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Saturn VUE Green Line Hybrid: Lowest Price, Best Highway Fuel Economy

24 May 2006

Greenline
VUE Green Line Hybrid

GM’s Saturn announced today that the new 2007 Vue Green Line hybrid SUV (earlier post) will carry a starting price of $22,995 (including destination charge), making it the lowest-priced hybrid SUV on the market.

VUE Green Line will carry an EPA fuel economy rating of 27 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway—the best highway fuel economy of any SUV currently available. That equates to a 20% improvement in fuel economy compared to a non-hybrid VUE, depending on driving conditions.

The Ford Escape Hybrid offers the best combined fuel economy (33 mpg US), as well as the best city fuel economy (36 mpg US) for any SUV sold in the US.

The Green Line offers the lowest fuel economy in city driving compared to its competition, and also the lowest combined mileage—although, at 29 mpg US, not by much compared to the 30 mpg US combined of the Highlander Hybrid and RX 400h.

The Vue Green Line proves you can go green without going broke. With a starting sticker price almost $4,000 less than any competing hybrid SUV, it makes true hybrid fuel savings available to more people than ever before.

—Saturn General Manager Jill Lajdziak
Select Hybrid SUVs
ModelEPA Fuel Economy (mpg US)Price
CityHwy.Comb.
Saturn VUE Green Line 27 32 29 $22,995
Ford Escape Hybrid 36 31 33 $27,515
Toyota Highlander Hybrid 33 28 30 $33,030
Lexus Rx 400h 33 28 30 $48,535

The VUE hybrid powertrain is based on a Belt Alternator Starter system—essentially what underlies a Start-Stop system—albeit one with some modifications that provide a small degree of traction assistance during acceleration, through early fuel cut-off during deceleration with torque smoothing and by shutting the engine off at idle. The system also captures electrical energy through regenerative braking.

The assist is small: the motor (provided by Hitachi) is only a 4kW (mechanical) machine (5kW generating power), although it provides some 60 Nm of motoring torque.

GM’s approach with the VUE has been to eliminate any excess cost. The battery pack (from Cobasys) is just 36V. The hybrid control system is implemented within the existing 32-bit Engine Control Module. The instrument cluster only minimally reflects the hybrid drive.

The vehicle’s 2.4-liter hybrid powertrain provides approximately 170 hp (127 kW)—27 more horsepower than the 2.2 liter engine that powers the conventional VUE.

Saturn also recently announced plans for a Green Line hybrid version of the Aura sedan in 2007.

May 24, 2006 in Hybrids | Permalink | Comments (50) | TrackBack (2)

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Comments

I'm not a GM apologist by any stretch of the imagination, but I will give credit where credit is due. This is a big improvement. Let's just hope it's as reliable as my parents' Prius has been.

As much as people knock GM, this isn't bad. A fairly simple approach for some very good mileage from an SUV. I'm guessing that with the output of the engine still @ 170HP, they didn't even employ the Atkinson cycle? Assuming this would also weigh less than a hybrid Escape, I would guess that this would feel more powerful on the highway than the Ford.

Saturn may become GM's most popular line in the US if they keep this up. A few hybrid choices, a very popular "halo" sports car, price you see is the price you get purchasing (of course that means you can't haggle downwards and dealers may increase the price on their own).

I would prefer that the entire SUV category be discontinued. Unfortunately, that is just not realistic. Customers like them and certain carmakers depend on them for their profits. GM can decide to progress to mild and full hybrids at a later date and/or offer them in the more expensive vehicle categories. For now, every little bit helps to get hybrids into the mainstream of actual sales.

Beyond the fact that it is an SUV at all, the only real beef I have with the VUE is the styling. I've rarely seen such a downright ugly car! GM can do better in this segment, cp. the Opel Antara:

http://www1.opel.de/antara_pretease/

I disagree with Rafael. I don't think there's anything wrong with SUVs. These days, they're getting quite a bad rap due to the concerns of oil and gas prices. I remember in the 90s when people were more worried about SUVs causing accidents and road rage.

What we should do is make the SUV more fuel-efficient and that's what is happening. The Vue Hybrid is a good start and if GM puts out some more fuel-efficient vehicles, they may just pull themselves out of the hole they dug. Today more people prefer the car-based SUVs (Subaru Outback, Hyundai Santa Fe, Toyota RAV4, etc) or the hybrids. This gives them yet another option.


SUVs aren't the problem. The stupid, clumsy, wasteful culture that they've spawned, on the other hand... that's a problem.

So in that sense, Saturn's got the right idea. I personally find hybrid SUVs to be an oxymoron, but as they aren't going anywhere anytime soon, any sensible approach to improve their design is more than welcome.

My Toyota Prius gave me 51 mpg last tank. This piece of GM crap can only do 27 MPG.

There is a reason why GM has to give rebates to get rid of their cars and SUV's. There is also a reason why the Prius still has a waiting list at most dealers.

If GM really wanted to turn the company around they could:

1) Make every gas engine vehicle an E85 flex fuel vehicle.

2) Make every Diesel engine run on B100 Biodiesel.

They could do these 2 things almost overnight as the technology exists, right off the shelf.

Long term they should bring back the EV1 as a halo car. Toyota lost money on the Prius for 7 years before they finally turned a profit on the car in 2004. GM does not have the GUTS to do this kind of long term investment.

Kyle Dansie

This hybrid is pointless. The 7 seat RAV4 already gets 24/30. I can't believe how much further ahead Toyota is compared to GM.

>This hybrid is pointless. The 7 seat RAV4 already gets >24/30. I can't believe how much further ahead Toyota is >compared to GM.
The GM/Ford Hybrids are pointless far as I can tell.
A VUE which is lightweight and get about
24mpg without being hybrid. What GM does makes no sense at all to me on the planet earth. They have great tech, great manufacturing and great products sitting on the shelf yet they release half baked solutions. Sad :(

I think the simple belt alternator "hybrid" setup is a smart idea. It could, and I feel should be implemented on all cars as a simple method of improving economy with out the added cost and weight of a full hybrid system.

This is not to say that I am not a fan of the full hybrid systems such as the prius, but I feel that this type of hybrid could be used in a far greater # of vehicles without expensive redesign, and in that way conserve a greater amount of resources.

I did not realize that they are only offering this in FWD form....VERY disappointing! I just don't get it - they do something smart like this, but then eliminate the northeast and northern midwest areas from being customers by not offering an AWD version????

Compared to regular Vue, Hybrid-Vue is 1 step better.
At 23K price tag, Vue is 2K cheaper than Camry and 7K cheaper than Accord. This no-frills Hybrid could teach a lesson to Japanese.

Already Ford has increased sales of H-Escape while Honda could not do the same with H-Accord.

Now the next question is, both Hybrid-Vue and Hybrid-Escape are 5-door, 5-seater vehicles with 30 MPG and 30 cubic feet cargo space.

So why should people pay 4k more for Ford. Time for Ford to remove some of the jazzy stuff and reduce the vehicle price. All that the people want is an affordable hybrid whose extra cost will get the return on investment.

GM's so called "Hybrids" make me want to spew. "Idle stop" does not make a vehicle a hybrid, although it is great and I think every car that can't be an actual hybrid should have this....GM is grasping at straws, BIG TIME.

Bud

There are 4 types of hybrid
Mild - Start-stop
Partial - Supplementary power
Full - Powering in low speed
Plugin - Charging from grid.

According to some people, only the plugin is genuine since it uses sources other than oil. We cannot keep whining. As long as vehicle uses some type of mechanism to capture the energy, its a HYBRID and we should appreciate the company for launching the product.

Lets appreciate GM. They are also launching vehicles with cylinder deactivation and 6-speed transmission.

Max, I appreciate your response. Yes, I drive a Prius. You will note that I applaud any vehicle that employes "Idle stop". The Prius does not qualify, because it never idles. Anyway, that being said, "powering in low speed" is not true. I live in Tennesse now, and in spite of what you have heard, the engine is off if the hill is steep enough even at 80 mph! Anyway, we moved here from Florida, and I'm gettin 58MGH around town, I only got 51 in the flatlands. Sorry I got a little off the subject, but I can't stand it when people like GM call a car a hybrid when it simply is not true..........SeeYa

I'm just hoping the idle start/stop system is implemented in as many cars as possible. GM should make a plan to include it on every 4 cylinder and 6 cylinder vehicle once they get all the kinks out of the system in the Vue.

Agreed. It's incremental but it's still an improvement. It needs to be implemented in as many models ASAP.

Vue is 2K cheaper than Camry and 7K cheaper than Accord. This no-frills Hybrid could teach a lesson to Japanese.

Those two cars can absolutely dust the Vue - especially the Accord. They also both get better mileage than the Vue - especially the Camry.

Can everyone imagine if every vehicle had OLNY Idle stop?? It would be major in fuel savings, but imagine the QUIET??

So what's in a name?

Why banter back and forth about what a "hybrid" is. Call it whatever the heck you like - the important thing is GM has offered a vehicle that over the long run will not only save gas, but save the consumer money relative to the "normal" version. When the average consumer sees this, American culture will be one step closer to accepting more fuel efficient vehicles. Personally, I would like to see GM use the BAS and variable cylinder technology across their entire fleet - maybe, just maybe this could be a prelude to that? (wishfull thinking, I know)

Peace,
Cosmo

Nah, you're right Cosmo. Whether we applaud it or not, it IS technically an attempt at a mitigation technology. A weak one and representative of GM's generally backwards policies towards market longevity in my opinion, but a legitimate one nevertheless.

I'd love for every selfish asshole on the face of the American map to get with the sense of urgency like most of us have and start walking or buying a serious hybrid, but it ain't gonna happen. This is one more light nudge in that direction.

IF GM can survive it. Coupled with their insane "gas-capping" campaign, they're seriously looking like a company on a deathmarch.

"Those two cars can absolutely dust the Vue - especially the Accord. They also both get better mileage than the Vue - especially the Camry."


JW-

Would you come to the defence of General Motors with a line like, "Their cars can dust everyone else's" or would it sound more like, "Another example of GM's excessive consumption catering to the NASCAR fuel hog horsepower crowd."? Just think what the Japanese could do if they didn't insist on all that power.

I am sure the Camry's shape and smaller tires goes a long way in helping it get better mileage.
JRod.

When gm makes econ cars they make em cheap because in general people who care about fuel econ dont have alot of moeny or dont care to spend it on a car or driving that car around.

The suv is simply a step up from a minivan allowing more people of larger size to ride comfortably.

Rather important for anyone with 3-5 children who are getting over the age of 10.

BUT its important to realize that most suvs arnt made for day to day driving. They are made for the weekly or teice monthly shopping and for vacation and entertainment driving.

Its just alot of people cant afford 3 cars or have room for em and so 1 commuter car and one everything else car. For alot of families that ebverything else car sooner or later becomes some size of suv.

Compare apples to apples.
The $18k Toyota RAV4 get 24 city, 30 highway.
The $23k Vue Hybrid gets 27 city, 31 highway.

This is simply shamefull on GM's part.

Detroit went from deathbed (remember Iacocca $1 salary?)to profits (invented the minivan & suv). They're late to the table on hybrids but don't count them out. The VUE is just a baby step, kinda clumsy but they could still get good at this.

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