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Saturn was formed in the mid-1980s as “a different kind of car company”. Saturn truly went out of its way to be a different car company than the others, even going as far as to set up shop in Tennessee, far away from any Detriot influence.

There was one original vehicle produced by Saturn during this badge engineering era of the company that ended up taking the country by storm. This vehicle was so forward-thinking that some automotive historians think that it started the current trend of crossover SUVs dominating the market. Here is everything you need to know about the Saturn Vue.

The history of the Saturn Vue

A red Saturn Vue parked indoors.
Saturn Vue | Getty Images

The Saturn Vue was first produced for the 2002 model year as the first vehicle to use GM’s Theta compact SUV platform. According to GM Authority, The Theta platform was a flexible platform for GM through its multiple wheelbase options, five compatible engine applications, and both automatic and manual transmission options.

The Saturn Vue was the perfect first appearance for the Theta platform because it used a wide range of Theta’s available options. The Saturn Vue was offered as a four-cylinder and V6 engine options, as a manual or automatic transmission.

The Saturn Vue was a success right from the start, selling between 75,000 and 91,900 units per year throughout its first five years of production, according to goodcarbadcar. The Saturn Vue also had a few specialty models including the Saturn Vue Red Line, which was powered by a Honda 3.5-liter V6 engine producing 250 hp.

Honda helped produce a performance crossover SUV that was sold as a Saturn, no joke. There was also the Saturn Vue Green Line, which was GM’s first hybrid SUV. Although it was a hybrid, this was a very early hybrid design, and fuel economy was only slightly improved to 27.7 combined mpg over the base model’s 19 combined mpg.

The Chevrolet Equinox is heavily related to the Saturn Vue, with both of these vehicles using GM’s Theta platform. Although the Saturn Vue was the first to use the Theta platform, there was a wide range of vehicles that employed it, including the Chevrolet Equinox, Chevrolet Captiva, Pontiac Torrent, GMC Terrain, Saab 9-4X, and the Suzuki XL7, just to name a few.

The Saturn Vue used the standard short-wheelbase Theta platform from 2002 to 2007, while the Chevrolet Equinox used the long-wheelbase variant of the platform from 2005 to 2009. There was even a Theta Premium variant of the platform which was modified to allow for more larger and luxurious cars like the Cadillac SRX and the Saab 9-4X.

The Vue’s influence shines through today

The Saturn Vue was eventually discontinued for the 2010 model year as the Saturn brand was forced to fold due to the 2008 GM government bailout. While it was sad to see the Vue go, it had lost some of its originality by the 2008 model year, when it became little more than a badge-engineered Opel Antara.

While the Vue may be gone today, the Vue’s early crossover influences can be seen today in the modern-day Chevrolet Equinox, which still uses a platform similar to the Theta platform in the D2XX platform, which is still mainly a crossover SUV platform and took over as the successor to the Theta. The Vue was a vehicle ahead of its time, but its influences can still be seen today in nearly every American crossover SUV on the road.


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