked good at night, not like some of these video displays that some manufacturers seem to prefer.

We had a smart wheel with audio, cruise control and “info” switches that read out on dash. The wheel also had a nice feel to it, which is important on longer rides.

Seats were comfortable in the sedan-like mode. Rear seat legroom was good. However, with a tall center hump, there is no room for a third passenger in the center. There’s an easy to hook up LATCH for child seat.

The Aura has a good trunk. We used mostly for an infant walker, but it could have handled a golf bag or two – not more.

I was impressed by the Aura’s solidity – but I’ve always been impressed by the solidity of Saturns. It’s the kind of car you feel comfortable in right from the start.

I was disappointed with the overall economy at 18.9 mpg. It wasn’t bad, but I would have hoped for more.

2007 The Auto Page Syndicate