2003 Saturn VUE

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2003 Saturn VUE Review

Capable, mini-sporty car enters a crowded field of rivals with character.

Reviewed by Automotive on

Overview

The 2003 Saturn VUE is small in size and intended to be carlike. The available continuously variable transmission operates with no gears. The compact SUV is easy to get in and out of and offers a smooth ride on pavement.

The Range

Body Styles: SUV
Engines: 2.2-liter four-cylinder
Transmissions: five-speed manual, five-speed automatic, one-speed CVT (continuously variable transmission), two-speed CVT
Models: Saturn VUE, Saturn VUE VC

What's New

The 2003 Saturn VUE VC is now available with front-wheel drive. A new options package bundles heated leather seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The new optional audio system includes a subwoofer, 180-watt amplifier, and six door-mounted speakers.

Exterior

The 2003 Saturn VUE offers a whopping seven exterior colors: black, bright blue, medium green, orange, red, silver, and white. The standard tires and wheels package includes 16-inches steel wheels, a steel spare wheel, P215/70R H tires, all-season tires, inside mounted spare tire, full wheel covers, and a temporary spare tire. All-wheel drive models have aluminum wheels. Roof and glass standard features include intermittent wipers, privacy glass, rear defogger, intermittent rear wiper, and a roof rack. There is a rear liftgate door and a manual flip-up liftgate window. Cargo tie downs will help with towing and hauling.

The width of the 2003 Saturn VUE measures at 71.6 inches, height is 66.4 inches, length is 181.3 inches, and ground clearance is eight inches. The front track measures 61 inches, the rear track is 61 inches, and the wheelbase is 106.6 inches. Cargo capacity with all seats in place is 30.8 cubic feet. With the seats down, maximum cargo capacity is 63.8 cubic feet, and maximum towing capacity is 1500 pounds when adequately equipped, which may require engine and/or other drivetrain upgrades. It's made to look like a Saturn car with space-frame construction and dent-resistant polymer body side panels.

Interior

The 2003 Saturn VUE offers gray and beige as interior color options. Consumers have one option: a cloth bucket seat covering, and the VUE seats five passengers. Front head room measures at 40.4 inches, front hip room is 51.6 inches, front leg room is 41.2 inches, and front shoulder room is 55.4 inches. Rear seatbacks are split folding and the rear seats recline. Solar glass reduces ultraviolet penetration to the interior. It offers standard convenience features such as interior air filtration, air-conditioning, a cargo area light, front reading lights, and dual vanity mirrors. There is little in terms of instrumentation and in-car entertainment—a tachometer and a low fuel level warning are it for the interior, along with four speakers and a simple AM/FM stereo. A CD player does not come standard. Leather upholstered heated front seats are an optional upgrade.

Performance & Handling

The 2003 Saturn VUE comes with front-wheel drive and a suspension system featuring MacPherson strut front suspension, multi-link rear suspension, and four-wheel independent suspension.

Safety

The 2003 Saturn VUE includes safety and security base features such as child seat anchors, an anti-theft alarm system, ventilated front disc/rear drum brakes, rear door child safety locks, daytime running lights, an engine immobilizer, two front headrests, two rear headrests, a rear center three-point belt, electronic brake force distribution, and front and rear height adjustable headrests. NHTSA performed five crash test results. The passenger test received four out of five stars, the driver impact five out of five, side impact front and rear both five out of five, and rollover received three out of five stars. IIHS rated frontal offset at a high score of ""good."" Its side impact test came in opposite of NHTSA at a low score of ""poor."" Rear crash protection and head restraint performed only marginal. Identifix ratings are five out of five in the following categories: engine, steering and suspension, brakes, heating and air conditioning, and starting and charging. Constant velocity transaxle was a problem with the transmission and driveline, and the body control module, an accessory, failed occasionally. Overall, the Identifix rating was four out of five.

EPA Fuel Economy

Saturn VUE: 20/26 mpg city/ highway

You'll Like

  • Large doors
  • Extensive choice of drivetrains
  • Spacious cabin
  • Smooth ride

You Won't Like

  • Low-grade plastics
  • Vague steering

Sum Up

Capable, mini-sporty car enters a crowded field of rivals with character.

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