Introduced for 2007, Saturn's Aura midsize sedan gains a new base engine for 2008 — a 2.4-liter four-cylinder — that joins the two V-6s from last year. Electronic stability control is now standard on all V-6 models, and the entire lineup gains standard XM Satellite Radio. Aura competitors include the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.
The Aura looks larger and more mature than the Pontiac G6, with which it shares a platform. It bears the new Saturn styling direction first seen in the Sky roadster, and it looks good here. Upscale touches include LED taillights and body-colored door handles as standard equipment on the Aura XE. The XR trim level has chrome door handles, front fog lights and twin tailpipes, and it replaces the XE's 17-inch steel wheels with 18-inch aluminum rims.
Saturn is keeping up with the Joneses with two-tone interiors and improved materials quality. The Aura's five-seat cabin features front buckets and a rear bench that can be finished in cloth or leather upholstery. Heated front seats are optional. The XR includes remote engine start.
Under the Hood
The new 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine drives a four-speed automatic transmission. The entry-level 3.5-liter V-6 also teams with a four-speed automatic and produces 219 horsepower. The XR, meanwhile, has a 252-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 that's coupled to a six-speed automatic. The six-speed has a clutchless-manual mode and steering-wheel-mounted shift levers; the four-speed does not.
The Aura is equipped with conventional hydraulic steering. While GM's electric steering brings some efficiency to versions of the G6, it draws mixed reviews for function and steering feel, even when compared to the electric steering execution in other cars. In my opinion, GM's electric steering is one step forward and two back, so the old faithful is a plus in the Aura.
The Aura doesn't skimp on safety provisions. It has dual-stage frontal airbags, front-seat-mounted side-impact airbags for torso protection and side curtain airbags that provide head protection.
Often overlooked are features like a steering wheel telescoping adjustment, which allows drivers of all sizes to distance themselves properly from the airbag. The Aura's steering wheel both tilts and telescopes. Power adjustable pedals, which serve a similar purpose and improve driver comfort, are optional. Antilock brakes and traction control are standard.
OnStar is standard with one free year of the Safe and Sound plan, which sends an alert to the service in the event of airbag deployment.
Cars.com Expert Reviews
|Mike Hanley||Cars.com National||October 18, 2007|
|Joe Wiesenfelder||Cars.com National||August 15, 2007|
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