'09 Saturn Vue 2 Mode Hybrid Will be the World's Most Fuel Efficient V6 Sport-Utility

The all-new 2009 Saturn Vue 2 Mode Hybrid, the first front-wheel-drive compact SUV in the world powered by General Motors' two-mode hybrid technology, is designed for customers who want the outstanding fuel savings of an advanced hybrid and the full power and towing capability of an SUV. Production of the Vue 2 Mode Hybrid begins later this year, with vehicles expected in Saturn retailer showrooms in early 2009.

"The Saturn Vue 2 Mode Hybrid defies the notion that a compact SUV can't be both powerful and efficient," said Jill Lajdziak, Saturn general manager. "Not only will Saturn deliver the world's most fuel efficient V6 SUV, but Saturn is the only brand to offer two different hybrid options on the same model."

The Vue 2 Mode Hybrid is expected to deliver an estimated 50% fuel economy increase over the non-hybrid V6 Vue XR. It also is expected to have a driving range of more than 500 miles (800 km). It features technologies and refinements in the fuel and exhaust systems that classify it as an Advanced Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (APZEV) in the state of California and other states that have adopted California's motor vehicle emissions rules. It is GM's first application of two-mode technology on a front-wheel-drive vehicle.

Powerful 3.6L V6 VVT Engine

The Vue 2 Mode Hybrid's 3.6L VVT V6 engine with direct injection technology ensures there are no trade-offs between performance and fuel economy. Horsepower is estimated at 255 and torque is estimated at 252 lb.-ft. Acceleration from 0-60 is expected to be approximately 7.3 seconds, and the maximum towing load is 3,500 pounds – just like the non-hybrid Vue XR.

The direct injection engine, a member of GM's family of high-feature V6s, uses regular unleaded fuel and represents one of the most sophisticated applications of its kind on a hybrid SUV. Direct injection delivers fuel directly to the combustion chambers and permits a higher compression ratio, improving fuel efficiency. Additionally, the technology reduces cold-start hydrocarbon emissions by up to 25%. The 3.6L VVT with direct injection also features a U.S. auto industry-first isolated fuel injector that greatly reduces the ticking noise associated with other direct injection engines. Other noise-reduction measures in the engine compartment include the use of acoustic foam in the engine valley and cover.

Two-Mode Hybrid Transmission

Unlike single-mode hybrid technology found in competitors' SUVs, the two-mode system maximizes city and highway fuel economy by integrating two electric continuously variable modes with four fixed mechanical gear ratios. The system consists of twin, active-cooled 55-kW electric motors integrated into the 2MT70 automatic transmission. Energy to power the motors comes from a 1.8 kWh, 300V nickel-metal hydride battery pack, comprising 22 nickel metal hydride modules. It is packaged behind the second-row seat, below the cargo floor.

In the first mode, at lower speed and lighter loads the Vue 2 Mode Hybrid operates in one of three ways depending on conditions and battery charge level: all-electric power, internal combustion engine power or a combination of the two. All reverse operation is driven solely by the electric motors.

The second mode is used primarily to optimize fuel economy at highway speeds to optimize fuel economy. It provides electric assist in addition to six-cylinder power when conditions demand it, such as trailer towing and climbing steep grades, and to allow the engine to run at its most efficient point under less-demanding conditions.

No engine speed changes are necessary for the mode shift to occur. The result is exceptionally smooth, seamless acceleration and responsiveness. At all times, the system's Hybrid Optimizing System (HOS) collects torque-based data, deciphers it, then determines the most fuel-efficient means of propelling the Vue 2 Mode Hybrid.

GM's two-mode hybrid system also improves fuel economy by the following operations:

  • Engine off at idle
  • Low-speed, electric-only propulsion
  • Cutting off fuel to the engine during vehicle deceleration
  • Regenerative braking
  • Energy-efficient accessory systems

Specially Tuned Chassis

Because the hybrid system changes the weight distribution on the Vue 2 Mode Hybrid, special chassis refinements such as revised front and rear spring rates; revised front and rear stabilizer bar rates and recalibrated front struts and rear shock absorbers help ensure a smooth driving experience.

The Vue 2 Mode Hybrid is equipped with a "fully blended" electro-hydraulic brake system that enables 100% regenerative braking (batteries are charged during braking), 100% friction braking (traditional four-wheel disc braking) or a combination of the two. During regenerative braking, the system converts kinetic energy to electrical power, then stores the power in the nickel-metal hydride battery pack.

A 12V rack-mounted Electric Power Steering system replaces a conventional column-mounted hydraulic system and saves fuel – gaining up to a half-mile per gallon. It also gives the Vue 2 Mode Hybrid more precise steering inputs and better overall on-center feel.

Exterior

The 2009 Saturn Vue 2 Mode Hybrid sports the same European-inspired design language of the non-hybrid Vue. Exterior differences include "2 Mode" and "Hybrid" badging, lightweight aluminum alloy wheels, a lowered ride height and low rolling-resistance tires that enhance fuel economy. The Vue 2 Mode Hybrid's appearance is further accented by chrome door handles, chrome dual exhaust tips and chrome skid plates on the front and rear lower fascia.

Intuitive Displays

The Saturn Vue 2 Mode Hybrid's instrument panel lets drivers know that they're behind the wheel of a sophisticated hybrid, yet with gauges that are easy to understand. An efficiency gauge replaces the tachometer, informing drivers of when they are achieving maximum fuel economy; whether the vehicle is in electric-only mode, engine-only mode or a combination of the two; and, because of the silent start as the key is turned, a telltale indicates when the vehicle is on and ready to drive.

In the center console, a full-color VGA power-flow graphic, which is integrated into an available navigation system, continuously informs the driver and passenger whether the vehicle is sending power to the wheels from the battery pack, engine or both. It also indicates when energy is being captured during braking.

Generously Equipped

In addition to its high-tech propulsion system, the Saturn Vue 2 Mode Hybrid boasts a number of standard safety features including four-wheel anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, rollover detection system, electronic trailer sway control, pedestrian impact protection, tire pressure monitoring system, Pedal Release System, front active head restraints, and six air bags (driver and front passenger frontal and seat-mounted side-impact, and roof rail curtains for both seating rows).

Other features include power-adjustable heated outside mirrors, leather-wrapped steering wheel with integrated audio and cruise controls; and a six-speaker AM/FM stereo with CD/MP3 player and auxiliary input jack. A navigation system and power sunroof are available.

Saturn's Hybrid Family

The Vue 2 Mode Hybrid is the third hybrid to join the 2009 Saturn lineup. Other members of Saturn's hybrid vehicle family include the four-cylinder Vue Hybrid and the Aura Hybrid sedan. They are equipped with the affordable GM Hybrid system, which reduces fuel consumption using sophisticated controls and a unique electric motor/generator mated to a 2.4L Ecotec VVT four-cylinder engine and Hydra-Matic four-speed transmission.

Source: Saturn

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