The now abandoned “Green Line” version of the Saturn Vue has been replaced by a more significantly advanced hybrid system co-developed by Chrysler and GM. By adopting the same hybrid technology used in the 2008 GMC Yukon and Chevy Tahoe, the 2009 Saturn Vue has what GM is touting as the world’s most fuel-efficient, not to mention most powerful, V-6 Hybrid SUV.
We won’t quibble about whether a vehicle that is front-wheel drive is really an SUV when it produces over 250 horsepower and still delivers nearly 30 mpg like this new Vue. It is able to this by combining a 3.6 liter variable-valve timing V6 with a two-mode hybrid system. This engine is actually capable of even more power than the 255 horses that it has been detuned to produce in then 2009 Vue Hybrid. One newer technology that is being increasingly used in vehicles from a variety of manufacturers involves reducing or completely stopping fuel flow during deceleration or idling. Especially in city driving, idling accounts for a great deal of wasted fuel. The “two mode” designation breaks down in the following ways. The transmission combines two electric continuously variable modes with four fixed mechanical gear ratios. The first mode employs two electric motors and is used while at low speeds and with a light amount of load, such as when moving from a stop until gradually accelerating to about 20 miles per hour. The gasoline engine is then applied for further acceleration and to move the vehicle to higher speeds. Conversely, in the second mode, the electric engines kick in to assist the engine during sharp acceleration, towing or climbing steep grades.
The expectation is that employing this new technology will result in 28 mpg motoring, an increase of at least 12 mpg in city driving and 5 mpg on the highway over the previous hybrid version. Price for the Vue 2 Mode Hybrid is starts around $29,000, but likely will be in the low to high 30 grand range when all is said and done. For those that can sacrifice some size but like the proportions and style of a smaller SUV, this appears to be a nice option.