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By Jim Flammang
August 2, 2005
Vehicle Overview Saturn introduced the Relay, its first van, for the 2005 model year. Previously, the division offered only passenger cars and an SUV.
The Relay and its corporate siblings — the Chevrolet Uplander, Pontiac Montana SV6 and Buick Terraza — are billed as "crossover sport vans." They blend 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 General Motors' divisions are avoiding the stigma associated with the minivan's tame image. The Relay is the first Saturn model to seat seven passengers.
Front-wheel drive is standard, but the Relay can also be fitted with all-wheel drive. A 3.5-liter V-6 mates with a four-speed-automatic transmission. For 2006, a 3.9-liter V-6 with additional power becomes optional for front-drive Relay 3 models.
Exterior 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 204.9 inches long overall and 72 inches tall.
Interior Seven passengers fit inside, and the Relay has three rows of seats. The second- and third-row seats can 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 can be equipped with leather-appointed seats. Cargo volume totals 136.5 cubic feet with all the seats folded and 26.9 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.
The Relay is available in two models, the Relay 2 and Relay 3. An overhead console and rail system are installed. Standard equipment includes a backseat DVD entertainment system, power heated mirrors, an eight-speaker CD/MP3-capable stereo, power windows and locks, and remote keyless entry. The Relay 3 adds a power driver's seat, a power-sliding door on the passenger side and rear climate controls. A power-sliding door on the driver's side is optional.
For 2006, an available PhatNoise media system offers a variety of multimedia capabilities including MP3 and MPEG playback and storage. This removable device mounts into the overhead console and can be connected to a home computer for downloading files.
Under the Hood GM's 3.5-liter V-6 engine generates 201 horsepower and 216 pounds-feet of torque — slightly less in all-wheel drive versions. For 2006, a new 3.9-liter V-6 is optional in front-drive Relay 3 models. It features variable valve timing and generates an estimated 235 hp and 239 pounds-feet of torque. Both engines work with a four-speed-automatic transmission. When properly equipped, the Relay can tow up to 3,500 pounds. Versatrak all-wheel drive is optional on Relay 3 models.
Safety All-disc antilock brakes, GM's OnStar communication system and daytime running lights are standard, while traction control is standard only on front-drive Relay 3 models. An integrated child-safety seat, rear parking assist and GM's StabiliTrak electronic stability system are optional. Seat-mounted side-impact airbags are available for the first two rows of seats.