Saturn Aura is loaded with amazing content

Discussion in 'Saturn Aura' started by Mike, Jun 2, 2007.

  1. Mike

    Mike Guest

    Saturn Aura is loaded with amazing content
    By Frank Aukofer
    Published May 25, 2007

    When General Motors started Saturn in 1990, it was touted as "a new
    kind of company, a new kind of car."
    It was, too.
    The Tennessee-built small cars came with plastic body panels to
    ward off dings. They were designed to compete with the imports,
    especially those from Japan. Saturn dealers were trained to treat
    customers with respect, and there was no dickering or confusion
    because the cars were sold at the sticker price.
    The cars, for the most part, were unexceptional. But they were
    highly recommended for people who sought decent transportation, didn't
    know much about cars and wanted to avoid a demeaning experience at a
    high-pressure dealership.
    Unfortunately, it wasn't enough. GM shortchanged Saturn on new
    products, and sales slipped badly. In 2002, dealers sold 204,771 new
    Saturn cars. That dropped to 105,927 in 2005. The hard times spread to
    other General Motors divisions as well, and the company sent the
    venerable Oldsmobile brand to the graveyard.
    But Saturn started a comeback in 2006 with the classy Sky sports
    car, the Outlook crossover utility vehicle and the 2007 Aura midsize
    With these vehicles, Saturn has undergone a transformation to a
    more traditional car company, although the dedication to customer
    comfort remains. But as anyone in the vehicle business can testify,
    there's no substitute for interesting and exciting products.
    The Aura certainly qualifies. Without question, it is the best car
    ever to bear the Saturn name and is a credible competitor for the
    midsize sedan leaders: the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, as well as
    others like the Nissan Altima, Ford Fusion, Chevrolet Malibu, Pontiac
    G6, Kia Optima, Mercury Milan, Chrysler Sebring, Hyundai Sonata, Mazda
    6, Mitsubishi Galant and Volkswagen Passat.
    An independent panel of automotive journalists voted the Aura "car
    of the year" at the 2007 North American International Automobile Show
    in Detroit.
    Where most of the Aura's competitors have four-cylinder engines in
    their base models, the Aura XE comes standard with a V-6. It is an
    older pushrod design that delivers 224 horsepower, which is more than
    what the competition offers. The XE has a base price of $20,995.
    The test car, however, was the Aura XR, which has a modern 3.6-
    liter engine with twin overhead camshafts and a horsepower rating of
    252. Its base price is $24,595, which includes side air bags, side-
    curtain air bags, antilock brakes, stability control, tire-pressure
    monitoring, remote locking, remote starting, automatic climate
    control, an audio system with six-disc CD changer, MP3 capability and
    an audio jack for IPods and other players, heated outside mirrors, fog
    lights and alloy wheels.
    Options on the test car included leather upholstery, power-
    adjustable pedals, XM satellite radio, power passenger seat and a
    motorized sunroof, which brought the suggested sticker price up to
    $26,919. At that, it is fully competitive with anything comparable in
    the class.
    Unexpectedly, the Aura XR comes across more as a sports sedan than
    a family car. It is stiffly sprung, with a feel akin to that of the
    more expensive Nissan Maxima or Acura TL. The result is a harsher ride
    than some customers might find comfortable.
    But for anyone who enjoys precise handling, the Aura delivers
    tactile and pleasurable feedback. It turns in sharply and follows a
    line through corners with little fuss or body lean. In straight-line
    driving, the steering has a centered feel with little tendency to
    To enhance the sporting orientation, the XR's six-speed automatic
    transmission features a manual-shift mode, controlled by race-car-
    inspired paddles on the steering wheel. Using the paddles, the driver
    can snap off rapid shifts under hard acceleration, boosting the Aura
    to 60 miles an hour in less than seven seconds.
    Unfortunately, there is no manual control at the shift lever, so
    you're stuck with the paddles. In full automatic mode, shifts
    sometimes are abrupt.
    Inside, the thick front seats are contoured for comfort as well as
    lateral support for spirited driving. Out back, there is generous head
    and knee room for two passengers, enhanced by concave depressions in
    the front seat backs.
    However, the rear passenger seated in the center gets no headrest
    and is forced to sit on a perch straddling a big hump in the floor.
    Access to the rear seat was difficult for some people because they
    were forced to step over a high sill. The Aura also lacked inside grab
    handles over the doors.
    The trunk had a generous, well-finished 16 cubic feet of space as
    well as rear seat backs that fold down for carrying long items.
    However, the seat backs could only be released from inside and the
    trunk, which when unlocked with the remote control popped up only
    slightly. There's no handle on the trunk lid, so you are forced to
    stick your fingers into a sometimes grimy slot to pull it up, and you
    have to place your hand somewhere on the trunk lid to close it.
    An unusual and nifty feature on the test car consisted of wireless
    headsets that allowed rear passengers to listen to a different audio
    program than those up front.
    Mike, Jun 2, 2007
  2. Mike

    marx404 Guest

    A good article. I'm suprised that the editor didn't pick on the oversized
    rear seat headrests which partially block rear window view, especially if
    you are short. Hmmm, pushrod engine, that I didnt know, lots of gearheads
    wanted to see GM bring back a pushrod engine, now we got it!
    marx404, Jun 2, 2007
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