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2003 Saturn Vue Sport Utility Crossover

VUE AWD Auto V6

Starting at | Starting at 19 MPG City - 25 MPG Highway

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  • $22,910 original MSRP
Printable Version

2003 Saturn Vue Sport Utility Crossover

Printable Version

2003 Saturn Vue Sport Utility Crossover

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2003 Saturn Vue

Source: New Car Test Drive

Introduction

Saturn created the Vue for young families who want a manageable, but highly functional, sport-utility, one that can haul plenty of gear without requiring huge parking spaces and a big garage.

Saturn is best known for friendly sales and service. It's also known for innovation and the Vue is no exception. Like Saturn cars, the Vue is fitted with polymer body panels to resist dents. It's also available with a continuously variable transmission. Its long wheelbase makes for a roomy interior. These features, combined with a competitive price, help the Vue to stand out in the increasingly popular compact sport-utility market.

All-wheel-drive models add all-weather capability. Vue comes standard with a four-cylinder engine. With the optional V6, the Vue can tow a small boat, jet ski or snow machine.

For 2003, the Vue boasts an expanded model lineup with optional leather seating, seat heaters, and 180-watt audio.

Model Lineup

The 2003 Saturn Vue is available in four models, all designed to be highly configurable.

The base Vue ($16,325) comes with a 143-horsepower four-cylinder engine, a five-speed manual transmission, and front-wheel-drive. It can navigate dirt roads, but is not designed for off-road driving.

There's also a four-cylinder model with the VTi automatic transmission ($18,495). It's a continuously variable transmission that uses pulleys and belts rather than gears for seamless acceleration.

All-wheel drive is available with the four-cylinder engine and automatic transmission ($19,170) for improved all-weather capability.

New for 2003 is a V6 model with front-wheel drive ($21,070). At the top is a V6 AWD model ($22,720). All V6 models come with a more conventional five-speed automatic transmission. V6 models also come with more standard equipment, including cruise control, power exterior mirrors, an auto-dimming interior mirror, and aluminum wheels.

Electronic traction control is only available on the four-cylinder model with five-speed manual and comes packaged with anti-lock brakes ($600). ABS for AWD models does not include traction control but costs the same $600.

All versions of the Vue can be ordered in one of two décor themes, which Saturn calls Outdoor Expression and Urban Expression. The hardy Outdoorsman sports a front brush bar, a prominent roof rack, and 16-inch wheels with all-terrain tires. Interior features include a rubberized cargo area and floor covering, Ostrich leather accents and a plug-in handheld GPS unit. The Urban warrior comes with 18-inch wheels, performance tires and a lowered suspension. Inside is an integrated navigation system and rear-seat gaming system.

A leather upholstery package has been added for 2003 that includes driver lumbar support and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. Another new option is an advanced audio system with an eight-inch subwoofer, 180-watt amplifier, and six door-mounted speakers. Also available is a power sunroof ($725).

Walkaround

The Saturn Vue is distinctive and visually striking, but it is not necessarily a head-turner. Its exterior design is more sensible than sensational, with looks that are modern and practical, and strong lines that avoid the bubble effect that curvy, cutesy imported mini-utilities share. New for 2003 are badges that have a three-dimensional effect.

The front end is thick and snubbed, with headlamps that ride high atop an exaggerated grille. From the side, the Vue is boxy and nondescript, except for its high beltline. Its large, back-end liftgate with floodlights provides easy and efficient access to the rear cargo area.

Vue does offer serious strength and stability underneath its slightly bland facade. Polymer body panels provide a rugged, dent-resistant exterior without the clutter of lower-body cladding. Car-height bumpers offer enhanced protection from parking lot damage and help create a smoother appearance. The spare tire is mounted inside the vehicle, which significantly reduces potential damage from low-speed rear impacts.

Interior Features

The Saturn Vue has an interesting interior. Instruments and controls are straightforward, but creative stowage innovations appear throughout the interior.

A 70/30 split folding rear seat provides more versatile stowage of longer items while carrying rear passengers. Even the front passenger seat folds flat, allowing room for an eight-foot ladder or a surfboard or something else from the local home-improvement center. Three power outlets provide opportunities to plug in toys or tools.

The flat load floor in the rear is a result of the compact all-wheel-drive system. Of particular note are the configurable cargo spaces: A cargo organizer folds out of the floor to corral smaller objects. There are hooks for grocery bags and two compartments sized specifically for gallon jugs, a welcome convenience on late-night food runs. Tie-downs provide for the safe transport of a wide variety of goods. Apparently, Saturn forgot about dry cleaning, however, as we could not find a good place to hang it.

Getting inside Vue is easy, thanks to wide door openings and a low step-in height. Despite the Vue's high beltline, visibility is good, with a panoramic feel to the interior. Big mirrors afford good visibility rearward.

Most of the switchgear is well designed and easy to operate. The stereo is nicely designed and attractive. Heating and air conditioning controls are straightforward and easy to operate, but look like they came from a compact car. Oddly enough, the window switches are located on the center console, harder to find than if they were on the door. Usually this is done to make for easier conversion to right-hand steering, but we can't imagine Saturn exports many vehicles overseas. Some of the interior trim looks like low-grade plastic, however, and flashing can be seen on trim pieces. The center console lid is flimsy and the steering wheel feels cheap.

In the safety department, the Vue gets high marks. Laudable are its space-age frame and optional curtain airbags ($395) designed to provide head protection in a side impact or rollover. The Vue also comes with a rear-center shoulder belt, not found on many compact SUVs. Vue also comes with child-seat tether anchors.

Driving Impressions

The Saturn Vue performs well when equipped with the V6 engine. The V6 works well with the five-speed automatic transmission, which downshifts smoothly, quietly and without fanfare to fourth gear when called upon for more power. The V6 delivers responsive acceleration performance. It's capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in a very respectable 8.4 seconds. The V6 with AWD is rated 19/25 mpg.

Slowest is the four-cylinder all-wheel-drive model with the continuously variable automatic, which compares with a 0 to 60 time of 11.1 seconds. That's a big difference. The VTi continuously variable transmission actually offers better acceleration than the standard five-speed manual (0-60 mph in 10.2 seconds for the VTi versus 11.0 seconds for the manual on front-drive models). The manual transmission delivers good fuel economy, however, with an EPA rating of 23/28 mpg City/Highway. City fuel economy suffers by 2 mpg with the VTi.

The AWD system provides improved traction on unpaved roads and adverse-weather driving. It works automatically with no input required from the driver. It is designed to withstand extremely cold weather. But it is not intended for serious off-road driving.

We were disappointed in the amount of torque steer exhibited by the all-wheel-drive V6 model. Stand on the gas and you'll feel the steering wheel tug to the right as power is applied to the front tires. Apparently the rear wheels do not come into play until the front wheels begin to spin. So, if the front wheels have good traction on dry pavement, the result will be torque steer.

Vue's ride quality lacks sophistication. Road noise and vibration are evident and there's a general lack of smoothness around town. Handling is not razor-sharp, either, but the Vue navigates well over a variety of driving terrain. The speed-sensitive power steering offers precise, easy steering in parking lots, yet adjusts for good road feel and stability on the highway. It's programmable for the customer's preferences, and uses a torque sensor to automatically boost assistance during emergency avoidance maneuvers.

Vue gets rear drum brakes instead of the preferable disc brakes. An anti-lock brake system (ABS) is optional on all versions and models and we recommend it because it helps the driver to maintain control of the steering in a panic stop.

Summary

The best thing about the Vue is that it's backed by Saturn's highly regarded sales and service people. If you don't like the local Saturn dealer, look somewhere else.

 


Model Line Overview

Model lineup: FWD 5-speed ($16,325); FWD automatic ($17,720); AWD ($19,170); V6 FWD ($21,070); V6 AWD ($22,720)
Engines: 143-hp 2.2-liter dohc 16-valve 4-cylinder; 181-hp 3.0-liter dohc 24-valve V6
Transmissions: 5-speed manual; VTi continuously variable automatic; 5-speed automatic
Safety equipment (standard): front airbags, child seat anchors
Safety equipment (optional): ABS, head-curtain side-impact airbags, traction control
Basic warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles
Assembled in: Springhill, Tennessee

Specifications As Tested

Model tested (MSRP): Saturn Vue V6 AWD ($22,720)
Standard equipment: air conditioning with dust filter, reclining front bucket seats with folding armrests, cargo area power outlet, fold-flat front passenger seat, integrated roof rails, two-position reclining rear seats, 70/30 split folding rear seatbacks, liftgate loading lights, rear window wiper/washer, AM/FM stereo, power outside mirrors, power windows, remote keyless entry, alarm system, auto-dimming rearview mirror with outside temperature and compass display, dual map lights, cruise control, 16-inch alloy wheels
Options as tested (MSRP): ABS ($600); head curtain airbags ($395); OnStar communications system ($695)
Destination charge: ($575)
Gas guzzler tax: N/A
Price as tested (MSRP): $24,985
Layout: all-wheel drive
Engine: 3.0-liter dohc 24-valveV6
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 181 @ 6000
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm): 195 @ 4000
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy: 19/25 mpg
Wheelbase: 106.6 in.
Length/width/height: 181.3/71.5/66.5 in.
Track, f/r: 61.0/61.0 in.
Turning circle: 39.4 ft.
Seating capacity: 5
Head/hip/leg room, f: 40.4/51.6/41.2 in.
Head/hip/leg room, m: N/A
Head/hip/leg room, r: 39.9/52.7/36.8 in.
Trunk volume: 30.8 cu. ft.
Payload: N/A
Towing capacity: 2500 Lbs.
Suspension, f: independent
Suspension, r: independent
Ground clearance: 8.0 in.
Curb weight: 3491 lbs.
Tires: P235/65SR16
Brakes, f/r: disc/drum with ABS
Fuel capacity: 15.5 gal.

 

Unless otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle.
All prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSRP) effective as of September 04, 2002.
Prices do not include manufacturer's destination and delivery charges. N/A: Information not available or not applicable.
Manufacturer Info Sources: www.saturn.com

Copyright © 1994-2003 New Car Test Drive, Inc.


 

Printable Version

2003 Saturn Vue Sport Utility Crossover

Safety Ratings help

What do the Safety Ratings mean?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) performs independent crash testing of new vehicles and then assigns them a score based on their performance. The overall crash test rating is based on how a vehicle performs in the following tests:

Driver Crash Grade:

Measures the chance of a serious injury to a crash test dummy that is placed in a driver's seat and driven into a fixed barrier at 35 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less chance of injury.

Passenger Crash Grade:

Similar to the driver crash grade, only now the focus is on the passenger.

Rollover Resistance:

Simulates an emergency lane change to measure the likelihood of a vehicle rolling over. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less risk of rollover.

Side Impact Crash Test - Front:

Focuses on the front side of a vehicle. It simulates crashes that can occur in intersections by striking a 3,015-pound weight against the side of a vehicle at 38.5 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 5 percent or less chance of injury.

Side Impact Crash Test - Rear:

Similar to the front side impact test only now the focus is on the rear passenger.

Driver Crash Grade
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Passenger Crash Grade
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Rollover Resistance
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Side Impact Crash Test - Front
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Side Impact Crash Test - Rear
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Safety Features & Equipment

Braking & Traction

4-Wheel ABS Opt

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std
Passenger Air Bag Std
Side Head Air Bag Opt

Road Visibility

Daytime Running Lights Std
Fog Lamps Std
Electrochromic Rearview Mirror Std
Intermittent Wipers Std

Security

Alarm Std
Anti-theft System Std
Telematics Opt
Printable Version

2003 Saturn Vue Sport Utility Crossover

Original Warranty  help
Original Warranty
An original warranty is the warranty associated with a vehicle when it is brand new. In addition to the original warranty, select items, like tires, are typically covered by respective manufacturers. Also, an act of Federal law sometimes provides protection for certain components, like emissions equipment.
The original warranty is often broken down into multiple sections, including:
Basic Warranty:
Typically covers everything except for parts that wear out through normal use of the vehicle. Examples of non-covered items are brake pads, wiper blades and filters.
Drivetrain Warranty:
This warranty covers items the basic warranty does not protect. Wear and tear items such as hoses will not be covered, but key items like the engine, transmission, drive axles and driveshaft often will be.
Roadside Assistance:
The level of service differs greatly with this warranty, but many manufacturers offer a toll-free number that helps provide assistance in case you run out of gas, get a flat tire or lock your keys in the car.
Corrosion Warranty:
This warranty focuses on protecting you from holes caused by rust or corrosion in your vehicle's sheet metal.
Please check the owner's manual, visit a local dealership or look at the manufacturer's website to learn more about the specifics of the warranties that apply to a vehicle.

Basic 3 Years/36,000 Miles
Drivetrain 3 Years/36,000 Miles
Corrosion 6 Years/36,000 Miles
Roadside Assistance 3 Years/36,000 Miles

Saturn Certified Pre-Owned Warranty  help
Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
To be eligible for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) status, vehicles generally must be recent models with relatively low mileage. CPO vehicles must also pass a detailed inspection, outlined by the manufacturer, which is measured by the number of inspected points.
Warranty coverage can vary from one manufacturer to the next. While most certified pre-owned programs transfer and extend the existing new car warranty terms, others offer a warranty that simply represents an additional year and mileage value. Always check with the manufacturer for the specific warranties they offer.
Common features and benefits of Certified Pre-Owned warranties include:
Age/Mileage Eligibility
To even be considered for certification, a car must be a recent model year and have limited mileage. The exact requirements are established by individual manufacturers.
Lease Term Certified
Some manufacturers offer certified pre-owned cars for lease. The length of the lease is often shorter than a new car lease, but it will cost you less.
Point Inspection
These inspections entail a comprehensive vehicle test to ensure that all parts are in excellent working order. The point inspection list is simply a numbered list of exactly what parts of the car are examined. While many inspections range from a 70- to 150-point checklist, most are very similar and are performed using strict guidelines. Ask your local dealer about specific details.
Return/Exchange Program
Some manufacturers offer a very limited return or exchange period. Find out if you will get the sales tax and licensing/registration fees back should you return or exchange the car.
Roadside Assistance
Most certified pre-owned programs offer free roadside service in case your car breaks down while still under warranty.
Special Financing
Reduced-rate loans are available through many certified pre-owned programs. Manufacturer-backed inspections and warranties help eliminate the risks involved with buying pre-owned, so buyers who qualify can take advantage of the great offers.
Transferable Warranty
When a new car warranty transfers with the certification of the car and remains eligible for the next owner, it is known as a transferable warranty. Once the original transferable warranty expires, an extended warranty takes effect.
Warranty Deductible
This is the amount for which you are responsible when repair work is performed under the warranty. Some manufacturers require a deductible while others don't, so always ask.

2-year/24,000-Mile1 CPO Scheduled Maintenance Plan.

12-Month/12,000-Mile2 Bumper-to-Bumper Limited Warranty.

5-year/100,000-Mile3 Powertrain Limited Warranty for model years up to 2014.

1Covers only scheduled oil changes with filter, tire rotations and 27 point inspections, according to your vehicle's recommended maintenance schedule for up to 2 years or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first. Does not include air filters. Maximum of 4 service events. See participating dealer for other restrictions and complete details.

2Whichever comes first from date of purchase. See participating dealer for limited warranty details.

3Whichever comes first from original in-service date. See participating dealers for limited warranty details.
Age/Mileage Eligibility 2009-2010 model year / Under 75,000 miles
Lease Term Certified No
Point Inspection 172-Point Vehicle Inspection and Reconditioning
Download checklist
Return/Exchange Program 3-Day 150-Mile Satisfaction Guarantee
Roadside Assistance Yes
Transferrable Warranty Yes
Warranty Deductible $0

Learn more about certified pre-owned vehicles

Printable Version

2003 Saturn Vue Sport Utility Crossover

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