For the first time, Saturn will have a van in its lineup beginning in the 2005 model year. Until now, this General Motors' division has offered only passenger cars and a sport utility vehicle.
Billed as a "crossover sport van" like other GM vans that are emerging for 2005, the Relay blends SUV-like styling touches with the functionality of a "mid-van." Practical features include sliding side doors and a low step-in height, but all of GM's divisions are avoiding the stigma associated with the minivan's tame image. It's the first Saturn model to seat seven passengers.
Saturn hopes to attract a new group of buyers with the Relay, which is related to the new Buick Terraza, Chevrolet Uplander and Pontiac Montana SV6. Front-wheel drive is standard, but the Relay can also be fitted with all-wheel drive. A 3.5-liter V-6 engine mates with a four-speed-automatic transmission. The Relay comes in two trim levels. Sales begin in fall 2004.
The basic look of the Relay is recognizably Saturn, but SUV-like styling cues include wide C-pillars and a horizontal grille. The Relay has ebony-colored lower cladding. The wheels measure 17 inches in diameter, and the optional roof rack has tubular-shaped side rails.
The base model has steel wheels, and uplevel versions have six-spoke silver-painted aluminum wheels. Built on a 121.1-inch wheelbase, the Relay is 204.7 inches long overall and 69.4 inches tall.
Seven passengers fit inside; the Relay has three rows of seats. The second- and third-row seats may be folded and removed. The third-row bench is split 50/50. The seats in the base model have cloth inserts and "protein" vinyl bolsters that have a leatherlike appearance. Uplevel versions may be equipped with leather-appointed seats. Cargo volume totals 140.7 cubic feet with all the seats folded and 32.3 cubic feet when all the seats are up.
The Relay gets a three-spoke steering wheel that's leather wrapped in the uplevel model. Light maple-colored woodgrain decorates the radio and climate-control trim plate.
An overhead console and rail system are installed. Standard equipment includes a backseat DVD entertainment system, power heated mirrors, a six-speaker CD/MP3 stereo, power windows and locks, and remote keyless entry. The uplevel model adds a power driver's seat, rear climate controls and a convenience package that includes power rear quarter windows, among other things.
Under the Hood
GM's 3.5-liter V-6 engine generates an estimated 200 horsepower and 220 pounds-feet of torque and works with a four-speed-automatic transmission. When properly equipped, the Relay can tow up to 3,500 pounds. Versatrak all-wheel drive and traction control are optional.
All-disc antilock brakes and daytime running lights are standard. An integrated child-safety seat, rear parking assist, seat-mounted side-impact airbags for front occupants and GM's StabiliTrak electronic stability system are optional.