In hopes of competing with the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, Saturn introduced the Aura midsize sedan for 2007. Saturn offers two models, two engines, and two transmissions for the Aura, which was voted the North American Car of the Year by a panel of top automotive journalists. The Aura is built on GM's European-based Epsilon platform and is assembled in Kansas City, Kansas. According to Saturn, it offers more room than its competitors, along with comparable ride and handling characteristics at a reasonable price.
Saturn owners (not to mention Saturn dealers) have long anticipated the arrival of a competitive midsize sedan; something that could compete with the likes of the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord in terms of quality, refinement, features, and price. Saturn's previous entry in the midsize market, the L-Series, was a disappointment for the GM division and faded from the scene almost as quickly as it arrived. After years of waiting, Saturn and its dealers think they may have found the answer-the all-new Aura.
At initial glance, the new Aura appears to be a competitive midsize sedan that seats 5 and delivers strong performance along with a comfortable ride. Two trim levels-XE and XR-comprise the Aura model lineup. The overall design is clean and contemporary. The plastic body panels are gone, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing, as plastic body panels require larger gaps to allow for expansion and contraction and make it difficult for designers to create a crisp, stylish design. The Aura sets the design standard for Saturn vehicles to come, with an identifiable chrome grille bar and wraparound headlamps. In the rear, Light Emitting Diode (LED) taillamps add to the bright look. The LEDs aren't just for appearances though; they light up quicker than regular taillamps and give drivers behind the vehicle an earlier warning. Plus, they last longer and are brighter than regular taillamps. The Aura also has received a five-star crash test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for both front and side impact.
Inside, the Aura is just as nice, with high-quality materials used throughout. Fit and finish is better than ever, and the clean lines of the instrument panel and console complement the exterior design. A nice list of standard features on the entry XE model includes an AM/FM/CD audio system with MP3 playback, cruise control, power door locks/windows/mirrors, remote keyless entry, and 60/40 split-fold rear seatbacks. The XR adds steering wheel audio controls, remote vehicle start, and automatic climate controls.
Power for the Aura comes from either a 3.5-liter (XE) or 3.6-liter (XR) V-6, both featuring variable valve technology for better performance. The 3.5-liter unit delivers 224 hp and 220 lb.-ft. of torque, while the 3.6 produces 252 hp and 251 lb.-ft. of torque. Both engines run on regular unleaded fuel and deliver around 30 mpg on the highway, according to EPA estimates. The 3.5-liter engine is matched to a 4-speed automatic transmission, while the 3.6 links to a 6-speed automatic. The 6-speed on the XR features Driver Shift Control that includes shifting paddles on the steering wheel for a manual-shift feel.
The Saturn Aura competes in the Midsize Conventional segment, which consists of 18 models. Buyers in this segment look for reliability, fuel economy, and performance, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2006 Avoider StudySM and the Escaped Shopper Study.SM
The top sellers in the segment during calendar year 2006, according to the J.D. Power and Associates Sales Report,SM were the Toyota Camry (397,630 units sold), Honda Accord (354,441), and Nissan Altima (232,457). The Saturn Aura sold 19,746 units in 2006 in its first year on the market. Other models offered in the Midsize Conventional segment include the Chevrolet Malibu, Pontiac G6, Hyundai Sonata, Ford Fusion, and Subaru Legacy.
|XE||4 speed automatic||$20,345||224-hp / 3.5L 6-cyl||20/29|
|XR||6 speed automatic||$24,345||252-hp / 3.6L 6-cyl||20/28|