Built on a unibody structure typically used for cars rather than trucks, Saturn’s VUE blends the features of a traditional SUV — the tall stance and a spacious cabin with flexible seating and cargo capacity — with sedan-like easy of entry, comfortable seats and an easy-to-drive personality. The VUE has two available engines: a dual-cam Ecotec four that achieves 143 hp, and a new 3.5-liter V-6 with 250 hp. The base VUE comes with the four-cylinder, front-wheel drive and a manual five-speed gearbox. Next up is the VUE with all-wheel-drive (AWD) and a continuously variable transmission (CVT), followed by the V-6 VUE mated to a new five-speed electronically controlled automatic with grade logic control. A VUE Red Line special edition gets its suspension lowered and ground effects added around the body plus special 18-inch wheels on tap, and it stocks the 250-hp V-6. A DVD-based rear-seat entertainment system is optional, as is an audio system with MP3 capability.
After only a year of production, Saturn’s compact four-door sedan and quad-door coupe gain refinements inside and out for 2004 models. They include a monochromatic instrument panel, soft-touch paint for the center stack and revamped colors for the radio panel and shifter bezel. Powertrain options start with GM’s Ecotec four-cylinder at 2.2 liters and generating 140 hp. The standard transmission is a manual five-speed by Germany’s Getrag. A smooth-shifting five-speed automatic is optional on the sedan, while the Quad Coupe offers a CVT. The ION Quad Coupe Red Line special edition will strap a supercharger on the Ecotec four to push it to 200 hp. It also uses a heavy-duty Getrag five-speed manual with a short-throw shifter, and it gets a performance-tuned exhaust system, a suspension tweaked and dropped ten millimeters, and four-wheel disc brakes with ABS plus 17-inch forged alloy wheels.
Saturn’s mid-size sedans and station wagons are reduced to a single L300 designation for 2004. The equipment list includes a four-speed Hydra-Matic automatic transmission, anti-lock brakes and traction control, curtain-style side airbags, a nice stereo system with a CD player and six speakers, plus power windows, cruise control, automatic headlamps, and more. Outside, the L300 has fog lamps, dual power mirrors with heat elements and 16-inch chrome-coated wheels. There are two powertrain options: GM's 2.2-liter Ecotec four-cylinder with 140 hp, or an optional 3.0-liter V-6 that delivers 182 hp.