October 06, 2000
Saturn Unveils First SUV
The Saturn division of General Motors Corp. is unveiling its as-yet unnamed SUV model today at the South Florida Auto Show in Miami. Saturn will enter the increasingly crowded SUV market when the vehicle goes on sale next fall.
Saturn will use the next year to build interest in the vehicle, which will be built in Spring Hill, Tenn. Saturn plans to produce 50,000 vehicles in the first year. The car-based SUV, which will compete with such vehicles as Honda's CR-V, will come with two engine options, a 138-horsepower four-cylinder and a 181-hp V6 shared with the L-Series sedans and wagons. It will come in front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive versions.
The four-cylinder version will mark the debut of continuously variable transmissions in the SUV arena. These gearless automatics use pulleys connected by metal bands, instead of gears, to transfer power from the engine to the wheels.
Like Saturn passenger cars, the SUV will be outfitted with plastic side body panels that resist dents and don't rust. Also offered will be a head-curtain side air bag system. U.S. sales of SUVs, trucks and pickups climbed 11 percent in 1999, outpacing a 6.8 percent growth in car sales.
Specs for the new SUV:
Length: 181.3 inches
Width: 71.5 inches
Height: 66.3 inches
Wheelbase: 106.6 inches
Engines: 2.2L I4, 138 hp; 3.0L V6, 181 hp
Transmissions: 5-speed manual, 5-speed automatic, continuously variable automatic
Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive
Price: Starting below $20,000 for four-cylinder versions; starting below $25,000 for V-6 versions.