Yesterday, a few of us from Cars.com were invited to an early ride-and-drive event for GM’s upcoming model year. Most of the day was dedicated to the Saturn line, with three new vehicles for us to test. Most important to the company is the new midsize Aura sedan, and it elicited some interesting feedback from the staff.
David Thomas: Saturn has delivered one of the best-handling, smoothest-riding and dead-quiet midsize sedans on the market. The Aura is just a marvel of affordable engineering. Too bad the interior lacks the same refinement as the new SUVs and trucks from GM. I don’t think the company has moved fast enough to translate those top-of-the-class cabins to its cars quite yet.
I tested both the entry XE, with a 224-hp, 3.5-liter V-6, and the upper-level XR, with a new 3.6-liter V-6 that makes 252 hp, and I can happily say even the XE will deliver a smooth commute. The XE starts at $20,595, while the XR starts at $24,595. Even with an additional $4,000 on the sticker, the XR is the real deal with manual shift buttons on the steering wheel and healthy acceleration. The six-speed transmission and larger V-6 offer a better driving experience than the Accord V-6, but import buyers will have to get past the interior to discover it.