GM to unveil new Saturns

Saturn Astra and two versions of new Vue SUV will be unveiled in Chicago.

NEW YORK ( -- General Motors will unveil a new compact car for its Saturn division at the Chicago Auto Show on Wednesday.

The Saturn Astra is already sold in Europe as the Opel Astra. "In Europe, the Astra's combination of style, performance, safety technology and fuel efficiency have made it a hit with owners and auto critics alike," said Jill Lajdziak, general manager of GM's Saturn division.

2008 Saturn Astra
2008 Saturn Astra

The car is expected to go on sale in the fall of 2007. It will replace the Saturn Ion.

10 cars worth waiting for

The Ion will be the last vehicle in Saturn's line-up to be replaced by a new vehicle designed in cooperation with GM's European Opel division.

A redesigned version of the Saturn Vue SUV will go on sale this spring. The new Vue is virtually identical to a vehicle that will be sold in Europe as the Opel Antara.

The Astra will be available in two-door and four-door versions. It will have a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and a five-speed manual transmission as standard equipment.

It's EPA-estimated fuel economy should be about 27 miles per gallon in city driving and 34 on the highway, according to GM.

GM will also debut two variants of the redesigned Saturn Vue at the Chicago Auto Show.

The Vue Red Line will be a performance version of the crossover SUV. It will have a six-speed manually shiftable automatic transmission and a 250-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 engine.

The Vue Green Line will have GM's "mild hybrid" system. It will have a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine and a four-speed automatic transmission. The engine will be assisted by an electric motor/generator. The motor/generator will allow the gasoline engine to shut off whenever the vehicle comes to a full stop, saving fuel ordinarily used during idling. It will also provide some assistance to the gasoline engine when needed.

The Vue Green Line will offer 20-percent better fuel economy than the non-hybrid 4-cylinder Vue according to GM. When it goes on sale, the Vue Green Line should get EPA-estimated fuel economy of about 27 mpg in city driving and 32 on the highway.

The Vue Red Line will go on sale in the third quarter of 2007, GM said. The Vue Green Line will go on sale in the fourth quarter.

The company also said it is committed to producing a plug-in hybrid version of the Saturn Vue, but no date has been set for that vehicle. GM recently awarded contracts to two battery manufacturers to research batteries for a plug-in hybrid vehicle.

Toyota to unveil Highlander

Toyota will unveil a redesigned version of its Highlander SUV at the Chicago Auto Show on Wednesday. Toyota will also unveil a new version of its Scion xB and and a new model called the xD.

Details of those vehicles are not yet available.

Nissan will reveal a redesigned version of its Pathfinder SUV and announce availability of a V8 engine option in that vehicle. This will be the first time that Nissan has ever offered a V8 engine in the United States.

Nissan will also show a redesigned version of its Nissan Armada large SUV.

10 cars worth waiting for

Alternative-power cars

5 top full-size sedans rated

Feedback Top of page