Last year over 100,000 Americans jumped on the gasoline-electric hybrid bandwagon, and even more are expected to make the plunge this year. Now, a lot of those will do so in the 2007 Saturn Vue Green Line. The Vue Green Line uses a unique hybrid system that is both less complicated to build and less expensive to buy than most other hybrids. Yet it still promises a 20% gain in fuel economy. So let’s see if the Green Line can deliver.

General Motors has been working on hybrid powertrains for over a decade. The most unique result of that research and development will finally arrive in showrooms this fall as the 2007 Saturn Vue Green Line Hybrid. While the Green Line will join a growing list of hybrid sport-utility vehicles, its approach to mixing a gasoline engine with an electric motor is different from all the rest.

The typical full-hybrid, like this Toyota Prius, sandwiches an electric motor between the engine and transmission. It requires a costly re-engineering of the drivetrain, adding $5,000-$9,000 to the vehicle’s price. That’s a lot to pay for a 25-30% fuel economy gain.  The Saturn Vue Green Line Hybrid uses a hang-on belt-driven motor/starter/generator hybrid system that provides its power boost through a simpler belt and pulley system routed to the gasoline engine’s crank.

Primary power is from a new to the Vue, 2.4-liter 170-horsepower four-cylinder gas engine with variable valve timing. The electric motor assist is rated at a peak of 10 kilowatts. To keep costs down, Vue’s transmission is a conventional geared 4-speed automatic, not the costlier continuously variable CVT used by rivals. Also, power goes only to the front wheels. There is no all-wheel drive model for now.

But like other hybrids, the Saturn Vue Green Line runs on a combination of gasoline and electric power, and the gasoline engine shuts down when the vehicle is stopping. When the driver presses the gas pedal to start off again, electric power alone briefly provides the initial movement while the 4-cylinder restarts. Electric power is also added as a boost for passing and steep grades.

The gauge cluster includes a simple charge indicator, a tachometer that lets you know when the gas engine is off, and this ECO light that lets you know when you are exceeding the EPA fuel economy estimates. And those government estimates are pretty impressive for a compact utility at 27 City and 32 Highway. That’s the highest highway rating of any SUV and about 5 miles per gallon better on both measures than a non-hybrid Vue.

While we didn’t have a chance to verify those estimates, GM did present the press with an independent 3,000 mile test that returned an average of 29.7 miles-per-gallon, a figure that’s competitive with more complex and expensive hybrid SUVs from Toyota and Ford.

Inside, there are the same comfortable, user-friendly accommodations that we’ve come to expect in the Vue. And thanks to a compact battery pack, cargo space is also the same. The only real difference is that to make room for the battery the spare tire was traded in for an inflator.

So, ok, the Saturn Vue is unique, and it seems to work in saving significant fuel. But just how affordable is it? Well, GM says the 2007 Saturn Vue Green Line Hybrid will have a base price of under $23,000 when it arrives at dealers in late summer. That works out to about a $2,000 premium over a non-hybrid Vue, an amount that can be easily recovered through fuel savings in normal ownership. It also makes the Vue the least expensive hybrid SUV, undercutting the Ford Escape Hybrid by about $4,000.

With over 200,000 Americans joining the hybrid wave in 2005 alone, and many more ready to jump onboard, an affordable hybrid SUV like the 2007 Saturn Vue Green Line should receive a very warm welcome, and add another big surge of power to a cleaner, greener car world. 


Program #2614

With demand for gasoline-electric hybrids reaching unprecedented levels, we wanted to update you on one of the latest, the Saturn Vue Green Line Hybrid sport-utility vehicle.  In our preview test last February, the front-wheel drive Vue Green Line was still six months from showrooms. Well, now it’s on sale and we wanted to check its efficiency in everyday use.

Government fuel economy ratings for the Vue Green Line are a promising 27 City and 32 Highway, or about 20 percent better than the best non-hybrid Vue. During its press introductions, the Vue managed 29.7 miles-per-gallon on the mostly flat roads around Phoenix, Arizona. Now, back in the rolling terrain of Maryland, we recorded a test loop of 28.1 miles per gallon. While a good result, it’s less than 10% better than we recently recorded with a Honda CR-V on similar roads.

Still, at just under $23,000, and that’s before a government tax rebate, the Vue Green Line is a good value both as a hybrid, and as a compact SUV.


  • Engine: 2.4-Liter Four-Cylinder Gas Engine With Variable Valve Timing
  • EPA: 27 MPG City/32 MPG Highway
  • Base Price: Under $23,000