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Saturn Vue (2002)

SEE ALSO: Saturn Buyer's Guide

by Brendan Hagin and Mikele Schappell-Hagin


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 23,085
     Price As Tested                                    $ 26,045
     Engine Type              DOHC 24-valve 3.0 Liter V6 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 181 cid/2962 cc
     Horsepower                                   181 @ 6000 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               195 @ 4000 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  106.6"/71.5"/181.8"
     Transmission                           Five-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     3524 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  15.5 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                         P235/60SR16 all-season         

Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/drum (ABS)
     Drive Train                   Front-engine/four-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/five-door
     Domestic Content                                        N/A
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            17/23/20
     0-60 MPH                                       10.0 seconds
     Top speed                        (governor limited) 100 mph
     Maximum towing capacity                         2500 pounds
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

BRENDAN - The sport utility market of today offers lots of choices. It's flooded with lots of models, mainly because every manufacturer seems to have one or more different models in its fleet. Saturn is one of the last companies that have come out with one, and with the new 2002 Vue debuting this year, they can finally say they have one of everything to offer. The innovative Saturn Vue is a true GM make, but with enough import styling to interest the non-GM buyers. And with a base MSRP under $20,000, it also offers a good price for those folks that cannot afford a larger SUV that might break the bank. Saturn offers two powerplants in its Vue, either the Ecotec 2.2-liter, four-cylinder, or a 3.0-liter V6. The 181 horsepower six-banger really makes it scoot, but the inline four powerplant has 138 ponies using a dual-overhead cam, four-valve design, so I'm sure it goes good too. The V6 only has a five-speed automatic transmission available, but the four offers a VTi continuously variable transmission or a five-speed manual. The smaller engine would appear to be the better choice if you want some variety in your gearbox as well as outstanding fuel mileage.

MIKELE - The Vue is a cute little thing, and I imagine that it will sell very well because Saturn has incredibly low-pressure sales staffs at its dealerships. I read in the press pack that the target demographics for the Vue are 40 to 45 year-olds with an average yearly income of $70,000, but I bet it will appeal to younger folks as well. Maybe the "extreme" 25 to 30-ish snowboard types will go for its rugged looks and winter capability. The four-cylinder Vue can be had with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, but the V6 only comes with all-wheel drive. It's manufactured in Spring Hill, Tennessee, so it's definitely American, but it has some import styling that makes it fit in well with most of today's SUV's. My Dad, the GM buff, might think it's a Japanese or Korean vehicle if he saw it, but he would approve of it if he found out it was made in the good old U.S. of A. The Saturn Vue has a longer wheelbase than most small SUV's which gives it really good stability. Its front suspension is independent strut-type with coil springs and an anti-roll bar, and the rear suspension uses three lateral locating links, an anti-roll bar and coil springs. It also has GM's electric power-assisted rack and pinion steering, so it has all the latest stuff to make it handle well.

BRENDAN - Saturn made a big step into the future with the Vue. Its interior has lots of useful features and has a nice wide rear cargo opening with a low step-in for us dog owners. It seats five adults, but if a third seat could be squeezed in the back it would be really cool. It would be a very tight fit, however, and I'm sure Saturn would need to make an SUV with a longer wheelbase to incorporate a third row. The Vue's exterior design has Saturn's practical polymer plastic bodyside panels, so if the neighbor kids are playing baseball nearby, they can't dent it up. You can tow a very small boat with the Vue, but don't try towing a yacht or anything large, because its maximum towing capacity is under a thousand pounds.

MIKELE - Vue safety items are plentiful. It has space-frame construction, and head-curtain side air bags are offered as well. Driver's and front passenger airbags are standard, of course, but it always seems nice to have that extra bit of safety that comes from side airbags. One of my cousins had a Saturn a few years back and she really loved it. She always said that if they made a pickup truck or an SUV, she would be first in line to pick one up at the local dealer. I bet she will be there bright and early after she reads this article.

BRENDAN - If she's anything like you Mikele, she'll have a tough time just getting out of bed that early in the morning.

MIKELE- That wasn't nice.