2009 Saturn Aura

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$2,476–$9,584 Inventory Prices
Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
Photos
Reviews
Safety & Recalls
Warranty & CPO
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Key Specs

of the 2009 Saturn Aura. Base trim shown.

  • Body Type:
  • Combined MPG:
    21-27 Combined MPG
  • Engine:
    169-hp, 2.4-liter I-4 (regular gas)
  • Drivetrain:
    Front-wheel Drive
  • Transmission:
    6-speed automatic w/OD and auto-manual
  • View more specs

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • V-6 performance
  • Four-cylinder gas mileage
  • Ride quality
  • Above-average handling
  • Stylish exterior

The Bad

  • Interior quality
  • Extra-large steering wheel
  • Powertrain whine (V-6)

Notable Features of the 2009 Saturn Aura

  • Four-cylinder or V-6
  • Six-speed automatic
  • Side-impact and side curtain airbags
  • Standard stability system
  • Optional OnStar Turn-by-Turn Navigation

2009 Saturn Aura Road Test

Mike Hanley
When it was launched for the 2007 model year, the Saturn Aura served as a replacement for the forgettable L-Series and marked a renewed attempt by the brand to establish itself in the midsize sedan market. The car impressed on a few fronts, with capable V-6 power and handling performance that was above-average for the segment.

Saturn has tinkered with the Aura lineup since we last looked at it. The brand introduced a hybrid model and a four-cylinder version for 2008 and has tweaked the four-cylinder model for 2009 to make it even more fuel efficient, with an EPA-estimated 22/33 mpg city/highway (see a side-by-side comparison with the 2008 model).

While Saturn has the right idea for these volatile times, the Aura still comes up short in terms of cabin quality, where it suffers from fit-and-finish problems.

Exterior & Styling
Like the Pontiac G6, the five-person Aura is built on an extended-length version of GM's midsize-car platform; along with the Chevrolet Malibu, it's one of the better-looking sedans using this design. It features subtle fender flares, a naturally arcing roofline and a short rear deck. The base XE model has standard 17-inch steel wheels. The uplevel XR gets 17-inch aluminum rims when powered by the four-cylinder engine, and it has 18-inch aluminum wheels when equipped with the V-6. The clear-lens taillights feature LEDs.

While its styling is appealing, I miss the aggressiveness of the concept version from a few auto shows ago. Here's hoping the ...

When it was launched for the 2007 model year, the Saturn Aura served as a replacement for the forgettable L-Series and marked a renewed attempt by the brand to establish itself in the midsize sedan market. The car impressed on a few fronts, with capable V-6 power and handling performance that was above-average for the segment.

Saturn has tinkered with the Aura lineup since we last looked at it. The brand introduced a hybrid model and a four-cylinder version for 2008 and has tweaked the four-cylinder model for 2009 to make it even more fuel efficient, with an EPA-estimated 22/33 mpg city/highway (see a side-by-side comparison with the 2008 model).

While Saturn has the right idea for these volatile times, the Aura still comes up short in terms of cabin quality, where it suffers from fit-and-finish problems.

Exterior & Styling
Like the Pontiac G6, the five-person Aura is built on an extended-length version of GM's midsize-car platform; along with the Chevrolet Malibu, it's one of the better-looking sedans using this design. It features subtle fender flares, a naturally arcing roofline and a short rear deck. The base XE model has standard 17-inch steel wheels. The uplevel XR gets 17-inch aluminum rims when powered by the four-cylinder engine, and it has 18-inch aluminum wheels when equipped with the V-6. The clear-lens taillights feature LEDs.

While its styling is appealing, I miss the aggressiveness of the concept version from a few auto shows ago. Here's hoping the Aura will eventually get a high-performance Red Line variant with the bulging fender flares, side skirts and gaping lower grille that gave the concept so much presence.

Ride & Handling
The Aura's road manners are a pleasant surprise. The four-wheel independent suspension has front and rear stabilizer bars, and when cornering, the XR model remains impressively flat for a family sedan; body roll is well controlled. The suspension is tuned for firmness, but it's fairly good at damping bumps in the road, too. It's a setup that's likely to appeal both to buyers looking for a sporty feel in their sedan as well as those who just need a means of transportation.

In keeping with the sporty dynamics of the chassis, it takes some effort to turn the steering wheel. Unfortunately, the driver isn't given much feedback in return for the added effort. The rim of the tilt/telescoping steering wheel is overly large, too; it feels a little bit like you're driving a bus.

I previously tested an Aura XR with 18-inch wheels and tires and found its cabin to be quiet. However, the latest 2009 Aura XR I drove was equipped with 17-inch wheels and low-rolling-resistance tires that could get noisy on the highway.

Going & Stopping
Saturn offers a four-cylinder or V-6 engine in the 2009 Aura, and both of them team with six-speed automatic transmissions. While the good gas mileage of the 169-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder will be appealing to many, the frugal fuel use doesn't come at the expense of acceptable performance, which is what this engine delivers. The six-speed automatic's gearing is well-matched to the four-cylinder, but under light acceleration the transmission didn't make the crispest shifts. However, the transmission seemed to perform better when accelerating with greater urgency. Over the course of a nearly 250-mile trip from Chicago to Detroit that consisted of mostly highway driving, the four-cylinder Aura XR averaged 31 mpg.

Choosing the 252-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 gets you a very strong engine that's also quite smooth. It emits a muted growl when accelerating hard and has plenty of power left when traveling at highway speeds. The six-speed automatics for the four-cylinder and V-6 include a clutchless-manual mode that lets the driver change gears using paddles on the steering wheel. The V-6 Aura's six-speed automatic makes downshifts that are quick and firm, though occasionally jerky. Four-wheel disc brakes deliver linear stopping performance.

The Inside
I found a number of faults with the Aura's cabin when I first reviewed it, but Saturn appears to have made some improvements in the 2009 model. The driver's door armrest feels more solidly attached; before it felt like it was about to come loose each time you grasped its indentation to pull the door shut. Some trim pieces, however, don't fit together especially well. Rear passengers don't get a flip-down center armrest, either.

The cabin does have its strong points. The optional leather front seats are firm but comfortable, and the center dashboard's controls are smartly arranged.

The rear seats closest to the doors have comfortable backrests, and there's sufficient legroom, thanks in part to the carved-out backs of the front seats, which create extra room for rear passengers' knees.

Safety
The Aura received Good overall scores — the highest rating possible — in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's frontal-offset and side-impact crash tests. Antilock brakes, traction control, side-impact airbags for the front seats, side curtain airbags and an electronic stability system are standard.

Cargo & Towing
At 14.9 cubic feet, the Aura's trunk is comparable to the competition. Folding the standard 60/40-split rear seats exposes a wide — but not especially tall — opening between the trunk and the cabin. Maximum towing capacity is 1,000 pounds when properly equipped.

Aura in the Market
Whether you'll like the Aura or not depends on what's most important to you in a car. If you value good gas mileage and capable handling in your midsize sedan, it's worth a look. If you're most concerned with how the car holds up on the inside, the Aura comes up short when compared to the competition.

Send Mike an email 



Latest 2009 Aura Stories

What Drivers Are Saying

Exterior Styling
(4.7)
Performance
(4.5)
Interior Design
(4.4)
Comfort
(4.6)
Reliability
(4.6)
Value For The Money
(4.7)

Latest Reviews

(5.0)

Best car dollar for dollar on any used car list

by Jan from Clearwater FL. on June 4, 2018

Runs so quite you cannot hear it at stoplights. Rack steering in front wheel drive is super responsive to steering changes. Ice cold Air is very quiet and if you need to Put The Move On in traffic the ... Read full review

(5.0)

Most economic car I've owned

by Happy Camper from Arlington on May 2, 2018

This car is perfect for my daily life.Its so efficient. I love the smooth drive and the space all around.I love the special glass the car is made of. Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2009 Saturn Aura currently has 5 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2009 Saturn Aura XE 4-Cylinder

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
marginal
Overall Rear
marginal
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
acceptable

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
acceptable
Structure/safety cage
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
acceptable
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Change Year or Vehicle

All Model Years for the Saturn Aura

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Aura received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker