|The Saturn Vue enjoys a well-deserved spot in the hearts of Canadians, particularly Quebecers.|
Of course, there's a pair of full-size SUVs, the Tahoe and Yukon Hybrids (introduced last year). However, the American giant is also banking on smaller, more affordable models to attract eco-minded consumers. Such is the case of the Saturn Vue Hybrid, also known as Green Line.
A mild hybrid
Saturn has its own version of GM's hybrid technology, using different components than other brands. The concept behind the system is rather simple: an electric motor/generator is mated to a standard 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder Ecotec engine and a specially-designed 4-speed automatic transmission.
Together, it allows the gasoline engine to benefit from a little assistance under acceleration and, most importantly, to completely shut off during idling situations, like in stop-and-go traffic or at a red light. To further save fuel, the system senses the slightest deceleration and immediately cuts off fuel delivery. Finally, to ensure that the batteries never run empty, a regenerative braking system converts kinetic energy produced while braking into electricity.
Unlike the Volt, the Vue Green Line can't run solely in electric mode. Yet, it saves enough fuel with the mixed powertrain to deserve being called a hybrid. During my road test, which included a combination of city and highway driving, I was able to maintain an average of about 9 liters per 100 kilometers -- a refreshing change for me, who had just spent a week behind the wheel of a gas-guzzling sports car.
Fast enough to qualify
You don't buy a vehicle like the 2008 Saturn Vue Hybrid if you're looking for performance. Fuel economy is more important, so you have to be willing to make a few sacrifices with regard to accelerations.
|The 2.4-liter 4-cylinder Ecotec gasoline engine in mated to an electric motor/generator.|