New & Used Saturn Aura: In Depth
2009 Saturn AuraEnlarge Photo
The Saturn Aura was a mid-sized sedan sold from 2007 through 2009 by GM's now-shuttered Saturn division. The Aura four-door sedan was the successor to the woefully unsuccessful Saturn L-Series mid-size sedan, sold from 2000 to 2005. Saturn itself was closed down--along with HUMMER, Pontiac, and Saab--during the government-backed restructuring of General Motors that followed its 2009 bankruptcy during the economic recession.
Based on the same modern, front-wheel-drive underpinnings as the Chevrolet Malibu, an Aura concept shown at the 2005 Detroit Auto Show received good reviews for its styling, equipment, and performance. While Saturn had not intended to use the Aura name on its new sedan model, the popularity of the concept led to the production model carrying over the name. The design was closely related to the German Opel Vectra--whose running gear was also used for the Saab 9-3--giving the Aura a distinctly European feel both inside and out, although it was built in a GM assembly plant in Kansas.
Three different powertrains were offered in the Aura: The base engine was a 219-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 paired with a four-speed automatic transmission. The Aura XR performance model featured a 252-hp 3.6-liter V-6, with a new six-speed automatic transmission and paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. Finally, the Aura Green Line model (also known as the Aura Hybrid) used a 164-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, the older four-speed automatic transmission, and GM's first-generation Belt-Alternator-Starter (BAS) mild-hybrid system.
Both of the V-6 models were rated at 21 mpg combined, while the hybrid model came in at 27 mpg--a considerable increase--at the cost of some roughness in the drivetrain as the alternator either recharged a small lithium-ion battery pack in the trunk or contributed extra torque to that provided by the engine. It also restarted the engine as the driver prepared to move away after a stop.
For 2008, a non-hybrid version of the 2.4-liter four was offered, with the same four-speed automatic transmission, rated at 25 mpg combined. And for the final model year of 2009, that 2.4-liter four was paired with the six-speed automatic--boosting the EPA combined rating to 26 mpg, and more or less making the more expensive Aura Green Line hybrid model irrelevant.
The base Aura XE trim level used 17-inch steel wheels with five-spoke plastic wheel covers, while the upscale Aura XR model moved up to 18-inch spoked alloy wheels. The XR could also be ordered with a special appearance package that added chrome accents to elements of the exterior. All models were fitted with six airbags and traction control as standard, and used a radio antenna integrated into the rear window.