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Sky, Aura and Outlook coming to Saturn soon

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Alex Law
Three existing models upgraded for 2006
In about 18 months there'll be three more models in the lineup for Saturn fans to consider, but GM's primary import-fighting division has made some changes to its three existing models to spark consumer interest.

2006 Saturn Aura Concept (photo: General Motors)
Before we get to the familiar, however, a quick look at what's to come.

Quite a bit has been said by Saturn about the Sky roadster, and now the division has announced a little something about the other two new models. Specifically, Saturn has confirmed that the next mid-size sedan will carry its concept name -- Aura -- into production, and the mid-size crossover utility (i.e. part station wagon, part minivan, part SUV) will be called the Outlook.

When Outlook arrives in the fall of 2006 as a 2007, it "will be a key vehicle in our strategy to grow the Saturn brand," says Jill Lajdziak, Saturn general manager. "It will get us into the expanding midsize crossover segment with a vehicle that features dynamic design and a refined, sophisticated interior."

This is indeed a very important move for Saturn, since growing numbers of consumers seem to be abandoning truck-based SUVs for the smoother charms of the crossover vehicles, which I like to call faux-by-fours since they want to hang on to the rough-and-ready appeal of a traditional SUV without actually having the necessary skills.

2006 Saturn Aura Concept (photo: General Motors)
As for the Aura, Lajdziak says it will arrive in the summer of 2006 as a 2007 and will powered by a standard 3.5-litre V-6 with variable valve-timing and have an optional DOHC 3.6-litre V-6 for people who prefer more power (250 hp is the current estimate). The optional engine will also be mated to GM's new six-speed automatic transaxle.

"Reaction to the Aura name was very positive on the concept car," says Lajdziak says, "so we decided to keep it for production. It will be a very important vehicle to Saturn as we re-enter the competitive midsize car category." Saturn's previous mid-size sedan was extremely capable but bland-looking, and it did not have anywhere near the impact on the competitive mid-size sedan market as the company hoped, to put it mildly.
 
Aura and Outlook will "showcase the new design direction of the brand," Lajdziak explains. "In coming years, new Saturns will all feature dynamic, European-influenced exterior styling and warm interiors that utilize premium materials for a sophisticated look and feel."

2006 Saturn Sky (photo: General Motors)
The two-seat, rear-drive Sky roadster will do even more to give consumers a more exciting sense of Saturn, which made its reputation on offering a no-hassle, no-haggle buying experience. That is still in place, by the way, though it tends to get lost in the drama surrounding the new models.

As for the models that Saturn is already selling, they have each been revised to different degrees for 2006, but all models sold by the brand now come with the OnStar in-vehicle safety and security system as standard equipment on every unit.
Alex Law
Alex Law
Automotive expert