The Saturn Vue was GM’s answer to the Ford Escape, the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4. At the time that it was released, crossover SUVs were a hot commodity and GM aimed to break into that market. Like other Saturn products, it was clad in thermoplastic body panels.
Initially offered with a V6 and an inline 4, Saturn Vue transmission choices depended on which engine was ordered. Choosing the V6 meant that one would get a five-speed automatic coupled to a full-time all-wheel drive system. The inline four was mated to either a five-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable transmission, or CVT. GM’s moniker for this transmission was the VTi, meaning Variable Transmission, intelligent. This transmission gave variable drive ratios, as with other CVTs.
The VTi was developed by GM’s Hydramatic Division and used a pair of laterally expanding pulleys connected by a special belt. This provided an almost infinite range of drive ratios. To ensure that the transmission was in the right ratio at any given time, electronic controls were used. The claimed acceleration time for a CVT-equipped Vue was 10.2 seconds, compared to 11.1 for the manual transmission-equipped Vue. Because of problematic operation, the conventional automatic transmission was the more popular choice for buyers.
By 2004, the Vue began using a 250 horsepower V6 sourced from Honda to replace the original 180 hp V6. The 4-cylinder was retained. Saturn Vue transmissions were the same 5-speed manual transmission or the continuously variable CVT automatic. The V6 powertrain also used a Honda-supplied conventional 5-speed automatic transmission. There were no major changes for the Saturn Vue for 2005, with GM opting to retain the same drivetrain options as the previous years.
In 2006, Saturn launched an electric hybrid which was designated as a 2007 model. The powertrain for the Vue Green Line mated a 4-cylinder gasoline engine with a battery-powered electric motor. There is no plug-in charging option for this hybrid, with the batteries being charged only through the operation of the gasoline motor. The Vue Green Line came only with an automatic transmission.
The conventional Vues continued to retain the 143-hp 4-cylinder and the Honda-built 250-hp V6. Saturn Vue transmissions were an automatic for the V6 and a manual or automatic transmission for the 4 cylinder. The same powertrain combinations were available for the 2007 editions of the Vue.
In 2008, the Saturn Vue compact sport-utility vehicle was redesigned. The Vue was available with front-wheel or all-wheel drive and powertrain choices were the four-cylinder, the Honda-sourced V6, and electric hybrid. Four-cylinder engines increased output to 169 horsepower. The Vue Green Line combined that 4-cylinder engine with an electric motor to produce 172 horsepower. All engines were mated to Saturn Vue transmissions that were either a four-speed automatic for the four bangers and a six-speed automatic for the V6s. The same powertrain options were offered for 2009 and in 2010, Saturn discontinued the Vue line.