Summary: "It would be easy — effortless, even— to accuse GM of bad faith in the Saturn Vue Green Line, a maximally minimal venture in hybrid powertrain technology that would seem less about fuel economy and more about securing coveted hybrid badges on the doors (and the current $650 tax credit for buyers). Unlike ‘strong’ hybrids from Toyota, Honda, Ford and most recently Nissan, the Green Line project doesn’t deploy a gas-sipping Atkinson cycle engine; a continuously variable transmission with exotic power-routing gear sets; an electric air conditioning unit that doesn’t depend on the engine running; a powerful electric traction motor; or a large and potent advanced-chemistry battery.

It uses, instead, a big honking belt-driven starter motor that — with a flip of polarity when the vehicle is coasting and braking — acts as a generator, feeding electrons to a relatively dinky 10kW battery under the cargo floor. Otherwise, the Green Line powertrain is as conventional as Victorian sex. "

Thus begins Dan Neil’s pan of the Saturn Vue Green Line. If you’ve never seen such felicitous phrases as "God’s own beagle" used in an automotive review, it’s time to become a Dan fan.

Unfortunately for those hoping that this little hybrid SUV was gonna be all that, Neil’s isn’t the only review out there giving GM a good thrashing for its shoddy execution of what could have been a good idea. Philip Reed at agreed with an observation that "it felt like all the fasteners were backed out a quarter turn."

So it’s cheaper than Ford’s Escape hybrid. How many consumers will fork over $22K for brand-new wheels that feel like they might pop off at the next railroad crossing?

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