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Saturn Vue Green Line saves gas and money

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Alex Law
Small premium should allow owners to recoup costs
Alex: The most important thing about this hybrid sport-cute for me is that Saturn won't charge as high a premium as other car companies do for their hybrids, so Vue Green Line owners will actually get a good chance to save money on fuel costs.

Sue: No official prices yet from GM of Canada, but the hybrid-powered Vue should only cost about $2,500 more than the regular model. That's the popular guess because the U.S. is charging US$2,000 for a Green Line.

Alex: That should give it an MSRP of less than $30,000 in Canada, for a front-drive model with an automatic transmission.

Sue: That seems pretty fair for what you get in a Vue now, plus you save gas and help the environment.

Alex: True, and unless you do a lot of hard, fuel-chugging driving, you have a chance to save enough gas to recover that cost in a couple of years. With most other hybrids, the premium is so big you won't get your money back for years unless you drive about 100,000 a year, or unless gas prices double or triple.

Sue: GM hired an outside firm in the U.S. to test the Green Line's fuel efficiency, and of course they gave the results in miles using U.S. gallons, which are useless to us. But the percentage gains for the hybrid that they got in the testing are interesting -- 18.5 on the highway, 22.7 in the city, and 20.8 combined.

Alex: The biggest percentage gains will come in city-urban driving then, which is normal for hybrids since the electric motor is used more.

Sue: The Vue Green Line was different in one important way from other hybrids I've driven, because it was seamless in its drive and felt just like a regular gas-powered vehicle. I did not feel I was in a hybrid vehicle at all. So driving "green" does not downgrade the ride with this car, and I can hardly wait to see it in the Chevrolet Malibu when that comes out in a year or so.

Alex: The other thing about improved fuel economy that should matter to people is that the vehicle's range also goes up, so you don't have to stop for fuel as often.

Sue: That's great. I don't like spending the time it takes to get gas. I also know that a lot of women don't like going for gas because they feel less safe when they're out of the vehicle. Better range should be important to Vue Green Line buyers, since a lot more women buy Vue than men.

Alex: Does Saturn expect that to continue?

Sue: They hope more men will buy the Green Line, because it has the extra technology that they find interesting.

Alex: As well as delivering better fuel economy and more range, hybrids can also help deliver better performance because of the immediate response of the electric motor. That should also appeal to men. It also gets more horsepower (27) than the standard 2.4-litre engine. How did the Vue Green Line respond?

Sue: It had good pickup to get away from the stopped position and responded well to the gas peddle while driving at all speeds. It had very nice handling around bends and twists in the road and in turns around corners.
Alex Law
Alex Law
Automotive expert