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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just spent 3 days and 300+ miles with a 2007 Saturn Aura XR, loaded with all options except the panoramic roof (although it had a standard sunroof) and it had approx 6500 miles on the odo. I drove it around Tampa and then to Lake Mary, FL (near Orlando) so I spent a lot of time in town and on the highway. I didn't get a good read on MPG, but it seemed competitive with the Fusion on the hwy. According to Saturn.com, this car would retail for about $26,900.

First the "likes". The Aura is a handsome car, with a low, sleek appearance. The 18" rims look great without degrading the ride quality. The exterior may actually have more chrome than the Fusion- if that's possible. It has a European look (maybe since it's an Opel) and it is without a doubt the best looking Saturn sedan ever. It also felt very stable at highway speeds- again probably due to it's European roots. The tilt/telescoping steering wheel was great- with 3 spokes (the way it should be) with audio/cruise control. It was covered in a nice smooth leather- much nicer than the teradactyl hide on the Fusion. Overall the GM leather seems nice than Ford's. The door handles have a soft amber back lighting (like a Mercedes), which was a nice touch.

My rental was the XR model, meaning it had the 3.6L V6 w/ 252 hp and 251 lb ft. As was the case with the Impala LT rental, the Aura feels significantly quicker due to the very strong torque that is available instantly. The engine was smooth and quick (Edmunds.com says 0-60 in 6.4) and felt much stronger than the V6 Fusion. Unfortunately, the Fusion feels badly underpowered when compared to cars that actually have torque. Lastly, the tranny was a 6 speed with paddle shifters. The manual mode added a little sport, but didn't really improve the acceleration. I thought I read the tranny is the same as the Fusion, jointly developed by GM and Ford, but each uses different electronics. Maybe someone knows and can let us all know.

Now for the dislikes. The interior fit and finish was very disappointing. I'd read several reviews that talked about how nice the interior was, but that was not my experience. First, the dash was soft, but sounded hollow. It was very dark, all black with a single silver bar running across the dash into the door panels. The 3 pod guages that seem so popular these days were ok, but seemed a bit small (but I like the amber lighting). The interior space seemed smaller than the Fusion, especially in the headroom dept (blame the sunroof and I'm 6'3"). The lower half of the dash, armrest, center console was made of CHEAP, thin plastic that scratched very easily. It felt and sounded awful- like this was where the bean counters took over. The door panels were cheap, uncomfortable and the "grain" of the dash and door panels was very rough looking. This didn't go well with the smooth, soft leather on the seats. To borrow a quote from Car&Driver, "have their engineers ever sat in a Honda??".

The door armrest actually extended into the B-pillar, unlike any car I've ever driven. Being tall and having the seat all the way back, I'd bump my leg/hip on the B-pillar part of the armrest every time I got out. It's hard to describe- you'd really have to see it in person- but it was annoying. The trunk feels very small due to it having a small opening (both horizontal and vertical), and it was difficult to get my luggage in and out. Lastly, the seat didn't seem wide enough (in the hip/butt area) and although heated, didn't feel as comfortable after 100 miles on the hwy.

Overall, the Aura is a mixed bag. It's a 500% improvement over their previous midsize car. The engine/tranny are clearly superior to the Fusion. Ford needs to get that 3.5L in all their cars yesterday. The exterior has a clean, unique look. I'd still choose the Fusion due to the interior quality- but that's just a huge pet peeve of mine. Chalk up another win for the Fusion, albeit by a very slim margin. If the Aura had the interior quality of the Fusion, it would have won easily (the powertrain is that much better).

I don't have any long business trips planned for a while, but hopefully I can sample the Hyundai Sonata and new Camry in the future.
 

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I've checked them out also. I much prefer the fusion's styling to the aura, I prefer the name also although aura isn't a bad name either. I'm more of a ford guy also. Keep in mind the fusion has awd also which is very nice. The standard setup is a larger engine but same horsepower as the fusion and with only a 4 speed trans. I did however like the sport model (XR I believe they called it) which had a bit more speed and allowed "manual" shifting of gears. The fusion should and probably will get an engine upgrade and maybe even an automanual trans but neither are a big deal to me the car does fine in my opinon and styling and interior matter more to me (and the awd for winter driving) so the fusion wins in my book!
 

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Ming,
Thanks for an informative report. It was a good read. I look forward to your follow-up ones. Boz
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks Boz. I'd be an automotive journalist if given the opportunity. Maybe this is my way of "scratching and itch". I do try to sample different cars when given the chance, just to see how things compare. The rental agency had a Sonata, but it was a 4 cyl. They also had several G6, but I don't see that as a natural competitor to the Fusion. It's a shame the Fusion doesn't have the power of it's competitors, since that's it's only significant weak link.
 

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Ming,
I think you'd do well as an auto journalist. At one time in my own journalism career I did review cars for the small daily paper that I worked for. It was a brief stint but a lot of fun for a while.

I believe I have read where the V6s from Honda and Toyota have better 0 to 60 times than the Fusion (Milan, MKZ). That strikes me as being a bit odd. I would guess that it will only be a few years before the Fusion gets the new 3.5-liter engine now in the Edge.

The very few times that I have "jumped" on the Fusion it seemed pretty peppy to me, but I am used to driving a 2000 Focus station wagon with a 2.0-liter Zetec.

Why did you say that the G6 wasn't comparable? Price tag? Bigger engine? Boz
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks again Boz, but I have no training or education in journalism. I've just been reading car magazines for 20 years. I'm not suprised the Honda and Toyota post quicker 0-60 times based on their higher torque ratings (and I'm guessing similar weight). The Fusion is peppy, but it really seems to need higher revs to get it going. I don't consider the G6 as a direct competitor due mainly to size. I see the Gran Prix as a more natural competitor to the Fusion. Others may disagree, but the G6 seems a bit smaller (considering it was a replacement for the Grand Am).
 

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I'll point out that while the honda accord and camry both have faster 0-60 times in a slalom the fusion out does them thanks to superior brakes and handling by a fairly significant margin. This helps with the fusions safety also and driving enjoyment.

I wouldn't compare it to the G6 either.
 

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I think GM should of got rid of the Saturn brand when they dropped Olds. Saturns are so ugly to me. There so ugly I think they're stupid. They just keep trying to reinvent their brand every so many years with ugly cars and I think I want them to stop and give up now. Well, that was just my two cents about Saturn. I do like the review aspect ming321 you gave! GM really needs to work on their fit & finish across the board.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Plucky you aren't far off on your assessment of Saturn. They've been on life support for what seems like 10 years. In their early days, they made nice, small, fuel efficient cars. Seems like their 2nd-3rd generation cars got ugly and didn't begin to compete with the Civic's, Corrolla's or even the Focus. I do think they are turning a corner with their new products. The Sky looks and performs like a miniature Corvette, the Aura is an attractive alternative to the Asian cars, and the new Outlook is a superior vehicle to the Tahoe and Expedition so long as heavy duty towing isn't needed. I drove the Outlook with my wife and was very impressed- especially with the interior space, NVH and fit and finish. GM is basically replacing the Saturn line with rebadged Opels, which I understand is a popular brand in Europe. Don't we all wish Ford would bring us some of their Euro cars. :woohoo:
 

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[quote author=ming321 link=topic=68387.msg1187518#msg1187518 date=1170688881]
Don't we all wish Ford would bring us some of their Euro cars. :woohoo:
[/quote]
From what I've seen of them, I would wager that they would be a hit, especially the Focus and the Mondeo.
 

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[quote author=takotruckin link=topic=68387.msg1201393#msg1201393 date=1171243401]
fwiw, the G6 is the same size as a fusion
[/quote]
From Wikipedia: Although the EPA lists the G6 as a compact car, its relative, the Chevrolet Malibu is listed as a mid-size car by the EPA; both cars are still considered mid-size.
 

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I read this evaluation with great interest, The user seems particularly impressed with the Aura's
powertrain and performance. I wonder if a Fusion SEL V6 with the 91 performance tune from SCT
would elicit the users admiration? I am pleased with the 87 performance tune but would I be charitable in saying a car so modified would be competitive with the Aura XR?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I'm running my Fusion stock but would love to have some seat time in a 91 (or 87) tune. From what I've heard on these boards, the tunes make a noticeable difference. Nevertheless, I think the 46 lb ft deficit of the Fusion would be tough to overcome with only a tune. Anyone want to give me a free tune- I'll be glad to give you my impressions :D lol
 

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[quote author=ming321 link=topic=68387.msg1180872#msg1180872 date=1170351491]
I thought I read the tranny is the same as the Fusion, jointly developed by GM and Ford, but each uses different electronics. Maybe someone knows and can let us all know.
[/quote]
Don't know, of course, what transmission is in the Saturn, but the six-speed in the Fusion is definitely an Aisin and I don't believe it is the co-developed, collaborative GM/Ford one but I could be mistaken.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
"A six-speed automatic transaxle enhances the engine's sweetness. Codeveloped with Ford, the GM six-speed delivers an unobtrusive shift schedule, crisp gearchanges and quick reactions to throttle input."

Above is a direct quote from an article at Edmunds.com. I knew I read that somewhere, I just couldn't remember where. I guess Ford might have another 6 speed auto they put in other cars, like the Fusion, but that wouldn't make much sense.
 

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[quote author=ming321 link=topic=68387.msg1242532#msg1242532 date=1172791958]
"A six-speed automatic transaxle enhances the engine's sweetness. Codeveloped with Ford, the GM six-speed delivers an unobtrusive shift schedule, crisp gearchanges and quick reactions to throttle input."

Above is a direct quote from an article at Edmunds.com. I knew I read that somewhere, I just couldn't remember where. I guess Ford might have another 6 speed auto they put in other cars, like the Fusion, but that wouldn't make much sense.
[/quote]

I'm pretty sure this is the 6sp behind the 3.5 in the MKZ, MKX, and Edge.
 

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[quote author=jaydez link=topic=68387.msg1243750#msg1243750 date=1172842786]
[quote author=ming321 link=topic=68387.msg1242532#msg1242532 date=1172791958]
"A six-speed automatic transaxle enhances the engine's sweetness. Codeveloped with Ford, the GM six-speed delivers an unobtrusive shift schedule, crisp gearchanges and quick reactions to throttle input."

Above is a direct quote from an article at Edmunds.com. I knew I read that somewhere, I just couldn't remember where. I guess Ford might have another 6 speed auto they put in other cars, like the Fusion, but that wouldn't make much sense.
[/quote]

I'm pretty sure this is the 6sp behind the 3.5 in the MKZ, MKX, and Edge.
[/quote]

The 6-speed in the Fusion (2006 for sure, not so sure about 2007) is the Aisin which is DIFFERENT than the co-developed 6-speed referenced here. The Edge family does, indeed, get the co-developed 6-speed, however.
 

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I am fairly certain a V6 2007 Fusion has the Aisin six-speed automatic. But in the case of AWD, it is Ford's own unit, according to what I have read.
 
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