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vue04 09-10-2004 01:52 PM

RE: October 2004 Consumer Reports
Consumer Reports reviewed the Saturn Vue again. The Engine and Transmission got Excellent ratings. The rest of the vehicle good poor ratings. They also mentioned the rear suspension failure, but noted Saturn is issuing a voluntary recall. Most of the comments were directed at subpar fit and finish (exposed screw heads, hard plastic, and loose plastic trim). They also stated that reliability is the dreaded black circle- "worse than average".

From everyone's experience, especially the 2002-2003 owners, what type of problems have we encountered? I want to make a list so we can all be prepared for the "unexpected".

ricksLS1 09-10-2004 01:58 PM

Here's what I had as problems on my 2003 4 VTi

- Squeak in Steering - Fixed Air Bag Coil Replaced
- Distorted sound from front speaker - Fixed Replaced speaker
- Whinning noise from rear of vehicle - Fixed Replaced Bearing. I've seen this one many times.

Recall on Vti for bolt replacement. Car is 21 months old with almost 16,000 miles.

spencerb 09-10-2004 02:13 PM

Exposed screw heads and hard plastic are SUBJECTIVE items and should not be included in their evaluation.

Besides the VTi, I can't think of much that would make the VUE's reliability poor.

sspeer 09-10-2004 02:16 PM

I'm curious on how they rated the Jetta. I took that thing in several times. More times than not there was some issue I had with it...a CEL, a broken interior piece, electrical gremlins...

My VUE has been trouble free for 8 months now.

True, I wish the VUE has a nicer interior and the exposed screw heads and holes were covered and filled...but that's minor in the big picture

ricksLS1 09-10-2004 02:21 PM

[QUOTE][i]Originally posted by spencerb [/i]
[B]Exposed screw heads and hard plastic are SUBJECTIVE items and should not be included in their evaluation.

Besides the VTi, I can't think of much that would make the VUE's reliability poor. [/B][/QUOTE]

But the tranny got excellent according to the poster. I wonder how many response they got for the VUE and what models/ trannies theu had.

russellhome 09-10-2004 02:34 PM

From what I've seen, the VTi transmission is the only thing that deserves the dreaded "black circle" on the Vue. From the posts here, it seems to be the one thing to really worry about for the likelihood of leaving you stranded on the road somewhere. Nevertheless, lots (not all) of VTi owners have expressed that they like the VTi, in spite of the fact that it may have required one or more warranty repairs.

Most other things I've read on this site involve less critical repairs for squeaks, grinding noises, adjustments, broken parts, etc. Some are major -- some are minor. Some problems have been experienced by many - some posts are for unique problems. From what I've seen, I think CR is a bit harsh with giving the Vue a black dot for overall reliability. A black dot vehicle should be one that you won’t drive more than 50 miles from home for fear that you get stranded by some failure. If the Vue deserves their worst rating, then what does the Landrover lying dead in the neighbor's driveway 1/2 the time deserve?

They have updated their website to include info from the ’04 model they tested. It seems inconsistent to me that none of the reliability subcategories have a CR black dot (most are good or excellent), yet the overall reliability is the black dot. 5+4+5+2=1? CR surveyed me a month or so ago and I did not have anything to report on my ’04 Vue. I guess I am just lucky.

[URL=]CR Vue Review Page[/URL]

Bill Murray 09-10-2004 02:45 PM

In any area that I have expertise or personal experience in, I've never found CR to be anywhere close to accurate. It's amazing to me that they can stay in business in this internet era where you can find information in "real time".
This includes everything from house paint to appliances to cars.

wlhawk 09-10-2004 02:57 PM

The black circle is my rating for Consumer Distorts.

I've had no problems from my 2003 Vue.

walt 09-10-2004 06:54 PM

With 24K VTI case replaced,Steering wheeling bearing replaced,door hinge replaced,door switch replaced, rear washer fluid line replaced.

dtm1962 09-10-2004 07:46 PM

Russellhome: Can you help us out!
CR Vue Review Page


Can you download the report on the 04 VUE from CR since most of us are non-subscibers!!

03Vue 09-10-2004 10:09 PM

Re: RE: October 2004 Consumer Reports
[QUOTE][i]Originally posted by vue04 [/i]
[B]what type of problems have we encountered? I want to make a list so we can all be prepared for the "unexpected". [/B][/QUOTE]

Haven't had anything major, just little annoying stuff.

Map light rattled, had it "fixed"

Gas gauge started reading incorrectly, had the sending unit in the tank replaced.

Map light rattled, and fell down once, had it "fixed" again.

Plexiglasss in front of the gauges started squeaking. Instead of letting the dealer "fix" it, I stuffed a rolled up straw wrapper in between the plexiglass & dash (hasn't made a peep since)

Map light started falling every few miles during smooth highway driving. After it laid on the floor for a thousand miles or so, they "fixed" it again (Wednesday).

30k on the ticker.

I checked into the Kansas Lemon Law, but there must be 3 or 4 (I forget) failures in the first year. If I met the deadline, I was thinking about filing for a buyback, then when they called, say "I was just kidding, but I'd like it fixed right this time"...


russellhome 09-10-2004 10:32 PM

Re: Russellhome: Can you help us out!
[QUOTE][i]Originally posted by dtm1962 [/i]
[B]CR Vue Review Page


Can you download the report on the 04 VUE from CR since most of us are non-subscibers!! [/B][/QUOTE]

Here is their updated Roadtest page...

[i][b]2004 Saturn Vue Road Test[/b]

Tested model: 2004 V6 4-door SUV AWD, 3.5-liter V6, 5-speed automatic
Tested tires: Bridgestone Dueler H/T 684 II, size P235/60R17 100S
Highs: Engine, transmission, crash-test results.
Lows: Seats, inconsistent steering, fit and finish, tip up in gov't rollover test.

The Vue provides ample interior space and a new Honda-made engine, which is quicker, quieter, and more fuel efficient than the previous one. But overall, the Vue does not compete well with the better SUVs in the class. The Vue is plagued by substandard interior fit and finish, poor material quality, and uncomfortable seats. Our drivers found the cabin noisy and the seats very uncomfortable. On the road, the Vue has a stiff, uncomfortable ride, uncommunicative steering, and a slow-to-react all-wheel-drive system. Saturn has issued a recall for 2002 through 2004 Vues because two versions suffered broken suspensions in NHTSA rollover tests.


The Vue has a stiff ride with pronounced impacts. Ride motions are abrupt on rough surfaces, and the highway ride is unsettled. Wind and road noise are moderate. The Vue isn't nearly as nimble as some competing models, such as the Ford Escape or Toyota RAV4. Body lean is not excessive, but the steering is not particularly quick and becomes disconcertingly light in low-speed corners. On our handling course the Vue was secure and predictable. In our avoidance maneuver, it posted an average maximum speed. The 250-hp, 3.5-liter V6 is quick and relatively fuel efficient, returning 19 mpg overall. The five-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly, but there is no in-dash gear indicator. The Vue easily pulled our 3,500-pound trailer, its towing capacity, to 60 mph in a quick 18.2 seconds. A five-speed manual is available only with the sluggish four-cylinder base engine. The AWD system allowed the front wheels to spin excessively before engaging the rear wheels. Braking was very good. Headlight performance was good.


The disappointing interior had untrimmed flashing, loose plastic trim, thin sun visors, and flimsy control stalks for the turn signals and wipers. The view out is good over the high dash, but the center console cuts into front leg room. None of our drivers liked the front seats' short, poorly shaped seatbacks and soft cushions. The rear seat is roomy, but the low cushion made all but the shortest passengers uncomfortable. Front and rear access are very good. The gauges and major controls are easy to see and use. Gripes included unlighted power-mirror and dimmer controls, and climate system vents that lack shutoffs. Cabin storage is moderate. There are two sturdy cup holders in both front and rear. The 60/40-split folding seats recline, but the release is awkwardly located on the seatback's rear.


Head-protection air bags that extend to protect front and rear seat outboard passengers are an extra-cost option for the Vue. They supplement required front air bags and front seatbelts that are equipped with adjustable upper anchors for improved positioning and pretensioners for reducing belt slack in the event of a crash. Rear passengers also have 3-point belts and comfort guides in the rear outboard seats, which can help position the shoulder portion of the belt more comfortably and safely for small adults or children who have outgrown child restraints. There are adjustable, locking head restraints in the front and rear outboard seats. Only the front versions are tall enough even when fully down to adequately reduce rearward head travel. Rear outboard versions adjust, but are too low when down to offer adequate protection; the rear center seating position lacks a head restraint and the seatback is also too low. Daytime running lights are standard. Driving with kids: It may prove difficult to find a spot to secure rear-facing seats securely using the seatbelts. A button intended to retain the latch plate of the belt in an easily accessible location may prevent fully securing some infant seat bases in the rear outboard seats. The rigid buckle and latch assembly that results when the belt is connected and belts that are anchored forward of the seat bite may also make it difficult to secure rear-facing seats, including convertible seats, in the rear positions. Rear-facing seats will potentially fit better when installed using the LATCH system, which should also help front-facing seats be more secure. There are three tether strap attachment anchors in the rear seatbacks and LATCH anchors in three locations across the rear seat. The LATCH anchors are shallow and visible, making accessing them easy.


We expect reliability to be much worse than average, according to our latest subscriber survey. [/i]

The model overview page has dozens of the Red,black, and hollow circle graphics so it cannot be copied here. But in summary, the highpoints and low points are...

The Reliability History Rating for the all the following categories rated excellent or very good (red dots and red half red dots)

Power equipment
Body integrity
Body hardware

Reliability Verdict = black X

Safety ratings are all excellent - except the offset test which is good.

Acceleration - very good
0-30 mph- sec. 3.2
0-60 mph- sec. 7.9
Quarter mile- sec. 16.3
Quarter mile- mph 87
45-65 mph- sec. 5.1

braking- very good
Dry pavement, ft. 135

Transmission - excellent
Fuel economy - fair (yet the said it was relatively good in the road test section)
CU's overall mileage- mpg 19
CU's city/highway- mpg 12/27
CU's 150-mile trip- mpg 23
Annual fuel: gal./cost 810/$1615

Other items that rated just fair: handling, seat comfort, and fit & finish.

Nothing except Predicted reliability received the poor (black dot) rating.

Well - that's pretty much it.

walt 09-11-2004 06:43 AM

Poor ride???(Guess they never drove a jeep liberty or Cherokee)Seats Uncomfortable?(my 4 cyl with the cheaper seats are very comfortable) Low seats?(Its the easyest suv to exit or enter its key feature is no climbing up or down to exit or enter) Poor material fit and finish? (this is a low priced vehicle they spared the wood decals it very practical) Flimsy controls for signals and wipers?(what are you people talking about?) Good exceleration?(Its one of the fast suvs available it will beat many sedans offered today. Exceleration is to much for most.Not as good as Rav 4? (That little peanut with the wheel on the back door).These guys most of spent a little to much time in the local Pub during their lunch break .

EvilSL2 09-11-2004 07:20 AM

There just a bunch or stuckup writers. What do they know.

If I got a new Saturn it would probably be a VUE or a ION redline.
More than likely it would be a VUE.

Todd911 09-11-2004 09:25 AM

The worst thing about articles like this is that many people who read this article will never test drive the Vue now and will miss out on a great car.

I cannot fathom the comments they make about poor fit and finish. The turnsignal lever is flimsy? No way. Uncomfortable seats? Compared to what? I traded a 2000 Audi A4 for my Vue and the Vue is faster, quieter, more comfortable. Audi fit and finish and interior design is a notch up, but it is a notch up on just about every other car out there. The Vue compares well though - my 04 V6 AWD is attractive inside and has no rattles, squeaks, "untrimmed flashing" or other anomalies. The only really cheap looking item is the centre storage bin on the floor. It does suck. Glad you can't see it easily.

I have concluded that CR really has lost touch. How do they provide "data" showing all items at far less than 5% defect rates and then give a car a black spot for overall reliability? Yet, flip to the any honda or Toyota page and see comparable red circles item-by-item yet an overall "better than average" reliability rating.

They show no supporting data for the overal rating - what does this tell us? Print the numbers and show us the math.

Otherwise it's just an opinion.

Where is the black spot for the Honda 5 speed auto-transmission - 100% of which were recalled as defective due to many failures in the field? The recall is not mentioned in the 04 CR book I looked at for the Pilot, Oddysey, or MDX. The CR-V safety recall (for a fire hazard!) is not mentioned either. Yet the Vue recall is in the first paragraph. Hmmm.

Laurence 09-11-2004 10:14 AM

I don't take any notice of CR reviews and reports much preferring to do my own research and make my own decisions.

I have a 2003 FWD VUE with the VTi and the transmission is the only thing that has given me any problems. My VUE is been to the dealer several times for the tranny--including one recall. I had a whine in the tranny several months ago and took it in again for service but the whine has come back. I also notice a slight grind when sometimes staring the engine from cold so I have to take the thing in yet again.

I have no problem with what are termed cheap interior materials and I thought fit an finish was good--much better than on some other vehicles I've bought over the years.

I think the VUE is comfortable, drives well, and I would not hesitate to buy another VUE, but NOT one with the VTi.


Citation84 09-11-2004 10:55 AM

Anyone else notice that there was not a single mention of the POSITIVE benefits of the polymer panels? Or any notation at all that they even existed?
I would say that would be a "report" on an attribute a CONSUMER might find useful in an SUV.
Oh wait. They'll mention how great it is when it appears on the Smart "forfour" mini SUV.

spencerb 09-11-2004 11:04 AM

Re: Re: Russellhome: Can you help us out!
[QUOTE][i]Originally posted by russellhome [/i]
[B]The Reliability History Rating for the all the following categories rated excellent or very good (red dots and red half red dots)

Power equipment
Body integrity
Body hardware

Reliability Verdict = black X[/B][/QUOTE]OK, then where are the bad points that bring down the average so much? It seems like everything to do with reliability is excellent or good (poor fit and finish and rattling trim is a quality issue, not realibility).

Ryster 09-11-2004 12:53 PM

Our '03 AWD V6 (30K miles currently) has not been the most reliable vehicle we have ever owned, but we still love it.

Complete electrical system failure at 900 miles. Had to be towed to the dealer. Faulty wiring harness at main fuse box. Fixed under warranty; 3 days at the dealer.

Thermostat failure. Fixed under warranty; 1 day at the dealer.

Hood latch release lever failure. Misaligned hood release cable. Fixed under warranty; fixed during oil change.

Rear wheel bearing failure. Fixed under warranty; 1 day at the dealer.

Check engine light. Computer logged a "backfire" condition. Dealer checked and found no problem. 30 minutes at dealer.

Those are the major issues we have had. Of course, there are some squeaks and rattles here and there, and one of our tires loses air regularly (dealer has tried to repair it once, it was losing 6lbs overnight and now loses a few pounds over a few days but the tire still loses air).

I am not a big fan of Consumer Reports, but based on our ownership experience we would not rate the VUE high on the reliability scale (we always wonder what the next problem will be). Thankfully the dealer is good and fixes problems quickly, which makes up for some of the issues we have had. And, like I said, we love our VUE and think it is a great overall package. When it comes time to replace the VUE, would we get another one? Well, the jury is still out on that question...

Dante 09-11-2004 01:35 PM

60/40 split rear seats huh? Um, no, try 70/30, so 2 ppl can still sit back there with the right rear and front seats down and still carry an 8 FOOT LADDER! How many other compact SUVs can do that? None that I know of...

They can't drive for crap either, 0 to 60 in 7.9??? They must have just stood on the gas, let the front tires spin and waited for the AWD to kick in (which isn't SLOW IMHO). Many others have been able to get sub 7-second 0-60 times with FWD or AWD. I can't really speak for the steering on the non-RL, but I love the way the RL handles, it's on rails. It outhandles every other car I've driven, with only true low-rider sports cars coming close. I guess the non-RL is going to be a bit more truck-ish or top-heavy, with it's taller tires and higher stance, but it would still run with anything else in it's class.

I agree about them having funny math "great, good, great, ok, but overall terrible" WHAT THE FREAKIN CRAP IS THAT? They are insane. I was really disturbed by the things they said in their "New Car Review" earlier this year about the Vue, I read it before I bought the RL. But, I read on these forums what *REAL* people have to say about their Vues, and I am glad I have mine.

About the exposed screws and such, uh, the only time you can see them is when you have a door open or something, so far as I can recall. Yeah, you can see where the panels are screwed to the frame, but IMHO this makes the thing a LOT easier to fix when something gets messed up, or you just want to take the door off. On my old truck, I never could figure out how to get the door off (although I replaced the clutch plate 3 times, so I'm not mechanically spastic or anything).

Todd, good point about them not mentioning recalls on all the Hondas for various reasons, whaddup wit dat? They are extremely biased, I think.

They may be able to rate DVD players and toaster ovens, but so far as cars go, they are way out there.


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