In Praise of my Vue, and Saturn

We had a delightful Christmas, dear Readers. Thank you for all the holiday ecards and lovely toasts to our health and success for 2007. I will be posting about the holiday momentarily. I dedicate this post to my Vue. Ha!

It has been a very difficult weekend for Better Half and Autrice! It commenced on Friday morning, when our only vehicle ceased to cooperate. Our Vue, which we acquired new several years ago, simply stopped running. Thankfully, we did pay for the extended warranty and car care program (I highly recommend Saturn to all of you!)

The computer had malfunctioned, and had to be altogether replaced. No work on the vehicle could be carried out until Tuesday – which meant that we were unable to shop, attend mass, or drive about. The repairs were completed yesterday, and they are throwing in an oil change. Free of charge, dear Readers! Thank God something is going well as this year draws to a close. $400 saved.

I do find my little Blue Vue simply irresistible. It is a perky SUV that handles like a dream and has enough power to navigate the hectic streets and avenues of Pittsburgh, yet it glides like a luxury car over country roads. Our Vue is a 2003 4-cylinder with all wheel drive – the last year they equipped that type of engine with that particular feature. The continuously variable transmission gives it superior energy while ascending the steep hills of this area, and it handled the Rocky Mountain snow with ease. We have a tow package on it, and I was greatly pleased by how well the vehicle handled hauling a small trailer during our relocation to Ohio. It has been touted as a manageable and highly functional sport-utility that doe not guzzle gasoline or require a huge parking space. I consider my Vue a prized all-weather plaything.

It is not a sports car, but Saturn claims the standard model hits 0 to 60 in time of 11.1 seconds. I have pushed it to go beyond that (during heavy merging at the Ft. Pitt Tunnel); it jumps to 60 mph in under 9 seconds, thanks to the VTi continuously variable transmission. The EPA rating of 23/28 mpg City/Highway is accurate, but we do save on fuel by coasting the larger Pennsylvania hills. The Vue handles the decrease of demanded engine power well, and the Vti allows the Vue to keep up speed downhill through gravity without the engine winding through all sorts of changes to accommodate. For those who do not know what a VTi is – the vehicle does not “shift”. You do not hear it shifting, nor does the engine rev while the transmission clicks into “gears”. It is a smooth operation that releases power to where it is needed as it is needed. I am not too reluctant to say that I have pulled speeds close to 100 mph without experiencing any vibrations or whines of protest. (I have no desire to test what the governor is set to.)

People have groused about the Vue’s lack of sophistication, stating that they can hear road noise and sense vibration. Bullshit. The SUV operates smoothly. It does have good ground clearance and the suspension handles most road conditions rather well. The speed-sensitive power steering offers precise, easy steering in parking lots, yet adjusts for good road feel and stability on the highway. It uses a torque sensor to automatically boost assistance during emergency avoidance maneuvers (Pittsburgh allows you the opportunity to test that feature on a constant basis.) The anti-lock brake system operation is superior to the systems I have experienced on other vehicles.

The exterior is hardly racy. It understates the true grace of the Vue itself. I prefer that in my vehicles. Anyone can slap “Eddie Bauer Edition” on a car and make it look expensive. The Vue is inexpensive but operates better than an SUV sold for three times its price.

I enjoy having a cloth interior (with five dogs, leather would surely suffer) and the simple dash consol means that I do not spend a vast amount of time hunting for buttons. There are plenty of storage nooks and crannies for my drink, sunglasses, CDs, and other such items.

A 70/30 split folding rear seat provides more versatile stowage of longer items while carrying rear passengers. Even the front passenger seat folds flat. The back of that seat has a heavy grade plastic, perfect for a laptop. There have been many times where I have used my Vue as an office on the road, hammering out reports while sipping my coffee and listening to music. Three standard power outlets provide opportunities to plug in toys or tools. The HEPA filtration system keeps dust at bay; I have driven in windstorms in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming and the dust did not get an opportunity to invade the Vue’s interior.

We have plenty of cargo room, as the rear seats fold flat thanks to the compact all-wheel-drive system. A cargo organizer folds out of the floor to corral smaller objects. There are hooks for grocery bags and a cargo net, and a pop-up cargo organizer with two compartments sized specifically for gallon jugs and plastic bags, a welcome luxury for our trips to Oakdale for monthly grocery shopping. Tie-downs provide for the safe transport of a wide variety of goods.

The low step-in height is a Godsend, and the doors open wide. Big power-operated mirrors afford good visibility rearward and to the sides, and the computer-operated rearview mirror automatically dims the glare of headlights from behind, while providing us the current temperature outside of the vehicle (it also flashes “ice” to alert us to slick hazards.) The Vue has a very open ambiance to the interior, and I am afforded a panoramic view from my windows. My “blind spot” is miniscule.

Saturn has always stood by its customer care policy and warranty. We have never paid for an oil change, or for diagnostics. They replaced a windshield for free after one of my treks to Grand Junction resulted in a rock chip (and eventual cracking) to the glass. They replaced the rearview mirror (which is computerized) several years ago, and they happily replaced the computer system today. “Oh, Mr. Wheeler, you are due for your road maintenance and fluid changes. Would you like us to do them while we have the Vue?” I should also add that Saturn paid for the vehicle to be towed from our hometown to Pittsburgh. I love being in good hands.

I know several other Vue owners, and they too seem pleased with their investment. We recommended this vehicle to our neighbors in Colorado, and they promptly bought one after a quick test drive. I believe Ian has one, and the OxLord has two. If you want flash, drive a label. If you want function and quality care, then buy or lease the Vue.

Autrice? Are you writing an essay for school, or simply performing a commercial spot on blogger? Forgive me, dear Readers. I am infatuated with my Blue! I was able to get to the dealership today, thanks to a friend with a big heart. It is now happily parked once again in our driveway.

4 responded with...:

Annie Jeffries said...

Au, my sister is actively shopping for a smallish SUV. I'm sending your link to her. Your testimony on the joys of this car should have her at least doing a test drive before she buys. Annie

sophie said...

the blue is delightful and
that car looks perky:)


Annie Jeffries said...

Well, Toni, she bought a Toyota RAV4. She's happy, happy, happy. And at the end of the year, she got all the bells and whistles and and huge savings.

Leisa said...

I’m in love with blue too! It’s good that you found a car that is painted with your favorite color. And it seems you’re satisfied with all its features too. :) I hope to find a good purchase for myself, too, someday.

-Leisa Dreps