2008 Vue: Speaks With German Accent But Blends Fluently in U.s

By: Anthony Fontanelle

Inside and out, the 2008 Saturn Vue is virtually identical to its German sibling Antara from GM's Opel subsidiary in Europe. But its German accent did not hinder it from grabbing warm acceptance in the United States.

Beginning with its latest version of Vue, Saturn is working to make sure that Americans traveling to Europe will distinguish a little bit of home upon their influx on the continent. A partnership between the automaker and Opel, GM's wholly owned German subsidiary, was established in Europe to work on the 2008 Vue. Thus, the automakers are expected to sell essentially identical vehicles around the globe, with the only significant changes being drivetrains.

Saturn Sky and Aura bear a marked resemblance to the Opel GT and Vectra, respectively. With the arrival of the Vue, the two companies are joined at the hip. The American 2008 Saturn Vue and British 2008 Opel Antara are, save the grille, impossible to tell apart. But compared to its European counterpart, the Vue offers more inspiring choices.

The 2008 Saturn Vue, a re-badged Opel Antara, debuted at the 2007 Greater Los Angeles Auto Show. A preview of the new design was shown at the 2006 New York International Auto Show as the Saturn PreVue concept in Frankfurt in 2005.

Redesigned from rubber to roof, the Vue is available in XE, XR, Red Line and, come this fall, gas or electric hybrid models. Among them, they ultimately will offer five powertrains, including an I-4, two V6s and mild and full hybrids, three suspension-tuning levels and two drive formats, front- or all-wheel drive.

The latest Vue features a 169 hp 2.4 liter Ecotec with variable valve timing as the standard engine. Optional engines include a 222 hp 3.5 liter V6 and a 257 hp 3.6 liter DOHC V6. The vehicle is also equipped with the traditional , filter, radiator, and more.

Inside, front and rear seats are roomy in Vue and it provides a rake-adjustable seat back. That movement, though, is managed by an awkwardly positioned paddle atop the rear seat. On the safety front, every Vue is given front side and front or rear side-curtain air bags, ABS and traction control, electronic stability control, and a Rollover Sensing System.

Of course, all that features cost money. The base price of the latest Vue, at $21,395, is roughly three grand higher than its forerunner. Consequently, you are getting a whole heck of a lot more vehicle.

"We've already noted Vue's European exterior styling, but I'd be remiss if I didn't add that this crossover's famous plastic body panels have been relegated to the dustbin of history. Vue wears steel, like just about every other vehicle. GM got tired of the complexities of one-division's unique build materials, and also grew weary of explaining the look," said Dan Wiese, a famed auto critic.

He added, "The panels sometimes created in shoppers a false impression of poor build quality because of the necessarily wide body-panel gaps, which allowed the plastic panels to expand and contract with temperature changes. It just got too complicated to explain."

No other compact utility vehicle can feel Vue for choice. And it's worth noting, Vue no longer uses a Honda-supplied V6. All greasy stuff is home grown by General Motors Corp. The 2008 Vue is clever like an SUV, as enjoyable as a dynamic sedan and comforting as mom's hug. This Vue will give lots of folks a new perspective of the Saturn brand.

Saturn is also offering the Vue Green Line hybrid which debuted with the same mild hybrid system as the current model.

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