Popular European Car Comes to America as a Saturn

Jayne Williams the "Woman at the Wheel" for the Texas Star-Telegram drove the the 2008 Saturn Astra XR 3-door automatic and recently wrote about it. Her Astra test vehicle, she said, "is also more versatile than your average coupe, since the rear seat back folds in a 60/40 configuration and the hard cargo cover can be removed to make the whole area behind the front seats open up to haul lots of stuff, even smaller pieces of furniture if you load it carefully." She also liked all of the safety features packaged in the Astra.

As for safety, Astra is right up there with some higher priced vehicles. There is a dual frontal "passenger sensing" air bag system, head curtain side air bags (front and rear), side-impact air bags for the driver and front passenger, active front head restraints, and all seating positions have three-point restraint systems. There are also three tethers in the rear seat area for child safety seats. Since tire pressure is also a factor in driving safety and fuel economy, there is a tire-pressure monitor. And there are rain-sensing windshield wipers (in case you don’t happen to notice that you can’t see through the rain-streaked glass), rear-window wiper and washer, projector-beam fog lamps, daytime running lamps and automatic headlamps. One of the best features, especially for women, is the Astra’s standard OnStar system. Having OnStar is like having a guardian angel you can actually communicate with.

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GM Announces Significant Production Cuts for Q1 2009

General Motors announced today a significant reduction of planned production for the first quarter of 2009 due to the ongoing and severe drop in industry sales, which were down 36% in November overall and 41% for GM (2007 vs. 2008). The impact of these and recently announced actions to adjust production with market demand, will result in the temporary idling of approximately 30% of GM's North American assembly plant volume during the first quarter of 2009 and will remove approximately 250,000 units from production.