For two weeks, The Boss and I painted the town red in a 2007 Saturn Vue Green Line. We sat pretty at mid-sized-crossover height as I navigated the "mild hybrid"--meaning the gas engine does most of the dirty work, with the electric motor kicking in only when the car is coasting, braking, or stopped--across the rural landscape of northeastern Connecticut. I don't know where "rural" falls in the city vs. highway miles per gallon assessment, but I imagine it's somewhere between the 27-32 MPG range outlined in the neat, white folder of vital statistics left on the passenger seat when the gentleman from NYC dropped off the car for me to review as part of the Parent Bloggers Network.
The first order of business was for The Partner to correct The Boss when she referred to the shiny, forest-green vehicle as a truck.
"That is a car," he said.
"Car," she repeated.
Lacking in 4wd, significant ground clearance or anything with half a chance of eliciting a rush of testosterone, the Saturn Vue Green Line disappointed The Partner from the get-go. As an equally jarring affront to his masculinity, there is no manual transmission option. Matters were further complicated when he first stepped into the driver's seat only to have his knees and elbows bang up against the dashboard, the side door, and the center console. Though tinkering with the seat settings made the arrangement slightly more comfortable, quarters were always cramped where his 6'1", 200 pound frame was concerned.
I'm smaller than my husband, but I have to agree that the Vue Green Line does not feel spacious. And though my fingers are downright small, even I had trouble working a cruise control set-up that seemed designed for Barbie's Dream Hybrid.
The thing I adored most about the Saturn Vue Green Line, however, was the opposite of cramped. It was the rear cargo area. I drive a four door sedan with a regular sized trunk, and the space afforded me there pales in comparison to that of this crossover's rear end. I was able to load my jogging stroller into the back without going through the tedious process of removing all three wheels--and there was still room for groceries.
[What I have to say next merits a disclaimer: the love of my life, the car I drive daily, is a Caddy that Zigs. It's a sporty luxury vehicle with smooth handling beneath a lush interior. It's comes from a line of notorious lemons and it's in our garage/makeshift auto shop on almost a weekly basis, but it is far more dear to me than any inanimate object has a right to be. ]
Relative to what I know and love, the Saturn Vue Green Line--with its 170 HP, 4 cylinder engine--has no pep. Having become accustomed to surviving bad merging choices thanks only to my daily driver's quick acceleration, the Vue's lack of giddy-up almost killed me on more than one occasion. Eventually I got used to it, and I'd go so far as to say the world is probably better off with me driving a car that lacks pep. But the lack of power still makes me sad. The Partner also commented that the handling of the Saturn Vue Green Line was inferior to that of his much larger GMC Yukon. The responsiveness and stability was not what you'd expect when comparing a smaller and more compact SUV to its gargantuan, gas-guzzling cousin.
When it comes to The Boss, however, she usually doesn't complain about things in the automotive realm--and the Saturn Vue Green Line presented no exception to the rule. In a car seat that was strapped tighter than usual into the back seat thanks to the LATCH system my current car lacks, she watched the world go by with attentive eyes. I'm sure she enjoyed the new perspective from a perch higher than that of the mid-sized sedan she's used to.
One of the last things I will mention is satellite radio--uncensored music, talk, entertainment and news coming at you with only a few commercials. The Saturn Vue Green Line offers XM Satellite Radio as an option. If you upgrade to the "Comfortably Safe" package that includes XM, you also get a Head Curtain Side Air Bag, power driver's seat, and heated front seats. For a couple extra hundy, bringing the total to $2k in add-ons, you can get a power sunroof.
The bottom line is...well, the bottom line. With the Saturn Vue Green Line, it's all about clean, green savings. Though the fuel economy is not as good as the similar Toyota Highlander, Mercury Mariner, or Ford Escape hybrid models, the price is unbeatable. Even with the upgrades mentioned above, my personalized Saturn Vue Green Line Line--with a base price of approximately $23k--would max out at $25k.
With decent fuel economy and a highly economical price, the Saturn Vue Green Line is a good choice for those who are just beginning to consider the necessity of taking a less gasoline-dependent lifestyle to the bank.