The ’07 Saturn Aura Green Line Hybrid: It Ain’t Easy Being Green

December 26th, 2006

Environmentalists have lobbied for alternative fuel sources to gasoline and the market has made efforts to deliver. Saturn will look to build on its hybrid lineup sometime next year with an alternative version of the 2007 Aura. However, the question remains as to whether you’re really saving gas if you buy this “progressive” vehicle.

Some people might say the industry has moved too slowly in developing hybrids. Others (especially manufacturers) will tell you that it’s moving at just the right pace. My feeling is that the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Early reports from Saturn tell us that fuel economy in the new Aura hybrid will exceed the non-hybrid Aura XE by at least 25%. The problem? The hybrid will use a 4 cylinder engine while the Aura XE uses a 3.5 L V6. So as some commentators like to say, Saturn is really comparing “apples and oranges.”

I think these people have a point. First of all, drivers have come out and said they want more than just a 25% increase in fuel economy for the money they pay. The Aura Green Line never relies exclusively on electricity, which causes consumers to label it a quasi-hybrid. In addition, the new Aura apparently won’t even have an instantaneous fuel consumption display to tell you how much gas you’re saving. So in essence, Saturn wants you to buy the car, feel good about doing your part to save the Earth, and trust the machine to do the rest.

On the other hand, we’ve seen this before. Saturn doesn’t take many risks, as evidenced by its late entry into the SUV, sportscar, and premium mid-size sedan markets with the VUE, Sky, and Aura, respectively. My feeling is that Saturn will take it slow and see how well they do with what they have.

For now, they’re doing the smart thing by injecting some green into a promising new model.

For more on the new Aura Green Line, visit: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2006/12/2007_saturn_aur.php

http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/AutoshowArticles/articleId=117733

– Posted by Taeho Lim

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