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Saturn Vue and Toyota RAV4 Win AutoPacific 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Award in the Mid-Size Crossover SUV Segment

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The all-new Saturn Vue was in the top rank of the Mid-Size Crossover SUV Segment in the 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards. Owners strongly rated the Exterior Styling of the Vue and gave it high marks for Handing, Braking and Safety Features.
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The Toyota RAV4 beat out last year’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award winner, the Honda CR-V, achieving the top rank in the Mid-Size Crossover SUV Segment. Toyota’s Brand Reputation, RAV4’s perceived Reliability and its Overall Quality were strong contributors to RAV4’s victory.

Posted in: Awards, Saturn, Toyota

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Saturn Sky Wins AutoPacific 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Award in the Sports Car Segment

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Saturn Sky owners rated their new car well above the competition in the Sports Car Segment of the 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards. While, predictably, the Sky didn’t score well in Cargo Space, Cup Holders, or Interior Space, owners’ satisfaction with Image, Exterior Styling and Overall Quality made the Sky a real winner.

Posted in: Awards, Saturn

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AutoPacific Announces 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards

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Cadillac Top Brand, Mercedes-Benz S-Class Top Car, Toyota Sequoia Top Truck and Top Vehicle

Tustin, California, May 29, 2008 – A study released today by noted automotive consulting firm AutoPacific, Inc. summarizes the results of its 2008 model year vehicle satisfaction research. AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award (VSA) is an industry benchmark for objectively measuring how satisfied an owner is with their new passenger car or light truck.
In a year that promises to be the toughest in a decade, owner-based awards like AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award will help customers make their purchase decisions.
The brand with the highest satisfaction rating is Cadillac. The vehicle – car or truck – registering highest overall satisfaction in 2008 is the new-for-2008 Toyota Sequoia Large Sport Utility Vehicle. The passenger car with the highest overall satisfaction score is the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
There are twenty-eight Vehicle Satisfaction Award categories. At the manufacturer level, multiple top ranked award winners include: General Motors (eleven categories), Toyota (nine categories), Ford (six categories), Volkswagen (four categories), Honda (three categories) and Hyundai (two categories).
“Cadillac wins the Vehicle Satisfaction Award as the top brand in a close race. Strong satisfaction performance by Cadillac cars and trucks has Cadillac winning over other leading luxury marques including Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW says AutoPacific president George Peterson. “Top ranked finishes by Cadillac’s Escalade, CTS and DTS helped cement their industry topping position.”
Peterson continues, “Vehicles that are all new received top rankings in several categories: Cadillac CTS, Honda Accord, Mitsubishi Lancer, Scion xD, Toyota Sequoia, Audi Q7, Buick Enclave, Hyundai Veracruz, GMC Acadia, Saturn Vue and Nissan Rogue. These new-for-2008 vehicles were strongly rated by their owners showing that the industry continues to improve as new vehicles are added to the hotly contested American car and light truck markets.”
From a vehicle type perspective, Traditional Sport Utility Vehicles received the highest ratings as a class closely followed by Crossover Sport Utility Vehicles. Peterson says, “Clearly, SUVs continue to be one of the most popular and satisfying vehicle types available in the USA today. Even with skyrocketing gas prices, SUVs are attractive and Crossover SUVs fill the bill for most SUV buyers with better fuel economy.” Cars scored slightly below industry average followed by minivans and pickup trucks.


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2008 Saturn Lineup – The Newest Lineup in the USA

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It’s official. Saturn is no longer the brand with quirky composite commuters we remember at launch in 1990 and their recent transformation has been made with a swift but calculated hand from the European market.

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2008 Astra

Saturn’s lineup of completely new vehicles brought to us by way of Opel integration brings the brand up-market and solidifies Saturn as GM’s answer to fight foreign competition.
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2007 Saturn Sky


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Saturn Aura Wins AutoPacific 2007 Ideal Vehicle Award for Mid-Size Car:

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The new Saturn Aura has won a lot of awards – deservedly so – and it adds the Ideal Mid-Size Car Award for 2007 to its trophy case. The Aura was highly rated for exterior styling, interior lighting, seat firmness, technology level, and power and acceleration. It was rated notably lower than the segment average only for ease of getting in and out. Aura is one of the rarities winning both of AutoPacific’s 2007 Awards – the Vehicle Satisfaction Award and the Ideal Vehicle Award.


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Saturn Aura Wins AutoPacific 2007 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Mid-Size Car

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Saturn Aura Wins AutoPacific 2007 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Mid-Size Car:
“The new Saturn Aura has been well received, and has won a number of awards, but the real test is in how satisfied its owners are not how much journalists like it,” says AutoPacific president George Peterson. “Aura wins in a viciously competitive segment including cars like the Mazda6, Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan. Aura owners rated the all-new Aura highly for a number of attributes, including Exterior and Interior Appearance, Value, Power, Ride, and Handling and Innovative Technology. Pretty impressive for a new entry!”


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2008 Buick Enclave – Top Line GM Lambda Crossover SUV

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General Motors has now completed the launch of its Lambda platform Large Crossover SUVs. The Lambda platform includes vehicles from Saturn – the Outlook, GMC – the Acadia (not ARcadia) and Buick – the Enclave). Eventually, a Chevrolet version will be added as well.
These are the landmark vehicles that represent the end of the classic body-on-frame V8 powered SUV. They are that good.
I just returned from a driving event for the recently introduced Buick Enclave in St. Louis, Missouri. When I got into the office there was a Saturn Outlook in the parking lot for the AutoPacific and VehicleVoice staff to evaluate. Great opportunity for a back to back comparison of two Lambda crossovers. This story will concentrate on the Enclave – a future story will showcase the Outlook.

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Buick Enclave – First Drive
First, lets talk about the Buick. This is a vehicle that I have been waiting to drive for two years now. I think I have been to three events where Enclave was a featured subject, but this was the first opportunity I have had to drive it. Why was I looking forward to the Enclave? From my perspective it is a good size, has expressive styling inside and out, and is an example of the latest General Motors platform architecture.
Was it what I was expecting? Yeah, I guess so. First, I had to calibrate myself to the fact that the Enclave is a BUICK and what General Motors was attempting to achieve when they developed the vehicle. They wanted a vehicle with Buick ambiance – expressive, upscale styling inside and out. They wanted a spacious crossover capable of seating seven or eight passengers in three rows of seats. It was to have excellent ergonomics and be very pleasant to drive. It was to be very quiet. Check the boxes and the Lambda design and development team appears to have achieved their objectives.
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2007 Saturn Outlook – Lambda Crossover SUV

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The Saturn Outlook is a large Crossover SUV based on the General Motors’ Lambda platform. The Lambda platform is shared with the Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia and also with an upcoming Chevrolet large Crossover.

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Has GM Nailed Crossover SUV Execution?
First, you might be asking “what is a Crossover SUV”? For years, we at VehicleVoice have been avoiding using the “crossover” word because, frankly, our research shows that consumers are not yet using the term widely. In our eyes, an SUV is an SUV is an SUV. Our chief industry oracle, Jim Hall, always referred to Crossovers as “mongrelhalfbreedbastards”. But, with vehicles like the Outlook hitting the market we’ve decided to use the Crossover moniker.
Basically, a Crossover SUV takes the basic SUV theme and civilizes it. SUV drivers have for decades been asking for more maneuverable, more economical, more easy to live with SUVs. Crossover SUVs are the answer and the GM Lambda vehicles are the latest examples of Crossover SUV design and execution. We think GM has pretty well nailed it.
Pricing Makes Outlook a Persuasive Proposition
The Saturn Outlook XR that we evaluated is a mid-priced model listing at about $33,250. When you check the boxes you really want – like all wheel drive and a navigation system the price slips over $41,000. When you check ALL the boxes and add a moonroof and rear seat entertainment system you can touch $45,000. For a Saturn!
While you might think that is a high price, the base, base, base price of the FWD Outlook XE (the lower model) is about $28,000 including destination. This puts it mid-way between the base price of a Ford Explorer and Expedition. Given that Outlook is about the size of a Chevrolet Tahoe – priced about $4,000 more with a V8, the Saturn looks like a good deal.


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Saturn and Hyundai Lead in Improvement in Opinion

The brand-by-brand results for the VehicleVoice Image and Consideration Tracking Study. Earlier we had released the results of the changing opinions for nine “manufacturers”. Now, the information for the 36 individual brands we measured have been analyzed.

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Saturn and Hyundai Tops in Positive Opinion Change
In a virtual tie, Saturn and Hyundai are tops in opinion improvement over the past year. With a net better-vs.-worse score of +29%-points Saturn nudges past Hyundai at +28%-pts. Cadillac posted a respectable showing with a 23%-point improvement.
Saturn’s positive results come from a respected and expanding lineup of new cars and trucks. Winning the Car of the Year Award with the Saturn Aura did not go unnoticed. Also, addition of the Saturn Outlook Crossover SUV to the lineup was a very positive move. And, we cannot forget the Sky sports car. While Sky may not sell in huge numbers or generate huge profits, it is having a substantial positive effect on the image of Saturn. As a pure “halo vehicle” Sky is doing its job.
Hyundai was the top manufacturer in image change (Hyundai + Kia), but came in second among individual brands when considering Hyundai alone. Hyundai gets strong credit for having a solid warranty, improving durability/quality/reliability, better styling, better products overall, and an outstanding value. Hyundai has done an excellent job communicating the basic values of the brand to VehicleVoice panelists.

HUMMER Trails List of Image Improvement

Any list with top to bottom ratings has to have a last place finisher. For this wave of the research HUMMER was tail end Charlie. While the opinions of most individual brands improved, HUMMER showed the most net loss. In an environment of high fuel prices spiraling upwards, HUMMER is seen as out of touch with what the country wants and needs. The large, fuel in-efficient, brutishly styled HUMMERS are the poster children for the eco-friendly.

Two Luxury Brands Dip Below the Line

VehicleVoice panelists indicate that their opinion of Land Rover and Mercedes-Benz are lower today than a year ago. Both of these brands are dinged for reliability problems especially with electronics systems.
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Join VehicleVoice to Give Your Opinions on a Wide Range of Automotive Issues
VehicleVoice panelists regularly get the opportunity to give their opinions on a wide range of automotive topics from the image of brands to what an ideal audio system would be like in their vehicle. VehicleVoice surveys give panelists the opportunity to explain why something may, or may not, be desirable. It is this level of commitment that makes the VehicleVoice panel different from all others.
For those of you who have not yet joined the VehicleVoice automotive Internet panel, it takes just a few seconds to sign up. Go to http://www.vehiclevoice.com to get started.


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GM Performance Parts – General Motors at Willow Springs Raceway

VehicleVoice being invited to Willow Springs International Motorsports Park by GM’s Performance Parts Division is almost like Cold War Soviets being invited to Area 51 by Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect… but I made sure I brought my camera!

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Willow Springs is a historic track with the first race being held 54 years ago and now recognized by the State of California as an official Point of Historical Interest. The main track is a challenging 2.5-mile long road course with other adjacent facilities like the one rented for our GM event: The Horse Thief Mile.
The Horse Thief Mile is a tight, bare-knuckle course tucked up against the side of a mountain. Most of the track is either burning up the side of the mountain at a steep incline or snapping back on the descent. It offers hairpin turns, a short front straight away and a chance for GM to show us what they’re made of.


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