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May 03, 2007

I joined the " I drive Greener" Club for a week!

Saturnvue_2_2 I covered quite a bit of ground this past week during my test drive of the Saturn Vue Green Line  2.4L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid, complements of GM's Saturn division!

Part I : The Inspection

Tania Lupian my newest hire here at AskPatty.com joined me for my pre-drive inspection, she came with three years experience at a local dealership and had it down pat.

We found a few notable cool features:

A snap up basket for groceries in the rear compartment - Holds $250.00 worth of groceries by the way!

The front passenger seat folds down and provides a great flat working space for a laptop or to enjoy a snack. The feature includes a raised rim so pencils, pens or snacks stay put!

Both rear seats fold down to make a large storage area, we had a little difficulty finding the latch to release the seats, ( it is on the back BTW).

Lots of  storage spaces as well in the front driver and passenger space for glasses , books, maps and so forth !

My purse actually fit right between the two front seats so I did not have to put it on the back seat or floor! Woo, hoo! ( Was this your idea Jill Lajdiack?)

The color was an iridescent green/blue with gold flecks and the body style was sharp, we both loved the look and feel!

Satunvue Part II:  Camping at the beach

I drove to our favorite camp spot in Ventura Friday after work, at the first stop the engine shut off completely which startled me a bit until I remembered I was driving a Hybrid and this feature saves on fuel....I was relieved when each time after a stop she started right up! This stop took some getting used to!

Getting up to full speed was no issue and at 65 MPH + she handled well and kept up with all the other speeding drivers! The quiet and smooth drive was great, I got to our camp spot in plenty of time to enjoy a nice dinner and camp fire!

In the morning I found out that the sea birds really love the Saturn Vue Green Line, too. They came by one by one and  splattered her with their votes of approval too! Yuk!

We went fishing at the pier Saturday and our pole fit nicely with the seats folded down with space between the front seats and room to spare.

I actually felt proud driving around in a Hybrid and felt like I had joined the "I drive greener" club for the weekend! I noticed every other Hybrid in great detail and some other green car drivers gave me a wink or two, wow that felt nice. A bonus to join the " I drive greener" club I guess!

Disabled_parking Part III: Driving my Disabled Son

Needing a car wash badly from the sea birds bomb squad at the beach over the weekend, I decided to pick up my disabled son , ( spinal cord injury and MS), and see how the Saturn Vue Green Line mid-sized SUV would accommodate him transferring to the passenger seat and how well his wheelchair would fit in the rear storage area.

The seat height and position made a comfortable standing transfer for him and the seat, although not power, adjusted well to make him comfortable, he is 6" and has long legs! He commented on the light colored leather seats and how cool they felt, it was pretty warm out and the interior seats remained pretty cool , important to those with MS as heat is the enemy.
The air conditioning worked well to keep him cool on this hot Southern California afternoon, he even asked me to turn it down!

My job is to load his folding quickie wheelchair and it fit into the back storage compartment with the seats folded down with plenty of room to spare - passed this test with flying colors!

I really want my son to consider a GM vehicle just for the OnStar feature, so once we were on the road I pushed the OnStar button to show off the driving direction feature...a cheery voice came on and asked what we needed and then transferred us to Scott who gave us verbal and recorded driving directions to our first stop. Great feature! I showed Joe the medical assist button and explained why owning a GM vehicle is a good idea for the disabled driver and for those who drive the disabled or elderly.

At the touch of a button, advisers are available to contact emergency service providers or roadside assistance, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The comfort factor alone adds to the fundamental independence for seniors and people with disabilities. The commercials OnStar runs that play actual recordings of emergency calls are not for entertainment. They project a powerful message that you are, in fact, never alone.

There are currently 80 million people in the United States over the age of 50, and more than 50 million people with some form of disability. And for them, the transportation options have only recently become more varied.

My son enjoyed the smooth ride and comfortable seating arrangement as well. Those arm rests are so nice!

A few comments:

He and I both had trouble remembering the controls for the windows were on the center console rather than the door panels!

I picked up my dry cleaning and the hooks in the way back compartment did not hold the hangers well at all, some of the metal hangers slipped off ! I would prefer these hooks in the passenger compartment with a little more hooking angle to hold metal hangers.

Some of the controls are also mounted on the steering wheel and it took a bit more thinking to get these working for me!


La_traffic Part IV: Los Angeles Traffic

Maneuvering through Los Angeles traffic was a breeze, I tend to drive a bit aggressively and she handled and responded well ! I felt safe that she would be able to power up or down quickly to handle any crazy driver moves.

Part V: Final Comments/Remarks

Wrapping it all up, the Saturn View Green Line came with 3/4 of a tank of gas and it still has just under half a tank after driving her well over 175 miles! I enjoyed the great fuel mileage, ( 27 mpg city / 32 mpg hwy), a smooth comfortable ride and large rear compartment for storing all my life's necessities.

Handles well at my top speed of 70+ a few MPH ( Don't tell on me!), on mountain roads and in heavy, bumper to bumper Los Angeles traffic. The ability to have OnStar is a great "peace of mind" feature and would recommend all disabled drivers or those who drive the disabled to look into GM vehicles just for this feature alone!

The leather interior was beautiful, comfortable and captain style front seats with arm rests was a plus!

Ready to join the “ I drive greener “ club? Overall this mid-sized SUV Hybrid with an MSRP of $22,870 and 27 mpg city / 32 mpg hwy is a good value. An additional savings is the Federal Tax Credit allowance of $650.00 for this greener vehicle.

As a native Californian , I will consider a greener vehicle for my next purchase so I can join the " I driver greener" club permanently!

For more info on Tax Credit for the Saturn Vue Green Line go here: http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=159971,00.html


[Disclosure: I received nothing in return for test driving and reviewing the Saturn Vue.  No financial compensation or free cars were offered.]

Jody_devere_v71 Jody DeVere
President
AskPatty.com, Inc.

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