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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
Braking is about average for the class
Wheel motions are quickly dampened without any hint of abruptness
Car and Driver
Performance excels in most areas important to everyday driving and comfort
The 2008 Saturn Vue rides well and accelerates with gusto, especially in Red Line trim.
The 2008 Saturn Vue lineup offers three different engines: one four-cylinder and two V-6 versions. Edmunds says that the base Saturn Vue "XE is powered by a 2.4-liter inline-4 (169 hp and 160 lb-ft of torque)," while the "XE V6 has a 3.5-liter V6 (215 hp and 220 lb-ft)" and "both the XR and Red Line trims feature a powerful 3.6-liter V6 (257 hp and 248 lb-ft)." Engine performance on the four-cylinder is decidedly less impressive than on the V-6 versions, but it achieves better fuel economy than its six-cylinder siblings. Kelley Blue Book avers that "the 3.5-liter V6 will provide adequate power, while the four-cylinder's appeal most certainly lies in its fuel economy advantage." Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com are unanimously impressed with the powerful 3.6-liter V-6, which ConsumerGuide proclaims is "strong and refined." Cars.com reviewers claim that there is "ample acceleration (it manages zero to 60 in an impressive 6.7 seconds)," while Edmunds declares that "with the 3.6-liter V6, this Saturn scoots."
The three available engines on the 2008 Saturn Vue pair up with one of three different transmissions. Edmunds says that the four-cylinder engine is "mated to a four-speed automatic transmission," while the 3.5-liter V-6 benefits from "a six-speed automatic transmission," and the 3.6-liter V-6 gets a "six-speed automatic" with a "manual-shift feature." Edmunds adds that front- or all-wheel drive is available on each trim. The transmissions receive mixed reviews, with ConsumerGuide commenting that "the transmission upshifts smoothly but tends to delay downshifts." With the manual shift feature on the six-speed automatic, Kelley Blue Book says "the return action of the optional tap-up/tap-down shift lever was frustratingly slow." The one recurring complaint regarding the transmission is that it "has a tendency to hunt between gears when going up even slight inclines," in the words of ConsumerGuide.
One of the major selling points of compact SUVs is that they offer decent cargo capacity in a more frugal package than their bigger brethren. While that may be the case for some compact SUVs, reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that the Saturn Vue 2008 certainly doesn't sip fuel. The EPA estimates that a front-wheel-drive four-cylinder Saturn Vue will get 19 mpg city and 26 mpg on the highway, while the numbers for the V-6 models vary between 15 and 16 mpg in the city and 22 or 23 mpg on the highway, depending on the configuration. In real-world driving, ConsumerGuide reports that "a 2WD Red Line averaged 20.9 mpg in mostly highway driving," while "AWD versions averaged 14.7 mpg in mostly city driving."
What the Vue lacks in fuel economy it makes up for in terms of ride quality. In this category, ConsumerGuide says "non Red Line Vue models are among the best compact SUVs." Kelley Blue Book agrees, announcing that "the 2008 Saturn Vue is as eager and agile as most of its competitors and as comfortable on the highway." Reviewers at the Detroit News attest that Saturn Vue has "well balanced" steering and it's "an easy vehicle to maneuver in a parking lot or on the autobahn." Edmunds reviewers report that "braking is about average for the class, as the four-wheel vented disc brakes help bring the Vue to a stop from 60 mph in 131 feet."
Strong handling and peppy V-6 engines make for a fun, if not fuel-efficient, ride in the 2008 Saturn Vue.