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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
“Performance is much smoother and swifter with the 3.6-liter”
Car and Driver
midsize sedan shines for its sporty road manners
Capable handling from the XR
Reviews from across the Web agree that the 2009 Saturn Aura exhibits good handling and road manners and has good performance all-around.
The 2009 Saturn Aura is available with four different engines: a 2.4-liter four-cylinder, a 3.5-liter V-6 for the XE, and a 3.6-liter V-6 for the XR, as well as GM’s hybrid system. The base 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine outputs 160 horsepower. The four-cylinder Aura, Car and Driver says, “is less expensive but isn’t quite as sweet as the best Japanese powerplants.”
The 3.6-liter V-6 in the Aura XR is a smooth-revving engine producing 252 horsepower and 251 pound-feet or torque that gets from 0-60 in less than 7 seconds and delivers EPA estimates of 17 mpg city, 26 mpg highway. Edmunds likes this combination the best: “Performance is much smoother and swifter with the 3.6-liter, and for consumers who aren't counting every mpg, it's the more satisfying choice.” ConsumerGuide reports its test Aura XR hit "60 mph from a stop in an impressive 6.5 seconds." They also praise the vehicle's automatic transmission, noting it is "commendably smooth and responsive." The XR transmission also has a "clutchless-manual mode and steering-wheel-mounted shift levers," says Cars.com. This combination is “superior,” Automedia remarks, and “highly recommended for Eurocar enthusiasts and those not on a tight budget.”
Steering on the Saturn Aura is rather "devoid of feel," attests Edmunds, and it hurts the car in the area of its sporting credentials. There is also no assist at low speeds, which can make parking rather intensive. Automedia, however, feels that in XR versions, “the tightly-tuned suspension and steering boost the Aura's satisfaction level right up there among the market's best front-drivers.” However, Edmunds suggests that the Saturn Aura is very capable, with minimum body roll. MyRide.com agrees, pointing out the "four-link independent rear suspension with large stabilizer bars front and rear to control body roll." Car and Driver reports that it “handles nicely.” However, reviewers at ConsumerGuide notice "some jiggle and body drumming on rippled surfaces."
According to MyRide.com, "A four-wheel-disc braking system with ABS and dynamic rear proportioning" comes standard, but the "strong and stable braking is marred by oddly dull and heavy pedal action," warns ConsumerGuide.
“In truth, the Chevy Malibu is a more fully realized version of these underpinnings,” says Car and Driver in a surprising but accurate summary of the Aura’s performance.
Though the four-cylinder models of the 2009 Saturn Aura are the frugal choice, the V-6 models have more satisfying performance.