NEW_CAR_PREVIEW

2009 Saturn Vue Green Line 2 Mode Hybrid Preview

1/1/2009

Critical Knowledge:
  • New addition to the Vue lineup

  • V-6 engine with two electric motors

  • Claimed 50-percent increase in fuel economy

  • Available with front-wheel drive (FWD) only

  • 3500-pound towing capacity

  • 0-60 mph in 7.3 seconds

  • Sales to begin in fourth quarter 2008


Introduction
The Vue has been Saturn's entry in the compact SUV segment since 2002. Saturn added a Green Line hybrid for the 2007 model year. That model used an electric motor/generator coupled with GM's Ecotec 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine for a total output of 170 hp and 162 lb.-ft. of torque. The result was a 20-percent increase in fuel economy versus the 2.4-liter engine without the hybrid system. The Vue was redesigned for the 2008 model year, losing the traditional Saturn plastic body panels in the process. A Saturn Vue Green Line returned to the lineup with the same 2.4-liter engine and motor/generator. For 2009, Saturn will add a second hybrid to the Vue lineup, the Vue Green Line 2 Mode.




The 2009 Saturn Vue's 2-mode hybrid system is the same one that is being rolled into GM's full-size trucks and SUVs, including the Chevrolet Tahoe and Silverado, GMC Yukon, and Cadillac Escalade. The Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen also use a version of the 2-mode hybrid system. The system has low- and high-speed modes, turns the engine off at idle, can propel the vehicle with electric power alone, and uses regenerative braking to recharge the batteries. Saturn says this system will deliver as much as a 50-percent increase in fuel economy versus Vues powered by the standard V-6 engine.

While the 2008 Saturn Vue offers front- or all-wheel drive, the Vue Green Line 2 Mode Hybrid will be available only with FWD. The newest Vue is scheduled to go on sale in late 2008 as a 2009 model.

Model Lineup
The 2009 Saturn Vue Green Line 2 Mode Hybrid will be a fifth model in the Vue lineup. It will be equipped like a Vue XR. That means standard equipment will include automatic climate control; cloth upholstery; 8-way power adjustable driver's seat with manual lumbar adjustment; OnStar assistance with one year's service; leather-wrapped, tilt steering wheel with audio controls; cruise control; split folding rear seat; power windows and door locks; heated power mirrors; remote keyless entry; 6-speaker AM/FM stereo with CD/MP3 player and auxiliary input jack; XM satellite radio; rear cargo organizer; automatic headlights; theft-deterrent system; roof rails; fog lights; and P225/65R17 low-rolling resistance tires on light alloy wheels. Options will include a navigation system and power sunroof.

Hardware
The 2009 Vue Green Line 2 Mode represents the first use of GM's 2-mode hybrid system with a V-6 engine. GM's "high feature" V-6 engine is outfitted with direct injection and variable valve timing. Horsepower and torque numbers haven't been released yet, but in the standard Vue, the 3.6-liter V-6 engine makes 257 hp at 6500 rpm and 248 lb.-ft. of torque at 2100 rpm. Expect the Vue 2 Mode Hybrid to have slightly elevated numbers. The Vue Green Line 2 Mode will qualify as a Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (PZEV) in states with California emissions rules.

The V-6 engine will be mated to GM's Electrically Variable Transmission (EVT). The EVT has two electric motors and four fixed gears. One of the motors aids power at low speeds and the other helps at highway speeds. Under light throttle, the electric motors can propel the Vue up to 30 mph. With heavier throttle, the gasoline engine starts. Like other systems, the gasoline engine turns off at stoplights and restarts when needed.

Fuel economy estimates have not been released, but Saturn says fuel economy will be improved by as much as 50 percent. Expect EPA fuel economy numbers around 24 mpg in the city and 32 to 34 mpg on the highway. Saturn says the driving range will exceed 500 miles.

The Vue Green Line 2 Mode will use regenerative braking to charge the batteries. The vehicle will also have electric power steering instead of a conventional hydraulic system. To compensate for the weight shift caused by the hybrid system, the vehicle will have revised front and rear spring and stabilizer bar rates, and different calibrations for the front struts and rear shocks. Maximum towing capacity will be 3500 pounds, the same as the standard V-6 Vue.

Safety
The 2009 Saturn Vue Green Line 2 Mode Hybrid will have the following safety features: dual front air bags; torso-protecting front side air bags; head-protecting curtain side air bags with rollover sensors; active front head restraints; tire-pressure monitor; traction control; and electronic stability control. In tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Saturn Vue has received a 4-star rating for the driver and a 5-star rating for the front passenger in frontal impacts, a 5-star rating for front- and rear-seat occupants in side impacts, and a 4-star rating for rollover resistance. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the Saturn Vue achieves "Good" ratings for frontal offset crash tests, side-impact tests, and for rear crash protection.

Technology
Inside, the 2009 Saturn Vue Green Line 2 Mode Hybrid will feature its own gauge cluster with a special "efficiency gauge" in place of a tachometer. The efficiency gauge will inform drivers when they are achieving maximum fuel economy. The gauges will also indicate when the vehicle is in electric-only mode, engine-only mode, or a combination of the two.

A dash-mounted touch screen will be standard. It will include a power flow screen to show if the power is coming from the electric motors, the gasoline engine, or both. It will also display real-time fuel economy, and when regenerative braking is charging the batteries.

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