Here’s an amazing fact: Saturn made a high-performance version of the original Vue crossover. The original Vue, Saturn’s first SUV, was sold from 2002 to 2007, while the high-performance Red Line model was offered from 2004 to 2007. And here’s the amazing thing: it was actually fast.
The basic gist is this. When the Saturn Vue first came out for the 2002 model year, it offered two engines: a lethargic 2.2-liter 4-cylinder with 143 horsepower or a 3.0-liter V6 with 181 hp — an engine that, despite being the “upgrade” powerplant, wasn’t particularly muscular either. But General Motors, Saturn’s parent company, had an idea.
The idea was an agreement with Honda: General Motors was doing some work for Honda in some capacity, though I no longer remember exactly what, and in turn, Honda would provide 3.5-liter V6 engines for the Saturn Vue — the same engine Honda used in the larger Pilot crossover and Odyssey minivan. The result was a more powerful optional engine and Honda reliability, now in a Saturn. Saturn ditched the 181-hp V6 in favor of the Honda engine.
As a result, every single Saturn Vue from 2004 onwards was either equipped with the boring, slow 4-cylinder or, optionally, Honda’s 3.5-liter V6 — which made 250 hp and 242 lb-ft of torque, a big figure for a compact crossover both then and now. The 2-wheel drive Vue equipped with this engine did 0-to-60 mph in 6.6 seconds, which made it one of the quickest crossovers on the market.
Capitalizing on this speed, Saturn released a performance model called the Vue Red Line (a hybrid version, intended to be called the “Vue Green Line” debuted later). The Vue Red Line shared the same Honda V6 as the normal version, but it was lowered, with larger wheels and a body kit. I believe this was the extent of the “performance” modifications.
Still, it existed: a surprisingly fast Saturn SUV, thanks to a Honda engine, and even a performance model, thanks to some cosmetic modifications. Of course, most people have forgotten this now. There’s just one Saturn Vue Red Line currently listed for sale on Autotrader in the whole country. But I swear, once upon a time, it happened. Find a Saturn Vue for sale