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June 4, 2008 > Auto Review: 2008 Saturn Aura

Auto Review: 2008 Saturn Aura

Saturn's Aura is its midsized, 4-door, sport sedan. It won the North American Car of the Year award when it came out in 2007.

The 2008 Auras are available with four choices for the power train to drive its front wheels. The XE-4 comes with GM's Ecotec 4-cylinder, 2.4-liter engine that develops 169 HP and 160 foot pounds of torque. It has an electronically controlled 4-speed automatic transmission.

The XE-6 gets the 3.5-liter V-6 with variable valve timing that generates 219 HP and 219 foot pounds. It has a 4-speed transmission. The XR model uses a 3.6-liter double overhead cam V-6 engine that produces 252 HP and 251 foot pounds of torque. This engine is mated with a paddle shifted 6-speed electronically controlled automatic.

The Aura Green Line is equipped with GM's affordable hybrid system. It uses a unique electric motor/generator system and the 2.4-liter Ecotec engine. This combination is rated at 164 HP and 159 foot pounds. It reduces gas consumption by:

* Shutting off the engine while the Aura is stopped.
* Utilizing a system that shuts off the fuel early when the Aura is slowing down.
* Using a regenerative braking system during braking to save some of the kinetic energy of the moving vehicle.

The Aura Green Line achieved an EPA mpg rating of 24 in the city test and 32 in the highway test. The base Ecotec Aura got 22 mpg and 30 mpg respectively in these tests. The 3.6 XR got 17 mpg in the city cycle and 26 mpg in the highway test. The Auras use regular unleaded gas.

The base MSRP on our Saturn Aura XR test car was $25,495. The addition of a power sunroof, leather seat trim, and the convenience package brought the total sticker price to $27,770. The 4-cylinder Aura's base price is $20,695 and the Green Line starts at $24,920.

We really liked the Aura. It had a sporty feel and was comfortable to drive with crisp handling. The Aura rode well and did not tire out the driver or passengers. It was easy to get in and out and outward visibility was good. Leg room in the back seat was good.

The interior was very easy to live with and all controls were well laid out. The sound system was very good and included wireless headphones for rear seat passengers.

The Aura's list of safety features includes 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS and a full complement of front and side curtain airbags. The V-6 engine and Green Line models have StabiliTrak that helps prevent slipping and sliding in emergency maneuvers. I think that all vehicles should have this safety system. The Green Line and XE also get traction control for slick driving conditions. All Saturns have GM's OnStar safety and security system including GM's Turn-by Turn Navigation capability.

Saturn dealers are ready to give you a price break if you want an Aura. Their website shows a $2,500 rebate if you buy one soon.

By Dick Ryan
Freelance Automotive Journalist
Member of the Western Automotive Journalists

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