MPG-o-Matic Saturn VUE Green Line Review Summary: The distinctively styled Saturn VUE Green Line hybrid competes with the Ford Escape Hybrid, Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Jeep Patriot, and Compass among others in the crowded compact SUV category.
The Green Line is powered by a Hybrid drive train with a 2.4 liter Ecotec inline four cylinder engine that produces 169 horsepower (HP) and 161 foot pounds of torque, mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission.
Saturn’s little hybrid SUV is different then the Toyota-technology based hybrids, in that it gets better gas mileage on the highway then it does in the city. Like the Honda Civic Hybrid, the VUE Green Line does not creep around at low speed solely on electric power. Instead, the Green Line uses its electric motor to assist with acceleration.
There’s no doubt that the Saturn VUE Green Line produces excellent mileage on the open road, with EPA ratings of 25 city / 32 highway miles per gallon (MPG). This score awards the little SUV the distinction of the highest highway MPG of all 2008 SUVs sold in America. We easily exceeded the official ratings, rolling up a healthy 34.2 MPG on the highway in over 200 miles of driving in 70 degree weather.
While the Saturn VUE Green Line is thrifty on the Interstate, with 3789 pounds to push around it’s no rocket ship off the line. (We didn’t set a stop watch for the 0-60 time, but we did videotape it.) But the Ecotec inline four’s power band kicks in around 4000 RPM and is strong all the way to the 7000 RPM red line. A manual shift option on the shifter allows the sporting-minded driver to keep the rev-happy engine in its power band.
Hint: Letting off the gas after accelerating to speed is one of the keys to getting the best gas mileage from the Green Line. You’ll want to watch for the green Eco light while keeping an eye on the Instant Fuel Economy display in the Driver’s Information Center (between the Tachometer and Speedometer). When the Eco light is lit, you’re in the zone for better mileage … it’s up to you to maintain the slightest possible pressure on the gas pedal.
The VUE Green Line’s Auto Stop function saves fuel by shutting down the engine when you come to a complete stop with your foot on the brake.
When you lift your foot off the brake pedal, the belt alternator starter system instantly brings the engine to life. (In practice, we found it best to carefully lift your foot a moment before you want to take off, to avoid any lag.)
In addition to the Instant Fuel Economy display, the Driver’s Information Center provides a host of data, including: direction, outside temperature, average fuel economy, oil life, tire pressures, trip distance, and fuel range.
All in all, the Saturn VUE Green Line hybrid compact SUV presents an interesting mix of European styling, smooth ride, car-like handling, plenty of cargo room, and class-topping highway fuel economy.
While only available in front-wheel-drive (FWD), the VUE Green Line is a thrifty choice for style-conscious folks downsizing from jumbotron-sized SUVs. It’s not a far stretch to imagine nearly doubling your gas mileage.
We caught lots of double-takes from folks sizing up the VUE, a good share of which came from moms driving gas-guzzling mega luxury SUVs.
Could a Cadillac version be far off?
– by Daniel Gray