'08 Astra Opens a New Universe to Saturn

2008 Saturn Astra XR 5-Door

Jim Mateja from the Chicago Tribune reviews the 2008 Saturn Astra and talks about how a recent TV commercial for the brand effectively showed how the Astra signifies the culmination of Saturn's revitalization efforts. "A young man walks into a dealership, sees very attractive hardware, and with a quizzical look peeks back out the door to make sure the sign says Saturn," he wrote. "Saturn products had been invisible for too long. Those days look to be over."

We tested the Astra XE four-door hatchback. Until the Sky came along, Saturn hadn't been blessed with much styling imagination. The Astra that replaces Ion benefits from the attention to fashion that started with Sky and carried into Aura, Vue and Outlook. The wide-bar chrome grille common in all Saturns graces the Astra nose as well. Cabin noise, which seemed a part of Saturn DNA, is noticeable by its absence. The rear cargo hold is very large. A parcel shelf hides whatever you store there from onlookers. Rear seat backs fold to expand cargo space, but not flat so it creates a bit of a balancing act. Nice touches include automatics that shift into neutral at stops to save fuel and eliminate the typical "crawl" while waiting at the light, cell phone/iPod holder in the center console, easy to reach door lock/unlock controls in the center dash and a power plug in the center console.

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Reaching for the Sky


Automotive News reports Saturn has put together a business case for building the 2002 Sky concept convertible roadster. The company is reportedly pushing GM's upper management to approve the car for production. Saturn hopes to sell about 20,000 of them each year.