General Motors’ Saturn division is hard at work on building a replacement for its small SUV, the Saturn VUE. Currently based strictly on U.S. technology, the 2008 VUE is expected to be heavily based on Opel technology: Opel is General Motors’ principal European brand. This is good news for those who were concerned that GM would ditch the Saturn VUE. Instead, the SUV will get new life and additional support via its new relationship with Opel. While it is too early to know all the details about the upcoming Saturn VUE makeover, there are some things we do know about this revamped model.
Ever since Saturn released the first “S Series” models back in 1990, the company has struggled to maintain a unique identity. Neglected by parent GM, the upstart Saturn brand had to wait nearly a decade before additional vehicles were added to its line including the Saturn VUE SUV. Along with the “L Series” midsize cars, the three vehicle lines [ION having replace the S Series] fully comprised the Saturn line for several years. Unfortunately, none of the three models were stand out performers, so the brand suffered accordingly.
With the demise of Oldsmobile has come new life for Saturn. Now a fully integrated GM division, Saturn is getting additional vehicles to help beef up its line up. Drawing upon its highly regarded dealer network and high consumer satisfaction scores, Saturn is being quickly remade into a European style division. Saturn has Opel to thank for that.
Along with the coming Aura midsize sedan which is heavily based on an Opel design, the Saturn VUE will be based upon the Opel Antera GTC. An Antera concept has been making the rounds of auto shows across Europe and what we know about the Antera points to what we can expect to see with the VUE.
The Antera is slightly smaller in size than the current Saturn VUE; although the Antera reportedly will have only two doors, the Saturn VUE model will get four doors. Both vehicles are closer in size to the current Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V models, their chief competitors. This smaller size also permits Saturn to introduce a slightly larger 7 passenger SUV next year, the Outlook.
The 2008 Saturn VUE will feature both four and six cylinder gas powered engines. Expect both AWD and RWD to be offered. The Antera’s front end will be redone to mesh with the current Saturn look. Beyond that, the VUE will likely incorporate current GM technology with upgraded safety and performance features included. A base price of around $20,000 for the FWD model is likely with fully loaded AWD versions retailing for as high as $30K.
The 2008 Saturn VUE will be built in Spring Hill, TN home of the original Saturn plant. Along with the Outlook, the Aura, the SKY roadster, the RELAY crossover, and the ION compact, new life is being breathed into Saturn thanks to Opel. This is good news for Saturn fans that have loyally supported the automaker since its inception more than 15 years ago.