Saturn Vue Green Line Two-Mode

While GM and Chrysler have now offered hybrid versions of their largest SUVs for several months, sales have hardly been overwhelming. Compact and midsize vehicles seem to be the sweet spot for US hybrid sales.

So we’ve eagerly waited for the arrival of the Saturn Vue Two-Mode Hybrid, the full hybrid version of Saturn’s Vue compact sport-utility. HybridCars.com was able to spend almost an hour behind the wheel of the 2009 Vue Two-Mode, with lead vehicle engineer Tom Dye along for the ride.

General Motors will not produce a 2009 version of the Saturn Vue Two-Mode, which was scheduled for release in late 2008. Instead, the company plans to introduce the vehicle in mid-2009 as a 2010 model—although those plans have been thrown into doubt due to GM’s uncertain financial situation.

On a crisp and colorful autumn day on the country roads around Bear Mountain, New York, three Vue Two-Modes sat in a long row of new cars offered for short test drives at GM’s annual fall media preview. We had to check the badges to make sure these Vues were in fact Two-Modes, rather than the mild-hybrid version now known just as the Vue Hybrid (nee Vue Green Line). Once we’d confirmed they were pre-production Two-Modes, we hopped in and twisted the key.

First impression: No sound. Instead, the gauges lit up, and a small green pictogram appeared on the left dial. It’s the international symbol for “power on,” the sign that the hybrid-electric powertrain in our Vue was ready to move off after its silent start.

The Hybrid Vue for V6 Buyers

But before we hit the road, though, a few basics about the vehicle are useful. The Vue Two-Mode Hybrid will be sold alongside the mild-hybrid version, but the two serve very different niches. Saturn feels Vue buyers come in two distinct groups: those who pick the four-cylinder engine, and those who want the power and performance of a V6. The mild hybrid is an option for the first group; the 2009 Vue Two-Mode is aimed at the latter, fitted with a 3.6-liter direct-injection V6 that develops 262 horsepower.

This big V6 is mated to the Two-Mode Hybrid system jointly developed by GM, Chrysler, Daimler, and BMW. The result is a compact crossover that accelerates from 0 to 60 in 7.5 seconds, can tow a 3500-pound trailer, and still returns (projected) mileage of 28 city/31 highway. (By comparison, the slower, less expensive four-cylinder Vue Hybrid returns 25 city/32 highway.)

Highway mileage that high from a beefy V6, Dye says, is the benefit of the Two-Mode setup. He contrasted the Vue Two-Mode to the larger Toyota Highlander Hybrid, which tested out at 27 city/25 highway—returning highway mileage that’s actually lower than that around town. As Saturn points out, the Two-Mode’s city mileage of 28 is not only 65 percent better than the equivalent non-hybrid Vue, but also better than four-cylinder versions of the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, and Nissan Versa, all significantly smaller and lighter.

In our short time with the Vue Two-Mode, we weren’t able to get useful mileage figures on our own; that will have to wait for a longer road test. But we did get an impression of what it’s like to drive in a variety of uses.

First, it’s heavy and solid. The standard two-wheel-drive Vue V6 is already heavy at 3,870 pounds; the Two-Mode package adds another 250 pounds on top of that. (The Vue Two-Mode isn’t offered with all-wheel-drive, unlike the Highlander Hybrid.) We experienced some road roar over the coarse surfaces on the mountain, perhaps due to the high-pressure (38 psi) in the low rolling-resistance tires. (We also felt a slight wind whistle from one window in our pre-production vehicle.) But otherwise, the car felt well-screwed-together, as solid as an anvil, and quiet.

The Vue Two-Mode rides lower than its non-hybrid brethren, for better aerodynamics, which also helps that planted-on-the-road feeling. It cornered well and was eminently comfortable for four, adequate for five. Overall, it filled the mandate articulated by Dye, who said buyer surveys made it clear there was a market for a high-mileage crossover that “wasn’t a wimpy hybrid”.

With swift acceleration and its trailer-towing ability, the Vue definitely fights back any charges of “wimpy”. But like other hybrid crossovers, it’s almost impossible to identify unless you look at the badges on the front fenders and the tailgate. There are also door decals, repeated on the windshield and rear glass, some chrome accents, and a different rear spoiler. But these are all minor embellishments to what looks from 50 feet like a standard Saturn Vue.

But It Doesn’t Seem Like a Hybrid

Inside, things are a bit different. Dashboard and trim are carried over, but the tachometer is replaced with an “efficiency gauge,” which indicates maximum fuel economy and when the car is operating in electric-only mode.

Buyers who specify the optional navigation system get a Prius-like screen showing the power flow among engine, battery, electric motors, and regenerative brakes. Without that, the efficiency gauge gives drivers the basic information needed to economize.

The two toughest parts of vehicle development, says Dye, were blending the regenerative braking with the standard friction braking, and ensuring the engine would switch smoothly on and off in any conceivable circumstance. In both of these goals, Saturn succeeded.

The brakes are excellent, with absolutely standard feel and no rough spots or strange behaviors. The control system seamlessly added friction braking to regen whenever necessary, with no apparent transition except for the telltale dash light that indicated battery recharging. There’s an emergency mode, too; when a driver slams on the brakes, the car dispenses with regen braking altogether and maximizes the standard brakes to stop as quickly as possible.

As for engine switching on and off, it was perceptible, but easily overlooked in the business of driving through the narrow, curving roads of the Shawangunk Mountains. After a short while, it was easy to forget that this was anything but a powerful five-seat crossover—especially for those drivers who ignore their gauges.

And that may define the Vue Two-Mode as well as anything. When it’s running solely in electric mode (Dye estimates e-range at 0.7 or 0.8 miles), it lacks the slight whine that current hybrid owners are used to. Perhaps it’s the compact hybrid crossover for buyers who don’t want to be seen in a hybrid?

Saturn hadn’t revealed pricing as of late October, but said it expects the MSRP to be “under $33,000”—meaning $35,000 to $38,000 with tax, title, and options. The Vue Two-Mode will arrive at Saturn dealerships in January and February 2009.

The Latest Two-Mode Hybrid

The basic Two-Mode technology in this latest Vue hybrid is the same one used in the full-size Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid (see our drive report) and GMC Yukon Hybrid, and Cadillac Escalade Hybrid full-size SUVs, and it will also appear next spring in the Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid and GMC Sierra Hybrid full-size pickup trucks. Chrysler now offers it in the Dodge Durango Hybrid and Chrysler Aspen Hybrid full-size SUVs, and it will soon launch in the BMW X6 Hybrid and a future Mercedes-Benz ML450 Hybrid SUV as well.

The 300-volt nickel-metal-hydride battery pack, which holds slightly more than 1 kilowatt-hour of energy, sits below the rear cargo floor. The cells inside it are made by Cobasys, which was recently in the news for a recall of its smaller packs fitted to the mild-hybrid versions of the Saturn Aura, Saturn Vue, and Chevrolet Malibu. Vehicle line engineer Tom Dye emphasized that the problems with those packs were known about early enough in the Vue Two-Mode’s development that, “We made damn sure we didn’t have the same problem.”

Next up in the growing lineup of hybrid Saturn Vue models will be the Vue Two-Mode Plug-In Hybrid, which will run up to 10 miles on electricity alone, using a larger battery pack that can be charged up from the power grid. That vehicle is expected to launch late in 2010, at roughly the same time as GM’s much-touted Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle.

 


Price quote for Saturn Vue Two-Mode

Saturn Vue Green Line Two-Mode
Base MSRP: $33,000
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  • Boom Boom

    If this thing achieves the real world MPG that the projected numbers show it may finally offer competition to the Escape and Highlander Hybrids. Given GMs past performance, projected MPG numbers are not to be trusted. The pricing seems a bit high compared to other small SUVs. The power may be as much as a Highlander, but the size of the vehicle is more like an Escape. At $33k it will be 4-6K more expensive than an Escape Hybrid.

    Now if GM would just put this “full” hybrid system in something besides an SUV maybe they’d be able to compete against the Prius and Civic.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    Ah another greenwashed vehicle from a company that obstinately refuses to get into the 21st century and admit that big iron isn’t the only way to go.
    I’m very disappointed that this, just like the Accord Hybrid and the Highlander Hybrid is just another attempt by the diehard big iron fanatics to use the hybrid drivetrain to squeeze a little more fuel economy out of the only thing they believe should really propel a reasonably performing car – a big V engine.
    Then they mix with this, their rube-goldberg-maintenance-disaster-waiting-to-happen ‘Two Mode” transmission.
    They need to get into the program. With today’s efficient electric motor technology we need to:
    - use the electric motor for power and performance
    - use the ICE for range
    Fuel and energy economy will come for free.
    instead, they insist on using the ICE for everything and the electric drivetrain to make it only a bit better -
    LIPSTICK ON A PIG

  • Bryce

    Some people like options ev1 man. There is a four cylinder version and now a V6 version. let people decide. And this thing is similarly priced to a highlander hybrid. (little cheaper I think actually) It produces 100 more hp than the escape, so I don’t know if they are even comparable. An escape costs 30K now anyways.

    I think the fuel economy numbers are backwards if I am not mistaken. Jalopnik.com reported that city mpg is 31 and highway is 28, which would again make it much better than the highlander in terms of fuel economy while producing more horsepower at a lower MSRP. Sounds pretty good to me. : )

    Highlander 27/25 mpg

    Gives the Vue 10-15% better fuel economy and more hp coming from that 3.6L direct injected engine. (same engine as in the Cadillac CTS)

  • vapsa56

    What is it with GM and around 35 to 40 Grand for its full hybrid models? Gm needs to understand they have a credibility problem here.

    None of their craptacular cars are WORTH anywhere near 35 to 40 Grand.

    JD Powers lastest ranking have Scion as the number one for Customer satisfation in quality. Lowly little Scion! Honda was in second place, Toyota, third!

    GM was not even in the top 15! Ford’s Linchon division, the highest rated American plate, was the top rated at 11th place.

    Honda and Toyota and just going to keep cleaning GM’s clock with their hybrids.

  • Bill Cosworth

    I belive Ford has more cars on JD that are better in realbility than Toyota.

    All cars are good today.

    ITs just people who buy foreign cars think they are better so when they have a problem they never report it.

    They think its not polite to report against a foreign country.

    Consumer distorts gets massive donations from toyota and Honda have allways they are a very biased source.

  • TD

    Bill, you are full of it.

    I purchased GM vehicles for years and switched to Honda, because I got tired of throwing down a K-buck or more every year on my GM vehicles with under 50K miles! The only reliable cars they made were in the Oldsmobile division which they closed! It really sucks to still be making payments and also be spending big money on repairs. I am speaking from experience.

    I used to be a buy America guy, but it was just costing me too much. Until GM or Ford have vehicles consistently in the top 10 for reliability I will not be switching back.

  • Bill Cosworth

    you are full of it..

    Look at the facts before you speak

    Ford and GM are the safest cars made

    http://forums.motortrend.com/70/6583356/the-general-forum/saab-ford-tops-safest-car-lists-again/index.html

    http://www.fordvehicles.com/cars/2008taurus/

    http://www.autoblog.com/2007/06/06/ford-dominates-j-d-power-and-associates-2007-initial-quality-st/

    GM makes the best mid size car over camery and accord

    http://jalopnik.com/395078/2008-chevy-malibu-refuses-to-be-ignored-tops-jd-power-initial-quality-survey

    Oh ford focus cost 9k less to fix in same accident a toyota prius is in.

    http://www.autoblog.com/2008/09/09/iihs-praises-ford-focus-for-cheap-crash-repairs/

    I could go on but I fell bad that you had to buy a foreign car to make yourself fell better.

    I buy American because its actually better!

  • Cindy

    I agree,

    I hate foreign car owners. When there BMW or Toyota cost $1500 for extended warranty or they spend $2000 a year for maintenance.

    Oh my car is so good.

    I look at people who buy Toyota and Honda and think how stupid to buy the polo or izod and put Americans out of work.

    When we in the USA make great and actually better products.

    My ford explorer has 220k on it now and I spent less than 1000k on it in 5 years.

    So there to that foreign crap.

  • jvoelcker

    Bryce: Regrettably, Jalopnik got it wrong.

    I have the GM info sheet in front of me: 28 city / 31 highway.

    And you’re astute to notice that the GDI 3.6-liter V6 is the same one used in the CTS. Dye mentioned that, but I didn’t bother to put it into the piece ….

  • ex-EV1 driver

    Bryce,
    Sure, people like options. They love to choose between power and economy don’t they. They would much rather be able to choose than to have BOTH.
    A 4 cylinder engine is all that is needed to propel nearly any light vehicle (trucks included) and will get optimal gas mileage. A small light, cheap, electric motor is sufficient to get 0-60 times as fast as the tires can handle.
    Why not then go with a small 4 cylinder engine and a powerful electric motor.
    You could get a power screamer that sips gas. Who needs to choose when you can have BOTH?

  • kanejk

    Again, American-made vehicles means driving a vehicle that is significantly less advanced in terms of ecologically based technology.

    And a Ford Explorer? Are you kidding me?

    Sorry, but I’ll take 47 mpg over 15 mpg any day.
    It’s that simple.

    This is a website geared towards Hybrids and similar vehicles-not street legal tanks.

  • Bryce

    Sorry writer, I was just wondering about the discrepency. Still respectable numbers inversed. lol I would agree ev-1 that both would be awesome, but until hybrids move to li-ion batteries, similar hp and acceleration from those electric motors just can’t be supported by the current batteries. Until then, we have options. : )

    Hmm, I was just thinking, I think the 2mode system favors highway driving better than the synergy drive by Toyota. All of the synergy applications produce lower highway numbers, but all the 2 modes mainain higher highway fuel economy. Interesting. I can’t wait until they size down the 2mode system into smaller vehicles. (right now the electric motors and whatnot are too large for most cars engine chasis, and the system is being redesigned to be resized for smaller applications. Not too much longer hopefully)

  • Anonymous

    “these Vues were in fact Two-Modes, rather than the mild-hybrid version now known just as the Vue Hybrid (nee Vue Green Line).”

    This is the problem with having hybrid models with the same name as “normal” models. This is a marketing nightmare, especially after the first hybrid version was so bad.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    Bryce,
    I’m not sure where you get the idea that NiMH isn’t sufficient to provide good performance. There are slight legal issues but technically, NiMH batteries can provide plenty of rubber-burning acceleration. My EV1 had NiMH batteries and I the traction control regularly kicked in to keep the tires from slipping when I wanted performance.
    I also don’t understand why you think GM’s “2-mode” hybrid and Toyota’s “Synergy Driver” are that different. They are essentially the same thing but with slightly different designs. GM’s is a lot more complicated.
    City -vs- Highway performance difference is mainly caused by vehicle weight, aerodynamics, and electric -vs- ICE division of labor.
    The key point, however, is that with a hybrid, the City and Highway gas mileage is quite close, unlike a pure ICE. With the Vue, the pure ICE is 17/24 while the 4 cyl cheesy “hybrid” is 25/32, and the ’2-mode’ is 28/31.
    This tells me that the highway mpg is probably dominated by aerodynamics and the electric drivetrain helps a bit with both.
    Going with a stronger electric drivetrain and a 4 cyl could probably give them something like 31/34 with the same acceleration as the V-6

  • Bryce

    highway mpg on the highlander hybrid is only 25…..which leaves the Vue with a 6 mpg superior difference. It may be more complicated….but its cheaper, produces better fuel economy, (more savings) and has better performance. (for more fun) All of that sounds great to me.

    And I wasn’t saying ni-mh batteries are bad necesarily, but li-ion has a lot more potential.

  • bill cosworth

    Ex ev1 driver needs to get into the present.

    GM will allways make better vehicles than toyota they have the brain power and the best engineers

    Also remember you drovce a GM so stop bashing GM and find another hobbie.

    Or move to japan if you dont like our country. I am proud of the US and our car companies.

    You will never see me in a toyota.

  • SoloSoldier

    Bill

    No one is against your “pro-American” stance but you seem to miss the fact that most “American” cars are built in Latin America these days.
    Another thing is Toyota and Honda build their hybrids for urban environments where having higher city mileage is more important than highway mileage, being that most of their customers are in urban/suburban areas. GM is still catering to the country-folk who live out in the boondocks and have to ride 15 miles to get to their nearest Wal-Mart.
    Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Mazda… and now Ford are catering to people like me when it comes to hybrid technology. If I want a big truck, I’d definitely check out a Chevy… but for a sensible, economic, green vehicle I’d go to a Japanese, Korean, or Ford dealership.

  • IMAMike

    Oh, how I wish that were true. Anyone should be able to excel in an initial quality survey. Ford and GM vehicles, I’ve owned 2 hat were new in the last 4 years, are still as unreliable as the 1980′s. My 2004 E-450 super duty at work was towed out of the garage 5 times in less than 3 weeks for repeated failure to start. Fortunately, the 5th time was a charm. I’ve now got 2 hondas and I’ve had no issues. Not to say that Hondas don’t have issues, but overall they’re usually far less significant than domestics (my hybrid batteries didn’t leak after less than 1 year). If you can supply real proof of the bias in CR that you so readily assess is present, beyond the annual well-deserved whipping of domestic manufacturers, please do so. Until then, I’ll continue to buy my Hondas, the majority of which are made in America by non-union (another plus) labor, unlike the Aveos from GM and future fiestas from Ford. If you don’t like that, then file a grievance if your plant is still open, a rare thing for domestics nowadays.

  • IMAMike

    You’ve got that right. I like only spending money on oil changes every 7500 miles and routine maintenance, not transmissions and big dollar engine repairs. Having worked on both, my Hondas are just built to a higher quality standard.

  • IMAMike

    Perhaps you need to stop watching your VHS copy of “Gun Ho” form the 1980s, the film about the Japanese taking over American auto plants, and move into the present. When you can actually back up your statements without quotes from UAW membership magazines and provide actual, solid information rather than just blog posts, you can make a legitimate argument. Government fuel efficiency data, and evaluations from numerous legitimate reviewers such as CR, tell the tale, as do sales figures and resale values for imports and domestics. Similar to GM and Chrysler, you appear to have your head hopelessly stuck in the sand. I now own imports after coming from a family of Ford employees, and I’m not “better” or “superior” to them, I just want the best product for the best price–that what “buying American” means nowadays, not buying second-rate domestic goods just because it has an American flag and a made in the USA stamp on it.

  • IMAMike

    GM will allways make better vehicles than toyota they have the brain power and the best engineers

    –OK, and Toyota had the HSD since 1997? When is the Volt due out, 2010 at the earliest?

    Also remember you drovce a GM so stop bashing GM and find another hobbie.

    –Aside from grammar, the fact that I owned GM and Ford products gives us the right to bash them, I KNOW they produce inferior products.

    Or move to japan if you dont like our country. I am proud of the US and our car companies.

    –I love America as well, and vote conservative, and I want the United States to succeed and remain a center or world technological development. Just because I love the US doesn’t mean I have to love US companies. I love GM as much as I love Leaman Brothers and Wall St. right now.

    You will never see me in a toyota.

    —I figure I’d just find you cussing under the hood of your domestics trying to fix them every weekend.

  • Bryce

    My view is that sticking to one brand necesarily because of country origin can be silly. However, in all honesty, I hate toyota. Their cars have god awful interiors and easily layed down by a Honda or a Chevy just about anyday of the week. Accords and Malibus beat down on Camrys in just about every review out there.

    their exteriors haven’t been very impressive lately either. (have you seen the spy shots of the next gen prius…..bleh) Insight easily wins. And with the Volt coming down the pipeline, I see no reason why I, or anyone else would want a Prius, cuz as far as I can tell, that is the only Toyota product worth purchasing. Now though, with competition, I really have no love for it. : )

    O and, all I have to say to your Ford super crew is……its a Ford, what were you expecting. lol

  • Tony

    I personally was a lifelong Ford owner until they crossed a line. My wife’s Contour died while she was driving it (fortunately on the surface streets and not the interstate). AAA towed it to a local shop, where they looked at it and found that the insulation was rotting off a key wire harness. They produced a bulletin detailing a warranty extension program Ford had instituted covering this problem. Apparently the problem with the harness was known, but was not considered safety critical, and so they decided they’d only fix it if it became a problem for people. The warranty extension was for 10 years/100,000 miles.

    As it happens, the car had just over 100,000 miles, and was about 8 years old at the time, putting it outside the extended warranty period. Maybe it should have been a recall and maybe not. Maybe owners should have been notified and maybe not. But at this point it looked like it was just my bad luck that the problem hadn’t manifested itself until just after it was too late. Except that that wasn’t the case…

    A few years before this happened, when we were still well within the warranty period, we had started having problems with the car where it just wasn’t running very well. Seemed to be missing and would stall occasionally. I had it into my local Ford dealer’s service department three separate times, for about $300 a pop, and they were never able to fix the problem. Not having been notified about the wire harness problem, it never occurred to me to ask about the warranty extension program. It either never occurred to Ford either (or more likely it occurred to them that it would be far more expensive to fix it for free — they quoted me a price of $1700+ after the warranty had expired — than to charge me $300 and send me home with a still defective vehicle).

    The point is that anyone can build a good car, but noone can build a perfect car. In this case, the problem wasn’t even caused by Ford, it was the supplier from whom they bought the harnesses. The problem is in how they chose to deal with it. Ford decided that it was a wise business decision to give up whatever they would have made on the 6 or 8 Ford vehicles that I now will not be buying in my lifetime in order to save a few hundred bucks fixing the problem. This makes about as much sense as surrendering large portions of the new car market from 2008 on in order to make an extra couple thousand per vehicle by concentrating on gas guzzlers.

    I believe in buying American, and I tried very hard to find an American car to replace my last Ford. But they aren’t giving those like me very much to work with. I’m waiting anxiously, but pessimistically, for the Volt. I think the series hybrid is the painfully obvious missing link between fossil fuel and electric drive vehicles, and I can’t believe that GM is still the only established auto maker working on one.

  • Bryce

    Doesn’t surprise me. Toyota is still too damn impressed by itself and its synergy drive to take the next logical step. Plus, they are letting GM test the waters and hopefully they might be able to just license it off of them. (GM is in need of the money) Who needs R&D when you can just buy it. That is probably what is in their heads. I guess I am younger, so I never experienced the problems the older generation had, but all of the cars I have experienced (Toyotas, Chevys, and a Chrysler) have not followed the supposed quality convention purported by the older folks. The Chevys never had problems and are still going. The Toyotas had crappy interiors and exteriors weren’t anything to look at either. (The chrysler Concorde has served me well for a long time as well) No better fuel efficiency or better quality from the Toyota and their new products can’t even measure up. I understand all the older people being smitten by their past experiences with Toyota, but I feel as a young guy that they are just riding on their past achievements and don’t really deserve all the credit they are given anymore. I don’t care what company did what in the past, I care about what they are doing for me right now.

  • JC

    You guys have nothing but time to waste, babbling here. LOL

    I traded in my Lexus IS 250 that got 24, 33 MPG for a Saturn Vue Hybrid 09′ and have the same exact mileage. But now with lower maintenance costs, same fuel economy, smoother ride, real leg room and a actual large cargo area. Need I say more, cheaper tires, better alloy rims, leather, sunroof. And my car payment is much lower. Oh and it’s AMERICAN. :) You can talk all you want about how bad the car is but how many of you “guys” have actually driven one? You may actually be impressed with it. LOL

  • Bryce

    The Vue is, for a very good reason, Saturns best selling model. It being a Saturn however, leaves it with very small sales numbers, no matter what. Since Saturn and/or Pontiac may be dropped in the near future as part of this bailout, it would be nice to see the Vue go to Chevy or something. Maybe replace the Equinox….or something like that. It would be sad to see it go, it is very nice.

    : (

  • dret

    Need more files from Megaupload? Find “more” at http://megaupload.name/

  • SoloSoldier

    If a Honda CRV hybrid or Toyota RAV4 hybrid became available, they’d wipe the floor with this along with Escape hybrid.

  • Scott

    Cindy, One question for you. You say that buying a foreign car puts Americans out of work, and I’ve heard many people say it is unpatriotic.

    Last year I spent a month in Indonesia. I flew on Boeing Airplanes with Garuda. Those guys have 10 Dreamliners on order for a billion and a half dollars. (90% of Dreamliner sales are leaving the country). In my Indonesian apartment I had an American Standard toilet, and the building had Microsoft software.

    Across the street was a Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, KFC, McDonalds, ACE Hardware, Outback Steak House, Toys R Us, etc.

    At the supermarket we bought Coke, American peanut butter and Ocean Spray cranberry juice (yes, they really had it!!!)

    I also rented a Ford automobile from the Ford dealer as well as a Toyota Kijang.

    My question for you Cindy, is… If we feel that buying Asian products is unpatriotic and wrong, can we really at the same time expect them to buy ours??

    Scott

  • Bryce

    That is a good point……that is a fine example of globalization!

  • Bobc

    The automotive industry in general moves at a snails pace and is overly cautious with out of the box thinking. PML, a British electric motor manufacturer, designed and built a prototype drive system that war retrofit into a Mini. The performance specs were mind boggling. Zero to Sixty in sub 5 seconds, over 900 miles of range in a smaller tank. The design used 4 electric wheel motors and a small ICE to charge a battery pack and ultra capacitors that distributed the electricity to each motor.

    Electric conversion to mechanical energy has always been more efficient than ICE conversion. The only draw backs I see to the PML design is sealing the electric motors against water damage and keeping them cool. These are eaqsy problems to over come and the unsprung weght issue is not nealy as much a problem as one might think because it is not unsprung dead weight but a live active drive member.

    Regenerative braking recoups 90% of the kinetic energy as opposed to 65-75% for current hybrids. The small ICE (2 cylinder) in the system is used just to charge the batteries when they are getting low and is tuned for optimum efficiency at one load speed.The software controls of the system incorporate 4 wheel drive , traction controm, stability control and a host of features considered a luxury in conventional ICE designs.

    The current automotive industry, both foreign and domestic are so mired in the current approach to transit they cant see the forest from the trees. Rather than seeing how much this design would have saves them by not having to produce gas wasting transmissions, axels and differentials, they worry about legacy problems like union deals, head count and pension funding, so they have to contuinue to produce high margin low efficiency vehicles.

    No collectively bargained agreement should be without a caveat that shoehorns a business operation into a noncompetitive position. America is after all the land of opportunity, not the land of the free lunch. I understand the unwilingness to give back somthing that you think you earned but there is a vast difference by what is rightfully earned and what is bargained for by a skilled negotiator with hardline tactics.

    Such things being aside I’ve owned several American and Foreign primarily Asian makes over the years. Starting with a Jeep when they were still owned by Kaiser Willys Overland. My family swore by SUV’s before they became the gas guzzling status staples of American suburbia. I then shared a Toyota Celica GT with my brother towards the latter days of my college years. The first new car I leased was a 1984 Subaru Turbo wagon with 4WD. I wanted the inherent utility and safety of 4WD with fuel efficiency, and I felt this was an issue ignored by US automakers because they felt it was a niche. SUV’s had to be large and bulky to bring all the gear you needed into the back woods.

    The major problem I see with American manufacturers is they have been reading their own press clippings and dictating automotive tastes to the American public for too long. Designing in planned oblescence rather than relaiability. They have always been on the cutting edge but wanter to extract every dollar from a blindly loyal public while giving little back in crucial years.

    My current Auto is a Saturn Outlook, I started buying gthe Saturn brand about 8 years ago after a rather expensive relationship with a Subaru SVX (Yes the Japanese automakers have their duds also, great car when it was running though). I bought a used SC2 and had it for 2 years until it was totaled by a rear end accident. I firmly believed in the principals that the Saturn brand was developed to implement and I wish GM had stuck by those all those principals not just the ones convenient to them.

    The only gripes i really have about my current vehicle is they could have implemented the partial hybrid concept in it as an option and my city mileage might be 19-20MPG rather than 14-16mpg. I renter a Chevy Impala last Thanksgiving and on a flat strech of highway in North Carolina averaged 44mpg in an 80 mile stretch. Now you might say that that is a remarkable abberation but it really is not.

    Since leasing my Outlook I have practiced more fuel efficient driving, especially with our recent bout with $4.00 per gallon gas. I simply transferred those techniques to the Impala. To further illustrate my point, last year I drove from NY to Myrtle Beach SC. I shared the driving with 2 other friends. The Outlook only has about 1500 miles on it at the start. During my stretch of driving I averaged 23mpg over a 300mile stretch. The first of my co-drivres was a bit more aggressive and disdained the use of cruise control. He got 18 mpg over a 200 mile stretch and my second co-driver through mountainous terrain got 21 mpg. In this same car I once got 28 mpg over a 70 mile stretch. My point we often ignore our own behavior and contribition to the mileage problems we have with cars.

    Before the Outlook I had a Vue which I put 136,000 mile on before trading it in. The Vue had become a tad unreliaible and was costing me $1600- $2000 ever six months in repairs and maintenance and had a faulty horn problem that would have costme $900 to fix (air bag part of horn circuit, car out of warranty). The Vue has a V6 and 5 speed auto with AWD. I once got 29mpg highway in that car. I see a few people panning the original partial Hybrid Vue which I test drove but never bought.

    I was on a web site that posted comments from real owners of this partial Hybrid Nue and for the most part 80% of the comments were positive and they were happy with the mileage they got because they adapted. Far too many posters on this site state blanket comments that while have some basis in validity, they really cannot be attributed to one type of automaker foreign or domestic but in truth is endemic of the industry as a whole.

    Toyota rarely leads the way unless prodded and pushed to do so. Withour the limited success of the EV1 the Piruis of today probably would not exist. Without the Pirius of today there probably would not be a redesign of the Insight from Honda. The industry as a whole needs to wake up and approach the transportation issue from a different paradigm. How much deisel would we save if thte PML approach had been designed into big rigs across the nation five years ago? We had the technology and software know how to do it but conventional thinking hamstrung the entire industry. I think an 18 wheeler getting 40 mpg would have been quite possible. Cutting demand for deisel by 75% would have probably kept the price low also. This just goes to show that improper government intervention whether passive (conservative) or active (liberal) is never a good thing. The original Saturn green line was a good stop gap measure but in my opinion it should have been extended to the entire saturn line. The new Two-mode offering still does not offer an AWD version and in the current economic climate that may be delayed indefinately and that’s a deal breaker for me.

  • Cheap Cars

    Thanks for the great info. i like this car. it is cool car. Hyundai usually manages to put out a reliable car, but a few models have been glitchy, especially in their first nodel year. but the Problem with toyota it seems that it takes too long to upgrade its products.
    http://www.toplinecar.com/

  • Matt FCA

    GM showing technological mastery and industry leadership yet again.

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