- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 23, 2006

The 2007 Saturn Aura may be the best midsize car ever to be offered by General Motors.

What makes this so special?

The newest entry in the Saturn line, and one of the best offerings in the renaissance of the family-car segment, actually is part of the GM global product development collaboration.

Based on the concept vehicle of the same name, introduced in 2005, the Aura may be “the biggest launch of the year” for General Motors, according to Lisa Hutchinson, director of Saturn product development.

The Aura is based on the Epsilon platform that is shared by the Chevrolet Malibu Maxx and the Pontiac G6. The origin of this European-inspired sport sedan is the General Motors popular German Opel car division. The sporty road manners and the comfortably controlled ride reflect a pleasant surprise for a mainstream car from General Motors.

The uplevel Aura XR comes with the “high feature” 3.6-liter V-6 engine and the first application of a front-wheel-drive, six-speed automatic transmission. This transmission, jointly developed with Ford, provides the added benefit of Driver Shift Control (DSC), which enables the driver to manually shift through gears via steering wheel-positioned “paddles.”

This all-new Hydra-Matic 6T70 transmission allows for strong performance combined with improved fuel efficiency.

Interesting features help this new entry stand out among its competitors. The available four-panel Panoramic Roof neatly slides open and stacks like a deck of cards. This visual GM exclusive gives a new look to the open-air experience. Not as easy to see is the use of sound-deadening glass that adds to the quiet and secure feel inside the passenger compartment.

Other useful features include optional power-adjustable pedals, available eight-way power-adjustable driver seat that is also height adjustable and power windows with driver express up and express down feature.

Something different for this segment is the availability of heated cloth seats so you don’t need to order the optional leather interior to keep warm.

Longer seat tracks allow even the taller riders comfortable leg room while driving or riding in the rear seat area. Seats are well padded and shaped for secure support when cornering. Special attention is the focus of a refined interior with the use of premium materials with low-gloss appearance and tight tolerances throughout, that give excellent fit-and-finish results.

The interior trim flows across the instrument panel and wraps around onto the door panels for a more integrated appearance. The windshield pillars are wrapped in cloth instead of the usual hard plastic surface found in most midsize cars in this class.

Even the trunk is fully lined, which not only looks good but also adds to the quietness. Nonintrusive strut trunk-lid hinges allow for more useful space with a fully loaded trunk.

The inside continues to delight with automatic climate control, center console with dual-bin storage and automatic sliding tambour door, covering front cup holders and a coin holder. A universal home remote is programmable for your garage-door needs. Convenient steering-wheel audio controls allow you to keep your eyes on the road when changing stations and volume on the standard six-speaker radio system that includes an auxiliary input jack for portable audio players.

The available Advanced Audio System includes an AM/FM/CD/MP3 radio with eight-speaker sound, a 240-watt amplifier and rear-seat audio controls with two wireless headphones. The radio antenna is integrated in the rear window for a sleeker overall appearance. XM Satellite Radio is also available.

Additional luxury touches include self-dimming theater lighting in the interior as well as LED ambient lighting projected from the overhead lamp and door pockets. This adds to the premium feel and provides added convenience at night.

LED taillamps are provided for an extra measure of safety. LED lamps illuminate more quickly than conventional incandescent bulbs, which can allow drivers behind the Aura to react sooner when they see the brake lamps.

Available on the Aura is the new OnStar Turn-by-Turn Navigation system. Turn-by-Turn allows you to call a live advisor and give them your desired destination. They send complete step-by-step directions to your vehicle through the OnStar system. These audio directions automatically play through the stereo as needed, triggered by the OnStar system’s GPS capabilities. This enables drivers to be led to their destination while keeping their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. No maps to look at and no distractions while finding your way.

The 2007 Saturn Aura certainly answers the question, “What’s new?”

Great driving manners, an impressive list of features that surprise and delight, and technology that others are sure to imitate. The Saturn Aura is the car from General Motors that will surely get the competition’s attention.

Now the only question remaining, will the buying public put this impressive car on their shopping list?

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