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SATURN'S FUN RUN RACES ON CALMLY

Saturn, which for years pushed plastic-paneled people movers that resisted dents but had all the driving excitement of automotive Tupperware, is on a roll. Vehicles that are rewarding to drive, such as the Sky roadster, Aura sedan and Outlook crossover SUV, have transformed the brand over the past year-and-a-half. And surprisingly, the 2008 Vue trumps them all.

It's worldly: Well-balanced in the best European tradition, it returns good road feel. Instead of performing an automotive version of the chicken dance, the Vue responds with a reassuring calm. Absorbing bumps without fuss, rattle or acrobatics, keeping body lean in check during corners and boasting quick, direct steering, the Vue is very rewarding to drive.

It's equipped: All models have four-wheel disc brakes with antilock and traction control, curtain side airbags and stability control. They come with automatic headlamps, automatic climate control, AM/FM/XM/CD audio system, leather interior trim, navigation system, heated seats and trailering package. Other neat items include rain-sensing windshield wipers (which adjust their speed depending on how hard it's raining), heated windshield washer fluid, and a remote vehicle start.

It's nice inside: The quality of the interior will surprise you. Nothing rattles. The switchgear has a solid feel, feeling superior to a recently test-driven Audi Q7. And like the Audi, the interior is very sophisticated.

But it's thirsty: The only disappointment is the fuel economy. But that wouldn't prevent me from considering this vehicle.

About the vehicle

Base price: $26,270

Engine: 3.6-liter DOHC V6

Transmission: Six-speed automatic.

Miles per gallon: 16 city/22 highway

About the vehicle

Base price: $26,270

Engine: 3.6-liter DOHC V6

Transmission: Six-speed automatic.

Miles per gallon: 16 city/22 highway

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