The second and last generation of the Saturn Vue was launched in 2007 as a 2008 model year. The car was right, the times were wrong and it only lasted for two years.
While the 2008 world financial crisis was only a few about to turn the world upside down. While the first generation of the Vue looked like an SUV but with a smaller size and didn't get enough attention, the second generation was far better. It was based on a unibody construction and that helped it with the fuel-efficiency.
The second generation of the Saturn Vue was a rebadged Opel Antara/Chevrolet Captiva from Europe. It featured the same rounded shape and a chromed bar between the headlights, similar to the one found on the Captiva. Its better proportions and decent price range sent it into the 80.000 units/year category, even though the times were rough for the motoring industry.
Inside, the Vue featured a 5-seat only option, unlike its competitors which were available with up to seven seats. The interior design was similar to the Antara, with a straight and curved dashboard and clean instrument cluster design. On the center stack, the Vue could host either a CD-radio or an infotainment system with navigation.
The Vue was available with front or all-wheel-drive system. It featured independent suspension in all four corners and that ensured a higher level of comfort. The car was available with a choice of inline-four and V6 engines, mated to a 4-speed automatic and 5-speed auto, respectively.
General Motors built the Saturn brand as a lower-budget brand and built most of its products on European platforms.
Back in 2005, the 4x4 market started to rise, and GM didn't want to lose that trend. It was a highly skilled SUV-maker and increased its presence with the introduction of the Saturn Vue in 2002, which it upgraded three years later.
After producing econoboxes and, sometimes, cheap-looking cars, Saturn made a bold move and introduced the Vue in 2002. It was not that cheap car anymore, and indeed it didn't look like one. Its rectangular, horizontal headlights flanked the narrow grille at the front. The bumper was tall and sported a pair of fog lights placed on the sides of a lower grille. Even though it shared its platform with the Chevrolet Equinox and the Pontiac Torrent, the cabin looked different. Its ascending beltline and raked-forward C-pillar with clear cuts were unique to Saturn. In the back, the darkened D-pillars from the tailgate and the rear side windows created the illusion of a wrapped-around glass area for the back of the car.
Inside, it was not an econobox anymore. A leather-clad interior and the wood trims on the dashboard, center stack, and door panels looked more upmarket than the brand.
Under the hood, GM installed a 2.2-liter Theta engine carried over from its European brand Opel and a Honda-sourced 3.5-liter V-6. The latter powered the Red Line edition.
General Motors tried to offer lower-budget crossover on the U.S. market but didn't want to affect the well-established ones, such as Chevrolet or Pontiac, and chose Saturn.
While the SUV revolution started to pick up speed, the American carmaker tried to find a solution to put more people behind GM-branded cars. One of these was the Saturn Vue. Since it was developed on the same Theta platform used for the European Opel Antara, it was easy to lower the price of the car. Of course, there were some technical limitations, but with a smart design, these were resolved.
The car's exterior sported an unusual design for the front fascia, with rectangular headlights placed high above the bumper. The Vue featured only a lower grille for cooling necessities flanked by two squared fog lamps. Its unibody construction resembled some lines used by its European sibling, with a raked-forward C-pillar. However, unlike the Antara, the Vue featured an almost vertical tailgate with blackened D-pillars that gave the sensation of a surrounding glass area in the back of the vehicle.
Inside, Saturn installed a rounded dashboard with four dials inside the instrument cluster fronting the driver. Atop the center stack, where other automakers placed the audio system, the automaker installed two vents. Customers found the materials' quality a little low, but after all, it was a low-budget vehicle for its class. At the front, the two bucket seats were high mounted, while the rear occupants could share the split-folding bench that extended the trunk space.
Under the hood, the Vue started its career with a choice of two gasoline engines: a 2.2-liter and a 3.0-liter from GM's parts bin. The former was paired with a five-speed manual or a five-speed automatic, while the latter was offered exclusively with an automatic gearbox.