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Saturn Vue Green Line Offers Hybrid Powertrain for $23,000

Introducing Saturn Vue Green Line
Among the most significant news about the Saturn Vue Green Line news at the Detroit auto show was its expected $23,000 price tag. GM explains being able to charge less by offering a less costly system than the competition. This compares with a price tag for the Escape hybrid at $27,500 in January 2006 and the Toyota Highlander at $33,650 (both for front-wheel-drive models). Even the Toyota Prius has a base price of nearly $22,500. Whether Saturn will actually find the Green Line a profitable vehicle, GM has decided to win the price war. Sales are set for summer 2006.


The Vue Green Line uses a simple hybrid system with a motor/generator to provide additional power during acceleration. The system shuts off the engine at idle, cuts off fuel supply during decleration, and uses regenerative braking for capturing electrical energy. The Vue Green Line uses an electric motor/generator in place of a conventional starter and alternator that can provide 115 lb-ft of torque assist at start, a 300-volt NiMH hybrid battery pack that can add almost 10HP of peak power (stored in the cargo area), and an engine accessory belt drive that enables the switch between what GM calls motoring and generating modes. In motoring mode, the hybrid system restarts the engine when the brake pedal is release and provides acceleration assistance. The system provides 12-volt accessory power as well as charging the battery pack in the generating mode.


The gasoline engine in the hybrid Vue is a 170HP 2.4L VVT Ecotec four-cylinder. The hybrid will only be offered in front-wheel drive, with a four-speed automatic transmission. GM claims fuel efficiency for the hybrid will be up about 20 percent versus the four-cylinder in the standard Vue. Initial estimates are for 27 mpg in the city and 32 on the highway.
Facelift Review: New Look Doesn’t Pass Muster with Some Critics
While Saturn’s news at the 2006 Detroit auto show was the hybrid Vue Green Line, this was the first opportunity VehicleVoice ( and AutoPacific ( analysts have had to comment on the facelift given the Vue for the 2006 model year. There are some who would prefer the old face return. Saturn gave the formerly straightforward and functional-looking Vue front end a puckered-up lip look especially notable in dark colors, like the dark green that the Vue Green Line front and center in Detroit was given. Darker colors accentuate to negative effect the small grille and headlights and draw particular attention to the chrome outlines of the small front grille and raised-eyebrow look of the headlights, giving the nose a look reminiscent of a 2005 Hyundai Elantra. The large, horizontal-lined black inserts in the lower front fascia don’t do the Vue any favors, either. On dealer showrooms at the moment, however, the Red Line take includes a larger, more aggressive front grille and deeper lower fascia. Both of these touches give the Vue a different personality and together drop the pug nose effect.



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