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2007 Saturn Vue GREEN LINE Hybrid
Saturn Vue Green Line

Affordable Hybrid Technology

By Keith Burton

What is it about technology that makes some guys go nuts? It is technology that is clearly behind the public’s fascination with the new hybrid cars and trucks that are now appearing in greater numbers on the road.

The Saturn Vue Green Line is such a vehicle. It is among the latest high-tech hybrids that are available for public purchase at your neighborhood Saturn store. The Saturn Vue brings to the table hybrid technology in a lighter, more easier to afford form that many folks will find very appealing. That’s because for just under $24,000 hybrid technology is now available in a truly useful and ulitarian vehicle that has real world use.

The Saturn Vue Green Line is what some would call a “light” hybrid. That is, unlike other hybrid vehicle’s such as the Toyota Prius, the Saturn Vue Green Line cannot run solely on its batteries. Instead, it uses an electrical motor/generator and its battery pack to supplement the power of a small four-cylinder engine with more torque and horsepower to improve mileage. Not a lot, but by a significant measure. What you get is a mid size SUV with fuel use that is a bit more than a regular four cylinder Vue. In real world use, between 25 and 32 mpg for the Green Line as compared to the standard four cylinder’s 22 and 27.

2007 Saturn Vue Green Line HybridThat may not sound like much, but it is significantly better, plus the Vue Green Line comes in as the least expensive hybrid SUV you can buy and you get the panache of owning a hybrid.

There you go. It is the hybrid thing, the technology, that makes the Vue Green Line appealing. True, it doesn’t get 60 mpg, but even the best of the hybrids don’t get their EPA rated numbers. That is mostly due to the way the EPA runs tests. It’s the real world that count. And, yes, the electric drive hybrids do get good fuel mileage, but mostly it is in the low to mid 40’s.

However, you do pay for that pure hybrid technology and you do not get a vehicle that is as affordable and offers as much utility as you do in the Saturn Vue Green Line. Other hybrids can add as much as $4,000 to the price of their regular gasoline engine counterparts. This is money that even with high fuel prices, you cannot recover in the typical ownership cycle of a new vehicle.

What most people buy then is the “idea” of hybrid technology, which is a vehicle that is doing its part to cut fuel consumption, thus, it improves the environment. That is plenty reason enough for people to buy into a hybrid vehicle. And it, like many things in life, this is a matter of scale. You can buy a hybrid with even more technology, and pay for it, or you can go with something a bit less.

The Saturn Vue Green Line is such a vehicle. We think General Motors and Saturn is onto a good thing here, even though the Vue Green Line is not on the high end of hybrid technology. Why? Because they have a version that makes the technology affordable to more people.

The standard Saturn Vue is already a pretty nice light SUV. It has plenty of room for a young family, comes with a lot of attractive features and it is nicely styled. Adding the hybrid element brings the “technology” factor to the table that many folks desire.

The Vue Green Line’s innovative 2.4-liter hybrid powertrain is rated at 170 horsepower, an increase from the 143 hp provided by the 2.2-liter engine in the conventional four-cylinder Vue. This maintains the vehicle’s sporty feel, with acceleration better or equal to many non-hybrid SUVs.

The Vue’s hybrid system reduces fuel consumption by:

  • Shutting off the engine when the vehicle is stopped, to minimize idling
  • Restarting the engine promptly when the brake pedal is released
  • Enabling early fuel shut-off during vehicle deceleration
  • Capturing vehicle kinetic energy during deceleration (regenerative braking) to charge an advanced nickel metal hydride battery
  • Performing intelligent battery charging when it is most efficient

2007 Saturn Vue GREEN LINE HybridAdditionally, the system provides additional power from the electric motor/generator during launch, when required. At wide-open throttle, such as during a passing maneuver, the system improves acceleration feel by using the motor/generator to bolster the gasoline engine to achieve maximum power.

The new hybrid system also is designed to automatically maintain full accessory functionality, including climate control, when the vehicle is stopped, so that hybrid operation is transparent to the driver and passengers. The Vue Hybrid allows an appropriate balance between fuel economy and comfort by providing a system with two driver-selectable operating modes. An economy mode favors fuel economy by limiting the affect of air conditioning, while the other mode favors maximum passenger comfort and defogging performance.

We found the system to be nearly transparent in operation. That is, the Vue’s hybrid system works without a lot of bells or whistles telling you what is going on. When you stop, the engine stops. Lift your foot off the brake, and before you can get your foot to the gas pedal, the engine has restarted and is ready to go. Many passengers, even unknowing drivers, were not even aware that the engine had shut down at the stop light. The engine start and stop feature is nearly silent and the vehicle doesn’t suffer from any shake, as on some other hybrid systems when their engines are silenced.2007 Saturn Vue GREEN LINE Hybrid

A small gauge on the instrument cluster indicates when the batteries are charging and discharging, but that is it. You don’t get any gee-whiz TV displays of the technology, like on the Toyota Prius. That lack of display is a downside for some techno freaks, but not having to watch a video game of what your hybrid is doing is a plus for paying attention to the road.

One thing you will notice with the Vue Green Line, is the very light steering at low speeds. The electrically powered steering provides a lot of assist in parking and low speed situations, which has the effect of making the Vue Green Line feel light on its feet and very maneuverable. But as speeds increase, the steering stiffens up and feels very normal. Keep in mind that this is no sports car, so steering feel is lacking a bit. But you will get used to it, and maybe, even like the way it drives.

The rest of the Saturn Green Line is pretty much like other small SUVs. You have lots of room inside, good visibility and carrying capability that such a vehicle has to offer.

We also found that the fit and finish inside and out better than in past GM vehicles. The plastics have a better sheen and texture, and the colors matched. Overall, the Saturn Vue Green Line feels and drives like a quality product.

Specifications

Model: 2007 Saturn Vue Green Line Hybrid
Body style / driveline: 5-door, 5-passenger, transversely-mounted front-engine and transaxle, front-wheel drive with hybrid assist
Construction: steel spaceframe with front and rear crumple zones; polymer front fenders, door panels, rear quarter panels and bumper fascias; galvanized steel hood, roof and liftgate
EPA vehicle class: sport utility vehicle
Manufacturing location: Spring Hill , Tenn.
Key competitors: Toyota Highlander Hybrid, Ford Escape Hybrid, Honda Accord Hybrid

Engine

Application: Ecotec 2.4L
Type: 2.4L DOHC inline 4-cylinder
Displacement (cu in / cc): 145 / 2376
Bore & stroke (in / mm): 3.46 x 3.85 / 88 x 98
Block material: cast aluminum with iron cylinder liners
Cylinder head material: aluminum
Valvetrain: dual overhead camshafts, roller-type finger followers, 4 valves per cylinder
Ignition system: distributorless, coil-on-plug module and extended-life platinum-tipped spark plugs
Fuel delivery: sequential injection with returnless fuel delivery system
Compression ratio: 10.6:1
Horsepower (hp / kw @ rpm): 170 / 127 @ 6600 rpm
Torque (lb-ft / Nm @ rpm): 162 / 220 @ 4400 rpm
Recommended fuel: 87 octane unleaded
Maximum engine speed (rpm): 6900
Emissions controls: positive crankcase ventilation, variable valve timing, catalytic converter, evaporative system
Engine control: E67 controller with Hybrid Supervisory software
Estimated fuel economy: (mpg city / highway): 27/ 32 (with GM hybrid)

Hybrid System

Application: GM Hybrid System
System type: motor / generator
Max. auto-start torque (lb.-ft. / Nm): 115 / 156
Battery pack: NiMH
Battery pack peak power (kW): 14.5 (delivering or receiving)

Transmission

 

Hydra-Matic 4T45-E

Type:

Hydra-Matic 4T45-E 4-speed automatic

Hybrid features:

auxiliary oil pump, specific electronic controls

Gear ratios (:1)

 

First:

2.95

Second:

1.62

Third:

1.00

Fourth:

0.68

Reverse:

2.14

Final drive ratio (:1):

3.63

Chassis/Suspension

Front: independent, strut-type with coil springs, anti-roll bar
Rear: independent, trailing arm with three lateral locating links, anti-roll bar and coil springs
Traction control: all-speed using engine torque reduction
Steering type: electric-power-assisted rack-and-pinion
Steering ratio: 17.8:1 on-center
Steering wheel turns, lock-to-lock: 3.46
Turning circle, curb-to-curb (ft / m): 38 / 11.6

Brakes

Type: front / rear vented disc/drum with power assist and std ABS
Rotor diameter x thickness (in / mm): front: 11.7 x 1.0 / 296 x 26; rear: 9.8 x 1.7 / 250 x 45

Wheels/Tires

Wheel size and type: 6.5-in x 16-in machine cast aluminum
Tires: P215/7016 ALS low rolling resistance

Dimensions

Exterior

Wheelbase (in / mm): 106.6 / 2707
Overall length (in / mm): 181.3 / 4605
Overall width (in / mm): 71.6 / 1818
Overall height (in / mm): 65.3/1659
Track (in / mm): front: 61.3 / 1557; rear: 61.2 / 1554
Minimum ground clearance (in / mm): 6.9/175
Step-in height (in / mm): 16.4/415.5
Approach angle (degrees): 17.3
Departure angle (degrees): 22.4
Curb weight (lb / kg): 3474 / 1576
Weight distribution (% front / rear): 59 / 41
Interior Front Rear
Seating capacity: 2 3
Headroom without sunroof (in / mm):
Headroom with sunroof (in / mm):
40.6 / 1030
39.3 / 999
40.5 / 1028
40.2 / 1021
Legroom (in / mm): 41.3 / 1048 36.5 / 926
Shoulder room (in / mm): 54.7 / 1389 54.7 / 1389
Hip room (in / mm): 51.9 / 1317 52.6 / 1337

Capacities

EPA passenger volume (cu ft / L): 113 / 2871
Cargo volume (cu ft / L): 30.8 / 872
Trailer towing maximum (lb / kg): 1500 / 680
Maximum tongue weight (lb / kg): 350 / 113.5
Fuel tank (gal / L): 16.3 / 62.5
Engine oil (qt / L): 5 / 4.7
Cooling system (qt / L): 9 / 8.5

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