Best Bet
  • (4.6) 38 reviews
  • MSRP: $3,112–$9,736
  • Body Style: Sedan
  • Combined MPG: 21-27
  • Engine: 169-hp, 2.4-liter I-4 (regular gas)
  • Drivetrain: Front-wheel Drive
  • Transmission: 6-speed automatic w/OD and auto-manual
2009 Saturn Aura

Our Take on the Latest Model 2009 Saturn Aura

What We Don't Like

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

Notable Features

  • 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 Reviews

Cars.com Expert Reviews

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 


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Consumer Reviews

4.6

Average based on 38 reviews

Write a Review

Very reliable

by NakahiRugby from Meridian, Id on July 31, 2017

I had bought this car from a family member and it was just an all around a great car for both a daily commuter and road trips!

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3 Trims Available

Photo of undefined
Wondering which configuration is right for you?
Our 2009 Saturn Aura trim comparison will help you decide.
 

Saturn Aura Articles

2009 Saturn Aura Safety Ratings

Crash-Test Reports

IIHS Ratings

Based on Saturn Aura XE 4-Cylinder

Head Restraints and Seats
M
Moderate overlap front
G
Side
G

IIHS Ratings

Based on Saturn Aura XE 4-Cylinder

G Good
A Acceptable
M Marginal
P Poor

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
M
Overall Rear
M
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
A

Moderate overlap front

Chest
G
Head/Neck
G
Left Leg/Foot
G
Overall Front
G
Restraints
G
Right Leg/Foot
A
Structure/safety cage
G

Side

Driver Head Protection
G
Driver Head and Neck
G
Driver Pelvis/Leg
G
Driver Torso
G
Overall Side
G
Rear Passenger Head Protection
G
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
G
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
G
Rear Passenger Torso
G
Structure/safety cage
A
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers. IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal or poor based on performance in high-speed front and side crash tests. IIHS also evaluates seat/head restraints for protection against neck injuries in rear impacts.

NHTSA Ratings

Based on Saturn Aura XE 4-Cylinder

Overall Rollover Rating

NHTSA Ratings

Based on Saturn Aura XE 4-Cylinder

Overall Rollover Rating
Driver's
Passenger's
Side Barrier Rating Driver
Side Barrier Rating Passenger Rear Seat
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation. NHTSA provides vehicle safety information such as front- and side-crash ratings and rollover ratings. Vehicles are rated using a star rating system from 1-5 stars, with 5 being the highest.

Recalls

There are currently 9 recalls for this car.


Safety defects and recalls are relatively common. Stay informed and know what to do ahead of time.

Safety defects and recalls explained

Service & Repair

Estimated Service & Repair cost: $4,100 per year.

Save on maintenance costs and do your own repairs.

Warranty Coverage

Bumper-to-Bumper

36mo/36,000mi

Powertrain

60mo/100,000mi

Roadside Assistance Coverage

60mo/100,000mi

What you should get in your warranty can be confusing. Make sure you are informed.

Learn More About Warranties

Warranties Explained

Bumper-to-Bumper

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.

Powertrain

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.

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).

Free Scheduled Maintenance

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.

Other Years