2009 Aura "Stands Out as a Must-See in its Class"

Leftlane News took a "quick spin" in a new 2009 Saturn Aura XR, equipped with the new 2.4L 4-cylinder powerplant and 6-speed automatic transmission combination. The bottom line: customers "would be wise to spend some time in one before making a midsize family sedan purchase." Yes, Leftlane thought it was that good. "Design-wise, the Aura has among the nicest digs in its class," they wrote. "At under $26,000 as tested, the four-cylinder Aura stands out as a must-see in its class."

We recently had the opportunity to sample the six-speed/four-cylinder cominbation in the Saturn Aura XR, where the combination is newly standard for 2009. The top-end Aura XR's sticker price drops a little over $2,000 with the deletion of two cylinders. In 2008, the only non-hybrid Aura you could order with a four-cylinder was the base XE, which came with a four-speed automatic. The addition of two cogs has potentially never been more remarkable: Not only does highway fuel economy increase by the tune of 3 mpg (allowing nearly 50 additional highway miles per tank), but so does performance and refinement. That six-speed is attached to GM's Ecotec 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder, which puts out 169 horsepower and 160 lb-ft. of torque. Internally referred to as the 6T40 Hydra-Matic transmission, the gearbox includes a pair of paddle-style shifters on the steering wheel. Though its output isn't extraordinary, the Ecotec four-banger puts up better numbers than the Toyota Camry and the Ford Fusion and stays within easy striking distance of the Honda Accord and Mazda Mazda6. But racing isn't what this class is about; it's about smoothly tackling the daily grind and in this regard, the Aura excels.

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Insignia Moves GM Forward, Will be the Basis for the Next Saturn Aura

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Julian Rendell from AutoWeek drove the new Opel Insignia and drew direct comparisons between his experience with the Insignia and what he expects from the next-generation Aura, which is due to arrive in a couple of years. While GM has said that the new Aura will have unique styling that will differentiate it from the Insignia, the two cars will be based on the same architecture and are expected to share chassis components.